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: Sluagh Hall

Folklore, Green shoots and Tadhg Kennelly honoured in Sydney

The country has gone rugby mad

Billy Keane’s Independent article A Day we’ll remember for the rest of our lives and even longer

puts it best.

Together, standing tall



This is the Kerry County Library in Tralee. I was here last week on a mission.

I’ll begin at the beginning.

In the school year 1937/38
the Irish Folklore Commission undertook a great project. They got teachers
around the country to encourage their pupils to collect lore from their elders.
The boys and girls undertook the task with varying degrees of enthusiasm and
success.  The results of their efforts
are now stored in archives around the country. 
It is no surprise to see that one of the biggest files is the one
collected by pupils in Scoil Realt na Maidine, Listowel. Their teacher, Bryan
MacMahon had a deep appreciation of the value of this project .

A past pupil of my own, Emma
MacElligott, now herself a teacher, alerted me to this rich store of stories,
sayings, placenames etc. I visited the archive in the Kerry County Library,
Tralee and there the archivist, Michael Lynch introduced me to this treasure
trove. I will share with you some of the stories I read there.

One boy wrote about a woman
called Madge Shine who lived in The Red Cottages, Cahirdown. Madge used to make
baskets from hazel. She used to place the hazel twigs over the fire to soften
before weaving them into baskets.

Another local man, Martin
Sheehy, made ‘sgiaths” from “scallops”. I’m guessing that sciaths are the kind
of flat basket used for gathering flowers or vegetables, which, in English, we
call a trug. According to Michael O’Brien of Ashe Street who recorded the
story, “he bended the sticks in and through one another until he had his
sgiaths made.”

Other basketmakers used

Before candles were
commercially made people used to make their own from “fat.” They used the fat
of goats and other animals according to Mary Hickey of O’Connell’s Avenue who
was 85 when she told her stories to B. Holyoake of Railway House. According to
Mary, they got a mould, put a stick across the top. Attached to the stick were
6 or 7 “cotton threads”  These were
obviously the wicks. Then they “rendered the fat”.

(I remember well my own mother
rendering suet in the days before cooking oil. 
There was always a bowl of fat at the ready for frying.)

Back to 1937…the hot fat was
poured into the mould and left to set overnight. In the morning they had 6
candles. Half penny candles were called “padogues”.

More stories to come….


County Colours

Do you remember the days before scarves and county jerseys, people showed their support by wearing crepe paper badges and caps? These things inevitably ran all over  your face and clothes…happy days!


Progress Report on Listowel Revival

The rebuilding of The Plaza is moving along nicely.

The rumour mill says that this premises is to be a medical centre.

Rumour has it that this will be a veterinary clinic.

If true, all of this is great news.


Hall of Fame

Tadhg Kennelly of Listowel has been inducted into the Sydney Swans Hall of Fame. What an honour!


Tidy Town Awareness Day in Super Valu

Photo;  Listowel Tidy Towns


+   R.I.P. Ann Cox  +

My very stylish, feisty, animal loving former colleagues in Pres. Listowel has gone to her eternal reward.

Ann was a fashionista before the term was invented. She was always beautifully groomed, softly spoken and ladylike.

Ann loved her dogs. When she brought them from the rescue home they were the luckiest dogs in Kerry for Ann lavished love and care on them to their final days.

She loved the Irish language and promoted Irish culture and traditions in everything she did.

She took up golf late in life but she enjoyed immensely the whole new circle of friends it brought her.

Ann contracted Parkinsons Disease in her late sixties but due to her fighting spirit and the great care of her neighbours and friends she continued to live in her own home until two years ago.

She passed away on March 21 2015.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam uasal.


Sunday Morning in Brosna, March 2015

photo; Ballybunion Prints Beach

Ballybunion, safety matches, Santa Claus is coming to town and the Sluagh Hall is sold

Ballybunion Angling and Coastal Views captured this shot when out fishing at sunrise this week.


Mixing with the Stars

They had a great time in The Mixing Bowl when Ray, Bressie et al came to call during the week.


Christmas Shopping Made Easier

On street parking in Listowel is free every afternoon from now until Dec 19 and all day during Christmas week.


Remember this?

Do you remember safety matches? They were the ones with the black tips. They were originally called “safety matches” because they only lit when struck on the side of the box. Matches with red tip could be struck off of practically any surface.

I wonder if anyone made the baked cod recipe.


Rite of passage

My lovely granddaughter at her Ceremony of Light last week.


Santa Claus is Coming to Town

These pictures are from previous parades. This year’s parade takes place on Sunday Dec 7 in The Square at 1.00p.m.


Princess Mary Tin in Listowel

Yesterday I told you about the Princess Mary tin which brought some cheer to the trenches during WW1. Jim Halpin has been in touch to tell us that he has one such tin in his William O’Dell collection in his war museum in Church Street, Listowel.


End of an era

Sold at auction yesterday for €76,000

Old ways, a Horgan reunion and some more style

Do you remember the hay float?

If you do you might enjoy this lovely clip which Jer. shot on Vintage Day in Blennerville on Sunday Sept. 29


 Jim Halpin’s photo of a group in 1942 in the Sluagh Hall, Listowel. They were the Army Medical Corps. I dont suppose anyone will be able to name these men.


I dont have a date for this cutting but we can see where all the power lay in those days.


The following photos were sent to me by Jim Horgan who organised the recent clan reunion in Tómaísín’s in Lisselton. There was a great turnout of Horgans on the night and they enjoyed a great séisiún.

 Horgan Cousins

 Mike Molyneaux, Margaret O’Donoghue Cloonan, Tom Molyneaux, Brede Molyneaux
Brosnans and Horgans
Fantastic local musicians from Ballydonohue
Fantastic local musicians fromh Ballydonohue
Horgan Cousins from Kerry, England and USA
Having a spin: Margaret O’Donoghue Cloonan (Tannavalla/Pittsburgh), Mike Molyneaux (Woodford, Listowel), Eileen O’Donoghue Curran (Tannavalla/Pittsburgh), Bridget Horgan (Atlanta, USA)

Jim and Bridget Horgan having a waltz

Lara Scott – Atlanta Georgia, USA
Eileen Ann Brosnan (New Zealand), Jim Horgan (Atlanta, USA), Cathy Horgan Herbenick (Dayton, USA)


A few more from Ladies Day

If you haven’t seen your photo yet, don’t despair. I still have a few more to go.


Still on style, the wedding of the year took place in The Bahamas recently and the happy (and very rich) couple released this photo;

Sluagh Hall and cleaning up

    A view of the town from Dylan Boyer


The Monday cleanup gang: Well done all.


Sluagh Hall 

At the ceremony to mark the
closure of the Sluagh Hall in Listowel and the standing down of F Company,
Michael Guerin gave an address on the background to the Sluagh hall and the FCA
in Listowel.

I am paraphrasing this address
from the account of it in The Advertiser.

At the outbreak of WW2 the
Irish government declared a state of 
emergency on June 7th 1940. The following year a Local
Defence Force was formed.

The Listowel District Command
covered 21 districts in North Kerry and included a Field Ambulance Company.

The first regular army
instructor appointed the LDF was Bill Kearney. 
(Bill became a stalwart of the Listowel drama Group). The LDF had its
headquarters at Moloney’s Garage in Upper William St. (This premises was later
Lonergan’s Supermarket and now houses Royal China.)

In 1943 the army bought an
old egg packing store by the railway bridge in Upper William St. This premises
was converted to a Sluagh Hall. There were 78 of these halls throughout the
country. The Hall had offices, a training hall and an indoor rifle range.

Down the years Listowel
Sluagh Hall has been used for basketball, tennis, badminton, volleyball, drama
productions, Writers’ Week exhibitions, boxing and Tae kwon do.

In 1946 the old reserve was
disestablishes and An Fórsa Cosanta áitiúil (FCA) was established. This was
formed into 6 companies in North Kerry. The company met for training on Tuesday
nights and parades at weekends. The highlight of the year was the annual
training camp in Ballymullen Barracks in Tralee. This was like a two week paid
holiday for many a young North Kerry youth.

In 2005 the FCA was disbanded
and the Army Reserve established in its place. The numbers joining the Army
Reserve never reached the peaks seen in the FCA in the 1960s and 70s.

In 2013 Listowel’s F Company
was finally stood down and the Sluagh Hall closed up forever.


These two are taking part in a sketch in school. They are Rhona Tarrant and Chloe Walshe, both of whom have gone on to carve out careers in media.


Poster from 1980


Don’t you wish you lived here all year round?

Ballybunion Sea Angling posted this from his morning walk by The Cashen on Saturday April 20 2013

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