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: surfing

An Irish Coffee Afternoon Dublin and Jason’s Ballybunion

St. John’s, Listowel in Autumn 2017


I’m Only a Plasterer

My good friend, Mary Sobieralski gave me a present of her collection of John B. Keane books. I’m enjoying dipping into these literary treasures. Here is a piece of reminiscence of John B.’s about a phenomenon that is now only alive in memory.

It was Writers Week. John B. doesn’t give this essay a date so I’m presuming some time in the 1970’s. In those days Irish Distillers used to host an Irish Coffee Afternoon. “There’s many a steady man rolled home after one.” according to John B.

Anyway on this occasion John. B. was on his way to the reception accompanied by some visiting literary types, “sonorous poets, doughty novelists and peering playwrights.”

John B. takes up the story;

“As I neared the entrance I was saluted by two friends of mine. Neither had any connection with the world of literature. One had once put down a floor for me and it remains as good as the day he put it down. The other was also a member of the building fraternity. I knew from their dispositions that they wished to gain access to the celebrations inside. Certain that the sponsors would have no objection, I invited them in.”

Once inside the friends parted and, many Irish coffees later he met up again with the man who put down the floor. He was enjoying the hospitality, and as “the liquor had lifted all impediments from the flow of free speech” the floorman was now conversing happily with poets and playwrights. John B. joined the company and the conversation fell to matters relating to the writing trade.

 “Then one of the ladies addressed my friend. He had contributed his share to that most convivial of conversations but she felt that he has not declared himself sufficiently with regard to the work in hand. “Pray, what are you writing at the moment?”

Before John B. could explain that the man was a tiler and a plasterer, the floor man replied for himself.

“I’m only a plasterer,” he said.

“I’m only a plasterer,” repeated the poetess, lost in admiration of what she believed was a new and original title.

“It’s autobiographical, of course. I must get a copy when it comes out.”

It’s probably the best title I have come across in years.” said another.

My friend and I decided to keep our counsel. More Irish coffees appeared and from time to time one of the company would repeat the words. “I’m only a plasterer”, and exclaim with longing that they would have loved to have conceived such an intriguing caption. Very often titles sell books and my good friend who was responsible for this one assures me that he has no objection if some aspiring author would like to use it.”


Old Dublin

Bachelors Walk 1938 from Old Photos of Dublin


Ballybunion by Jason O’Doherty

You can see more of Jason’s photos on his Facebook page

Ballybunion Prints Beach


What could the great things be?

Ballybunion, Banteer, Fursey and Superintendent Mulcahy

Beautiful Ballybunion:  Surfers’ Paradise

Jason of Ballybunion Prints is lucky enough to live in Ballybunion. We are also lucky because Jason loves taking photographs and he shares them with us on Facebook. Below are two of his marvellous surfing shots. Thank you, Jason.


Another Lovely Church

I often pass through Banteer on my way to visit my Cork family. It’s a picturesque little village with a thriving vibrant community.

 Banteer’s beautifully kept Roman Catholic church is at the heart of the village.

The parish is dedicated to Saint Fursey. I have an elderly relative who is a nun in the diocese of Cloyne. In the old days, nuns, when they were professed were given a name in religion and their baptismal name was never again to be used. The names were in the gift of the mistress of novices and were only revealed on the morning of profession. My lovely gentle innocent aunty nun told me once that her greatest fear was that she would get Fursey. If she had done, she would have accepted it with unquestioning obedience. Her obedience was not tested. She is to this day Sr. Perpetua.

The pictures tell their own story


Superintendent Mulcahy; A post scrip to last week’s story

I know some of you enjoyed the story by Michael Mulcahy. One of the principal characters in the story was Listowel’s Garda Superintendent Mulcahy.

Here is what I wrote about this man in November 2014 when I found a newspaper clipping with his photo in my late grandmother’s purse;

I’m flabbergasted by this piece of synchronicity. The newspaper photo shows Michael Kennelly of Listowel talking to 2 Mulcahy brothers at the scout reunion in Killarney in 1951.

Why did my Kanturk grandmother cut and keep this photo? Who were these Mulcahys and what was the connection with Michael Kennelly?

Here is the amazing answer to these questions.

These Mulcahy brothers grew up next door to my mother in Ballintubber, Kanturk. And they have a Listowel connection. Tom Mulcahy was a Garda superintendent in Listowel until his retirement in the seventies. He was a leader with the Listowel Scout Troop.

 Sad to say, his brother, Daniel, who is with him in the photo, passed away on the voyage back to the U.S. after this 1952 visit. This is possibly the last photograph of him.

I knew none of this until I found the newspaper cutting, contacted my brother in Kanturk and he made contact with his friend, Tom Mulcahy, nephew of the superintendent,  who still lives near the family home in Ballintubber.

Oh! the magic and interconnectivity of social history!


Jobs for Listowel?

The paragraph below is from Billy Keane’s Monday opinion piece  in The Irish Independent.

“Kerry Group has been the mainstay of our little town for over 40 years and now there are plans for a major refurbishment in the milk-processing plant, with extra jobs on the way. 

The gas means there is a great chance of new industry along the Shannon Estuary. For the first time in years, there’s hope. And it’s more than hope. I’m sure we are on the up and up. At last.

There are only six of us living in town now from our old primary school class of 45 kids. Yes it was 45. For the teachers, it must have been more like crowd control than teaching. I have more cousins in The Bronx than I have in Listowel.

For the first time, the economic good news story seems to be spreading to the country.’

Surfing in Ballybunion, William St. in the sixties and Knockane

Sign of summer?

Surfing in Ballybunion: April 2015

Photo: Ballybunion Prints


Upper William Street in the great bye and bye

A previous posting of this photo on the internet drew this response from our great local historian, Vincent Carmody.

“The old home town looks the same

As I stepped down from the train,”

This is  part of Upper William Street (or as real
townies would call it, Patrick St. or Pound Lane). I have a good idea that
Neddy, the ass, tied to the pole belonged to a really nice lady from Dirrah East
called Han Synan. The pole was (and is) situated outside the late
Nora(Lynch)Buckley /the late Lil Mai O Sullivan’s houses.

On the other side or the road the
house with the brown door was Dr.Tim Buckley’s surgery (he lived with his two
sisters Mollie and Delia across the road in a public house and which was
subsequently the Listowel Post Office). Above the surgery was a back lane which
serviced the rear of Upper William St. and Charles St . Up this laneway also
was the Powerhouse which served as headquarters for the local E.S.B. Up there
also were 2 forges, one belonging to the late Jackie Moore and the other to the
late Val Moore. On the other side of the laneway is St Patrick’s Temperence Hall
which was built in the 1890s. The hall had a major reconstruction makeover
1999-2002. At this time the house above the hall was occupied by an O’Sullivan
family who afterwards moved to Charles St. Next door, which at the time was
derelict, belonged to the late Mike Joe Hennessy of Ballyduff and formerly of
this street. The two houses above these belonged to Mary Moore who used let
them to various tenants. At this time the lower one was let to the town jubilee
nurse, a nurse Anne McDonagh, the upper house to Tom and Peggy Lyons, the two
remaining houses in the photograph belonged to John Francis and Maurice
Carmody. Hopefully this gives a little insight into part of the street of 40
years ago.


Honesty at The Fair

Marina Stack contacted me after watching the Radharc film Honesty at The Fair

She says

Re the Radharc programme Honesty at the Fair , at 14 mins 13 in is John Stack,  brother of Bob Stack, Maurice Stack, Pat Stack and Mai Stack.  All originally born in Moyessa, Listowel. John later married in Castelisland.



Today I return to the lore I learned when I visited the school children’s contributions to the National Archive’s Folklore collection in Kerry County
Library , Tralee. One category of the project concentrated on placenames and their

It is important to remember that the boys and girls recorded the
stories as they heard them from their elders. As we all known, folklore is a mixture
of fact and fiction distilled through the memories of generations who passed on
the information.

There is a townland in Listowel called An Cnochán or
Knockane and this is what an old man told an unnamed schoolgirl. Knockane is a
fairly large hill, made up of sand and clay. The hill is situated between the
rivers Feale and Gale. The story goes that the Danes brought sand from both
rivers to form the hill. The hill is located in a flat boggy plane. It commands
views over both rivers.

To the south of the hill is a spring well, continually
overflowing with clear spring water. This spring never runs dry, even in
periods of extreme drought.

One night a local man dreamed that there was gold in the
hill. He went in the morning to the spot indicated in his dream. He dug and dug
until he came to “the flag”. As he was about to dig up the flag, a bull came charging
towards him. He escaped with his life but he never again meddled with Knockane

Sin é mo scéal agus má
tá bréag ann, bíodh


Green Shoots of Recovery in Church Street

New beautician’s opening on Church St. shortly. My mole tells me that Carmel’s in Bridge Road will also open as a beautician’s very soon. We’ll all be looking gorgeous!


Women in Media 2015

I’m heading to Ballybunion at the weekend for this great event


Snapped on Church St.


April 1, Fool’s Day, other bygone things and Daffodil Day 2015

Fool’s Day

Do you remember playing tricks on people on April 1? Do you remember being caught out?

As a young teacher it was the bane of my life. Health and safety rules meant that you had to investigate every case of a missing student  (usually in a cupboard), summons to the principal’s office (always check with the school secretary first) or mysterious announcement of a no home work day that everyone knew about and you had missed.

In honour of the day I’m going to remind you of a few more things we have lost along the way…

Remember when there
was only one telephone in the house and everyone had to use it. It was usually
in a public area and you had to have parental permission to use it and then only after 6.00p.m. The identity of a caller was unknown until you answered the phone.

Waiting for the phone to ring when someone had promised to
“give you a bell”.

Checking your emails on the house’s only computer meant that
no phonecall could be made or received 


Your good tape getting snaggled in the cassette tape player.

Trying to undo the snaggle with a pencil.

Video tapes

Watching TV with your parents.

Washing up after the family meal.

Collecting fancy paper.

The Love Hour on Radio Kerry

Turning off the immersion.

Hand me down clothes. So many homes had a trying on session
at the beginning of the new season. The lucky eldest got the new clothes and
for the rest it was a case of; “If it fits, its yours.”


Writing Thank You letters, in fact, writing any letters.

Fab Vinnie and MTV

Pen pals

Fountain pens

Cycling to school

The bike shed

No sell by dates. If
it smells okay, eat away.


Ling; Where has that awful fish gone?

Twisting spills of paper to start the fire.

Red matches that could be struck on any rough surface. Men striking
these on the soles of their boots.

Untipped Woodbines


“God bless all here, bar the cat and the dog,” neighbours calling in with no purpose in mind except to see how everyone was doing and if there was any news from town/the creamery/the postman.

Ah, those were the days!


Daffodil Day 2015, when Listowel turned yellow

“Fair daffodils, we weep to see you haste away so soon,

As yet the early rising sun has not attained his noon.”  (Robert Herrick)

All of the following photos come from Listowel Daffodil Day

Good work by a very hard working band of local volunteers. Many of these people are with this fundraising venture for years. Many too have had their own very personal experience of cancer.



The Wild Atlantic from Bromore Cliff Walk


Surfing in Ballybunion, March 30 2015

(photos by Ballybunion Prints Beach)

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