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: rural electrification

A fairy Trail, Rural Electrification and the 1916 Memorial Garden

11th Fairway, Ballybunion on New Year’s Eve 2018

Photo: Catherine Moylan


A Fairy Trail in Ballincollig

So many towns nowadays have their own Fairy Trail. The Ballincollig one looked a bit the worse for wear when I visited after Christmas.


Rural Electrification in Ireland in the 1940s

The ESB was established in 1927 but until The Rural Electrification Scheme of 1946, electricity was a luxury only available to a rich few.

When electricity came to rural Ireland it was like a revolution. Tasks which had been so difficult up to now were rendered doable. A whole slew of “instructors” were dispatched around the country to teach people how to use electricity. Many people were afraid of electrocution or of a fire caused by switches and plugs. It is hard to imagine how “backward” we were then. It’s only one generation ago!

This is a photo from my friends in Bord na Mona Living History and this is what Tony wrote to accompany the photo.

This photo dates from 1956 and shows how life was changing with the coming of electricity. The woman in the photo had only recently had electricity laid on and after the electric light her next thought was to get a radio which would work off the power. No more bringing batteries to town to be charged. There’s a  Sacred Heart picture on the wall, a flash lamp on the mantlepiece along with various tins for storage. The dog and the cat are warming themselves beside the turf fire, they had no interest in the electricity. 

The photo was taken in Connemara and appeared in a 1956 English magazine article on Irish Peat and electricity.

One of the ads in the magazine was for a 12 day all-in holiday in Switzerland for £25, although that was the fare from London. Definitely different times.


1916 Memorial Garden on January 6 2019

Early January 2019 and we were experiencing an extraordinary spell of crisp mild weather. I was walking in the park on Friday, January 4 when I spotted David Twomey and the outdoor workers busy at work in the memorial garden. I knew that when I returned on Sunday January 6th it would be looking its best. It was.

Listowel people, be sure to go and see it soon. It’s beautiful


Won’t be Long Now

This is a photo of a queue waiting for admittance to an event at a previous Listowel Writers Week. This year Writers Week will run from May 29th 2019.

Keep an eye on the website to see what great things are in store;

Listowel Writers’ Week 2019

HOYS, Mumming and broadband in Ballyduff

Gurtinard Wood; Early Autumn Morning



The Horse of the Year Show is called Hoys by everyone in the know. It is the pinnacle of achievement for a show horse. I was there last week at the NEC in Birmingham to watch the lovely Sonny Bill make his debut in the big arena, under lights.

These are the old owners: my brother Pat and his daughter Elizabeth with the new owner, Jane Collins. Jane is an MEP but she took annual leave to watch her new Irish hunter perform.

This is the big moment when Sonny Bill made his entrance into the big time. It’s a long way now from hunting with The Duhallows in fields around Kanturk and Kilbrin.

Jane and her daughter, Rebecca had organised VIP seats for the visitors.

There were 22 horses in his class and the judges placed Sonny Bill 8th. This was a very satisfactory outcome for his first time in the big time. I’ll let you in on a secret. Sonny was wearing hair extensions in his tail. It’s all about appearance in showing….a kind of beauty pageant for horses.

Elizabeth was delighted with her rosette from HOYS. Sonny is still showing in her name even though he is no longer hers.

Pat and Elizabeth with Sonny Bill’s new English friends.

Sue Walker and her husband Nigel run the yard where Sonny is liveried. Here Elizabeth is showing them the horse she intends buying next.  They approved.

Hoys is a huge show with 250 retail stands. Unfortunately most of these were equine. There were some really entertaining shows in the arena. One of these was the Clydesdales.

This man was selling  a Mojo. He had them for horses and humans and they are meant to cure all aches and pains. A few of our party fell for his patter. If there is a huge improvement in horse or man I’ll let you know.


Listowel Square with St. John’s


Have you ever Heard of Mumming?

At the moment I am continuing my research on Jimmy Hickey’s life in dancing. One of the unusual things that came up was mumming. Jimmy Hickey and his dancers attended the Welsh Eisteddfod on several occasions. The only other representatives of Irish traditions was a group of Wexford mummers.

This is Sheila O’Connell’s photo of the Wexford boys. Sheila was one of Jimmy Hickey’s Sliabh Luachra dancers.

Mumming is an ancient Irish folk dance. The dancers hold sticks in their hands and clash the sticks as they perform the figures of the dance. The tradition is a bit like our wren boys and was often performed at Christmas time. John Kinsella, who hails from Co. Wexford remembers his father mumming.

This is Sheila O’Connell of Ballydesmond in her traditional Irish costume chatting to one of the mummers. Sheila is wearing the traditional hat worn by the mummers. That black one was the leader’s hat. The rest of the dancers wore green and gold and their hats were a bit like a bishop’s mitre.

 The mummers were also accomplished musicians. Here they are giving an impromptu performance while cooling off in the river.

This is Mary Doyle R.I.P. cooling off as she listens to the music. She is wearing a tr.aditional Welsh bonnet which many of the Irish contingent bought as souvenirs.

This is Jimmy Hickey and the Sliabh Luachra dancers. The box player is a very young Liam O’Connor


The March of Time

These photos are from the Ballyduff Facebook page. The first is rural electrification in the 1950s. The second photo is the laying of fibre optic broadband cable in 2016.

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