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: sewing

School’s Folklore collection, Sewing and Tailoring and Listowel Food Fair 2019

A Blue Tit

Photo: Chris Grayson


Schools Folklore Collection

Many of the contributions to the schools’ Folklore collection were written in this type of copy book. This one comes from Derrindaffe.

Someone told me recently that one of the great pities of this project was that often it was the pupils with the best penmanship whose stories were submitted. Oftentimes, better more authentic voices could come through in the work of the “weaker” students. Teachers weren’t to know that the day would come when the copy books would be digitised and handwriting would matter little.


Sewing, A forgotten Skill

Once upon a time a lady would count hand sewing among her accomplishments. Garments were made by hand and repaired often until they eventually wore out.

The arrival of the sewing machine had a revolutionary effect on women. The job of sewing became so much easier that now a garment could be sewn in jig time, freeing women for other jobs around the house.

On Facebook I found the following

“Powder and lipstick” for sewing !!!!!

Of course sewing wasn’t done just by the women. The Tailor was a valued tradesman.

The following is the schools’  folklore collection;

In Ireland, some years ago, tailors went from house to house making suits. They sewed everything by hand as there were no machines to be had.
The tailors use a big and also a small scissors, a bottomless thimble, an iron, a table, measuring tape, chalk, bodkin and needles and thread.
My grandmother, down in Killorglin, Co. Kerry always made flax shirts and sheets and they lasted for years.
Hardly anybody makes shirts nowadays. They are all bought readymade. Socks and stockings are also bought readymade as they take too much time to knit.
In Kerry some years ago instead of shawls, cloaks were worn by the women. They were terribly heavy and expensive. My grandmother had one for years and it was lined with black satin. The cloaks are sometimes mistaken for nuns cloaks.A man said one time when he passed through our district that his arms were almost broken from saluting the “nuns” and great was his surprise when he found those he saluted were ordinary women.

This contribution came from a Dublin lady with roots in Kerry.


Listowel Food Fair 2019

These are some of the stands at the Food Fair Fair in The Listowel Arms on Sunday November 10 2019.

These Ballybunion stall holders were keeping each other company during a lull in what was a very busy day for all the exhibitors.

My friend, Eileen makes some lovely clay earrings, tree ornaments, cake toppers and unique commemorative pictures and much more. Every item is unique and tailored to the individual.

I’m a bit of a sucker for a nice notebook and cheese were the nicest ever, all made from recycled materials and uniquely colourful and quirky. Every journal was covered in a recycled material with its own story.


Christmas 2019

The tree is up and the first windows decorated.

Yes, it is only November 18th.

Tarbert, O’Connell’s Avenue and Sewing Needles

Tarbert’s Swanky Bar

I looked up the adjective swanky in the online dictionary. It said it meant stylishly luxurious and expensive. US.  also swank very expensive and fashionable, in a way that is intended to attract people’s attention and admiration: We stayed in a swanky hotel.

I’ll have to leave it to its patrons to decide if Tarbert’s hostelry fits the bill. It was closed the day I visited.


Beautiful Historic Tarbert

Tarbert is located a mere hop, skip and jump from Listowel but it is a town I only always seem to see in passing. I corrected that error recently and I visited on a Sunday morning. I discovered that Tarbert is lovely.

I parked by the bridewell which was, on this Sunday, hosting an indoor car boot sale. I don’t know why it was called a car boot sale as no  one I saw was selling from a car boot.

The bridewell is not the only old building which Tarbert has preserved.

I was struck by Tarbert’s awareness of its rich history and I saw the work of the local historical society everywhere I turned.


Commemorating a Painful Past

This colourful corner is dedicated to the memories of men who died for an ideal and for the young victims of a local tragedy in 1893. Here too is a seat dedicated to a local man who was obviously well loved.


Forge Park

Across the road from the flagstaff and memorials is Forge Park. I’m presuming it got its name from the place it is located; probably the site of an old forge.

Among the daisies and clovers in a wild meadow setting are these carved trees….intriguing.

This little bridge leads to a short riverside walk that brings you back to the Bridewell.

Looking the other way along the well kept path you can see the national flag and the 1916 memorial.

 The seating in the little park is semicircular and sheltered. I sat for a minute to enjoy the birdsong and the peace in this little oasis of calm.

On this seat too another of Tarbert’s citizens is honoured.

The wooden cart wheel with its steel bands a reminder of the work that went on here long ago.

This weekend is the perfect time to visit Tarbert. The annual summer festival starts tomorrow Friday July 21 2017. Find out what’s on HERE


O’Connell’s Avenue, Listowel

This old telephone exchange building is an ugly mass at the end of this picture perfect street.

Feale Drive from O’Connell’s Avenue

O’Connell’s Avenue

The Marian Grotto always looks beautiful. It is a credit to the local residents who look after it.


Easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven

I think this packet of sewing needles is in my possession for over 50 years. It certainly belongs to the days when my eyesight was better and my hand steadier. The eyes on these little blighters are tiny. And what on earth has Flora MacDonald to do with them?


Game of Thrones….the Listowel Connection

 Everyone is talking about Ed. Sheeran’s part in Game of Thrones. But did you know that Seán McGillicuddy had a cameo role in the same episode. Here he is on the the left of the three on the right of Ed. Thank you Gerard Mulvihill for the heads up.

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