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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John B. Keane, a Wall and the Rte Newsroom in 1968 and a letter from Australia

Photo: Ita Hannon


Sticks and Stones

John B. Keane in The Limerick Leader

MOST of our English teachers warned us at one time or another of the folly arising from the use of a big word where a small one would do just as well, and a few weeks ago we dealt in-depth, with this aspect of communications as indeed we do and have done with all manner of subjects.

But be this as it may, there was nothing so deflating to an ignoramus or bostoon or a common thug as a barrage of well-timed, well-spaced, multi-syllabic tongue-twisters.

Backward and suspicious folk, unversed in the subtleties and sonorousness of sublime expression, have a healthy respect for the man who has words at will and will give him a wide berth for fear of invoking his wrath.

In fact, there are many sensible country people who would much prefer a lick of a naked fist.

The worst a belt of this nature can do is give you a black eye or a broken jaw, either of which can be cured easily and forgotten about altogether in the course of time.

Not so with a nicely mounted cluster of sharp, scintillating words.

These can leave scars and sores that will not heal for a genesis of generations.


How many will disagree that an absurd soubriquet has twice the punishing powers of a comprehensive physical beating?

The old Gaelic chieftains had a greater fear of satire and ridicule than of sworn enemies out for a man’s blood.

At least you could build castles against your enemies buy against the invective of a disgruntled bard. There was no defence whatsoever, and even if you cut off his head before he got started one of his brotherhood was sure to lambast you with a lacerating and lineage-defiling displode which was sure to be remembered unto the third and even the fourth generation.

Anything was preferable to the poet’s curse or the wit’s tag, and if ’twas the last fork of mate in the house itself, it was wiser to part with it rather than risk the wrath of a half-starving poetaster.

Worse still, of course, was to be fettered by a mouthful of words which the benighted victim would have no hope of understanding.

Bad as he is, than the devil one does not know, and what an ordeal to have to through the world like a dog with a canister tie to its tail.

There are others, of course, notably schoolboys, who have no fear whatsoever of the spoken word when delivered by a disgruntled teacher.

The longer the tirade, the less likelihood of physical punishment.

The maxim here was:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones

But words will never hurt me.”


RTE Newsroom 1968

Photo from Rte Archives


They’re Building a Wall

Where?  Beside Áras an Phiarsaigh, Listowel

Why? I have no idea


Lyreacrompane 1970

Photo from Facebook


Any Henrys or Brosnihans out there?

My name is Jan Allen and I live in Australia. I have been researching my ancestory. Your website has interested me as I know I have ancestors in your area. 

My great-grandmother, Mary Henry, was born in Listowel in 1855 and I know that her parents’ names were Michael Henry and Mary Brosnihan. I have found her baptismal date but have not been able to find her parents’ marriage date or their birth dates. Ballygologue was referenced in her baptismal record. 

I have been scanning through all the records I have access to but there seems to be some missing records – I have not been able to find any information about the Brosnihans or the Henrys. I am assuming that they lived in the County of Listowel as Mary was born there. 

In 2010 my husband and I travelled through the Republic of Ireland but at that time, I had not done any research into my ancestry. Since my mother passed away in 2018, I have become very interested in her family history.  The other side of her family (Foley) were born in Edenderry, Ireland.

You have indicated that you are interested in connecting with people related to the area, although my connection may be quite remote. My great grandparents were both born in Ireland, travelling to Australia, then marrying in Cooktown, Queensland. 

Yours faithfully,

Jan Allen (formerly Matthews)

Listowel on RTE, McKennas and Frances Kennedy and Ryanair

Courthouse Industrial Park, Listowel in Autumn 2017


One Sunday Night on RTE 2

Paul Murphy found this fascinating piece of memorabilia.

Does anyone remember the talking tournament?

Who took part?

Did we win?


Frances Kennedy on TV3

This is Frances Kennedy with Elizabeth Marince in The Seanchaí at the O’Donoghue reception. Frances is a very popular singer and storyteller who is always generous with her time and talents. Frances is a humble North Cork lady, now living in Listowel for many years. She doesn’t seek the limelight or push herself forward. But now the limelight has found Frances. Her friends in Cos. Kerry and Clare have uploaded numerous videos of Frances telling yarns or singing ballads and parodies. It was only a matter of time until one of these “went viral.”

This is what has happened recently. Someone googled Ryanair during the recent stand off with the pilots and our googler came upon Frances singing a gas parody by Killarney man, Eric Goodmanson.

Highwaymen in the Sky

Next thing Frances knows is she is being invited on to the Today with Maura and Dáithí show on TV3. She appeared and sang on the show on Monday and was a great success. Daithí has promised to have her back.

I snapped Maura Derrane of Maura and Daithí fame on her way home from Listowel Races recently. She was a judge at The Best Dressed Lady competition 2017


McKenna’s Then and Now

2017 and 1950s


Last of the Summer Greenery

Garden of Europe trees and shrubs

Listowel Boy Scouts in the 1980s, Primary School girls in 1985 and Fr. Pat Moore ceremony in May 2017

The Square 


Charles St. May 2017


Listowel Boy Scouts circa 1984

The photo was taken in the hall at Scoil Realta na Maidine.

James Scanlon who gave me the photo supplied names as best he could remember;

Back row: ?  , Frank Greaney, Christy Walsh, ? , a scout leader from Castleisland who came for the ceremony, Gerard MacGuinness, Garda John ?, Don Keane, Kieran ?, Weeshie Diarmaid ?

2nd. Row; Seamus Daly, Mike Greaney, Michael When, John MacAulliffe, Donny O’Connell, Christopher Hennessey R.I.P., Joseph ORegan

Front Row: Ian ?,  ?  John Healy, Stephen Dunne, ?, ?, Frank Quilter, John Galvin, James Scanlon



Marguerite Wixted found this one.


The Cuckoo

Following my inclusion last week of an extract by John B. Keane about the cuckoo, many people have told me that they never saw a cuckoo and wondered what he looked like.

Wonder no more.


Remembering Fr. Pat with song and candles

On May 11 2017 we gathered on the beach in Ballybunion to support one another in our grief and loss for a larger than life priest, Fr. Pat Moore.

As we looked to our right, there was the hard working Mario paying his own tribute in the way he does best, a piece of sand art.

Christine Kennelly got this good picture from the cliff.

Karen Trench sang The Boys of Barr na Sráide, one of Fr. Pat’s favourites.

Listen to it HERE

We held our candles and thought of the man who would so loved to have been there.

His former parishioners, all of whom remembered him with great fondness came from all corners of the county and farther afield.

Trish and Donie were helping to organise the ceremony. They had both offered Fr. Pat  much comfort and healing during his illness.


RTE Folk indentified

This is a photo from Photos of Dublin on Facebook. I got a few of the names wrong when I posted it before.

Máire Logue tells me  that beside Jerry Ryan is Jimmy Greally at the back and the lady I didn’t know in front beside Fab Vinnie is Flo McSweeney

Grandchildren in Kerry, Hamilton and St Mary’s Stained Glass

Kevin Day of East Cork Camera Club called his photo “On the Lookout” when he entered it in the Rebel Cup photography competition.


Girls in Kerry

My girls posed for me with the Feale monument in Listowel town square.

I snapped this man mowing the grass in the pitch and putt course. Members work hard to keep the course  in tip top condition these days.

Modern girls playing an age old game of “Soldiers”


Meanwhile in Chicago

Have you heard of Hamilton, the musical?  It’s the hot ticket in the US right now.  Hamilton is a musical based on the life of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton.

My nephew, Philip and his wife, Anna secured two tickets, to the great envy of their friends.

Their verdict: It lived up to the hype. It was brilliant.

The good news is that there are plans for a movie so we’ll all get to see it next year.


St. Mary’s window

This magnificent stained glass window is behind the main altar in St. Mary’s Listowel. As you can see  from the below pictures the window was donated to the church by the women of the parish. This fascinates me. Who decided that only the women would make such a huge donation? Who organised the collection of the money?


The wireless comes to Asdee  (Jim Costelloe)

These were the days before electricity,
when the storm lamp and the double burner lamps were the only source of light.
The Tilley lamp was a great improvement- part of it was the mantle which could
not be touched or it would completely disintegrate. These were also the days of
the wireless with the wet and dry batteries. The wet battery had to be charged.
That meant cycling to Timmy Kennelly’s in Ballylongford. There was no wireless
in The Blessed Well Bohreen in 1947 and I have vivid memories of the All Ireland
Final that year which was played in New York. Slatterys inn Asdee cillage was
one of the few houses to have the wireless then and a large crowd of us
gathered there to listen to the match. The window was open and we stood outside
in the evening sunshine, enthralled by the magic of Michael O’Hehir’s voice.
The first wireless around the Blessed Well Bohreen was at Moloney’s. A test of
the worth of the wireless was how far it could be heard at full volume.
Innocent days of outr youth, where are they gone?


RTE Stars of the Seventies

Photos of Dublin on Facebook shared this great old promotional picture. The ones I can name are Vincent Hanley R.I.P., Pat Kenny, Jimmy Greally? and Maxi. At the back are Dave Fanning, Jerry Ryan R.I.P. and is that Shay Healy?

“Time and tide wait for no man.”


Just Rewards

I met some of the girls from Presentation Primary School marching band at Super Valu on Monday May 8 2017. Their teacher, Miss Molyneaux was rewarding them with ice cream because they had given up their free time on Sunday to lead the parade for Coiste na nÓg.

Very Interesting old photos from Jer

These boys attended Knockanure School  in 1912

Knockanure Boys c 1912

From Jer

row L-R Hugh Goulding, Mick Sullivan, Con Hunt, Willie G Stack, Paddy Carroll,
Mick Mulvihill and Mick Lane;

row; Ned and jack Murphy, Paddy Kearney, Lar Broderick, Bill Buckley, Bill
Fitzmaurice, Mick Kearney;

L-R Tommy stack, Paddy Horgan, Mick Moore, Jack Dunne, Mick White, Larry
Kearney, John Leahy Con Buckley.


These girls were in Tarmons in 1922

TARMONS Girls 1922

Front; Margaret Denihan, Mary O’ Connor, Ann Fennel, Nora Cronin,
Bridie Sweeney, Jule Fitzgerald. 

2ndRow; Mary G Corridan, Nora Barton Hanlon, S
Sheahan, Mary Collins, Liz Murphy, Margaret Buckley, Jo McMahon, Margaret
Nolan, Mary Sheahan, Maisie Enright, Nellie

 O’ Grady.

Back Row; Margaret Dunne, Eileen Corridan, Margaret Nolan,
Bridie Curnane, Jo Buckley, Mary Sweeney, Mary O’ Connor, Nell Collins, Mina
Wren, Mary Fennell, Mai Enright, Mai Fennel cousin of Mary, Catherine Wren, Nellie
Curtin, Mary Sweeney an Mary Brandon.


These are 2 old photos of Ballybunion Castle before it was preserved.


This photo came from the RTE website. It shows children in 1974 picketing Montrose to ask for the retention of Wanderly Wagon which was threatened with closure. I wonder where they are today; Vita Cotex maybe?


According to Listowel Town Council’s latest figures they had 249 applications for housing up to the end of March. This compares with 252 applications for the whole of 2011. The Council has 204 houses. All but 11 of these are currently occupied. They have a 94% rent collection rate.


Today’s random bit of news.Yesterday Rory McIlroy tweeted this photo of himself aged 2.

He’d have made a great hurler!


Always remember


Megan Specia took this photo yesterday outside a post office in St. Andrews Street, Dublin.

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