This blog is a personal take on Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am writing for anyone anywhere with a Listowel connection but especially for sons and daughters of Listowel who find themselves far from home. Contact me at listowelconnection@gmail.com

Tag: P.J. Kenny

Summertime

Galvin’s of William Street

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Mr. Jiggs

This is Mr, Jiggs happily grazing in his field in Kanturk. He didn’t win any competitions ( He didn’t enter any). He is included in the blog today because it’s summer, a slow news day and he is an auld pet.

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More St. Michael’s Memories from 1972

Morning has Broken by David Kissane

What a different world it was in May 1972! The carnivals were in full swing and some of our class went to Finuge Carnival to have a fling before the exam. Some even got lucky! They said. And others pushed it to the limit and took one of the many buses that shunted to the dance in Shanagolden on Saturday May 20th. Some craic on that bus on the way there. Bigger craic on the way home. Even a few students headed for the “Gay Bachelor Festival” in Ballybunion during the Leaving Cert to help alleviate the stress of revision. Yeah right. 

And there was the 13th of May fair in Listowel. An ancient event no doubt inspired by the festival of Bealtaine. The fire-festival of Baal. Horse dung and life all over Market Street. Women who still wore scarves, even shawls and men who wore caps and spit on their palms and bought and sold. Visits to the Bargain Stores and Cavendish’s. Echoes of Kavanagh’s “shops and stalls and markets and the Oriental streets”. Child of Prague statues and duffel coats and a glass of Guinness in Stack’s Hotel. Chats in The Sheebeen. 

The balladian beauty of a fair day. The exotic came to town.

We watched it all on our way down to the school bus in the evening. 

Listowel Writers’ Week was also coming to life in that year and John B Keane and Bryan MacMahon were to the forefront in the town where big crowds were gathering for the novel festival. Some day, I said to myself…but I recall spending a half-day-off down by the river rather than attending any of the festival’s talks, in the belief that you need something to write about before you can write about it!

And what about the clothes we fellas wore both at school and after. No uniforms. Boots if we could afford them under bright-coloured bell-bottom trousers and orange-coloured shirts with massive collars. Ties straight from Woodstock akin to the wildflower gardens of today. Peace man! Polo-necks and tank tops were a speciality. The polo-necks were a divil in a sweaty ballroom. The heat rushed up to the neck and had nowhere to escape. Thank god for the Hai Karate anti-perspirant. Strong as a horse it was but a right hoor for attracting doctor bees if you laid down in a meadow of a Sunday afternoon. Then there was the hair! Long and wide and directionless. Like furze bushes on a windy night. Side-locks that would sweep out the stall for you. 

                                                     Outside the Walls

While study was more in our minds than most other things in the latter months of our second level education, we were glued to our one-channel TVs for major news events. The deaths of 13 people in Derry on Bloody Sunday on January 30th was a riveting event and was discussed in our class at length. A suggestion by one student that we should organise a protest fell on deaf ears. Too avant-garde for the majority. Mr Rochford organised a class debate sometime later and the event gave us the opportunity to hone our argumentative edges. A rare and educational avenue which put riches in our store. 

The debates on Ireland joining the European Economic Community was a little prolonged for any dramatic focus by our heat-seeking mental faculties, but it did broaden our horizons, although 6,ooo plus people in North Kerry wanted to change the future by voting against joining Europe in the referendum that May. Interesting. Raidió na Gaeltachta was launched that year and, being a possible topic for an essay, was devoured with gratitude. Apollo 16 landed on the moon (no big surprise) in April. Black September terrorists. The Vietnam War reached an emotional peak for much of the world, and for us as we sat down to our Leaving Cert exams, when the Associated Press photographer Nick Ut takes his Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of a naked 9-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc running down a road after being burned by the chemical napalm. The Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty was signed between the US and Russia – it is not forgotten by our age-group what a real threat nuclear war had been up to then. 

A world of hope and fear. Was it ever otherwise.

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P.J. Kenny and Street Leagues

This photograph is from 1927. It shows the Greenville team, winners of the McGrath Cup. Street leagues go back a long way in Listowel.

Mr. P.J. Kenny’s name is synonymous with the organising of street leagues in more recent times. P.J. continued his involvement with the leagues in Scoil Realta na Maidine, even after his retirement from teaching.

On Monday last, June 20 2022 the school honoured his huge commitment with the presentation of an engraved vase and a special cake.

The teams that contest the leagues nowadays represent The Boro, The Ashes, The Gleann and The Country.

The 2022 senior league was won by The Boro

Ogie Scanlon was the winner of the Brendan Guiney Cup. The cup was presented by the late Brendan’s sister, Rose, and brother, Jim.

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A Poem

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St. Patrick’s Day 2022

March 17 2022

Liam Brennan as St. Patrick, the flags, the crowds, the music, the sunshine…a St. Patrick’s Day to remember in Listowel.

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Shamrocks’, Bicycles, Ukraine flags…March 17 2022 in Listowel

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Some people I met

Everyone was in great form, delighted to be outdoors and back together again. St. Patrick’s Day 2022 had lifted the spirits of everyone I met.

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Meanwhile in Malahide

Éamon ÓMurchú took these shots at an event in Malahide. fireworks are notoriously hard to photograph. These are brilliant images.

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I had some gymnasts in the house

On a beautiful sunny evening in March in Ballybunion you wouldn’t know if you were on your head or your heels.

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A Few Local Placenames

Fourhane, Fuarthán…There is cold spring well here which gave this downland its name.

Ballynagowan…Baile na Gabhan The home of the blacksmith

Kilmorna….Cill Mórna The church of Morna. Legend has it that there was a graveyard here and a the remains of a lady called Mórna were found there.

Tanavala…An tSeanbhaile, the old homestead

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Ballydonoghue Bardic Festival 2022

One for the diary1

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Bono’s poem for Ukraine

Oh, St Patrick he drove out the snakes
With his prayers but that’s not all it takes
For the snake symbolises
An evil that rises
And hides in your heart, as it breaks
And the evil has risen my friends
From the darkness that lives in some men
But in sorrow and fear
That’s when saints can appear
To drive out those old snakes once again
And they struggle for us to be free
From the psycho in this human family
Ireland’s sorrow and pain
Is now the Ukraine
And St Patrick’s name now Zelenskiy

“I’ve a tradition of sending a limerick to [Pelosi’s] St Patrick’s Day lunch over the years,” Bono said on Twitter. “This year the limerick is irregular & not funny at all. We stand with the people of Ukraine & their leader.” Bono also said the poem “wasn’t written to be published”, but after much attention he released it on U2’s Twitter page.

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Covid Signs,and A Sister’s Love in a poem and Opening Night Listowel Writers’ Week 2020

Only God can Make a Tree

Kay McDonnell took this photo

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Sisterly love in a Poem


“Limerick poet Anne Mulcahy wrote the poem Sister in 2014. I have her permission to get it published. ” Mattie Lennon”

The story behind it is as follows;

   A mutual friend of ours had a brother, David, with Down Syndrome. He was also non verbal. David spent 55 of his 57 years in an institution until his death in 2014. When he reached the terminal stage of his life that same institution clearly did not wish to have him remain in their care but rather wished him to enter an acute hospital setting. This issue needed to be robustly fought with the members of the institution to allow David to remain in his ‘ Home’.  His sister, who had been his Guardian Angel for decades, was an able and willing advocate to defend his rights. 

Sister was written from David’s perspective from beyond the grave.  

 Dear Sister, thank your noble heart, that fought my need to sleep,

In sheets that smelt and felt so familiar to me,

You spoke my words when my voice could not be found,

Through divided chaos you firmly stomped the ground,

Chin firm, teeth clinched, and no budge to make-

Steering the ship to higher ground!

Now, here, in this realm my tongue is loose and free,

And sings songs like Jingle Bells and happy melodies.

I cannot keep a pair of shoes, so worn are they from dancing.

And I laugh so much, I cry big tears, till my shirt oft needs changing.

Cold nights I read before I sleep, warm tales of hope and peace,

And all the while, I lay entwined, in my own familiar sheets!

Everything here is wonderful, both the company and the food,

And I’ve met many here that I once knew.

Pain does not exist here-only a great peace of vast magnitude.

Dear Sister, hold fast the times we had,

We both know the efforts you made, the gifts you brought, the prayers you said,

And when we meet, as sure we will, I’ll have a bed ready and made!

©Anne Mulcahy 2014.

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Listowel in the Pandemic of 2020

Jumbo’s and O’Connell’s Decor are two very busy shops at this time.

McKenna’s has a one way system.

The pharmacy next door has lots of signs

You can see the table with the sanitiser for customers. A one way system is in operation.

Behan’s The Horseshoe is open for take away food.

Sad to see a Robert Moloney’s, a shop which always worked long hours, closed.

When I took my second walk downtown later Dominick was in town checking on his premises. Dominick  Moloney is a tonic in a pandemic, always in good form and ready to pose for the camera.

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Listowel Writers week Opening Night May 27 2020


I love Opening Night. i take up my position at the hotel door and photograph local people and visitors arriving in their finery for one of Listowel’s biggest nights. The atmosphere is electric, the music uplifting and everyone is in great high spirits.

Covid 19 meant that all of that was different in 2020. Opening night speeches and prize giving went online. RTE came to town and Joe Stack, whose usual role as sports reporter is in a bit of a lull, interviewed local people about the loss of the festival and its revenue. Lovely Listowel was on every news bulletin.



The scene at The Listowel Arms on May 27 2020


Billy Keane was being interviewed at the door of John B.’s

In The Square, RTE was interviewing Gabriel Fitzmaurice for TG4.

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Out and About with Camera


I met my friends, Joan and P.J. Kenny in the Square on May 28 2020. They posed, at my request, on the Tidy Town seat.


Listowel Races 2015, Listowel Rugby 1970 and Ballyduff swans

Wednesday Sept 16 2015; my day at The Races

In the corner of Main Street the usual display of dolls and recorded music was in full flow. This year the man who runs this show has dressed up in a  a leprechaun like outfit. I don’t know if this adds anything to this very strange orchestral display. This has become an iconic feature at Listowel Races.

Gypsy Kathleen is in situ in The Square but she is not using her crystal ball to predict winners.

The Listowel Arms was busy.

At the corner by The Seanchaí

No one in the river but lots of little ones begging on the roadway.

The Listowel Arms were displaying a very confident message of support to the Kerry team.

They will surely have that flag lowered today.

This young busker was rolling up his sleeves in order to get to grips with one or other of his two musical instruments.

His method of playing the melodeon is a little unorthodox.

A steady stream of racegoers made their way to The Island.

The racecourse now is one big shopping centre. You could buy all sorts of stuff at The Races in 2015. I think this is a very regrettable development. Especially since it seems to be at the expense of more facilities related to horse racing. A few years ago I was lured by a special offer to invest in a Tote card. This works like a debit card. I put money in, the Tote keep my money and get the interest on it and I put my card into a machine in order to bet at the racecourse. I can also use this account to bet online. I only use this account once a year, in Listowel. Up to 2015 there were lots of locations on the racecourse where I could use my handy little card. There was a kind of Tote bus with lots of machines and people to help you if you had forgotten how to use the card after a year’s absence. This year all that had changed. There was only a fraction of the machines of previous years, no Tote bus and no one to give you a hand if you were in trouble. Many of the machines were broken down and there seemed to be no one on hand to repair them. There was a rough sign saying Customer Service on one Tote window and the service involved this Tote teller, who was also dealing with selling and paying out cash punters, making a phone call to someone who would then come and sort me out.

 I had to do this several times.

There was a good crowd on Wednesday.

The best part of racing is running into old friends. Below are some of the people I met on Weds Sept 17. 2015

I took loads of photos so if you are interested in “the style” keep checking back here.

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Listowel Rugby in 1970

This old photo of Listowel’s u12 rugby team in 1970 was published in The Advertiser some years ago. Second from right in front is Billy Keane and next to him, third from right, is Gerry Sexton, father of Joanthon.

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Ballyduff Swans


Do you remember these?

Well, they’re all grown up. Bridget O’Connor who took the original photos went back to photograph them last  week and there they were, big strong teenagers, still with some of their baby feathers and not yet able to fly.

Two of the family seem to have moved out into a nest of their own.

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