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: Roly Chute Page 1 of 2

A Singer, a Poem, a Lamb and a Shuttle

Young Sika Deer; Photo: Chris Grayson


A Winning Poem

Old Ghosts 

© Neil Brosnan 2022

Until today, I’d thought of you as old,

But sixty-three is far too young to die,

And as I stand here in the rain and cold,

The question I am asking still is why.

Why pick on me to be your captive muse? 

A toehold on your meteoric climb,     

Your love canard has made me a recluse,

Forever chained to your most hackneyed rhyme, 


And publicans not taken with your verse

Nor needful of your custom to survive,

Parade in sombre garb behind your hearse;

Your status greater now than when alive.

But fallen leaves and old ghosts must away

Like nightmares at the dawning of the day.  


An Old Custom


“Some of you who keep sheep will know it very well and more of you won’t. These photos were sent to be a neighbour of mine, a sheep farmer called Maura Ryan up here under Mount Leinster. It’s a little lamb wearing an ‘adoption jacket’ which was made from the skin of a lamb that died at birth and put on another spare lamb in order to get the mother to bond to her.

This has been going on in cultures all over the world for a very long time and is always special to see it – especially when it works. It’s a sad and happy sight and as you can see from these photos the mammy here has taken to the little yoke and it’s triving. I saw this over in rural Newfoundland too back in 2019 and great to see these photos today in my inbox.”


Listowel Badminton Club 50 Celebration

Photos from the club’s Facebook page

Listowel Badminton Club held its first invitation mixed doubles tournament fifty years ago. It is still going strong in 2023.

The winners of the first competition, Teresa Broderick and Patsy Sweeney with this year’s winners. Teresa told the story of how the partner she was originally picked with was a no- show. Patsy, who had not intended playing, was plucked from the crowd to step up. They went on to win.

It was great to hear that a competition has been named after Roly Chute, who has spent a record 50 years training juvenile players.

Roly presented the Roly Chute Perpetual Shield for the first time to this year’s Mens doubles winners, Fergal & Sean with runners-up Adham & Ethan.

The man with all the badminton stories, Junior Griffin with Tom McElligott at the Badminton Social.

On Saturday I ran into Tom McElligott as he was delivering her copy of the commemorative booklet to Joan Flavin. He gave me mine too, a vital piece of Listowel history recorded for posterity.


In Tralee

This is the Christy Hennessy Plaza in Tralee.

You are a star, Christy, forever remembered in your native Tralee.


A Fact

The actors who were the voices of Mickey and Minnie Mouse were married for nearly 20 years in real life.

Wayne Alwyn passed away in 2009, aged 62 and his wife, Rossi Taylor passed away in 2019 aged 75.


Castle Hotel Ballybunion, Asdee Relatives, Roly Chute and some Old bits of folklore

Holocaust Memorial in Listowel’s Garden of Europe in February 2020


The Castle Hotel Ballybunion

Photo Credit: Eamon Kelly


A North Kerry Connection

Ken Duckett heard my plea for help with items for the blog and he enquired if memories that were not exactly Listowel related were welcomed. They are, of course.

Here is what Ken writes of his North Kerry connection.

Hi Mary, 

Here’s a couple of pictures, one haystacking on my uncle’s farm when I was around 14/15. My uncle was Edward Hanlon the farm that he and my mum Kathleen Hanlon plus 9 other brothers and sister were raised.

This was my grandfather Patrick Hanlon and Grandmother Margaret (Stack) Hanlon’s farm, the first one they bought after a number of their Hanlon ancestors leased. In the background you can see the Shannon flowing by. 

My mother trained as a nurse and left Ireland, met my dad in England and married. We used to have several trips to Kerry as we enjoyed their company in Shannon View lodge, Asdee. My cousin presently lives there and 

we’ve been over a few time. The second picture is me standing next to a Japanese Banana plant.

The Stacks were from Moyvane and lived in Gortdromasillahy and Gortdromagouna townlands over a number of generations.

It would be interested if anyone has heard or has connections with the Hanlons or Stacks. I have a recently seen picture of two of my mum’s brothers either on the way or at the Listowel races. 



A Legend of Listowel Badminton Honoured

Roly Chute’s family and friends gathered at Listowel Badminton Club’s tribute night for a great servant of the club. Roly has coached generations of Listowel youngsters. I have experienced in my own family his skill and dedication. We owe him a lot.

Roly is that rare breed…a selfless volunteer. Will we ever again see one person give 50 years volunteering his skills to one sport? And he’s not finished yet!


Tidbits from Listowel in the Dúchas Folklore collection

7. If you bought bonhams and put them all together throw two buckets of sour milk on top of them to keep them from fighting. I saw Dan Shea of Clievragh doing it.

It isn’t sour milk at all sir, it’s porter you should throw in their eyes. I saw Mick Stokes of Makel St. doing it.

( This one reminded me that when my mother bought in day old chickens to be reared by a hen who had just hatched out her own eggs, she would sprinkle talcum power on them so that the hen would not reject the new ones)

8. If you kill a goose, or a cock, or a cow and put your fist on the back of his neck and press he’ll make the noise he made when alive.

(9). If you want to make a starling talk split his tongue and put his beak up to a rack (i. e. a comb) – and he’ll speak.

(10). My mother (Mrs Doyle Slievecahel) told me that a man was coming home from Castleisland one night and he saw a lovely city inside in a Glen. He went in and there was nothing there only rocks. It was the reflection of a town in Australia.

(11). My mother said they used use pointy sticks before as forks. They used have a pointy stick as a Knife and a gabhlóg as a fork.

(12) People long go used go to no Mass but they used put a pot on another man’s head and hit it with something and that’d be by-the-way the bell. One night the pot fell down and they couldn’t pull it off and they had to break it to knock it off.

13. When I received my first Holy Communion in Ballyduff, after the priest made the sign of the cross with the Holy Communion I saw a little baby in the priest’s arms.

14. Jack Joy told me that Paddy Ferris of the Gaire made a cake a’ Christmas time with 5 stone of flour and it took him 5 hrs to make it.

15. St. Synan’s Well is in “Souper” Connors land (Protestants) and they got water out of the well to boil the Kettle and it wouldn’t boil at all so they had to throw it out and get other water.

16. Daniel O’Connell was at a feast one time and poison was put in his glass. One of the serving girls was by the way singing a song  in Irish and thus she warned him and she blew out the candles and he changed glasses with some other one. She sang

“A Dhomhnall Ó Conaill, an dtuigeann tú Gaedhilg?

Tuigim a’ coda (a chodladh, a chiota) agus a’ chuid eile Gaedhilg,

Tá an iomad den salainn á chuirfead sa dtae dhuit,

Múcfad-sa an solas agus cuir cúchú féin é”.

(T. Kennelly from mother who is from Glenbeigh)

( the gist of the song is that that there is too much salt in your soup. I’ll turn out the light so you can give it back to them)



Mattie Lennon found a reference to bittling in literature.

Hi Mary,

It would appear that bittling was washing clothes on a flat flag in a river. Apparently Kickham used it in Knocknagow.


Carrigafoyle, Dried up River Feale, Chute Family Painters and Tom Doodle Remembered

Carrigafoyle Castle in July 2018

Photo; Ita Hannon


My Silver River Feale

I took a walk with Molly along the River Walk a few weeks ago and I was shocked to see how the drought had affected our local stream. I’m glad to report that all is changed now.

These extraordinary pictures show how the Feale looks in July 2018.

 The River Walk

This is the river by the bridge to the racecourse. If you were to “throw me down something’ now it would be very easy to find.


Signs of the Times


Ballyduff, Moyvane and Listowel according to the Green Guide of 1965


Painting Listowel

It’ not just Fred. I have to give credit to Frances and Roly Chute for some lovely paintwork in Listowel. It’s a family thing.


Tom Doodle

Recently we celebrated what would have been John B. Keane’s 90th birthday with a walk led by Vincent Carmody to places connected with the great playwright in Listowel.

We stopped at the statue to remember the great Doodle rally that was held in that very spot during the general election campaign of 1951

Here we are on Saturday July 21 2018.

This was the scene in The Small Square on the night Doodle arrived to give his election address.

“Use your noodle, vote for Doodle” was his catchy slogan.

We had in our midst people who were hearing the story for the first time but we also had people like Jimmy OQuigley who remembered the night because he was there  and Paddy Keane who grew up in Listowel hearing the story of the great night repeated often.

Aidan OMurchú also grew up in Listowel where the Doodle Rally was relived in song and story at an annual reunion ball of the Independent Cologeous Party.

This last photo is from Paul Murphy whose father was a card carrying member of the famous party.

What I’m Reading, Junior Griffin’s Reminiscences continued and more Irish dancing photos

 May all our U.S. Friends Have a Great Thanksgiving


Listowel Castle


Humans of Listowel

Bobby Cogan met his old badminton coach, Roly Chute, on the street when he was home for the weekend. He was delighted to hear that Roly is still going strong and still teaching the skills of badminton to North Kerry’s youngsters.  Over the years Roly has given thousands of hours coaching tennis and badminton. Listowel owes hm a big debt of gratitude.


What I’m Reading

Hazel Gaynor is an Englishwoman living in Kildare. She writes a great story.  In The Girl from The Savoy she opens our eyes to a world we will never experience, post war London. Her style is easy to read, carefully researched and accessible. I’m enjoying this one.


Junior Griffin’s Reminiscences continued

……..We didn’t realize then but we
ere back in Páirc Uí Caoimh before the year was out. That was for the Cork V.
Dublin All Ireland semi final replay.

The days before the match the
Dublin press continually queried the wisdom of staging this match in Cork.

That morning Munster
officials, the late Tadhgh Crowley and Donny Nealon called the strilesmen
together. They requested us to be extra vigilant and to remain on duty until we
were officially closed. Munster proved that they could stage the fixture.
Everything  went off without a hitch and
there were no problems.

Incidently, dear reader, can
you rememebee who p;layed in the Austin Stack Park on the same day that Cork
and Dublin played that semi final in Páirc Uí Caoimh. Answer anon.

The centenary year of 1984
saw the hurling final played in Thurles, the birthplace of the GAA. I remember
getting a bit of a telling off because of that final. I was on duty on the
terrace stiles on the town end. The senior final was well on when I was
approached by three North Kerry men seeking admission with one ticker. I let
them in. That was close to 4.00 p.m. on Sunday, Tadhgh Crowley heard it being
conversed on a pub in Tralee on the following Tuesday night. So much for people
keeping their mouths shut.

The old type low stiles were
much more difficult to manage than the modern ones.The stilesman did have the
same control. At rimes in the old low stile you would be startled by a fleeting
shadow soaring over the bar of the stile showing Carl Lewis type agility. All
you’d hear would be a loud guffaw as the intruder made his way to the safety of
being lost in the crowd. The rouses used by people to sek free admissions were
many. The common ones would be for a lady possibly with a few children to come
in first and pointing back would exclain,”Himself is paying,” “Himself” comes
in and you’ve guessed it. He is on his own. He never before saw that woman! I
can assure you that, more often than not, if you searched around later you
would see the big happy family together.

Also a group of 5 or 6 men
would queue up together. The one the rear would be gesticulating wildly and
calling “right-right-right”; giving the impression he was paying for the lot.
His turn comes- and “I am only paying for myself; I was calling to my friend
who went in on the other stile”.

The experienced stilesman
will always ask the first person to pay where there is a group. The chancer
will generally retort ” is it so you don’t trust me boy?”

Some years ago one of my
collegues, John, was approached in Limerick by a gentleman who was in a very
agitated state. Almost in tears, the poor man told John his pocket had been
picked and he had been cleaned out. Being a soft hearted Kerryman, John had
pity on the man and let him through.

The following Sunday, John
was on duty in Cork, and, low and behold- who came to his stile but the same
gentlemen in the same agitated state, John knew he was caught once but not
again. Your man was told, not too politely, where to go. I wonder what are the
odds of him picking the same stilesman on successive Sundays? No doubt our
friend is still performing his Oscar like performance to this day at stiles
somewhere throughout the province to this day.

The dreaded stile, is, of
course, the student and OAP stile. Look at the queue outside the student stile
at any major match and one could only surmise that the students of every
university in Ireland must be in attendance. To the genuine student, the
student card is like his right hand and he will always have it in his
possession. But so often we hear, “ I left it at home”; “I left it in the car”
and so forth.

The variation of cards
produced would make the mind boggle. The stilesman has seen them all, from meal
vochers to petrol vouchers to playing cards. The cards are flashed in front of
the stilesman eyes and disappear so fast with a slight of hand dexiterity that
would make the great Houdini gasp with amazement.


More Photos from the Eisteddfod

Eileen O’Sullivan has shared a few new photos of Jimmy Hickey’s dancers trips to Wales.

These photos were taken in 1999 as the Irish dancers entertained local people in the town square. Here they are dancing a polka set.

 Eileen O’Sullivan did the intricate Celtic design embroidery on her daughter, Michelle’s costume. Traditionally the costumes featured  embroidery and crochet lace collars.

Michelle O’Sullivan with  Noreen OConnor

Michelle O’Sullivan and Sarah O’Sullivan in Wales

Terry Wogan, Early Days of Badminton in Listowel and G.A.A. success for Listowel in the early seventies

Cumar Dheis this week

Photo; Kerry Climbing on Facebook


The saddest Corner of Town Today

My photo shows,  on the far right, Casa Mia, once the bar owned by Kerry footballing great, Tim Kennelly. Beside it is the old creamery, once the gathering place for country people, where stories were told and news and gossip exchanged. Next is the building that was once Walsh’s Ballroom , The Las Vegas where Sive was premiered and where many a romance began. And then The Classic Cinema, which Kieran Gleeson loved and nourished.

Kieran passed away yesterday, February 16th 2016 after a short spell with that cruelest of neurological diseases. MND. May the sod rest lightly on the gentlest, the kindest and noblest of souls.

My photo from 2012 shows Kieran doing what he loved best, promoting a local film maker;

L to R: Kieran Gleeson of Listowel Classic Cinema with Rory Kirby, filmmaker and Eddie, Mary and Catherine Moylan of Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum.


Terry Wogan Compered The Rose of Tralee

My information comes from the festival history on The Rose Of Tralee website

“Rose Selection has been compered by Kevin Hilton, Joe Lynch, Terry Wogan, Brendan O’Reilly (RTÉ sports), Michael Twomey (‘Cha & Miah’), Gay Byrne, Kathleen Watkins, Derek Davis, Marty Whelan, Ryan Tubridy and Ray D’Arcy.”

and this is what it said in the paper about him

Kerryman  Saturday, 28 March, 1964; Page: 3

APRIL is almost here once again and with it come the glamour and excitement of the Rose of Tralee dances.

BACHELOR GAY Terry Wogan, the gay, bachelor compere of T.E,’s “Jackpot,” is known to thousands throughout the country. Those without, T.V. will have heard, him news announcing on Radio Eireann for the past three yews. He is probably one of the most, popular television personalities on T.E,.—proof of this lies in the number of Valentine cards he received, on February 14 last—130. Terry hails from Limerick and was a bank official before joining R.E.,


R.E. is Radio Eireann

gay meant cheerful or happy go lucky)


Junior Griffin recalls the early days on Badminton in Listowel

His colleagues in Listowel Badminton honoured Junior on his 50 th. year promoting the sport in town.

Here Junior writes about the early days of the club.

BADMINTON was invented long ago; a form of sport played

in ancient Greece and Egypt.  Badminton came from a child’s game

called battledore and shuttlecock, in which two players hit a feathered

shuttlecock back and forth with two tiny rackets.  The game was called

POONA” in India during the 18th century, and British officers stationed

there took the Indian version back to England in the 1860’s. The army men

introduced the game to friends, but the new game was definitely launched there

at a party given in 1873 by the Duke of Beaufort at his country place, “Badminton”

in Gloucestershire.  During that time the game had no name, but it was referred to

as “The Game of Badminton” and, thereupon, Badminton became its official name.

Until 1887 the sport was played in England under the rules that prevailed in India.

They were, from the English viewpoint, somewhat contradictory and confusing.

Since a small army of Badminton players had been recruited, a group formed itself

into the Bath Badminton Club, standardised the rules, made the game applicable to English ideas and the basic regulation (of England) was formed to take over the

authority of the Bath Badminton Club, and the new group made rules, which now

govern the game throughout the world.

The sport seems to have come to Ireland almost immediately. It is known that

Badminton was very strong in Dublin, Wicklow, Coleraine and Ballymoney

in the 1890’s which resulted in the Badminton Union of Ireland been formed in 1899.

Indeed, the world’s first ever International Badminton match was played between Ireland and England in Dublin in the 1902/03 season and, except for the

two world wars, became an annual fixture alternately home and away until 1971/72.

So, as one can see the sport of Badminton was in its infancy when it came to Listowel.

Regretfully, except for the dance card found by Jim Halpin, there is no other record pertaining to that time and, unfortunately, there are no names listed as to who was involved in the founding of the club.  Hopefully, if those founding fathers came back today they would be proud to see the club they started in such a strong position one hundred years on.


This made my Day

Last week I received this. Well done, An Post, and thank you, Philomena.


Errors Corrected and Clarifications Given

In my story from Junior about repairs to the clock in St. John’s, I stated that Archdeacon Wallace lived in Gurtenard House. Junior pointed out to me that the Archdeacon never lived in Gurtenard. The last clergyman to live in Gurtenard was Canon Adderley.

My little fun fact about the days of the week in February was not in fact a fact at all. A man who deals with figures and who notices such things pointed out to me that every February has 4 of every day of the week. 2016 is a leap year so it has 5 Mondays.

Now to the G.A.A. photo which Junior gave me;

What he gave me was a print of a photo with the names underneath. Junior did not in fact write the names himself so he takes no responsibility for any mistakes here.

Margaret Dillon thought that the priest in the photo looked more like Fr. Gerard Dillon. She remembered that Fr. Dillon was a great step dancer and participated in many concerts with her.

As usual with Junior, one story calls up another memory and he has a story to tell. He says

“My memory of Fr. Dillon, a lovely priest, was of a man with a fine bushy head of black hair. The one thing I know is that Fr.O’Sullivan would have been a curate in Listowel much earlier than that,in the early or middle 40s I would say. Could tell you a small story about him saying the 8 o’clock Mass one Sunday morning. He became P.P. of Duagh after that but was a man that was very much involved in golf.

Around the time that photo was taken the clergy in Listowel were Canon Peter O’Sullivan, Fr. Matt Keane and Fr.Gerald Dillon.  A great team of priests. The house keeper was Mrs. Kearns and I became very close friends with her son Olly and I spent a lot of my time in the Presbytery and knew the priests well. Olly’s son Liam is the well known inter County football manager, with Tipperary at the moment”

( I’ll have to go back for the 8 o’clock mass story.)

Such is the beauty of the internet that one memory shared leads to lots of other stories and the above photo was no exception. 

The man in the front row is second from left is the late Roly Chute who ran a famous chip shop at the corner of Ballygologue Rd. across from the sports field.  Vincent Carmody shared  the following memory of the late Roly on Facebook;

“Whatever about the merits of Roly’s smart bow tie and dapper dress sense, nothing could compare to his wonderful chips, peas, and Donnelly’s skinless sausages, then washed down by a glass of milk. 

In 1972, when I first became secretary of Listowel Emmets, training was at a low ebb at the start of the year . I had an idea that we should adopt a professional approach, and offer a meal after training.

Firstly, I went to Roly Chute and asked him, what would he charge per player for chips, peas and sausages. He thought for a minute and said,  “One shilling and sixpence and for an extra threepence, I’ll throw in a glass of milk.”

 Next, I spoke to the chairman of the club, Mikey Kennelly, (father of the great Tim). I told him of the idea and Roly’s quote. Always a man for a new idea, “Right,” he said, “if you think it will work, go ahead.”

 Agreement got, I went to Michael Collins and asked him to type a letter which we distributed to all the players. First night of training after that, 36 players turned up, not counting away players. Afterwards as Mickey and myself watched them all troop over to Roly’s cafe to be fed, he turned to me and said , “We will break the club, but we’d better go over as well, as I hear they’re great chips.”

 As the training nights went by, the numbers settled down and each night less and less went over to Roly’s. The training bug had caught on. That year, the senior team won an unprecedented treble, County Junior Championship, North Kerry League and Championship. 

Shortly after winning the replayed league final, Andy Molyneaux gave me a copy of the missive which I had given to the players and he declared, ‘”Thanks to your idea and Roly’s chips, peas and sausages, we have the best year ever in the club’s history.”

Listowel Emmetts Junior County Champions 1972

Back, E O Carroll, R.Chute, D. Stack, B.Galvin, S O Donavan, T Fitzgerald, T Leahy, J Leahy, G Leahy, P Lynch, J Guerin, B Walsh, V Carmody, T Moriarty, J Hannon, M Kennelly. 

Middle, J Croghan, T Kennelly, T Shanahan, P Flaherty, J Hartnett, E O Connor, J Driscoll, G Galvin. Front, K Fitzgerald, P J Browne, T Dalton, P Horgan.

Ashes 1962;

Ashes Team, (c) 1962. 

Front, J Keane, J Griffin, M Cremin, M Cotter, F Chute, T Ashe, M McMahon, R Farrell.

 Back, B McMahon, B Shanahan, G McMahon, B O’Shea, F Murray, J Flaherty, M Ryan, R Chute.

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