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: Sarasota

Sarasota, Athea and a Listowel player who nearly made the Kerry team

Rossbeigh, Co. Kerry

Photo: Chris Grayson


Christmas in Sarasota

If you remember, before Christmas I asked people to tell me where they were spending Christmas. Well!!!! the response was poor. So I am really grateful to the people who took the time to send me photos or greetings from far or near. The rest of you are on the naughty list.

Pat del Savio lives in Sarasota in Florida. She sent me these photos of Christmas in her part of the world, complete with ice skating rink, Santa’s sleigh  and light shows.

Sarasota is where the international rowing  competitions were held last year so the place will be familiar to the O’Donovan brothers. I dont think they follow the blog though.


Athea- the origins of the village

 This is how this lovely little Co. Limerick village looks nowadays. I make a point of taking all of my visitors to see it. I assure you it is worth travelling to see. It has the best public art of any small town in Ireland. It has a great fairy trail, some lovely garden centres, one with a pet farm, lots of history, great music, floral displays to rival any tidy town winner, a quiet river with ducks which are fed regularly, a lovely church and best of all, friendly welcoming people.

This mural in Athea tells much of the recent history and mythology of the village in graphic form.

It was not always such a peaceful place.

Recently the North Kerry blog outlined some of Athea’s troubled past. 

This account comes from The Kerry Reporter, August 12 1933

During the 17th and 18th centuries, and also
throughout the earlier part of the 19th, the district around Athea was very
different to what it is to-day. In these days many places that are now green fields were then
covered by treacherous bogs or marshes, while the roadways were for the most
part, beaten paths, that usually became more or less impassable in winter.

The prevailing desolation was somewhat
relieved by stretches of woodland here and there, where fir, spruce and oak
grew profusely. There exists authentic records that at an earlier period still,
these woods extended in one unbroken chain as far as Adare, and there is ample
evidence to be found today in the plentiful growth of timber which exists
around Ardagh, Rathkeale and Ballingran, that there is good grounds for this
belief.  The river Gale, which rises in
the Rooska hills and flows westwards through Athea, must have been a
considerably larger stream in those days, owing to the surrounding country not
being then drained, and it can be easily imagined that devastating floods must
have been of frequent occurrence.

When Cromwell marched through Ireland in
1649-50, with fire and sword, ruthlessly slaughtering men, women and children, numbers
of fugitives found refuge from his barbarity in the Athea district! Owing to
the absence of roadways proper, the country about Athea was isolated to a great
extent during this period, and for a long time afterwards, so that it was only
with considerable difficulty the heavily armed and accoutred troopers could
manage to reach the place. For these reasons many of the inhabitants of the
place, as well as those who found refuge therein, succeeded in escaping the
general slaughter. Another factor which, no doubt, contributed to the safety of
the people living in that area at the time, was that the surrounding country
was too wild and unproductive, and the people themselves too poor, to tempt the
cupidity or rapacity of any of the regicide’s followers.

More tomorrow…..


Micko….the Listowel Connection

After last week’s great TV documentary on the legend that is Micko O’Dwyer, loads of other Micko stories are surfacing on the internet.

My favourite is this one which appeared on and it  concerns our own Pat Healy as told in his own words:


Listowel were playing in a Northleague final in Ballylongford back in the 80s and I had a stormer from wing-back.

Got about 3-3, and we won, beat Duagh. On the Monday we were down in Tim Kennelly’s pub, well on it, and Horse [Tim Kennelly] beckoned me over and said ‘You should be in with Kerry, someone should ring Dwyer about you’.

Of course, I was enthralled and before I gathered myself I was shoving 20 pence into the phone box out the back of the pub, ringing Waterville.

‘Mr O’Dwyer, it’s Pat Healy here from Listowel. We won a North Kerry final yesterday and Tim Kennelly suggested I give you a ring’. ‘About what?’, says Micko.

‘About myself, and maybe I should be on the Kerry team at this stage?’

‘And how did you get on?’, queries Dwyer.

‘Ah very good Micko. I got 3-3 storming forward from wingback, the lads here reckon I could do a job for Kerry’.

‘And who were ye playing?’

‘Duagh, Micko’.

‘Well I’ll tell you what’, growls Dwyer, ‘the next time Kerry are playing Duagh I’ll give you a call’, and the phone dies.

‘I went back into the bar and of course the whole lot of them were falling around the counter, bursting their holes laughing’.

St Patrick’s Celebrations 2017

Happy St. Patrick’s Day  2017 to everyone in the Listowel connection community

Photo and sand art by Mario Perez


Noreen O’Connell sends us this sad poem which was written by her emigrant great grand uncle, Paddy Histon

 The Dear
Little Shamrock

The shamrock you sent me

Fond greetings it brings me,

From the green hills of Ireland,

Far, far away:

And when I hold them

With care I unfold them,

For they grew near my home

In the hills of Athea.

The leaves were once green

Mow they are dried up and withered,

The tears from my eyes

Will refresh them like dew:

They recall to my mind

The long-cherished memories,

For it’s often I trod

On the spot where it grew.

Oh, could they but speak

What stories they would tell me,

Of the heroes who fought

To set our land free,

The martyrs who fell

By the sword and the  scaffold,

Are fondly engraved in my sad memory.

Here’s to the shamrock,

The flowers of St Patrick,

I will wear it to honour

The Saint’s blessed day:

But my footsteps will tread

On the shores of Columbia,

But my heart is at home

In the hills of Athea

Composed by Patrick J. Histon

In Conn. U.S. A . circa  1930


St Patrick’s Day in 1909

This lovely old photo was sent by Margel Soderberg. She tells me that this is her grandfather and she says

“His family lived in Chicago but his grandparent’s emigrated from Listowel in the 1860’s. In the photo, he is a young boy of 10, dressed as an archer and the date is given as St. Patrick’s day.  I have posted it to the Chicago Genealogy page but it didn’t sound familiar to anyone so I wondered it there was some type of celebration that was familiar to you.  He was Catholic.”

Does anyone in Chicago have any idea why this little Irish boy was dressed like this on the feast day of our patron saint.


Today is St. Patrick’s day so I’ll be busy with my camera.

They have already celebrated our national festival in other places. Here are a few photos from abroad.

Far from his native Lyreacrompane, Liam Murphy  celebrated the feast in New Jersey before the storm struck.

His friend Jule Spohn told him in a message of the plans for St. Patrick’s Day in Newark:

Hi Liam. Here is a little bit of St. Patrick’s Day news from Newark for you and your “Irish” friends. On St. Patrick’s Day morning our “New Cardinal” here in Newark, His Eminence Joseph William Cardinal Tobin, will be the principle celebrant and homilist at the “2017 Memorial Mass for Deceased Members and Investiture of the Grand Mashall and Deputy Grand Marshal.” The Mass will be at St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral on Washington Street and Central Ave at 9:15 am and will feature the Newark Firefighters Pipe Band and the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree Color Guard. Newark’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place that same day – March 17th – starting over by the Pru Sports Center on Mulberry Street at 1 pm. HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY to all.


And in Sarasota, Florida

Pat del Savio writes;

As there isn’t a St. Patrick’s Day Parade nearby, I am sending you some photos of my town’s Irish Gaelic Festival, a small, but enjoyable event.

Dancers with gray costumes are from The Drake School of Dance.

Dancers in multicolor costumes are from the  Irish Dance Academy of Sarasota Three of the dancers are competing in dancing competitions in Belfast and Dublin this year. Gillian McCormick is the teacher and she is in the photo with the dancers.

 The local weatherman is Bob Harrigan who was part of the entertainment on the day.

 Cathay Dunne had a fairly successful career in Ireland and Germany before turning his attention to the U.S.,

These costumes were hand made by the dance teacher’s mother and the crochet collars hand made by her aunt in Ireland.

Behind this man is an inflatable pop up Irish pub.


We’re ready for the off

A Robin, Some old photos and Parking Balls in Florida

Ireland’s Largest Megalithic Cemetery

Catherine Moylan took this photo in January 2017 in Carrowmore, Co. Sligo.


Posing Robin

This friendly fellow met me in the town park and he kindly agreed to pose for me.


Progress on the Community Centre Extension

Listowel Community Centre shared the following photos from inside the new gym.


Some Old Photos from National Geographic online

The men are saving the hay, the women knitting and gleaning.



Nicholas, a blog follower, likes this poem. I do too.


Meanwhile in Sarasota, Florida

Pat del Savio is following the story of the balls as a deterrent to parking on the pavement. When she made a trip to her local Target store recently she photographed these for us.

True to form, the US balls are bigger and more colourful.

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