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

Tag: Pat Healy

The Horseshoe, Launch of Emma Larkin’s Book and Behan’s The Horseshoe

A Robin  close up

Photo: Chris Grayson


A Book Launch in Kerry Writers’ Museum

This is me with the author, Emma Larkin. Her new book is really clever because her heroine can play in Cork, Kerry or Dublin colours depending on your little one’s native county. I bought a Cork book.

Half of Finuge was there to support Emma who is from a family of Cork hurling royalty.

Kerry Sevens Rugby and football royalty were there. I snapped them chatting to Billy Keane, who, for once was not  the most famous person in the room.

I gave my former star pupil a quick peek at my book. She recognised her old dancing teacher on the back inside cover.

We were entertained by these lovely ladies as we queued to have our books signed.

Another of my star pupils was there too. Rhona Tarrant works in New York and she was on a flying visit home.

These local ladies play football with the local Mothers and Others team.

The hall was packed.

Kate O’Callaghan, chair of Finuge St. Senan’s Ladies Football Club gave  a great opening speech encouraging all young girls to participate in sport. Participation in sport, particularly team sport was a theme throughout the evening.

Emma and her husband, Robbie watched attentively.

Billy Keane was the official ‘launcher”. He praised the young girls and all the volunteers and parents who give so much time to encourage young girls to play sport. He loved Emma’s book and congratulated her on a job well done.

This is the illustrator, Paul Nugent whose work brought the story to life from Izzy’s back garden to Croke Park.

This man, a neighbour of Emma’s Cashman relatives and a trainer of Cork ladies football came from Cork to lend his support.

Louise Galvin is living a dream she didn’t even dare to dream. For women, playing sport professionally, especially rugby or football was unheard of in Louise’s youth. She is delighted now to be earning a living doing what she loves. She is an excellent ambassador for women in sport. She told us her idol is Katie Taylor.

This is the author of Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure. Emma Larkin is also fulfilling a long held dream of becoming a writer.


Looking around in Behan’s Horseshoe Restaurant

I was in The Horseshoe recently and I took a few snaps of what was on the walls.


+ R.I.P. Toddy Buckley +

I took this photo of Toddy and his beloved Noreen on St. Patrick’s Day 2016. May he rest in peace.


Racing Photographer making the news rather than reporting it

I’m glad to report that Pat Healy of Healyracing is making a good recovery after his accident in Navan yesterday. Pat is a man with a lifetime’s experience of horses and particularly those most unpredictable of all horses, thoroughbred racehorses. He was standing working beside the finishing post yesterday when the second placed horse in the first race took a notion to break through the plastic railing, knocking Pat to the ground.

If you’re going to be knocked over, a racecourse is probably the best place to be. Medical personnel attended to Pat at the scene and an ambulance was on hand to take him to hospital.

I wish him a speedy recovery and I’m looking forward to seeing his familiar figure back on track very soon.

Sarasota, Athea and a Listowel player who nearly made the Kerry team

Rossbeigh, Co. Kerry

Photo: Chris Grayson


Christmas in Sarasota

If you remember, before Christmas I asked people to tell me where they were spending Christmas. Well!!!! the response was poor. So I am really grateful to the people who took the time to send me photos or greetings from far or near. The rest of you are on the naughty list.

Pat del Savio lives in Sarasota in Florida. She sent me these photos of Christmas in her part of the world, complete with ice skating rink, Santa’s sleigh  and light shows.

Sarasota is where the international rowing  competitions were held last year so the place will be familiar to the O’Donovan brothers. I dont think they follow the blog though.


Athea- the origins of the village

 This is how this lovely little Co. Limerick village looks nowadays. I make a point of taking all of my visitors to see it. I assure you it is worth travelling to see. It has the best public art of any small town in Ireland. It has a great fairy trail, some lovely garden centres, one with a pet farm, lots of history, great music, floral displays to rival any tidy town winner, a quiet river with ducks which are fed regularly, a lovely church and best of all, friendly welcoming people.

This mural in Athea tells much of the recent history and mythology of the village in graphic form.

It was not always such a peaceful place.

Recently the North Kerry blog outlined some of Athea’s troubled past. 

This account comes from The Kerry Reporter, August 12 1933

During the 17th and 18th centuries, and also
throughout the earlier part of the 19th, the district around Athea was very
different to what it is to-day. In these days many places that are now green fields were then
covered by treacherous bogs or marshes, while the roadways were for the most
part, beaten paths, that usually became more or less impassable in winter.

The prevailing desolation was somewhat
relieved by stretches of woodland here and there, where fir, spruce and oak
grew profusely. There exists authentic records that at an earlier period still,
these woods extended in one unbroken chain as far as Adare, and there is ample
evidence to be found today in the plentiful growth of timber which exists
around Ardagh, Rathkeale and Ballingran, that there is good grounds for this
belief.  The river Gale, which rises in
the Rooska hills and flows westwards through Athea, must have been a
considerably larger stream in those days, owing to the surrounding country not
being then drained, and it can be easily imagined that devastating floods must
have been of frequent occurrence.

When Cromwell marched through Ireland in
1649-50, with fire and sword, ruthlessly slaughtering men, women and children, numbers
of fugitives found refuge from his barbarity in the Athea district! Owing to
the absence of roadways proper, the country about Athea was isolated to a great
extent during this period, and for a long time afterwards, so that it was only
with considerable difficulty the heavily armed and accoutred troopers could
manage to reach the place. For these reasons many of the inhabitants of the
place, as well as those who found refuge therein, succeeded in escaping the
general slaughter. Another factor which, no doubt, contributed to the safety of
the people living in that area at the time, was that the surrounding country
was too wild and unproductive, and the people themselves too poor, to tempt the
cupidity or rapacity of any of the regicide’s followers.

More tomorrow…..


Micko….the Listowel Connection

After last week’s great TV documentary on the legend that is Micko O’Dwyer, loads of other Micko stories are surfacing on the internet.

My favourite is this one which appeared on and it  concerns our own Pat Healy as told in his own words:


Listowel were playing in a Northleague final in Ballylongford back in the 80s and I had a stormer from wing-back.

Got about 3-3, and we won, beat Duagh. On the Monday we were down in Tim Kennelly’s pub, well on it, and Horse [Tim Kennelly] beckoned me over and said ‘You should be in with Kerry, someone should ring Dwyer about you’.

Of course, I was enthralled and before I gathered myself I was shoving 20 pence into the phone box out the back of the pub, ringing Waterville.

‘Mr O’Dwyer, it’s Pat Healy here from Listowel. We won a North Kerry final yesterday and Tim Kennelly suggested I give you a ring’. ‘About what?’, says Micko.

‘About myself, and maybe I should be on the Kerry team at this stage?’

‘And how did you get on?’, queries Dwyer.

‘Ah very good Micko. I got 3-3 storming forward from wingback, the lads here reckon I could do a job for Kerry’.

‘And who were ye playing?’

‘Duagh, Micko’.

‘Well I’ll tell you what’, growls Dwyer, ‘the next time Kerry are playing Duagh I’ll give you a call’, and the phone dies.

‘I went back into the bar and of course the whole lot of them were falling around the counter, bursting their holes laughing’.

The Lartigue, Pride of Place and a date for the diary

Lovely Listowel

Dr. Halketts on Church St. is getting a lovely paint job done.

Scoil Realt na Maidine decked out in Kerrys’ green and gold


A Journey on The Lartigue in 2015

When I was in The Lartigue Museum on Sept 1 I met two lovely railway enthusiasts. This lovely friendly couple were from Canada and they, like so many visitors to the museum, had come to Listowel especially to ride on this unique train. They were full of admiration and praise and they thoroughly enjoyed their train journey and couldn’t wait to tell them all at home about their adventure.

 They posed on the running board for a photo.

Two local visitors shared the journey with us.

The locomotive has to be turned manually.

 The visitors were intrigued by this procedure.

Now the front is the back and vise versa so the guard had to bring a lateen to the rear of the train.

Every citizen of Listowel should take a ride on the Lartigue. It is a trip back in time, full of history and romance.


Last Photos from Pride of Place 2015

Listowel’s love affair with Racing was recognized in this welcoming display.

Tech Space was showing what one can do with computers.

Máire and Liz were manning the Writers’ Week display. They presented a gift of words to the judges.

World champion dancer, Seán Slemon waiting his turn to entertain the judges

The best of Irish step dancing was on display.

The judges chatted to everyone and took an interest in every exhibit.

Maire Logue, Jimmy Moloney, Liz Dunne and Mary Hanlon at The Seanchaí

The judges were interested and appreciative.

Mary Anne O’Connor, chair of Listowel Active Retirement Group, Cara Trant of Kerry Literary and Heritage Centre, Maire Logue, Festival Manager, Listowel Writers’ Week, Joan Byrne, Listowel Tidy Towns and Liz Dunne, Vice Chairperson Listowel Writers’ Week.

Eddie Moylan of Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum shows some of his artifacts to the judges who had never seen a gramophone horn in real life before.

One final Dance an Doras and they were away to see some Living Literature upstairs.


Slack Day, Sept 15 2015

Jerry Hannon took this photo of Pat Healy and Berkie Browne enjoying a rare day off during Listowel Race Week . It’s business as usual for this pair again tomorrow, Weds Sept 16 2015.


Friday Night is Culture Night

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