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

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Tralee, The Phone Box and some Cork Street Art


Photo: Chris Grayson



These are some of the Rose dresses on display in Kerry County Museum until October.

These are some of the Rose bushes in the nearby Tralee Park. As you can see the new gardener   and his team are getting to grips with the sadly neglected rose beds. He has a huge task on his hands but the park is coming back to life again and, hopefully it will soon be restored to its former glory.


The phone box

Mattie Lennon

A public phone in Foley’s Bar in Castle

The US presidency is a Tudor monarchy plus telephones.(Anthony Burgess)

The day of the familiar Irish phone box is drawing to a close. Earlier this year the powers-that-be decided to reduce the number of post boxes from 4,850 to 2,699. Since usage of the public phone has fallen by 80% in the past five years, how long before the total demise of the phone box? The Kiosk, especially in rural areas, provided a valuable link with the outside world. But, in the words of Clinical Psychologist, Marie Murray, “ What of their psychological significance rather than their utilitarian worth? What role did they play in the lives of people? What privacy did they afford, away from the home telephone for those lucky enough to have a telephone in the house but unfortunate enough to have no privacy using that instrument at home?”Dr. Murray goes on to say that phone boxes , “ will become but quaint memories of an older generation regaling their grandchildren with tales of trysts at the local telephone box or romance conducted through whispered confidences in that semi-private box in the middle of the village or at the end of the road . . . ”

In the days when one went through the Operator there was the story of the Cavan man who phoned his friend looking for the loan of a tenner only to be told, “It’s a bad auld line, I can’t hear you.” When the request was repeated it was, once again, met with,“ I can’t hear you”. At this stage the Operator cut in with, “I can hear him perfectly”. The answer was ready, “You give him the loan of the tenner, so.”

The first “public” phone in our area was in the Post Office in Lacken where most of the calls were to the Priest, the Guards, the Doctor, the Vet or The A.I. man (or “the collar-and-tie-bull” as he was known.) The Post Office was also a shop which opened late so nocturnal communications pertaining to illicit relationships could sometimes be conducted, albeit in whispered tones. (Or so I’m told.)

Lacken eventually got a Phone-Box and conversations could be carried out in a stentorian voice without fear of “ear-wigging.” Some “coins” used were not Legal Tender (or even legal.) Washers of a certain diameter and “push-outs” from galvanised junction-boxes, used by electricians, would suffice. (Or so I’m told.)

By “tapping out” the numbers on the top of the cradle (1,9 and 0 were free) one could get through to any number. (Or so I’m told.)

When Decimal-Currency was introduced in 1971 it took a while to have the Phones adapted. The new Decimal 1P coin was exactly the same size as the old sixpence and worked very well. (Or so I’m told.)

Another favourite trick was to block the return-chute with a piece of rolled up twine and to return for the proceeds when a number of people had pressed “Button B” without getting any refund. (Or so I’m told.)

Nowadays when I hear the Dublin joke, “What do Northside girls use for protection? A Phone-box”, it reminds me that at times in rural Ireland the Phone-box was often utilised for erotic pelvic activity while parallel with the perpendicular. (Or so I’m told.)

When a not-too-well-liked person would be retiring it would be said, “They’re holding his retirement do in a phone-box”.

On one occasion, in a neighbouring parish, a female who was presumed to have contracted a “social disease” used the phone and civic-minded local woman immersed it (the phone, not the female caller) in a bucket of Jeye’s Fluid. This caused a malfunction which the P&T engineer couldn’t find a cause for. A local wag said, “you were poxed to get it workin’ agin.”

When Mobiles were getting plentiful and it looked like the humble Phone box would soon be redundant I made a suggestion to Eircom as to the possible utilisation of same . . as Condom-Dispensers. And I even had an idea for cost cutting in the area of signage; by using some of the existing logos and slogans. For instance; wouldn’t the Eircom logo, with very slight modification, look remarkably like a rolled-up condom? And where would you leave slogans like, “Let your fingers do the walking”. Do you think they acknowledged my suggestion? They didn’t even phone me.


On a Cork Street

Listowel Toilets, Halls in Knockanure, More St. Patrick’s Day Photos and Daffodil Day 2019

Market Street, Listowel in March 2019


More Photos fromThe Parade 2019


Spending a Penny In Listowel

This public convenience is in Market Street, Listowel. It is costing us a fortune in maintenance and it is rarely used. We are all half afraid of it and it appears to me that visitors to town are the only patrons.

Michael Guerin posted an amusing video on Facebook detailing the locations of previous toilets.

Listowel Toilets


Knockanure Dancehalls


Now and Then

Same corner but without the public phone kiosks


Daffodil Day 2019

I missed Daffodil Day in town this year but as you can see from these photos posted on Facebook, the hard working volunteers covered every corner of town and had another very successful fundraising day.

Shop Windows for Listowel Races 2018, Kerry camino and some old races Photos

Photo by Ita Hannon


Violet Dalton’s dolls at NCBI shop

Violet has a gifted pair of hands. She loves designing and making outfits for her dolls. For Listowel Races 2018 she has made a super jockey’s silks for her boy doll and two gorgeous Ladies Day outfits for her little ladies . They are part of the window displays at NCBI Shop in Church St.


The Races in the old days

Photos by Junior Griffin


Kerry Camino

St. John’s Tralee

The Kerry camino starts at St. John’s Church Tralee.


New Public Phone Box

An old post box on Denny Street, Tralee. Volumes of mail have decreased enormously. How long before An Post takes away the kerbside postboxes too?


Listowel Florist’ Window for  Raceweek 2018

Betty McGrath’s window incorporates all the elements of Listowel Raceweek


Sounds like a Brilliant Idea

Have you heard of hotdesking?

Here is the Wiki definition:     Hot desking (sometimes called “non-reservation-based hoteling“) is an office organization system which involves multiple workers using a single physical work station or surface during different time periods.[1] The “desk” in the name refers to an office desk being shared by multiple office workers on different shifts as opposed to each staff member having their own personal desk.

Now HQ Listowel is taking hotdesking to the next level. When this office space opens in Market Street shortly, it will mean that someone who needs a temporary office space in Listowel can have a hot desk or office with everything laid on. It’s kind of like the concession shop idea but with offices.

“Bright & spacious business suites & hotdesks on Market St.Listowel.
All running Costs, Rent, Rates, Elec, Meeting Room, Broadband & Free Parking!#Coworking– Enquiries to Tom”

Ballylongford, The Price of a Bodhrán, Crubeens, Phone Boxes and Memories of Two Papal Visits

Ballylongford by Ita Hannon


Lyreacrompane Honours Kay

Pat McCarthy, Duagh and Dublin, makes a surprise presentation to Kay O’Leary, who initiated the Dan Paddy Andy Festival twenty-one years ago, for her role in the community, especially for her work in building the Festival over the years.

Photo and caption from the Lyreacrompane website


The Price of a Bodhrán

The late, great John B Keane was a Limerick Leader columnist for more than 30 years. This column first appeared in the edition of November 24, 1973

Awful price

“SEVENTEEN pounds is an awful price for a bodhrán,” writes Drummer of Sirand, who does not want his name mentioned but is a familiar face at wrenboy competitions all over Limerick and Kerry.

The remark was prompted by Sonny Canavan’s statement in last week’s Leader that he was charging £17 apiece for homemade bodhráns.

“I can walk into any shop,” Drummer continues, “and buy a span new drum for twelve pounds, a drum that will last.”

I showed his letter to Canavan and asked him to reply.

“Tell him buy the drum,” Canavan countered, “and let them that wants bodhráns buy bodhráns.


Cork Heritage

Cork is doing its best to hang on to its distinctive vocabulary.

On August 18 2018 I had a langerload of Cork heritage.

This is a statue to the shawlies in The Coal Quay. The Coal Quay is the Moore Street or Covent Garden of Cork. It’s nice to see the tradition of outdoor stalls continuing although most of them were not selling foodstuffs or, if they were, they weren’t native Cork food stuffs.

One tradition The Cornstore revived for Heritage Day was the eating of crubeens.

They were serving them to us with a dollop of mustard sauce.

I did try one but there was nothing to eat, just skin, fat, gristle and bone.


In Cork, A Spire and Phone Boxes

I spotted this along the quay before the Clayton Hotel. It looks like a kind of a crooked spire.

There is an old fashioned phone box on the pavement outside the mobile phone shop on Patrick Street.

The streets were very quiet. It was early in the morning but I think this no traffic lark is biting a bit.


Knock Apparition

P. J. Lynch painted the mural depicting the apparition at Knock. Pope Francis visited and prayed there on August 26 2018.


Just a Thought

Here is the link to my most recent set of Thoughts for Radio Kerry.

Just a Thought


Listowel People who saw the Pope in Ireland

Lots of Listowel people went to Dublin to attend  the pope’s mass. Members of the Listowel Folk group went to sing.

Eileen, Catherine, Mary, Tina and Mike were in The Phoenix Park in August 2018

But Junior Griffin was in Limerick in 1979. He took these photos as the pope landed by helicopter at Limerick Racecourse and took a jaunt in his popemobile before saying mass.

Another public Phone box removed and an up and coming bikeman and Opening Night WW18

A naonhóg on the beach photographed by Chris Grayson


Writers’ Week Opening Night 2018

We had a ball! Here are my first few photos. I’ll be busy snapping away for the next few days so you won’t see the bulk of my photos until later on. Meanwhile enjoy the sunshine and if you can at all come on down to lovely Listowel. The great and the good are here and there’s music and dancing too. If you don’t believe me look here.



Last week they took out this phone box by McKenna’s.

There it is…gone, just the rectangle of new paving bricks to show where it’s been.


Charles Street from Mill Lane


From the John Hannon Archive

Phil Walsh who passed away recently . May she dance in heaven


Conor Keane catches up with the Kellihers


One to Watch

The cyclist on the left greeting his grandparents at the Listowel finish of Rás Tailteann is Dillon Corkery . This young man is only 19 and he finished 26th overall in the Rás. This is a magnificent performance considering that many of the other riders are professional. There were only four other Irish amateur riders ahead of him. He is surely going places.

Brendan Landy on Facebook reminded us of another super bike rider who rode into Listowel at the beginning of his cycling career. This is Brendan Landy’s super picture of Sam Bennett winning stage 3 into Listowel  of the An Post Rás in 2013.

Could Dillon Corkery be the next Sam Bennett? 

Remember where you heard it first!

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