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: Róisín Ingle

Brosna, stampaí, WIM 2015 and Lidl Listowel

  Everyone’s favourite Dolphin

It’s a while since I included a photo from Fungie Forever


Brosna Abú

Iknow well how hard it is to write well every time. Billy Keane succeeds more often than most. Here below, in its entirety, is his excellent piece on Brosna. It was printed in the Irish Independent.

The old village slopes down from The Square as if
it’s falling off the steep hill. It has been reported by folklorists that bikes
ridden by lightweights have often taken flight

Over it all is the high mountain.
The mighty Blackwater starts the long journey to the sea as a bubbling-over
pot, here in the wild highlands of the North Kerry Mount Eagle. Mighty rivers
have small beginnings. Great teams can come from small places.

There was a time when the derelict
buildings almost outnumbered the habitable dwellings in the village square.
Paint flaked away like some sort of artist’s metaphor for death and decay.
Cawing crows were the only sign of life on quiet nights when the lonesome wind
whistled the lament for a village.

Brosna was dead, they said. The
young people were leaving and the old were dying out. The doomsters and
defeatists were wrong. Brosna lives. Sure aren’t they the All-Ireland Junior
Football champions?

The kids called it the Tangerine
Dream, and the proof of it all is that dreams really do come true when you
truly believe.

Just to give you some sort of an
idea of the type of people we are dealing with here, it might be no harm to
tell you the story of Con Carey, the man who was buried twice.

Con was a hard-working bachelor who
was buried without the customary honours such as a shave and a wash and the
fitting out of a good suit. And so it was that the 12 apostles of Brosna dug up
Con and gave him a good send-off. Con was washed and shaved and togged out
beautifully for his last journey.

Prayers were said, toasts were made
and Con was reburied. Mairead Heffernan and Liam O’Brien produced a poignant
hour-long epitaph of sheer listening joy on Con for the treasure store that is
known as the Documentary on One.

I met a few of the 12 apostles over
the years and I can honestly say Our Lord would have picked them on his team
any day. So you see then there was context here. And principle and a desire to
do the right thing.

All-Irelands aren’t won in places
where the people give in. Brosna was painted up and local committees gathered
together to reclaim their village.

My grandmother was born in Brosna
and she died in childbirth. My grandfather used to bring my mother over to
Brosna in his horse and trap from Knocknagoshel for weekends and she was
treated like a sister by the Lanes of Meenavoughane, which sound like the name
of a slide, but these are real people.

Brosna is in the heart of Sliabh
Luachra, which takes in parts of the three counties of Kerry, Limerick and
Cork. Sliabh Luachra is famous for lively polkas and slides faster than fast
jigs. The organic cadences and rhythms of the music mirror the lively, airy
nature of her people.

There was fight there too and a
calmness. Brosna were three points down with two minutes to go against The Rock
of Tyrone in the semi-final but came out of that hard place. There were three
well-worked scores, coolly taken, in the last three plays to send the game to a
replay which they won.

By the way, Brosna say they never
encountered anything like the generosity in defeat of The Rock players and the
graciousness of their supporters.

So Brosna went up to Croke Park.
Old men and old ladies were there in the hallowed stadium for the first time.
There were more scares against the gallant exiles, John Mitchels of Liverpool.
The ball was cleared off the Brosna line with seconds left. They can never take
this away from ye Brosna, no matter what.

Congratulations too to our
neighbours and friends from Ardfert, who won their third All-Ireland. A truly
incredible achievement. And hard luck on Austin Stacks, the team that came from
a terrible defeat in 2013 to win local and Munster titles.

There were bonfires at the border
of Fealesbridge and at Patsy’s Cross on the old butter road to Cork. The Brosna
team walked over the River Feale as they took the cup in to Kerry. It’s all
recorded in a five-and-a-half-hour video shot by the genius Paidi Herlihy. I
suppose you can’t get enough of a good thing, and all receipts go to Brosna

They marched down the hill from the
GAA field to the village with pikes blazing. The Cullen Pipe Band from Cork led
the way. Mountcollins of Limerick gave their lit-up pitch for free. All of
Sliabh Luachra danced to the Brosna Slide. There were 3,000 people in the
village on the rainy night they brought the cup back home. I know, I know.
Wouldn’t you just love if it was your club?

Our old friend Jimmy Keane was the
manager. He never gave up on Brosna. One man with passion is worth more than
100 accountants. We need doers, not don’ters.

The battle now is to keep this
mostly young team together. Brosna has always suffered from emigration, and
maybe the momentum and confidence from Croke Park can somehow feed an economic

It’s been a good while now since
the eagles flew the mountain, but down below on the hill, the new Brosna
soared. The glory of the day brings hope and sustenance to a living village
that refused to give up.

Indo Sport


Irish Stamps 1922

Below are some more recent stamps commemorating the Battle of Kinsale in 1601


Date for the Diary

Great weekend in store

It will take place here. If you love Olivia O’Leary, Róisín Ingle, Katie Hannon or Mary Harney don’t miss this opportunity to hear them live on your doorstep.


A Little Bit o’ Lidl

It was all high visibility jackets, hard hats, drilling and banging when I  visited Lidl Listowel yesterday.

The story is that the shop is undergoing a complete refurb. Lidl Listowel will close for 5 weeks from April 26 2015 and when it opens again we won’t know it. It will have a completely new look.

Super needlewomen and Gender Quotas

These ladies with their teacher, Priscilla Sweeney, are doing a needlecraft course under the VEC in Listowel Family Resource Centre. When I visited them on Friday they were working on their Listowel quilt project. The ladies are taking well known images of Listowel and working them into a patchwork quilt.

Each pupil keeps a journal of the project. The journals themselves are works of Art. Here is one example of such a journal.

Another of their patchwork projects is a life-sized two dimensional horse. Here is an account, from the journal, of the processes involved in that project.

A sample of patchwork
The completed horse
Each student made their own smaller horse. This is Angela’s.
The process

On Friday Priscilla had brought another piece for the students to work on. It was a clown bag suitable for laundry, toys or anything that needed tidying in a child’s room


Gender Quotas: Does the end justify the means?

This is Edel Clancy of the 50/50 Group and she argued the case for gender quotas in politics  at Women in Media Weekend in Ballybunion. Mary O’Rourke and Mairead MacGuinness were her “opposition”.

Edel told us that:

  •  There has never been fewer than 85% men in Dáil Eireann.
  • Since the foundation of the state there have been only 12 women in cabinet.
  • Ireland is in 92nd. place in the world in terms of representation by women in parliament.

The facts are irrefutable. Something has to be done to correct this imbalance. Gender quotas is a blunt instrument to get us over the initial hurdle. In time, like Denmark, we won’t need them.

Mary O’Rourke and Mairead MacGuinness offered no argument as convincing as these statistics. 

I’m for gender quotas and I’m glad that political parties will, in future, be fined if 30% of candidates are not female.


Some people I met at the weekend

Bernie Carmody and Jackie Goddall
Bernie Carmody and me with Miriam O’Callaghan
Jimmy Deenihan, Katie Hannon, Deirdre Walshe and Mary Dundon

Women in Media Weekend in Ballybunion

Mothers and Daughters at WIM Ballybunion

Vourneen and Keelin Kissane with Róisín and Anne Ingle

It was Saturday, April 12 2014 and instead of reading Róisín Ingle in the Irish Times, we were sitting in Kilcooley’s Country House in Ballybunion, Co. Kerry listening to her talk about another favourite journalist and author, Maeve Binchy.

Róisín Ingle is now Daily Features Editor of The Irish Times, a mantle which sits lightly on her shoulders. She was in Ballybunion to take us back to another editor and to help us live again the enjoyment we got form Maeve Binchy, the journalist. Róisín has recently edited a collection of Maeve’s pieces for the Irish Times and so she is a bit of an expert on Maeve’s best bits. She described getting this job like getting a job in quality control in a crisp factory.

Róisín did not give us my favourite anecdote about Maeve on The Late Late doing battle with a formidable lady on the necessity of etiquette and decorum but she read for us Maeve’s account of an incident when she encountered a business man sitting in the Ladies’ Toilet  in a posh hotel. He had mistaken it for the lobby.

Maeve’s description of her first dress dance at age 16 is still hilarious today. Maeve’s coverage of Princess Anne’s wedding made us all regret that she had passed away before the recent state visit.

Róisín decided that Miriam Lord with her “irreverent but affectionate” approach to serious subjects is Maeve’s best successor today. I think that Róisín Ingle with her ability to mine the minutiae of everyday life and produce entertaining and self deprecating pen pictures has a lot of Maeve Binchy in her too.

This is Róisín with a local lady called Christine. Christine came to Ballybunion to meet Róisín because Róisín once wrote about her. If anyone reading this knows Christine will you get that story for us please?

(more from WIM tomorrow)


I spotted this picture of Ballybunion Lady golfers on Perfect Pairs page. Looking good, ladies.


Mike Enright took this perfect picture of sunset in Ballybunion last week.


All will be revealed!

On Thursday next at 7.00 p.m. in The Seanchaí the Listowel Writers’ Week programme 2014 will be launched.  Come along to hear what great things are in store for us on the June bank holiday weekend. 


spotted in a shop window on Church Street

Fishing flies, Family, New shop in town and Women in Media

Family visit to Cork

My grandsons enjoy some screen time. The boys are children of a digital age. They like TV but not as much as interactive computer games.


Boys will be boys

My lovely boys also love to read comics and they collect and swap football cards. They also play tennis and soccer and they love appearing on Nana’s blog.


While I was at juvenile tennis training in Lakewood on Sunday morning I met this lady. She was helping to run their annual tournament and also attending to the nurturing of young talent by training the juveniles. She is Siobhán O’Riordan and she is soon to represent Ireland in Miami at an international seniors competition.


Another new Crafter in Craftshop na Méar

This is Listowel man, Tim O’Loughlin

These are Tim’s hand tied fishing flies. He is carrying on a Listowel tradition of tying flies. Ned Sweeney and Mike Barry have hand tied flies for years and now these skills are being practiced by a new generation. Tim employed new technologies like Youtube to help him perfect his technique.


Sue Townsend R.I.P.

 So sad to hear of the death of this wonderfully entertaining witty writer. If you haven’t read the first Adrien Mole book, you have missed a gem.


New tenant in 25 Church St.

These controversial e cigarette shops are popping up everywhere these days as vaping takes over from smoking. I still can’t get used to the sight of people puffing on these indoors.


Women in Media

This is me in Kilcooleys in Ballybunion on Saturday April 12 2014. I was rubbing shoulders with some of the top women in Irish media at the annual Women in Media weekend. With me in the photo are Joan O’Connor, newly elected Mayor of Ballybunion and organizer of WIM, Róisín Ingle of the Irish Times and Katie Hannon of RTE.

I had a great 2 days and I was totally starstruck so you’ll be hearing more of this during the week.

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