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: Pecker Dunne

St. John’s, Advice for the 1950s Wife, Coffee Nook and Pecker Dunne

Photo: Éamon ÓMurchú


St. John’s in July 2020. The recent planting of the hydrangeas in the front has added that pop of colour that the centre of The Square needed.


Pecker Dunne

The late singer songwriter, Pecker Dunne is with Mary O’Flaherty in Tom Fitzgerald’s photo.


In Listowel Town Park

I met three generations of the Barry family out for a walk in Childers’ Park last week.


Hilarious Advice for the 1950s Wife

( shared on Facebook by Ger Greaney)


Tae Lane Store

Everywhere looks better with flowers.


Another Business Casualty of the Pandemic?

The Coffee Nook in Church Street is still closed.

A lesson, a beauty queen, a Fancy Fair in 1919, Con Houlihan’s Study and a Book story

A Word in Your Ear……. watch out for the young ones.  it’s  All Fools’ Day.

Photo: Chris Grayson


A  Lesson from Listowel’s Garden of Europe

Our Garden of Europe is built on what was the town landfill site. In 2014 when we had the father and mother of a storm a tree was uprooted in the Garden. I posted this photo before in 2016 and the caption is what I wrote then.

Nature and Man; This tree was uprooted by the storm of 2014. It revealed underneath a mass of our discarded plastic waste which will not disintegrate for years and years.  

“When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.” Native American wisdom.


Beauty Queen with a Listowel Connection

Five years ago Sarah Jane Dunne, daughter of Pecker Dunne reached the final of Miss Ireland. Mattie Lennon wrote this poem celebrating the occasion.


Air; Sullivan’s John

By Mattie Lennon

Oh, Sarah Jane Dunne, ‘though she hadn’t  won, on the nineteenth day of July.

This talented lass,  from the Traveller class, was neither aloof or shy.

“Tinkers daughter”, you’d hear, amid debt-ridden fear in that place that’s called Dublin-four 

She never felt shame but carried the name, as the Pecker had done before.

To the final she went, then felt quite content when her rival Miss Cork took the crown

All set to advance, with a positive stance Sarah didn’t see cause for a frown.

If one doesn’t stop, till they get to the top there’s always a price to be paid

Like Kipling she knows, no matter how  the wind blows, there’s no failure just triumph delayed. 

From the time she was small it was clear to us all,   she was on the road to fame.

At a match or a fair in Cork, Kerry or Clare to busk with her father she came.

Unlike Sullivan’s John, from the road she’s gone but the globe she plans to roam.

She’ll model and teach and great heights she’ll reach; the world is now her home.

She has got this far and her rising star will continue to ascend.

New points she has scored and with critics ignored  begrudgery she’ll transcend

And you can be sure that her Godfather, Moore, will pen her a song bye and bye

As the Pecker sings proud, on his Heavenly cloud,  a new  Tinker’s Lullaby.

© Mattie Lennon2014



(Kerry Weekly Reporter, June 28 1919)

The Fancy Fair in aid of the renovation of the. Presentation Convent Chapel opened on Wednesday in beautiful, in fact, ideal mid-summer weather— but considering the laudable object for which the function has been brought about it must be said the attendance, especially from the rural area, was sparse. However in the evening the townspeople showed up in goodly numbers and business in the different stalls interspersed about the Sportsfield and in the Gymnasium Hall was fairly brisk and led to the hope that the second day’s venture would be enthusiastically supported by town and country and thus bring the function to the happy and successful climax it so eminently merits. 

Every taste is catered for from both the masculine and feminine view and the work on sale of the most intrinsic and artistic order. The fair was formally opened by our highly esteemed Pastor, The Very Rev. D Canon O’Connor, P.P., V.F.; and that great paragon of popularity ,the Rev. Charles O’Sullivan, C.C., who made some useful and artistic, articles as souvenirs of the occasion, at prices that could “defy competition.” 

The Listowel Temperance Brass Band attended and discussed a highly acceptable programme throughout the day.

 The following were stall holders, each and all of whom rendered very satisfactory accounts of their stewardship- Mrs. D. H. Leane, Mrs. Dr. O’Connor, Mrs. W. McElligott, Mrs J. Crowley, Mrs. Foran, Miss Maggie Harnett, Mrs. J. M. Galvin, Mrs. J. Cronin, (Church St.). The following gentlemen formed the Committee, the Hon. Secretary being Mr. R. Tackaberry to whom much credit is due for the excellent manner in which the details of the undertaking had been carried out—Dr. M. O’Connor, U.D.C; Messrs H. J. Marshall, solr; J Macaulay, J.P.; Jas. Crowley, V.S; T. Mortelle, P.Breen, T. F Cronin ; P. Corridan, T. J. Walsh, U.D.C; J McKenna , Co. C ; Thos. Corridan, J. Donnelly , Ed. Boylan. J. Cronin ( Church St.); W Henigan, V.S.; W. McElligott, C.P.S.; E. Bursen, R. A. Macaulay, solr.; D. H Leane, L.P.S.I; J J. Galvin, Dr. Buckley, U.D.C. ; M. Griffin, N.T.; J. Scully, D. B Judge, J Kileen.
The Ladies Committee was composed of Mrs. Dr. O’Connor, Mrs. D. H. Leane,Mrs. T. Mortelle, Mrs. J. M. Galvin, Mrs. T. J Walsh, Mrs. McElligott, Mrs. Dr Clancy, Mrs. Pierse, Mrs. and Miss Macaulay, Miss M. McMahon, Miss Horgan, Mrs. T. O’Brien, Mrs. McKenna, Miss Maggie Harnett, Mrs. Dennehy, Miss Kirby


The Room Where Con Houlihan Wrote

Photo: Ian O’Riordan


A Story for You

I love a good book. On my daughter’s recommendation I was reading a great story called a Spool of

Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. It was unputdownable. Then after a weekend in Cork I went and left it

behind, just as I was getting to the crux too.

I tried the library. No joy there. the lovely librarian ordered it in but it could take 10 days. Can I wait

that long for Denny to find the thread to mend his father’s dashiki?

So I tried the charity shops. The book was published in 2005 and in my experience you nearly have

to go to an antiquarian bookseller nowadays for anything over 2 years old.

I didn’t get A Spool of Blue Thread but take a look at my haul.

………And I only spent €3.00. God bless Marie Kondo!

And Then……….

I got a phonemail from Listowel library to say….ta dah….Martina had sourced a copy of the book for me.

I toddled down as soon as the library opened. I’ve nearly finished the book. I’d highly recommend it….a great read

Debs 1991, Ballybunion and Newmarket

Jim MacSweeney’s photo of a sparrow hawk won him a prize at the Rebel Cup photography competition.


St. Michael’s Debs 1991

This photo was given to me by James Scanlon and he did the best he could do with the names.  James, whose family owned The Spinning Wheel  had left Listowel as his family went to live in Limerick before the Debs but he came back for the night out.

Included in the photo are Liam Kelly, Gerard McGuinness, Don Keane, Evan MacAulliffe, Shane Comerford, Mike Carmody, Seán Pierse, Eddie Bolger, John O’Riordan, Berkie Browne, Frank Quilter, Aidan O’Connor, Shane Hartnett, Michael Mann,Victor Sheehan, Donny O’Connell


Ballybunion by the Sea

I’m going back to Kerry, From the Land of Liberty, 
To my little Irish home town, Ballybunion by the sea,
To walk along the old Slip Road, Where the breezes softly blow, 
And to get out to the ocean, Where the tides of memory flow.

To walk along the beach, Down below the Castle Green. 

Up to the lovely Cliffs of Doon, The likes you’ve never seen. 

From Listowel to Ballylongford and back into Tralee.
There’s no place else in Ireland like Ballybunion by the sea.

I’ll take a walk down Main Street, And see my friends from home, 
Go tell my own true sweetheart, I never more will roam,
Go tell the lads I’m coming back, That’s where I want to be,

 In my little Irish home town, Ballybunion by the sea.

In my little Irish home town, Ballybunion by the sea.

This song was written by Pecker Dunne and recorded by Larry Cunningham  Here


Newmarket, Co. Cork

Newmarket is one of the small towns you pass through if you take the Rockchapel road to Cork. Let me tell you an interesting fact about Newmarket. It has three public statues and they are all women.

Alice Taylor is a very successful writer of novels, short stories and memoir. Her first runaway success was a memoir of growing up in Newmarket called To School Through The Fields. Her gift for nostalgia and vivid descriptions of a way of life that was dying caught the mood of the time and following their first success she has gone on the write numerous books describing village and parish life in her adopted Inishannon. She is a frequent visitor to Listowel Writers’ Week.

 Sarah Curran is a less down to earth heroine. She defied her family to allow Robert Emmett to court her and is seen by history as a tragic romantic figure.

 This doorway beside the statue of Curran struck me as a little odd. Did you ever see a padlocked door leading to a Main Street?

The third lady commemorated with a statue is Our Lady of Lourdes whose grotto stands at the east end of the town.


“The French are on the sea and old Ireland will be free”

Ita Hannon photographed this French Navy training ship in the Shannon estuary last week.


Circle of Friends

Lyreacrompane Development Association posted this photo to Facebook. It shows friends of  the late Fr. Pat Moore  circled around Mario Perez sand art tribute in Ballybunion on May 11 2017.

Christmas 2012

Le coinnle na n-aingeal

Tá an spéir amuigh breactha.

Tá fiacal an tseacha sa ghaoth on gcnoc

Adaigh an tine is thigh chun na leapan

Lúifidh mac Dé insan tigh seo anocht.


Listowel parish choir’s carol concert 2012 here;


There are many songs written and sung about a spontaneous temporary Christmas truce in the trenches of the Great War in 1915. This is a link to a moving compilation of images, put together by Alan Starkie and accompanied by the singing of Mike Harding. This will draw  tears  from many.


Jim Halpin paid his own tribute to Páidí ÓSé


Christmas in town

The Mermaids’ Christmas window

Santa in Garvey’s

The cinema extension, almost completed.

Gardaí on the beat on Upper Church Street.


This is a Bord na Mona Christmas card from the 1940’s.

Some of the men who worked on the bogs in the midlands in the 40’s did not get to go home for Christmas and it was customary to have a party for them.

 Here the porter is being poured into mugs  from what looks seriously like a milk bucket…….Some party! No wonder the men don’t look too happy.

Will you take a look at their Christmas dinner?

I sourced these photos onóna-Heartland/180733458639655

You should visit the page yourself for a description of some fascinating Christmas customs. Thank you, Tony, for a great webpage!


Sr. Eilís at the secondary school has researched  the name of every nun who lived in Listowel from 1844 to the present day and she has recorded all the names in a handcrafted collage in the shape of an oaktree, the symbol of the Presentation order. This is a new and inventive way to remind today’s pupils of the contribution of all of these women to education in Listowel.


Don’t forget the fireworks tomorrow night  in The Square at 5.00 p.m.


News is just coming in of the passing of Pecker Dunne. Listen to him here:


And now a little Christmas toast from Kay Forristal

Here’s to you and yours and theirs and mine
May good-health and cheer be yours this Christmastime.

May the years ahead blessings herald
And swiftly bring into our world
Fortune that will favour you and yours
And theirs and mine especially at Christmastime.

Now I take my leave and say
God bless you and yours and theirs and mine
Fond thoughts to our loved ones in heaven
 This Blessed Season, Christmastime.

Kay Forristal (c)

The Man’s Shop

Above are  ads from this week’s Advertiser.

After 150 years of dressing the men of North Kerry and West Limerick The Man’s Shop is closing its doors at the end of next month.

Ned, who is the fourth generation of his family to trade in Listowel is retiring.  His four sons  have taken different career paths. The tradition of the next generation taking over the family business  is being broken in this as in many other businesses in town.

The O’Sullivan’s began business in Listowel in Upper William Street in the 1860s. Ned’s great-grandfather, Michael O’Sullivan from Ardoughter in Ballyduff began a tailoring business in Pound Lane, now Upper William St.  Ned’s grandfather, also Ned, moved the business to Market St. to a new premises near where  Tarrant’s Garage is today. The business was thriving. Eight full time tailors were employed there at one time. Ned’s father, Seán, took over the business in the 1960s and he made the move away from tailoring and into off -the- peg and general menswear. The Man’s Shop moved into its present location in 1962. Ned left teaching in 1989 and went into the family business. In recent years, as his political commitments became more onerous, the shop has been run by Mark Loughnane.

Mark takes a delivery from postman, Pat Hickey, at the door of The Man’s Shop

How will this street scape look in a few year’s time?

On a completely different note, 2 stories from the weekend’s papers.

Two Listowel men caused a bit of an upset at a rugby match in England. According to The Kerryman, David Fitzmaurice and his friend and fellow Munster supporter, Mike Brosnan, lost their way on the way back to their seats at the Munster v. Northhampton match. They found themselves in the Northhampton booth, where they were less than welcome. The Northhampton coach, Jim Mallinder, cleared the boys back to the Munster section. The incident was caught on Sky sports.

Sunday’s Independent had an account of a tribute concert to the legendary Pecker Dunne. Pecker Dunne, it is said, played at more Munster finals than Cork. He is now in poor health and his friend, Mannix Flynn was organizing Sunday night’s event to help him out.

There are lots of enjoyable video clips of Pecker on youtube.

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