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: St Michael’s 1978

Christmas in Ballincollig, St. Mick’s Classs of 78 reunion, A memory of Santa and a photo of Nelson’s Pillar

Listowel Town Square in January 2019


Yesterday was Little Christmas or Nollaig na mBan. Here is a hair raising story from the folklore collection;

The Big Wind, 1839

The Big Wind fell on Little Christmas night. A man by the name of Paddy Cronin who lived in Beal was in the house with his mother. The storm lifted the roof off the house. He took out his mother and tied her on to an ash tree, lest she would get hurt. While he was going back for some blankets to put around her from the cold, the tree was uprooted and there was not a trace of the tree or the woman to be found.


A Quick Look Back

My family plus dogs walking in Ballincollig Regional Park at Christmas 2018. It was that kind of Christmas. We had lovely mild dry weather so we were outdoors as much as possible.

 Santa came to those who were expecting him.

2018 was the year of slime.  I don’t get the attraction myself.

Santa brought Cora a massive gorilla. He is now part of the family.

At Christmas 2019 we had Listowel births, marriages and way too many deaths. 


Billy McSweeney relives a 1940s Christmas in Listowel

I remember one Christmas eve in the days of Ration Books and deprivation of the 1940’s. Darkness had fallen and the Santa tension was building in our house.

My mother was out shopping for some last-minute necessities, when she 

suddenly burst in the front door screaming “Santey, Santey. Come quick, 

come quick !”

My young sisters and I rushed out the door at the top of Church Street 

to clearly hear harness bells jingling and trotting hooves clattering 

off the road just past McAuliffe’s corner, barely 100 yards away but 

already out of sight.

“Aw, you just missed him!”

When a chasing charge was obviously forming in our minds we were told:  

“Get your coats on or you will get your death of cold!”

A riotous melee formed around the coat stand and a number of 

half-attired children took off down the street. Alas, by the time we 

reached McAuliffe’s Corner the sleigh with it bells and reindeer had 

vanished and we trudged home elated that we had nearly seen him but also disappointed that we had missed him.

My mother had a joyous smile on her face that her timing was impeccable.


Reunion at Christmas time 2018

Photo: Denis Carroll ; Names: Seán Healy

Front row LtR: Don O’Sullivan, Gerard Buckley, John Dowling, John Moynihan, Seán Healy, Johnny Mulvihill, Michael Mulcare, Dan Sheahan, John O’Sullivan, Patsy Ryan, Bernard O’Keeffe, John Lenihan, John Horgan.

Middle Row: LtR: John Beary, Eddie Relihan, David Dillon, Nick Roberts, John Lyons, Thomas Mulvihill, Richard Cantillon, Michael Curtin, John Kennelly, Patrick Flavin, Jim Furlong, John Purcell, Eoin Rochford. 

Back Row LtR: Seán O’Sullivan, Michael Casey, Séamus Given, PJ Kelliher, George O’Connell, Conor Keane, Pat Flavin, Tony O’Carroll, Denis O’Carroll, Declan O’Connor, Dan Mulvihill, Pat O’Brien, Brendan Nolan, Billy Stack


The View from Nelson’s Pillar in the 1960’s

Photos of Dublin


A Call to Action for 2019

(from our own John Keane in The Kilkenny People)

As 2019 begins, we have a request for the readers of The Kilkenny People newspaper.

As a new year’s resolution, would you commit to saying hello to everyone you meet?

A little nod, a quiet word, a smile, a touch on the arm, some kind of inter-action – as Bruce Springsteen asked: ‘Share a little of that human touch’.

December has been a bad month in the city and county with a number of tragedies.

We cannot fathom the depth of the pain for the families and communities involved.

Do Something Positive

What we can do is stop giving out about the glaring gaps in the State’s mental health service and do something positive.

So instead of cursing successive governments’ continual lackadaisical approach to mental health in this country and instead of getting upset over the huge waiting lists to access mental health services (particularly for children) do something positive yourself.

Walk down the street and engage, show empathy, give people that little bit of comfort by saying ‘hello’, ‘well’ or whatever cool salutation you can think of.

Little Kindness

It just might make a difference to the recipient; the little kindness they need to get them through the day; to know that there is light, there is hope in the depths of their depression or whatever demons they are fighting.

So as we look in horror as this government, like all the rest, turn a blind eye to the biggest killer in the State by refusing to adequately resource the services needed to address the issue, let’s do something ourselves.

And ask yourself, why is it that voluntary agencies like The Samaritans, Pieta House (Darkness Into Light) and Teac Tom are having to do so much of the work that should be shouldered by the State.

Pandora, Class of 78 reunion, the tea chest and Manchester Martyrs Memorial

Early Evening in Ballybunion


Manchester Martyrs Memorial in St. Michael’s Graveyard, Listowel

I posted these photographs a while ago and wondered why these men were being commemorated in Listowel.

Dave O’Sullivan found the answer in the papers. Apparently these men were widely commemorated in Ireland on the anniversary of their deaths. The unveiling of the monument in Listowel was banned.

Here are a few accounts from the papers of the time.

This memorial in Rath cemetery, Tralee, came later


Reunion Planned

Conor Keane has been in touch . Here is what he has to say;

A reunion of the victorious St Michael’s senior football teams of 1978 will take place jointly with the St Michael’s Class of 1978 Reunion. 
In 1978 St Michael’s College Listowel won the Kerry College’s Senior Football Championship, securing the coveted O’Sullivan Cup for only the second time in the school’s history. The team also won Munster College’s Senior Football Championship Corn an Rúnaí for smaller schools. 
We have arranged the reunion night on Thursday 27th Dec 2018commencing at 7 pm in St Michaels College, Listowel where we will be welcomed by the current principal John Mulvihill and his deputy principal Liam Hassett. This will be an opportunity to revisit our old classrooms, browse through some old photographs and bring us through the new extension.
After this, we will adjourn to the Listowel Arms Hotel at approximately 8 pm for a friendly get together, a catch-up, a buffet and a few beverages. The charge for the event in the Listowel Arms will be €25 a head. There are some rooms available in the hotel for those who
wish to stay over.

 Front row from left: John O’Flaherty, Gerard Buckley, Gerard Enright, Mike McGuire, Conor Keane, Chris Larkin, John Bambury, Fr Patrick Horgan.

Middle : John Kennelly, Thomas Mulvihill, Johnny Horgan, Kevin O’Donovan, Eddie Relihan, Johnny Stack, Martin Stack, Denis Kennelly.

Back : Pat Shanahan, Kevin Lucey, John Lyons, Edward Kissane, John Favier, Thomas McElligott, John Keane.

St Michael’s College Listowel: Kerry College’s Senior Football Champions 1978 and Munster College’s Senior Football Champions Corn an Rúnaí 1978

Class of 78

Front row: Gerard Somers, Joseph Tarrant, Gerard Daughton, Patsy Ryan, Johnny Stack, Dan Sheehan, Fr Horgan ( RIP), Pat Flavin, Thomas Horgan ( RIP), John O’Sullivan, Conor Keane, Mike McGuire.

2nd row: Mike Callanan, George O’Connell, Thomas Stack, Seamus Given, Bernard O’Connell, Thomas McElligott, Declan O’Connor, John Kennelly, Jim Furlong, Barry McAuliffe, Jimmy Ryan, Tony Carroll, Bernard O Keeffe, Denis Carroll
3rd row: Michael Byrne, Tom Molyneaux, Richard O’Shea,Pat O’Brien, David Dillon, Denis Brosnan, Michael Curtin, Seán Healy, Mick Lynch, John Beary
At back: Joseph Carmody, PJ Larkin, Richard Cantillon, Thomas Mulvihill, Pius Horgan, John Lyons, John Horgan, Eoin Rochford, Kevin O’Donovan.


The Tea Chest

I remember the tea chest well. In fact I still have one in which I store logs. The following account of varied and popular uses of tea chests I found in Patrick O’Sullivan’s great book, A Year in Kerry

There was a time when the tea came not in bags but in foil lined tea-chests- the delicious aroma from those large chests is one of the most enduring memories of childhood Christmasses. An added bonus was the tea chests versatility as a storage unit when empty.  It could be used to store turf, logs, clothes, or china and, in not a few instances it served the function of a playpen, restraining an adventurous infant and keeping it out of danger’s way when not in the cradle. There’s many a grand lady and gentleman walking the roads this day and but for their memories being so short, they’d remember that they were reared in a tay-chest,” observed an old relative on the matter.



(The pre Christian Eve)

The following photo and account are from Raymond O’Sullivan on Facebook

Pandora was the first human woman in the world, according to Greek mythology. She was created by the god Zeus as a ‘punishment’ for men who had stolen fire from Hephaestos, the blacksmith of the gods. Zeus gave her a sealed jar as a wedding present with strict instructions that it was not to be opened, knowing well that she would not be able to resist the temptation.. To his delight her curiosity eventually got the better of her and she opened the jar, releasing on the world all the evils imaginable: sickness, death, poverty, pain, misery, sadness, …….
The comparison with Eve in the Judeo-Christian tradition is compelling. She takes the blame for leading Adam astray, the expulsion from paradise in the Garden of Eden and all the trouble and strife in the world ever since.
So misogyny is nothing new, it goes back a long, long way. Very much in focus these days with the #me too movement, the need for gender quotas in universities (of all places), and the waving of a young girl’s underwear around the courtroom in a rape trial. How to counteract something so deeply ingrained in the human psyche is a vexed question. It is an uphill battle, but, when all the evils had escaped, the last thing out of Pandora’s jar was Hope.

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