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 Shortt

Craftshop na Méar, Pat Shortt and a competition winner

A Relic of Auld Decency

Photo; Lisa Egan, Mallow Camera Club


Craftshop na Méar, a Resumé

This is how Kiely’s of Church Street looked.

In November 2013 Namir Karim’s craftshop moved in and set out to find a name for the new venture. In the window was a big yellow fibreglass pig who became the mascot for the early days. The name that the crafters settled on was Craftshop na Méar, using a naming method I first heard used by Clare GAA.

(There is a GAA rule that every member must be registered with the Irish version of his name. This proved a bit problematic when they had a player called Mosajee Bhamgee. Some genius came up with the nearest Irish equivalent and he was registered as Muiris Bean Sí)

Namir didn’t have an Irish version of his name so na Méar was agreed on as the nearest match. Besides in fitted well with the produce which was to be handcrafts.

A competition was held to name the pig. The late Dan Green, who was a big supporter of the shop, hit on Crubeen, the perfect name.

Namir and his daughter, Roza were very involved in their new venture.

Maureen Connolly, Mary Boyer, Eileen Moylan and Isobel Barrett were among the early crafters.

 The shop stocked a wide variety of produce.

 This photograph was taken at the official opening in 2013

Mary Keane cut the ribbon and she was one of the first customers.

Maureen, Mary Anne, Una, Eileen, Mary and Anne enjoyed the opening ceremony as well.

This photograph was taken on one of the “big days” in the shop as the crafters pose with the award for the widow display at Seachtain na Gaeilge.

I have a few more photos but I’ll keep them to tomorrow.



Pat Shortt shared this photo of himself and Jon Kenny taken backstage at an early gig in Limerick


A Prize wining essayist 

Listowel Races 2016 and Smalltown

It’s Raceweek 2016

I went to the island on Sunday Sept 11 2016. The crowd was small. The weather was cold and very windy and there is a long week ahead so many people found something else to do. The attendance at the Ballyduff Kilmoyley hurling replay was massive. Lots of reasons why people stayed away but I enjoyed having the place to myself to explore.

You’d never know who you’d run into on the island.

Bishop Ray seemed to be enjoying himself with his Listowel hosts, Shane and Jim.

Jimmy Hickey was there with friends. He has promised to give us a real treat very soon. He is going to give me some old footage of Listowel dancers on trips abroad. When I get my hands on it I’ll be sharing it with you on Listowel Connection.

The Sheahan family have a long association with Listowel Races.

These fellows were there to keep the children entertained. They were very popular.

This is the parade ring. Every year it gets a bit of a facelift. This year it is looking particularly spruce.

If your horse is first pat the post next time round, the parade ring is the place to be to see him coming in and his jockey dismounting. Then follows the debrief with the trainer and connections.

If you are lucky enough to get a ringside seat, you also get to see the winner being presented with his prize. Ringside seats were easier than usual to come by on Sunday.

I never knew there were so many different bridles available for racehorses. From my seat at ringside I observed that practically every horse that passed was sporting a different bridle. I think we used to call them winkers.


The Custom Gap

First glimpse  as you come into The Square for Listowel Race Week 2016


Did you watch Smalltown? It is the most gut wrenching show you will see in a long time. It is absolutely brilliant and it was made by a Listowel man.

It is a story about family, a rural Irish family who love one another but can’t express it in words. They don’t talk to one another much and when they do, it is often the wrong words that come out.

The two things that unite them are preparing food for one another and watching TV together.

Conor, the prodigal son, comes home to be present with his family in the final weeks of his mother’s life. Everything in his home town is the same and everything has changed. His awkwardness is so well captured we all know a Conor and we’ve all felt some of Conor’s feelings at times.

The family is breaking up, mother is dying in “the room”, Tom is out with his cattle and his farmyard chores, Conor is eating alone at the kitchen table and Timmy is watching other families resolve their problems in shouting matches on The Jeremy Kyle Show.

Conor cooks a meal for the family in a ham fisted effort at drawing them together. Funnily, just like these things happen in real life, the exposure to foreign “culture” works and the family eat the “shit” together in the bedroom while laughing together at some stupid show on TV. We just know as they do that this will probably be their last meal together and maybe their last happy memory as a family.

“For love, all love of other sights controls, 

And makes one little room an everywhere. ” John Donne

There is a scene in episode two when Tom, stripped to his bedtime attire of vest and boxer shorts,  slowly quenches the candles that light the room and climbs into the cold hospital bed beside his dying wife. She tries to comfort him as he tries to draw strength from the shell who once was his rock.  The scene is so well done, I challenge anyone to watch it without a tear.

There is loads more to Smalltown. I can’t wait for this Thursday when the mother will inevitably die. Will the English girlfriend come to the funeral? How will that go down?

I have never seen a Gerard Barrett film through to the end. Pilgrim Hill was so heart breakingly gloomy that I gave up. I didn’t venture to Grassland. Smalltown has won me over. I’ll definitely be at the next Gerard Barrett movie.

TV Licences, Console

He’s Come a Long Way

 Pat Shortt is in the centre of this RTE photo. That was back in the day when he was part of the hugely successful D’Unbelievables. Now Shortt has  become known as a serious actor. His latest venture is Gerard Barrett’s Smalltown. Apropos of that, a little birdie tells me that Miriam O’Callaghan might have a few guests we will all know on Saturday night.

This contraption was supposed to detect if you had a TV so that the TV licence inspector could call and frighten the life out of you if you didn’t have a licence


They Haven’t Gone Away, You Know

 Spotted this week in Ballincollig


Question in Parliament 1899

From this exchange in parliament in June 1899 it would appear that the idea of Muckross as a National Park was mooted well before the Bourne Vincent bequest 

Mr Lough asked the First Lord of the Treasury whether £90,600 had been realised by the sale of Quit and Crown rents in Ireland between the years 1891 and 1897, and since 1864 nearly a quarter of a million had been obtained from this source; and whether these monies were being used for the purchase of estates in Great Britain; if so whether the Government would be prepared to appropriate a portion of this Irish fund, which is being withdraw from Ireland at the rate of about £2,000 a year for the purchase of the Muckross demesne at Killarney as a national park ?

Mr A J Balfour—The statement of figures is, I believe, quite accurate, but I do not think this can be made a question a between the expenditure of Imperial money in Ireland and expenditure of Imperial money in England. None of the money which has come from the sources referred to has been expended in England upon parks outside the metropolitan area. The policy of purchasing public parks so far from great centres of population, and which would not be of great value to the public during many winter months, seems very doubtful, indeed.

Mr MacNeill-Is the right hon gentleman aware  that a good deal of this money has been expended in connection with the Royal palaces ?

Mr Balfour—I was not aware of that. It may be so, but I have made no inquiries on that point.

Church St., Poverty in Kerry in 1898 and The Manly Barber on Charles Street

Church St. Listowel Sunday August 14 2016


Now and Then



When Times were Hard

Kerry Sentinel  Wednesday, February 16, 1898


Speaking on the distress in Kerry on Friday night, Mr. Flavin said he did not desire to needlessly prolong the debate, but at the same time he might say that he had little hope of obtaining anything like generous treatment or anything in the nature of a remedy from the Chief Secretary (hear, hear). 

He had made complaints before about the condition of the poor people, and he received no response from the Chief Secretary. He appealed to the right hon. gentleman last year at a time when most of the labouring population in the Listowel Union were in want of work, but nothing came of it. They were told to fall back upon the union for relief. But the fact was that the poor rates now in the Listowel Union were as much as 15s. in the pound, and the ratepayers could not bear any additional burden. 

Unless the Government stepped in to prevent it, there would be great distress in Kerry. There were no seed potatoes and no seed oats, and what seed there was in Kerry and Munster had come from the North of Ireland and from Scotland. So long as the Chief Secretary preferred the statements of his own inspectors to even those of the landlords in Kerry, and the representatives of the people, there was little hope of anything of a beneficial character being done for the people of the poorer districts (hear, hear)


I Met him on William St.

Pat Walsh favours pedal power. Pat was cycling before it became a fashionable means of transport.


Manctuary is now The Manly Barber

This shop has pinned its colours to the mast. In case there was any doubt; It is now clearly men only.


Strange Things in the Sea off Kerry this year

First it was jellyfish, now this is reported in Afloat Magazine

A miniature unmanned
sailing boat has been reported off the Kerry coast after nearly three years in
the North Atlantic.

The boat, named
West, is part of the Educational Passages project
by the Middle
School of Westbrook in Maine, USA and is one of five boats the Sebago School
Alliance sent out in the autumn and winter of 2013-14.

West was launched off
Georges Bank along with one other boat by Bro Cote, a lobsterman out of
Hyannis, Massachusetts. Several others were launched about the same time off
the Mid-East coast of the United States and off the Canary Islands for the marine science

“We had hoped the boat
would make the complete circle of the Atlantic Ocean. It has and then some,”
say the project organsiers about West, which has been spotted 32 nautical miles
from the Kerry coastline.

West could arrive in
the Kerry area over the next few days or, depending upon weather conditions,
may go further northwards towards the Galway coast.

Previously West made
landfall in November 2014 when it crashed on rocks in rough seas off Portugal,
where it was recovered by local authorities and repaired with the help of local
companies and relaunched from Lisbon in June last year.

Four months later, it
was recovered entering the Mediterranean, refurbished again and put on a cargo
ship to Madeira and relaunched from there on 28 January this year.

The project
co-ordinators have asked for assistance to help rescue the boat when it arrives
in the coming days

“It would be great if
the boat could be recovered at sea or shortly after landing to avoid


Coming Soon to a small screen in your living room

Gerard Barrett’s Smalltown promises to be one of those close to the bone series. It will be the rural equivalent of Love Hate, holding the mirror up to  aspects of today’s Ireland we may all recognise.

I heard about Smalltown first from Fr. Pat Moore who wrote about it in his very thought provoking blog. Read it here:  Strength within, Support without


Knockanure Vintage Day 2016

Knockanure Local went to the vintage day and here are his photos

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