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Tag: Storytelling Festival

A Mural and a Festival

Lullymore Bord na Mona Visitor Park; Photo; Éamon ÓMurchú


In Lyreacrompane

I sourced the following picture and story in the Lyreacrompane Historical Group’s Facebook page.

“People immediately recognise the image of the ‘Bull McCabe’, a character in John B Keane’s play, The Field”, Kay O’Leary from the Heritage Group told The Kerryman. She went on, “There is much debate as to which murder in the area ‘The Field’ is based on but the character of the Bull McCabe does point in one direction and John B knew the Lyreacrompane area and its happenings and secrets from a young age!”

The other image on the mural that has people asking questions is of a young girl watching the horse being shod. Joe Harrington from the Heritage group explains that this image represents Amelia Canty (1874-1955), who played an important role in the War of independence in North Kerry. He credits Kerry historian, Mary McAuliffe with unearthing the story. Amelia was born in the original Canty homestead near the forge which had been set up by her father. In her forties she worked undercover in RIC barracks in Abbeydorney and Listowel and in a witness statement to the Bureau Military History in 1955, Patrick McElligott, Commander of the Volunteers in North Kerry during the War of Independence, said that; “It would have been nearly impossible to carry on in such a hotbed of spies and informers without her aid”. 

Some of the older people still remember the Forge in Lyreacrompane and the mural brings back many childhood memories. It seems that the wet day was always the busiest at the forge as farmers, unable to work in the wet weather, used the time to get horses shod, gates and farm machinery fixed and catch up with the local news. Those gatherings at the forge were an important opportunity for social gatherings back then. Canty’s Forge closed in 1951 and on Sunday last, the extended Canty family gathered to view the mural, remember olden times and pass on the story to the younger generation.

In the photo. On the left; Jeremiah and Shay O’Connor, Cathy and Evelyn Canty, Donagh and Rian Horgan, Mike Horgan, Donal Canty and Leah and Ava Canty. On the right; Finnán and Daire Canty, John, Betty and Patsy Canty, Catherine Canty Horgan and Sean Horgan, Margaret Canty Kerins, Heather O’Connor and Padraig Canty.


International storytelling festival 2022

This year’s international storytelling festival will take place in and around Kerry Writers’ Museum from September 15 to 18.

All the great local storytellers will be in action as well as international guests. There will be songs and walks and all kind of shenanigans as well. A great weekend is planned.

Get information and tickets from Kerry Writers’ Museum here;

Kerry Writers’ Museum


Sam’s Visit

News from North Kerry GAA

The Sam Maguire Cup with members of the Kerry team will be in the Square Listowel on Saturday September 17th @8pm. Also in attendance will be the North Kerry Minor County Champions. As this was a historic achievement been organised by the North Kerry Board in conjunction with Listowel Emmets we are asking ALL CLUBS In North Kerry to have members of their u13 teams present at Frank Sheehy Park, Listowel on the same night @7pm sharp to parade to the Square as part of the Celebrations. We need all clubs to get on board with this to make the night a memorable event for all. All clubs can contact PJ Mulvihill secretary of the North Kerry Football Board in relation to your club participating.


A Fact

The phrase “rule of thumb” derives from an old English law which stated that you could not beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.


Harp and Lion in Sept 2019, Raceweek Memories nd First Storytelling Festival

Harp and Lion, Listowel’s Most Beautiful Shopfront

The next stage in the transformation is the sign painting. Martin Chute, Mr. Signs, is doing a magnificent job.

I took this photo on Sept 5 2019 when there was still some work to be done.

While I was photographing Martin, Liz MacAuliffe came by and stopped to admire the work.

I think both their ancestors would be happy with how it looks today.


Raceweek Memories

by Vincent Carmody

Apart from the fine fresh air and friendship that you will have in abundance at the races, the only other thing free for the week is the free draw each day, entry forms to be found on the day’s race card.

Race card kiosks are located in several areas of the enclosure.

In my previous lookback, I mentioned Paul Kennelly of Woodford.  He used to be assisted in putting up the decorations by several of his sons. One by one over time, they emigrated to seek their fortunes in England. Like many before them, they worked hard and prospered. Murt, having done well, decided to become a racehorse owner. Among the horses that he owned was Bregawn. In 1983 Murt achieved what most owners and trainers would only dream of, by winning the Gold Cup in Cheltenham. It could not happen to a nicer man and family.

The weekend prior to the races would see an influx of returning emigrants arriving at the Railway Station. The Races was the one time of the year where anyone away would make an big effort to return back to town and meet up with old friends. 


Tuesday used be the first day of the three day meeting. Many lads, like myself, would be down early outside the Race Company Office in the Square; our mission, to collect race cards for the day. This was another money making project for us young fellows. Each card would be sold for one old shilling and we would take three old pence for each one sold. On getting the cards, a bee line would then be made to the Railway Station, where each race day morning at least four packed “specials” would arrive.  It used be like London’s Euston station. We used work in teams of three, with one always ready to cycle down to the Square to get fresh supplies. 

Here we were also introduced for the first time to the Dublin fruit and sweet sellers. We used to call them the Molly Malones. Afterwards we got used to their cry, “apples, pears and ripe bananas!”. 

Any cards we had left after the railway station would be sold around the streets. 

One year I decided to go into business on my own, running a bicycle park. A bike would have been the most common form of transport for a lot of country men in the mid 1950s. Each day of the races from mid-morning droves of country men from the northern end of the county would come down the Ballylongford Road to the town. By taking up a position on top of the bridge I could easily canvas likely contenders who would have dismounted and walked up the far side and who wanted their bike parked safely for the day. Having secured a customer, I would take him down to our yard, give him a ticket, get paid and then rush back up to the bridge again. By early afternoon customers would have dried up so it was then off over to The Island. 

Our racedays were spent like most others out in the field opposite the stand. Not like today, where the field is used as a carpark, it was in those days similar to the opposite enclosure, albeit without a stand.  It had  bookies, bars, Tote and every other facility, even including swinging boats. Evening time offered the magic of the market, and for the week the cinemas would run a second film showing. 

Back to the bicycle park. The less said about the bicycle park the better. Having got my sister to help out in the early part of the evening, I then had to take up duty. On that particular night it was after five in the morning before the last bike was claimed. My mother and father said they had no sleep with all the comings and goings, so that finished that idea.

A friend, Dr. Philip O Carroll, now domiciled in Newport Beach in California, reminded me of Bryan McMahon’s classic Listowel ballad, ‘Lovely Listowel’ first printed by Bob Cuthbertson and sold on an original penny ballad sheet. I have a copy and I would like to share it with all of those Listowel people around the world who could not join us this year.

Oh, Puck may be famous and Galway be grand,

And the praise of Tramore echo down through the land,

But I’ll sing you a ballad and beauty extol,

As I found it long ‘ go in the Town of Listowel.

I’ve been to Bundoran, I’ve rambled to Bray,

I’ve footed to Bantry with it’s beautiful bay,

But I’d barter their charms, I would, pon my soul,

For the week of the Races in Lovely Listowel.

There were Bookies and Bagmen and Bankers and all,

Biddy Mulligan was there with a green-coloured shawl,

And a cute little boy pitching pence in a bowl,

Took me down for a crown in the Town of Listowel.

The Hawkers were kissing and bleeding as well,

We had Hoop-La and Loop-La and the ‘oul Bagatelle,

And silver-tongued gents sure I’d bet they’d cajole,

A pound from a miser in the Town of Listowel.

Beyond on the course there was silk flashing past, 

The unfortunate nag that I backed he was last,

When he ran the wrong way sure I lost my control,

And I prayed for the trainer and Lovely Listowel.

Oh night time, how are you-the night sure ’twas day,

And the stars in the sky sure they looked down in dismay,

And they sez to the moon then in accents so droll,

‘You’re done, for the sun shines to-night in Listowel’

And you’d travel the land to see maidens so rare,

With buckles and pearls and grace I declare,

In my troubles and toils there is one can console,

she’s a wife, be me life, from the Town of Listowel.

My rhyming is over, God bless those who heard,

For I’ll take to the roads and go off like a bird,

And before I depart well you all must pay toll,

So three cheers for the Races and Lovely Listowel.



Inaurgural International Storytelling Festival

This is some of the line up of storytellers for a marathon storytelling session in Kerry Writers’ Centre on Sept 7 2019. Missing from the picture are local storyteller Bryan Murphy and balladeer, Mickey McConnell.        

A Post Box, A Poster, The Cobwebs Glory and A Date with a Story

Pollinator at work


Saving the turf in the 1940s


Post Box in Upper Church Street

Any idea what this says?


Where stories begin

This poster takes up the whole window of the old Lawler’s Cake Shop in Church Street. It features some well known Listowel personalities. It’s proving s great talking point.


The Cobweb’s Glory

Many people have been in touch about this one.

From Vincent Carmody  

 “That production of The Cobwebs Glory would have been in the late 1940s or the very early 1950s as Eamon Kelly who directed it would have left Listowel around that time, bound for the Abbey Theater. The writers, were a combination of three Listowel men, Bryan McMahon, Michael Kennelly and an O’Connor man from Market Street, I think that his name was Paddy. 

The play was staged secondly by the Listowel Players, with Nora Relihan as producer, with proceeds from the three nights, going towards the upkeep of the boys national school, like many poster s there was no year given, however knowing the cast I would say early 1970s.  The poster is in my book, page 206.”

Jim MacMahon shed some more light on the third man; 

it was written by three people , my Dad , Paddy O’Connor and Michael Kennelly. I suspect it was my dad’s first dipping of his toe in the water as a dramatist . Both Michael and Paddy were pals in Listowel. Paddy was a very literary teacher, first in St Flannels in Ennis and later in Blackrock college and a literary critic , Jim

Beta OBrien wrote;

The Cobwebs Glory was a play about a greyhound of that name and the author was a combination of writers. Bryan McMahon Michael Kennelly and Paddy OConnor (who spent most of his life teaching in Blackrock College Dublin) The date I guess would be prior to Bryan McMahon getting  involved in serious writing possibly late forties.”

And Mattie Lennon sent this;

 I have no way of knowing when that production was staged. But I played Trooper Devane, with the Lacken Drama Group in 1965.

   Am I right in thinking that the play had three authors and that one of them was Bryan McMahon?

Dave O’Sullivan looked up the papers and here is what he found.

Thanks everyone for all your help.


One for the Diary


The Rose of Tralee Fashion Show

Quite unexpectedly I found myself at The Rose fashion show on Sunday night. The dome looked magnificent, every bit as good in reality as it looks on TV. We enjoyed a great night’s entertainment, goody bags and all.

The Roses on stage

Beautiful bridal wear from my friends in Finesse

They were all lovely.

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