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: Saturday Supplement

Saturday Supplement, Ballyeigh, NCBI fundraiser and Global Pandemics

Photo; Vincent Higgins, Mallow Camera Club


Saturday Supplement

This photo was taken outside Jet Carroll’s a few years ago. In it Frank Lewis is interviewing Vincent Carmody for his programme Saturday Supplement on Radio Kerry.

Frank plans to come again in May to record a programme on 50 years of Listowel Writers’ Week


2013 NCBI Cake Sale

This photo was taken in the Mermaids. These kind ladies were all volunteers at the NCBI charity shop and they held a cake sale to raise extra funds.


Covid 19

I am relying heavily on archive material these days as there is not much happening in town while we are on semi lock down due to the pandemic of Covid 19.

Vincents in Upper William Street, Listowel

I am going to share with you what I’ve learned about previous pandemics while I’ve been cooped up .

Spanish Flu spread like wildfire during the last year of the war, 1918. It killed more people than were killed in war, 50 million worldwide and 23,000 in Ireland alone.

TB or consumption was a very contagious respiratory illness which killed 10,000 Irish people in 1916 alone. It continued to ravage Ireland for most of the 20th century, until effective drug treatments and isolation hospitalisation brought it under control.

HIV/Aids was the dread of the 1980s when there were very poor prospects for people contracting this disease. To date over 9,000 people in Ireland have been diagnosed with Aids. Today, advances in drug treatment means that it is no longer a death sentence.

Sars killed 800 people in more than a dozen countries in 2003. Ireland had only one case.

Swine Flu was the pandemic of 2009. 27 people died in Ireland and half a million worldwide. A vaccine is now available.

Seasonal influenza comes our way every winter. while it is a serious illness, most vulnerable people protect themselves by vaccination.

The biggest difference between Covid 19 and previous pandemics is that it is very easily spread and, in a small but vulnerable cohort in the community it causes very severe respiratory problems.

As yet we have no vaccine or antidote.


Listowel March 16 2020

I was out around 10.00a.m. and I  had the town to myself, almost.


The Ballyeagh Fight

In Ireland in the 19th century fighting was a favourite sport. Good fighters were heroes in the neighbourhood. Local fights between rival families were looked forward to and talked about afterwards much as football matches are today.

The father and mother of all fights took place on Ballyeagh Strand near Ballybunion in 1834. It was a bloody battle, fought with viciousness by men and women. It became the stuff of legend. Below is an account from the Dúchas Schools’ Folklore Collection

In June 1834 the Ballyeagh Fight took place on the White Strand Ballyeagh. It was one of the many faction fights of the time. At that time races would be held on the strand at low tide. Great numbers attended the meeting and tents lined the bank of the river on the Ballyeagh side – there is no strand at the other side. The factions engaged in this fight were the Lawlors principally from the Beal side and the Coolleens principally from the Ballyconry and Cashen side.

Evidently this was no sudden outburst for the parties were preparing for days before hand and came to the strand in military formation the Coolleens on horseback. Hacket and Aherne lead the Coolleens. They brought cart loads of stone to use in the fight. A little hay or straw was thrown over the stones and the women sat on top to allay suspicion.

Rev Father Buckley PP of Ballybunion met them a short distance from the strand and asked them to go home but they refused. Then he asked them to keep the peace and not spill blood but they told him they would.not return till they had defeated the Lawlors.

At the outset they chased the Lawlors towards the mouth of the River using the stones they brought with them.

When the Coolleens had used up the stones the Lawlors turned and using the stones strewn on the strand, hurleys and cudgels of all description routed the enemy. The women also joined in the fight filling their stockings with stones. The Coolleens made for the boats but the Lawlors gave no quarter and twenty nine were killed or drowned.

Three boat loads went down in a place Poll na dTriur. It was three weeks later when the last of the bodies was recovered from the river. Not one of the Lawlors was killed but twelve were badly maimed. These twelve bore the brunt of the fight and held the strand at the beginning of the fight. Aherne was killed in the fight but Hacket their leader fled.

Races were held in Ballyeagh up to 1858.

Mike Griffin
Ballyeagh, Co. Kerry

Saturday Supplement and The Royal Munster Fusiliers in WW1 and Pigott Poetry Prize

Don’t Miss This

On Saturday morning next, Feb 22 2014 Radio Kerry will broadcast Frank Lewis’ Saturday Supplement  at 9.00 a.m. This programme is inspired by Vincent Carmody’s book, Listowel: Snapshots of an Irish Market Town 1850 to 1950.

Vincent’s walking tour of the town is something every Listowel person should experience at least once. If you haven’t done it, put it on your Bucket List.

Now, Thanks to Frank Lewis and Radio Kerry, you can experience this tour at one remove, by listening to it on the radio.

I am honoured to be part of the tour. I was invited by Vincent to read from Listowel greats like D.C Hennessey, John B. Keane, Joseph O’Connor and Seán Ashe. On Sunday morning, when we recorded the programme, I was in the company of illustrious natives like Jim MacMahon, Kay Caball and Gabriel Fitzmaurice. They all had individual and interesting tales to tell. There also were ordinary people, whose voices we are  less used to hearing on the airwaves like Martin Griffin, Liam Grimes and Diane Nolan. What all these people have in common is that they are North Kerry born and bred. While my love for Listowel is undoubted, my pedigree is not pure. I only made my way to the Kingdom in 1975. But I think people are willing to forget that now and I am proud to take my place among native Listowellians.

Chalk it down: Radio Kerry, Feb. 22 2014 9.00 a.m.

Below are some photographs I took on the day of the recording, Feb. 2nd 2014

The gang are gathered at Jet O’Carroll’s, across the road from Galvin’s off licence and Vincent is telling the listeners the story of the mosaic shop front.

We called to this house, a few doors up from the post office in Upper William Street. In the front room, for we were expected, a candle burned before an icon of De Valera and the walls were adorned by memorabilia from the White House. This house was once the home of Kathy Buckley who, along with 2 other North Kerry girls, worked in the kitchen at The White House during the reigns of 2 presidents.

Back on the street, Brian MacCaffrey, who was married to Kathy Buckley’s niece, told Frank Lewis all about her and her adventures.

Martin Griffin, Brian MacCaffrey and his son, John listen intently while Vincent tells another story.

On Church Street Vincent told us about the place where it was easier to write then not to write. We heard the story of John B.s lovely poem, The Street. Several others of the street’s pantheon of writers were also mentioned.

You will not be able to see this on radio but we got to admire the work of Patrick MacAuliffe and The Cement God and the beautiful handiwork of The Chute Family, Listowel painters for 5 generations.  Vincent told us what John B. used to tell visitors who asked him to explain the significance of the inscriptions in three languages.

Gabriel Fitzmaurice sang, recited and told stories to beat the band.

At John B.’s statue in The Small Square I got to read John B.s account of the Tom Doodle adventure. Liam Grimes was actually there on the night of the great Doodle rally.

We finished our tour at the castle where Diane told us the history of the castle and Joan Mulvihill, who had entertained us with song all along the route, sang one final local ballad. I’m delighted that I recorded it for you.

So here it is again:


This recruiting poster is one of many photographs on a website devoted to Irish regiments in WW1.

Eternal Fame? I don’t think so.


Who is this?

This is Mark Pigott

What is his Listowel connection?

His family roots are in Listowel.

Why is he in the Listowel news right now?

Wait for it! This man is a very very successful business man in the U.S. His company is called Piccar. Read all about it here

AND he has just endowed Listowel Writers Week with a huge poetry prize. This man is a lover of the arts and a philanthropist. He has decided to share some of his vast wealth with poets. He has decided to do this in the form of a prize at Writers’ Week.

Read all about it here:

This huge prize, along with Kerry Group’s  long standing sponsorship of the Book of the Year puts Writers’ Week right up there with the big international Arts festivals.


Weather photographs and Frank Lewis’ Listowel Walk

Today I’m going to bring you some idea of our recent weather as captured by the cameras of better photographers than me.

 Clogher Head by Peter Cox

Fasnet lighthouse by Peter Cox

Flood outside Adare golf club by Jessica Hilliard

Valencia by Valerie O’Sullivan


Meanwhile Jim MacSweeney and Timothy John MacSweeney (no relation) were out photographing birds


N.B. A date for the diary

Last Sunday I went walkabout with Vincent Carmody and Frank Lewis. The programme, a walking tour of Listowel, will be broadcast on Radio Kerry on Feb 22 in Frank Lewis’ Saturday Supplement. The entire 2 hour programme from 9.00 to 11.00 will be from Listowel. I think you will enjoy it. I certainly did.

Here are a few photos I took on the day

Frank Lewis interviewing Vincent as we set out on the walk

Gabriel Fitzmaurice is a programme maker’s dream. He had anecdotes, stories, poems and songs and was quick on his feet when thrown a curve ball question. Nothing on this tour was rehearsed…well prepared, yes, but the first take was the last take.

 Frank interviewing Kay Moloney about the Famine in Listowel

Martin Griffin told stories of local characters a few Lartigue anecdotes.

Jim MacMahon talked of Church Street then and now.

Joan Mulvihill gave a vituoso performance of the songs of the local bards. She also reminisced about her childhood in The Gleann.

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