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: Stephen Stack

McKenna’s social and Parker’s Pub

Ger Greaney came into possession of this great photo from McKenna’s social in 1968. Junior Griffin can name everyone and he will in time.

In the meantime I bring you a short history of the social as told to me by Junior. The Kerryman photos and ads were kindly sought out for me by the County Archivist, Michael Lynch.

Back in the 1960s very few young people had cars and an excursion in a bus was a real treat. Junior organized just such a treat for McKenna’s staff. They went on a day trip around the Ring of Kerry in August 1961. Unfortunately no photos remain of that great day out.

As Michael O’Neill was thanking Junior for organizing the trip he put it to him that they should have another treat in Winter and he proposed that they organize a Social. For the benefit of my younger followers, a Social was a dinner dance, organized for a group who worked together or who belonged to the same club. They were very popular in the 60s and 70s.

Junior ran with the idea and, beginning in 1962, McKenna’s Social became the most sought after ticket in town. You did not have to work in McKenna’s to attend and sometimes between 260 and 300 people were there.

The organizing committee brought bands from as far away as Tipperary and spot prizes were sourced from far and near. In fact the spot prizes were often the talk of the town for long after.

Word of this glittering social event reached the national media and Patsy Dyke, social columnist with The Sunday Press was dispatched to cover it one year. I wonder if anyone kept the cutting!

Many a Listowel romance started on the first or second Monday in January at McKenna’s Social.

Mrs. McKenna presenting the door prize to Jim Sheahan in 1962. A young Jack McKenna is also in the photo

John Griffin, Richard Kiely, Michael O’Neill, Brendan Daly and J.J. Daly who organised McKenna’s Social in 1962


Dame St. Dublin on Saturday last Jan 26 2013. What an ass!


Rathkeale in the 1950s. Gone for a quick one on the way home from the creamery, perhaps.


Danny Healy-Rae’s daft and totally unenforceable cure for the loneliness of isolated rural people, which he managed to get through Kerry County Council with the help of three publicans and the son of a publican got way too much publicity for my liking.

Very little publicity is being given to a North Kerry publican who has a way better solution to the problem.

Parker’s pub in Kilflynn provide a taxi service to get their customers home safely. All the fun of the school bus and no ridiculous “permits” necessary.

Parker’s also have a great website to keep Kilflynn people up to date with what’s happening in their area, all from the comfort of your own home.

Now that’s a sensible method of combatting the problem of rural isolation. Why is the media giving this no publicity?


R.I.P. Eamon de Buitléar


Jer brings us this piece of football news;

Stephen Stack winner of All-Ireland SFC medals in 1986 and 1997,  will take charge of Austin Stacks in 2013. Stephen  played with and managed Listowel Emmets. Then last year he  managed Bray Emmets. 

Let it snow…. 1943 /45 photos, St. Michael’s young scientists

Snow is forecast for parts of Ireland this week. Surely better than what they are experiencing in Australia. How will our young people who have emigrated from our temperate climate tolerate this?

From The Sydney Morning Herald

Red alert for freak weather

Date: January 11, 2013

Peter Hannam

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begin in 1 seconds.

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It is the heatwave that laps east and
west and seems hard to dislodge. Even tropical cyclone Narelle, wandering off
the north-west coast of Western Australia, has so far failed to budge the giant
heat cell over the continent.

“The system is holding its
shape,” said the manager of climate monitoring at the weather bureau, Karl
Braganza. “You are still getting the hot core over the inland.”

But the core is stretching eastward again, sending the mercury higher for
populated regions ranging from Victoria to Queensland. Brisbane had its hottest
night in seven years, with the temperature dropping to 25.8 degrees but the
city “was very humid so it felt more than that”, said Weatherzone
meteorologist Melissa MacKellar.

Sea breezes are forecast to keep the temperatures in Sydney around the harbour
to peaks of 30 and 34 degrees on Friday and Saturday, according to the latest
forecasts. But move only about 25 kilometres west to Bankstown, and days of 41
and 39 await.

Melbourne can expect 37 on Friday before a cool change arrives and keeps
temperatures down for a week. Most other parts of Australia won’t get much

“Our models are showing the high
pressure system dominating weather over southern and south-eastern regions of
Australia for the next week,” said Ms MacKellar.

The first eight days of 2013 made it
into the top 20 hottest days for Australia in more than a century in terms of
the average maximum temperature. The mean temperatures – averaging maximums and
minimums – smashed the previous record on Monday and then again on Tuesday.

The mean of 32.32 degrees on Tuesday
was almost half a degree higher than the record that had stood for more than 40
years until this week.


This is a long story but an interesting one. Once upon a time in the 20th century Listowel had many photographers. One of these, when he was folding up his business, gave a box of “contact sheets” to Bryan MacMahon. Contact sheets were pages of tiny little previews of the actual pictures. Bryan kept these safely all his life and, no doubt, he knew the people in the photographs. 

Maurice MacMahon, when he was dealing with his father’s papers found only one of these sheets left. We will presume that Bryan had given the others to someone and not got them back. Anyway Maurice realized that these photos would be of enormous interest to Listowel people but he had no names for any of the people who were the subjects of the photos. 

Then followed the long story, involving Jimmy Deenihan, James Kenny, John Lynch, Dylan Boyer and ended with me. Everyone told me that the best person for recognizing people in photos is Margaret Dillon and they were right. Margaret has been assiduous in her tracking down of these people and now there are another cohort of people involved in identifying these Listowel people from the 1940s. Margaret has established that many of the people in the pictures were employees of McKenna’s and the photographs were taken beside Walshe’s drapery shop which later became part of McKenna’s.

Here is the first tranche of these photos with the information that Margaret has managed to glean about them.

The man on the left is John Michael Murphy who still lives in Church St. Margaret called to him to see if he could identify his companion. He couldn’t but thinks that he may have come from Ballylongford.

This stylish lady is the late Tess Murphy of Greenville. In one of these ironic twists she is actually Margaret’s god mother. She passed away a few years ago.

This man about town is Jack Ashe, uncle of Mary and Haulie who still live in Listowel. Jack lived at Convent Cross with his sister, Nora who ran a sweet shop.

(more to follow)


I kid you not!!!!!!!!

Yes, it is what you think it is… the latest gadget to keep your toddler happy while he sits on the throne. Words fail me!


From last week’s Kerryman…young scientists in 1983


Did you watch this fellow and his road trip from Listowel to Tralee?

It has been pointed out to me that while the clip was published on Nov 6 2012, the video must have been taken much earlier because there are no roadworks and the road is in the old layout. Well spotted!

Páidí ÓSé, Michael Holland and street scenes

I wish all my readers a very happy and a peaceful Christmas and a hope that 2013 will be good to us all. I wish to thank most sincerely everyone who helped and encouraged me during the year. Listowel connection is now a community and its success is due to all the people who send me stuff. I hope that our community will grow and prosper in the New Year and that even more people will share their photos, poems and stories with us all.


O Christmas Lights

O Christmas Lights from Ireland’s

How gently gleams thy glow

Like stars above Judean hills,

In Bethlehem long ago, 

Where angels sang and shepherds

O’erpowered by wondering awe,

As Mary in a manger laid

Her Babe on stable straw

This verse is from a poem by the late Michael Holland of Ballybunion. I came across Michael’s poetry by chance. Many people in Listowel will remember him from his work with Kerry County Council and later in Listowel Community College. Michael was a man of deep faith. If you remember him this Christmas, please say a little prayer for his soul.


Paddypower is getting a new sign.

This busker is getting into the spirit of the season.

Weds. Dec 19: I don’t know what the two on the roof were doing. The men with the tractor were straightening the sign.

The Square


In Tralee one day recently Jer recorded this really good singer busking on the street.

He is well worth a listen.


Well done to whoever is responsible for the front cover of last week’s Kerryman.

Some lovely tributes in both English and Gaeilge too inside.


This is Paul Galvin’s tribute to Páidí ÓSé from Paul’s website

Páidí. Mar focal scoir.

17, 2012

short months ago I went west towards Gaeltacht Chorca Dhuibhne. Weeks spent in
Ceann Trá and Baile ‘n Fheirtéaraigh as a youngster left me with a fluency of
our native tongue and an affinity for the parishes that preserve and promote it
that hasn’t left me since. There’s a wildness about the place and its people
that I love.

was lucky to spend a few hours in Paidi’s company talking football and music
and photography and then more football. He was a cultured man and he
appreciated his own culture more than any other. Whilst I never knew Paidi as
well as someone like Eamon Fitz I always admired and respected him. I loved his
company and his stories often had me rolling with laughter. The more I laughed
the more Paidi enjoyed it. The O Se’s are like that.
We spoke about writers
too. Con Houlihan and Aengus Fanning came and went. We sat and listened to some
of John Spillane’s music. I remember Paidi being surprised that I knew some of
John’s songs. He spoke of his pride in Eamon Fitz in his new position. The two
share a special bond. Paidi trusted Eamon, Eamon delivered as Eamon does. He
spoke of his pride in Páidí Óg.

struck me how sharp he was regarding the game. He said two things to me about
my own game that only a really sharp football man would notice. He put me
thinking I must admit but then Páidí had a wit that could put anyone thinking.
He could provoke, but then leaders must.
 Those things will remain private of
course because some things mean more when you keep them to yourself. Whilst I
never soldiered much under him as a player I remember PO’s team talks vividly.
They were more than team talks really, they were a call to arms that you had to
answer and everyone answered the call for Paidi. His teams played football like
he did. With passion and purpose and all the skills. Anyway there are men better
placed than me to talk about his qualities as a manager.

As a
man I was drawn to him. He had courage and charisma and I’m glad of those few
hours we spent now. If Kerry football has a foundation then the four O Sé’s are
the cornerstones upon which it is built. Páidí passing won’t change that only
re-inforce it. Great men are an even greater loss I guess. We’ll shoulder this
one together. Páidí, I’ll take your words with me as I go. The wild west won’t
be the same without you.


I got an email from Barry O’Halloran with his own Páidí memory:

“For Listowel people this must be one of the most liked photos of Paidi –taken immediately after the 1997 All Ireland Final with Stephen Stack.

Stephen gave an exhibition of corner back play that day to win his second All Ireland medal after a gap of eleven years. 

Kerry won 0-13 to 1-7.  Paidi was manager of course.

I grabbed the photo from the website – 1 of 67 Paidi photos.

As a footnote,  A few minutes later Stephen gave a brilliant sideline interview to Marty Morrissey,  which he opened by sending his best wishes to his god-mother (Eileen O Halloran – my mother) who was in her last few weeks of fighting cancer. Stephen brought Sam McGuire to her bedside 2 days later).”

(R.I.P. Eileen and Páidí)


Listowel’s second annual Christmas parade video

I should have the fireworks display video for you after the holidays


I am going to take a holiday from blogging until after the New Year. See you all in 2013.

P.S. I had intended stopping today but I have so many photos that I will schedule a few of them to post on December 26th. Then I will definitely take a break.

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