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: Spar

Bryan MacMahon, Fr. Pat Ahern and Sheridan’s Spar

Beach Walk March 24 2018


Bryan and Kitty MacMahon on their wedding day

Recently someone researching her own O’Connor family tree came across this lovely photo on a genealogy website.

November 4 1936


Fr. Pat Ahern Honoured

Photo and text from the Diocese of Kerry website

Fr. Pat Ahern was honoured 19 Feb 2018, for his outstanding contribution to the artistic, cultural and literary tradition of the county, in a civic reception held by Kerry County Council. Fr Pat spoke with gratitude about his journey, outlining the impact the various Bishops of Kerry had on his work his location and his focus. Norma Foley spoke about his inspirational impact on Kerry and the country as a whole and she spoke with great feeling and emotion about his work with young people. Norma has worked directly with Fr Pat and has experienced his gifts first hand.  It was a warm gathering of Fr Pat’s family and many friends.

Fr Pat Ahern was honoured yesterday for his outstanding contribution to the artistic, cultural and literary tradition of the county, in a civic reception held by Kerry County Council. Fr Pat spoke with gratitude about his journey, outlining the impact the various Bishops of Kerry had on his work his location and his focus. Norma Foley spoke about his inspirational impact on Kerry and the country as a whole and she spoke with great feeling and emotion about his work with young people. Norma has worked directly with Fr Pat and has experienced his gifts first hand.  It was a warm gathering of Fr Pat’s family and many friends.

Fr Pat reflected on Siamsa Tíre:

For me Siamsa Tíre is no more or no less than the celebration of simple things – things that belong to everyday human living. Things that are not bound by time at all – that carry a timeless value.  The challenge is to notice them and to value them and to not be afraid or too embarrassed to celebrate them.

A few lines from the poet Patrick Kavanagh come to mind:

“Ashamed of what I loved I called it a ditch and all the while it was smiling at me with violets”.

I hope we will always have eyes and ears to appreciate and to celebrate the beauty of simple things, that we usually take for granted, maybe don’t even notice: the wonder and the colours of the sunrise or sunset  the beauty of the  wild honey suckle, the scent of a primrose, the song of the blackbird, the things that lift the spirt in us, lift it above the mundane,  above the material, mechanichal, digita,l lifeless, soulless world that is increasingly absorbing us…

Present-day society doesn’t want for sources of knowledge and information. The PC is fast replacing the world’s libraries. What you won’t find, however, in library or PC, is a quality, or value – aptly captured, perhaps, in that lovely little Irish phrase,  ‘ciall cheannaigh’– acquired wisdom / the wisdom of experience’.

A wisdom that is rooted in nature itself, and that is mediated through the lived human experience of  thinking, reflective, discerning  men and women over thousands of years… and which often comes to us through the imaginative and creative spokes-persons of our culture – in the handing on of stories and sagas, myths and legends, poetry and song, beliefs, customs……

the wellsprings of ciall cheannaigh.

I leave you with a few lines from a fellow Moyvane man, the late poet/mystic, John Moriarty:

            Clear days bring the mountains down to my doorstep

            Calm nights give the rivers their say.

            Sometimes the wind puts its hand to my shoulder.

            And then I don’t think, I just leave what I’m doing,

            And I go the soul’s way.

 Fr. Pat Ahern’s words Civic Reception


Opening of Sheridan’s Spar in Market Street in the late 1980s

Patrick Godfrey found this old photo of himself and the late Joe Lynch at the official opening of Sheridan’s Spar .

Building the new stand, Christmas Day in Listowel Workhouse and G.A.A. Social in 1960

Heron in Beale

Photo: Ita Hannon


John Kelliher Records Progress at the Racecourse


Ireland in 1908

Junior Griffin ponders what Ireland was like when Listowel Badminton Club came into being.

The year of
1908 was still in living memory of the great famine, Ireland’s own holocaust.

There were
several workhouses set up around the Listowel area to cater for the destitute
men, women and children during the famine period and there was at least one
still in use in the early years of the 20th century .  This was
located around the area where the hospital is today; indeed many older people
still refer to the Mass in the hospital church as “the workhouse Mass”.

The workhouse
was under the auspices of the “Listowel Board of Guardians” and the “Kerryman”
report of the childrens Christmas party under that body in 1907 read as

Christmas treat to the Children of Listowel Workhouse

“The Xmas
treat entertainment which has become a pleasing annual event in the lives of
the little children of the Listowel Union, was carried out in an admirable
manner on the night of New Year’s Day.

Mrs. Foran,
Lady Guardian for Listowel, and vice-chairman of the board, was-as been her
wont since she became a guardian of the poor-the central figure, as well as the
originator of this year’s Xmas tree entertainment, and the manner in which the
various details incidental to such pleasurings were carried out, as well as the
considerateness with which she contrived to give pleasure to the individual
little ones of the Workhouse by her kindly and tasteful distribution of the
good things provided, gives evidence of her thoroughness of head and
heart.  The delight of the little ones was apparent in every nook and
corner, where they could be seen gloating over their presents either singly or
in groups.

The Ladies
who were present were and who assisted in distributing the toys, etc., were-
Miss J. Broderick, Miss Hartnett, Miss Lyons, Miss Nolan, Miss D. Nolan, Miss
McElligott, Miss O’Donnell.  The Matron of the workhouse and the school
mistress were most assiduous in securing comfort for the children.

The band of
the Listowel Total Abstinence Society attended the entertainment, and ably
rendered choice selections of music from 8 to 10 o’clock.  This did much
towards enhancing the pleasure of the little workhouse children, and enough
credit can hardly be given to the band, individually and collectively for their
decent, humane and manly action in their giving to the children of the very
poor, if even for only two short hours in the year, a glimpse into the joyful
and mirthful things of life, which are by forces of circumstances to them
denied, and which to the more fortunate little ones outside the workhouse walls
are matters of daily, perhaps hourly occurrence. It is particularly creditable
that each individual member of the band played his part with much zest and
earnestness for those little waifs and strays of humanity as he could have done
in the palace of a King and for the most select of audiences.  They well
merited the thanks which Mr. Maurice Griffin, editor of the “Kerryman”,
bestowed on them, and the proceedings terminated, leaving everyone with the
pleasurable knowledge that those for whom the treat was inaugurated were for
this one night as happy as if there was never a shadow of a care or sorrow in
this vale of tears.

following are the contributors- Mrs. R.H. McCarthy, The Glebe, box of toys;
Miss McElligott, Mount Rivers, beautiful dressed doll, boxes of sweets, cakes,
chocolates and picture books; Miss Hartnett, two gipsy dolls; Miss Foynes,
mother-hubbard doll; Miss Stewart,  Sailor doll; Miss McAuliffe, box of
toys; Mrs. Barry, tin of biscuits; Mrs Crowley, 2 boxes candy; Mr. T Walsh,
oranges; Mr. Daly, oranges;

Corridan, box of sweets; Mrs. Foran, £2.

That was the
Listowel around the time that the Badminton Club was founded, indeed harsh
times for very many. 


G.A.A. Social in 1960

Margaret Dillon / Ward sent me this photo from 1960. It was taken in Walsh’s Ballroom.

Left to Right; Seated is Bryan MacMahon paying the waiter for his orange juice. The waiter might be Paddy Moloney from Charles St.  Next to Bryan is Thomas Ashe, Margaret Dillon, Garda René Farrell (Kilavullen) R.I.P., and Vincent Moloney, Bridge Rd. The man on the left with his back to the camera is Tony Barrett and John Keane is on the right. Of significance is the glasses of minerals on the table and the pioneer pins in the lapels.


Tidy Town Volunteers Gardening on Market Street This Week


Then and Now

Ger’s Killarney adventure

Do you recognise this garage?  

No. It’s not another quiz question. I’m going to tell you the answer. It’s Mangan’s garage, later Moloney’s now Spar in Market St. 

Question No. 2. Who is the manager of Spar? 

Easy answer here. It’s Ger Greaney, our chairman in NKRO.

And where was Ger on Saturday last?

Below is the answer:

Did he do it?   Yes, he did

Our chairman in NKRO, Ger Greaney is no slouch when it comes to taking up a challenge so when an opportunity to take part in the Killarney Adventure Race presented itself earlier this year, our Ger signed up. He has been in intense training including twice weekly. So you could say that he was ready for the challenge.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.  Saturday October 9 2011 was D-day. Ger arrived at the start refreshed and ready for the race of his life.

Stage I was a run up and down Strickeen Mountain.   Let me fill in those of you not familiar with this peak. Think Everest to you and me and you’re getting there. This stage was to be the “warm up”. Ger did this without too much difficulty. Ordinary mortals would now be ready for the shower and the pub. Not our Killarney adventurers.

Stage 2 was a cycle through The Black Valley beginning at The Gap of Dunloe.  Ger had been cycling around the roads of west Limerick for months in preparation for this and he had borrowed a proper racing bike for the jaunt. I forgot to mention that the weather on Saturday was a soft Irish day; dirty, foggy, misty, wet, cold and gloomy. Off into the valley rode our band of warriors. Ger is suffering but keeping up. He tries not to think too much about the poor fellow cyclists he sees fallen by the wayside receiving medical attention. The man they are covering with a blanket is not dead, merely battered and bruised from a crashing fall in the wet conditions. Ger is buoyed by the thought of the 13 kms. of downhill descent once he reaches Moll’s Gap. He is looking forward to the respite of an hour’s freewheeling.  But…

Shortly after passing Moll’s Gap our hero hears a pop and experiences the dreaded puncture. This is not  Tour De France or even Rás Mumhan. There is no team car with a replacement wheel. There is not even a broom wagon, not that he would have entered that anyway.

He is faced with 3 choices:

1.  Give up. (never an option considered by Ger),

 2.  Ditch the now useless €9,000 worth of borrowed pedal power,


3.  Run beside the bike all the way down the hill.

He choses option 3.

Rider after rider whizzes past ,waving cheerily and shouting encouragement. Soon the sight and sounds of his fellow adventurers fade into the distance in front.

Stage 4 is kayaking around Dinnis Lake. Darkness is beginning to fall and everyone is well ahead when Ger takes to the water but he completes this stage of the course like a trooper.

Stage 5 is  a jaunt up the hill past Torc Waterfall and a gruelling hop, skip and jump to the top of Torc Mountain. With no time to admire the lakes, it was back down the mountain to the tune of the rutting stags, a sprint to Torc Car Park and again down past the waterfall. Unfortunately, because it was so late and light was fading the stewards decided in their wisdom to take away the sign posts. So, in true Mr Bean style, Ger got lost and ended up out on the road three miles up from where he left the dilapidated bike.

Thankfully his ever patient and supportive wife had commandeered another bike for him  and he continued on    “the final short cycle” through Muckross Gardens to the finish.  By now people are out looking for Ger and urging him to accept a lift. Our hero is made of sterner stuff. He struggles to the finish,  bone weary, wet and disorientated, seven hours and fifty three minutes after he had undertaken The Killarney Adventure.

I am glad to report that Ger is none the worst for his ordeal. He sure has some story to tell and no better man to tell it.

Ger is on the LEFT. The man on the right is the fictional Spar manager.

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