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: Road works

Listowel, Jimmy Hickey and His Dancers in Wales,

Welcome Weather

We have had an unseasonably mild October in 2016. This thought struck me the other day as I walked through the Square. Shops still have their advertising outdoors, an unusual sight for late October


Change of Scene for the Roadworks

Just sweeping up.  William Street is all done and dusted for the time being. It will have to be revisited again but for now it’s the turn of Market Street .

The road is temporarily resurfaced and life can get back to normal for a while for Lynch’s Cafe and Mags Deli.


An Example to us all

This hardy lady was out bright and early do her shopping.


Jimmy Hickey in Wales

The first time Jimmy attended the Eistedfodd was in 1982 with this group from the Sliabh Luachra area.

Let me fill you in on the background.

This is how his involvement
started. Jimmy’s dancers from Sliabh Luachra were performing in a hotel in
Killarney. The organisers of the Welsh Eisteddfod were there and were very
impressed with what they saw. 

 (An eisteddf is aWelshfestivalofliterature,musicandperformance. The tradition of such a meeting of Welsh artists dates back to
at least the 12th century, when a festival of poetry and music was held byRhys ap GruffyddofDeheubarthat his court inCardiganin 1176, but the decline of thebardictradition
made it fall intoabeyance. The current format owes much to an 18th-century revival
arising out of a number of informal eisteddfodau.   Wikipedia)

In lay man’s language it is a
kind of Welsh fleadh cheoil.

The directors of the
Eisteddfod saw Jimmy and his dancers in Killarney and invited them to come to
Wales. They were only delighted to go and they returned there to great success
year after year.

On one occasion Prince
Charles attended the eisteddfod and he asked Jimmy if he could teach him to
dance. He was asking the right man.

Terry Wogan was the M.C.
another year.

This was the year they met Rolf Harris

Jack Leahy R.I.P. used to work as a ticket collector on the trains in London. He remembered watching the hoards boarding the train for the Eisteddfod every summer and  he envied them. He had to pinch himself to believe that not only was he finally attending the festival but he was participating.

Here is a link to video footage of Jimmy and crew chatting with Prince Charles and then putting on their show with the prince in the audience. Around 7,000 people attend the Eisteddfod every year.

 If you keep watching you will see the dancers performing at the Harmonie Festival in 1999. I’ll tell you more about that anon.

Jimmy Hickey and Sliabh Luachra Dancers in Wales and Germany

I talked to one of the
ladies, Sheila O’Connell of Ballydesmond, who went on that first trip to the
Eisteddfod and she remembers it very fondly, They were all very aware that they
were representing Ireland. They dressed in Irish traditional costumes and they
carried the flag everywhere they went. They were accommodated in local houses
and became firm friends with their local hosts.


Halloween Parade

This is the home of Listowel KDYS.

This is what they are planning for Halloween, October 31 2016

Lovely Listowel’s Fruit and Nuts Community Garden, Road Works in town and a little bit of history

Morning Walk in Lovely Listowel

Listowel Tidy Town Committee have done great work in promoting biodiversity in town. Read the full judges’ report here;

Judges’ Report

The report speaks glowingly of the town and of the work of the local committee. The two ladies who are singled out for mention for their early morning efforts to keep our lovely town in tip top order are Breda McGrath and Margaret O’Donoghue. 

I learned a lot about Listowel by reading the report and when I headed out on my morning walk I determined to seek out areas that got high praise from the judges.

The judges loved all of the artwork, murals and statues in our town. They even suggested a few more. They loved the job that the young people have done on the old handball alley.

I have passed this sign several times and never stopped to read it. It took the Tidy Town judge’s report to alert me to this great initiative.

This is the fruit and nut community garden and picnic area by the river.

This area is bee and bug friendly and it has some lovely new planting alongside more mature trees.

This walk through Gurtinard Wood is an education in birds, bees and local wildlife.

One of the Tidy Town volunteers was hard at work picking up the litter on Church Street.

Listowel Tidy Town Committee acknowledge that the town’s continued success in the competition is due to the efforts of all the town’s citizens. They recognised the contribution of so many in the town at a special award ceremony in Listowel Family Resource Centre last week.

The below photo from Listowel Tidy Town’s Facebook page shows he people who collected the awards on behalf of the winners. In many cases the award was earned by a team of people. Take a bow, everyone!


Be Careful on Listowel Streets 

We all have to be very patient with these roadworks. It will be worth it all in the end. But while the upgrade is underway we  have to drive more slowly and carefully and be super aware of pedestrians who are unfamiliar with  our new traffic layout.

  Junction at Courthouse Road and Church St. Traffic exiting Courthouse Road may now turn left or right. This is a very busy corner. Take great care.

Traffic on Church St. is now two way. Motorists, particularly large trucks avoiding the snaggle on the John B. Keane Rd. please please drive very slowly.

 Upper Church Street

Scully’s Corner 


Convamore, Ballyhooley, Co. Cork

Alas, Convamore itself no longer stands. The house was one of
nearly 280 big houses burned during the Irish Troubles of 1919 – 1923. It was
built in the early 19th century for William Hare, later 1st Earl of Listowel,
to celebrate his elevation to the peerage. The architects responsible were the
celebrated Pain brothers.(3) The house, one of the first in Ireland to feature
large plate glass windows, was much praised by contemporaries.

“For the first in beauty and magnificence is Convamore, now
the property of the Honourable Richard Hare, eldest son of Lord Ennismore. This
place was much and justly admired for the singular beauty of its situation,
before it derived any adventitious graces from the hand of art. The addition of
a superb house and grounds, highly dressed and judiciously planted, fully
entitle it to the pre-eminence here bestowed. This fine mansion is not less
calculated to gratify the accomplished spectator within than without. Lord
Ennismore and his son are both distinguished for their skill and love of
painting, and have in consequence profusely adorned the house with pictures of
the best Masters”.(4)

Another visitor noted Convamore’s beautiful setting:

“… in a fine domain stretching along the banks of the
Blackwater, and commanding an interesting view of the winding of that river
through rich masses of woodland to the picturesque ruins of the ancient castle
of Ballyhooly, situated on a rocky prominence over the Blackwater, and, with
the present church and the ruins of the former, both closely adjoining,
presenting a highly picturesque and romantic group”.

The Earl of Listowel sold off most of the Convamore estate in
the wake of the Irish land reforms of the early 20th century. The present Earl
recalled his childhood at Convamore as a time of “baked potatoes from the
bottom of a bonfire in the garden, and a vast Christmas tree dressed by my
grandmother, who was extremely annoyed when we dashed for the presents
underneath it, instead of admiring her work in dressing it. This was not
unnatural, as having a staff of at least 20 indoor servants and nothing to do
in the house, she had spent hours tying little baubles to the branches of the
tree. I also remember the golden pheasants which fluttered about like farm-yard
fowls in the great park. There was general jubilation when my grandfather
celebrated his 80th birthday by half a day’s woodcock shooting at

During the War of Independence, a reign of terror swept across
Ireland with a bloody tit-for-tat war between the Black and Tans and the IRA.
The latter concluded that the big houses of pro-British gentry were
“legitimate targets”. One fine summer evening in 1921 three country
houses in North County Cork were burned down in retaliation for a reprisal.
Convamore was the first to go. Lord Listowel’s elderly niece, Mrs.
was in the house at the time. She survived but was found
wandering dazedly around the house without her false teeth, which perished in
the fire. (5)

(The above information was put together by Turtle Bunbury and the photo is from the internet.)

Convamore Houseremained the Irish seat of lord Listowel until it
was burned during the War of Independence in1921. Destroyed with
the mansion were “all its wealth of antique furniture and treasures of
art,” with the losses totalling as much as £150,000 by the earl’s estimate. Unoccupied for much of the 20th century it was demolished in

Greenlawn, Road works on William Street and The New Kingdom

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

I met this little fellow in Listowel Town Park early one morning last week. He likes to have his breakfast at the table.


Lovely job at The Kennedy Home


William Street Road Works

Signs pointing the way to the free car parks are beginning to appear on our streets. This is in preparation for the upcoming roadworks on William Street when on street parking will be limited.

Here is the low down.

  • Work will commence on Monday September 26th 2016.
  • Work is expected to last 9 weeks.
  • William Street, in 2 phases, will  be closed day and night.
  • Church Street will be 2 way. 
  • On street parking on Church Street only on the side of the Garda Station.
  • Shops and footpaths on William Street will remain open throughout the upgrade.
  • Phase One from Lynch’s Corner to the Market Street junction: Traffic from Market Street will turn left at McKenna’s corner.
  • Phase Two from McKenna’s Corner to Charles Street junction: Traffic from Lower William Street will turn left into Market Street.

The whole thing will cost €600,000. Water, Gas and other underground works will all go on at the same time as the road resurfacing. I’m presuming there will be an archaeologist on site. Who knows what they might dig up when they go do delving under our town?  Remember they found a well under the road in The Square.


New Kingdom Reopens

Kanturk, March 2016, the census and an old Listowel family.

A Sight for Sore Eyes

William St. April 6 2016


A Walk around Kanturk with a camera

One of the events as part of the Kanturk Arts Festival is a walk around town with members of Mallow Camera Club. These experienced photographers help us to look out for likely shots. They help us with settings on our cameras and generally open our eyes to the joys of photography. Here are some of the photos I took on my Sunday morning tour of some of the streets of my home town.

The Cinema is now closed. Ironically the last two films advertised were Last Stand and Die Hard.

This colorful wool shop is in Watergate Street.

There was a lot of dereliction and locked up properties in the more rundown part of town we visited.

 Shops in The Square

Once upon a time when I was young in Kanturk this premises was where they used to pluck the turkeys at Christmas. Fitzpatrick’s had a hatchery nearby. This is the same Fitzpatricks which had a hatchery on Church Street Listowel.

 Main Street, Kanturk

 John O’Connor and his wife Sarah lived here up to recently. This building was once a school. John and Sarah were very involved in everything that was going on in town and are much missed.

 Strand Street

Another of the uglier aspects. This one was in a back lane.


Interesting Facts from the last Census

Census night is April 24 2016. It will be the 27th census of Irish population. brought us some interesting facts about Kerry from the 2011 census


• In April 2011 Kerry had a population of 145,502, consisting of 72,629 males and

72,873 females.

• The population of pre-school age (0-4) was 10,025, of primary school going age (5-

12) was 15,326 and of secondary school going age (13-18) was 11,177.

• There were 20,988 persons aged 65 years and over. The number of persons aged 18

years or over was 110,562.


• Of the 116,150 persons aged 15 years and over, 44,862 were single, 57,914 were

married, 3,377 were separated, 2,866 were divorced and 7,131 were widowed.


• There were 53,306 private households in Kerry in April 2011, of which 14,038  were

single person households. Of the 37,248 families in the area, 11,153 were couples

with no children. The average number of children per family was 1.4 compared with

1.4 nationally.


• 94.4 per cent of the usually resident population aged over 1 lived at the same

address one year before the census.

• A further 3.6 per cent lived elsewhere in the same county, 1.1 per cent lived elsewhere in the State while 0.9 per cent lived outside the State twelve months before the census on April 10, 2011.

• Non-Irish nationals accounted for 11.2 per cent of the population of Kerry compared

with a national average figure of 12.0 per cent. UK nationals (5,191 persons) were

the largest group, followed by Polish (4,048 persons).


• 64,105 persons could speak the Irish language and of these 21,792 spoke the

language daily. 13,109 persons spoke a language other than Irish or English at

home and of these 2,507 could not speak English well or at all. Polish was the most

common foreign language spoken at home with 3,942 speakers.


• There were 127,637 Roman Catholics in the area at census time. A further 9,075

were adherents of other stated religions (e.g. Church of Ireland, Islam, Presbyterian,

Orthodox), while 6,884 persons indicated that they had no religion.

For those whose first language is not Irish or English, a translation of the census form is available in 21 different foreign languages.

Other resources which are available to assist people with filling out the census form include large print, Braille and audio versions of the census form and a video step-by-step guide to completing the census form.

All of these resources and much more information about the census are available on the census website at


The Things You Find on the Internet!

This is a photo of Grace Kelly and Prince rainier of Monaco meeting for the first time.


Tackaberrys of Listowel

Dermot Tackaberry who lives in the U.K. is doing some work on his family tree. The name Tackaberry is Cornish, he has discovered.  Dermot has made good progress is tracing his Kerry ancestors. Now, to give him a better idea of who exactly the Tackaberrys were he would love to hear stories from anyone who remembers them. In Junior Griffin’s account of the badminton club’s history he discovered that one of his ancestors was a committee member of the club. Did they belong to any other club or organization?

If you remember the Tackaberrys, will you email me your story at please.


Organ Donation

This is an organ donor card and everyone should carry one. This is Organ Donation Awareness Week and as an awareness raising exercise various organizations have asked people who have been recipients or donors to share their stories.

Two such people are Alan Gleeson, pictured below with his parents and Anne Egan who lost her husband, Philip, tragically but Anne is consoled by the fact that Philip’s organs have gone on to help other people live.

This is Alan’s story 

Garda Alan Gleeson
(34) from Listowel, Co Kerry received his first kidney transplant at the
age of 16. His transplant eventually failed when he was in his early 30s and he
commenced dialysis treatment at Beaumont

Discovering his kidney had failed
came as a “hammer blow” and he wondered whether he would lose his job and how
his family would cope with the news.

Garda Gleeson, who is based in
Dublin, rises at 2.50am three days a week for the four-hour treatment, then
returns home to sleep before he goes to work.

He praised colleagues for their
support and said he was lucky his job was not 9-to-5. But life on dialysis was
“very restrictive”.

Most days, following the “harsh and
tough” process, he would feel sick and fatigued.

He urged people to speak to their
loved ones about donation.

Organ Donor Awareness Week runs
from this Saturday, April 2nd, to April 9th. See

(source: The Irish Times)

Philip Egan died suddenly while out on a cycling spin with his club, Finuge Freewheelers. His young wife, Anne , made the decision to donate many of his organs. Philip was a fit and healthy young man and his organs have helped many people live a fuller life. Anne told me that she got a letter from the man who received Philip’s heart. That man has now taken up cycling. 

This is a photograph of me and my sister, Ina, taken when I was about 2. Ina and I were Irish twins, born 14 months apart. She was my only sister.

When I was 13 and Ina 14, Ina died of kidney failure as a result of kidney disease. In those days organ donations were rare and dialysis was only available in Dublin.

I believe organ donation should be an opt out rather than an opt in decision.

Busking and An Post Rás May 21 2013

 M.S. Busking Day today from 6.00 p.m.

This is a photo from 2008 of MS buskers and volunteers. Today again, May 24 2013 the local branch of MS Ireland will be entertaining the town from The Small Square. Please be generous. It’s a cruel disease. Believe me because I know.


My friend, Jim McSweeney, took this great shot of a good mammy foraging for food for her nestlings.


The sun shone on May 21 in Listowel and many people came out on to the streets to enjoy the buzz

Anne and Mairead Brosnan
Cathy knitting at the door of Kerry Krafts
budding cyclists
Chutes and Hannons
Joan Mulvihill and Billy Keane
Isobel arrives on her bike
P.J. and Joan Kenny


Billy Keane on The Rás in Listowel


In conjunction with The Rás a competition was held for school children. These are the winners with the mayor and Miss An Post Rás.


Road works have now moved to the other side of Charles Street


In case you missed this the first time round. RTE is repeating the The Gathering; Homeward Bound with Tadhg Kennelly on Tuesday next May 28.


Tomorrow Saturday May 25 the Rose of Tralee escorts will be on the beach in Ballybunion all day being put through their paces in Escort Boot Camp.


Take a look at this;

A dotey cat in Clara Co. Offally has adopted 3 ducklings and is suckling them along with her 2 kittens; a first apparently.

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