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: swans

Elephants in Town, Abbeyfeale Altar, Duffy’s Circus and Moyvane

Photo; Bridget O’Connor


Altar in Abbeyfeale Church on April 20 2020

A parishioner grabbed this photo of his local church from the church’s webcam. It looks to me like they have tried to get as much a they can into the webcam shot. It means a lot to people who never missed Holy Week or Easter ceremonies.


Circus Elephants in Market Street

Photo; John Hannon

I found this old photo to accompany this great poem from John Fitzgerald. Here is his email

Hi Mary,

It’s a long while since I made a submission, so I’m not sure if this is the way to reconnect.

Although I’ve lived in Dublin for the last 55 years, the circus lives forever in my mind. 

Our house in William Street backed onto the market and my dad used provide hay and water for the animals so as well as the performance I got to spend time watching the big top go up and be taken down.

Kind regards,

John Fitzgerald.

John Duffy, the Circus

Out from the pastures in early Spring
On trucks and on trailers, the loading begins 

The tents and the tigers, the bright colored ring 

John Duffy, the circus is callin’

Travellin’ the highways and tourin’ the towns

 Ringmaster, jugglers, the cats and the clowns 

The posters are printed so word gets around 

John Duffy, the circus is callin’

They drive the long nights without any sleep 

Wire walkers, tight ropers, all hands to the wheel

 Each dawn a’peggin’ the circle of steel
John Duffy, the circus is callin’

They ring round our market, wagons galore 

Tractors and trailers, the canvas and more 

With riggin’ and cages, ropes by the score 

John Duffy, the circus is callin’

Four beats to a bar, the sledges ring
Four men of iron their music to sing
The canvas is spread,” the heave-ho” begins 

John Duffy, the circus is callin’

Its haul down the ropes, and let the tent rise 

Like clockwork they know, each cog to prise 

They heave and they haul ‘til the tent is full size 

John Duffy, the circus is callin’

The brass band of old is pipe music new 

Monkeys are scarce and the elephants few
The trapeze has nets and the safe rope has too 

John Duffy, the circus is callin’

The circus, alas, is not that of old
The magic, the music, the laughs and the roars 

See a child’s face when the sparkle’s gone cold 

John Duffy will soon not be callin’



Murhur, Newtownsandes, Moyvane

The parish was originally called Murhur. The name Moyvane was adopted by the village when a plebiscite was held by the Parish Priest, Father Dan O’Sullivan. Moyvane is the name of a townland about two miles south-west of the village, and the official name of the place is still Newtownsandes. The Roman Catholic Parish was formed in 1829, in the immediate aftermath of the Catholic Emancipation. The first parish church was built in 1837, and a date stone built into a wall in the village near the original entrance to the church and the school marks this date.

A new parish church, the Church of the Assumption, was built when Father O’Sullivan was still the parish priest. It replaced an older parish church built around 1833, and the new church was dedicated on 25 August 1956.

*old church and presbytery newtownsandes*

(info fromCathleen Mulvihill on Glin historical Society ‘s Facebook page)

blackbird, The Rattoo Swan, Government difficulties in 1927 and a better photo of the Dan Keane Variety Show cast

Photo: Chris Grayson


Swans Return

This is Bridget O’Connor’s beautiful picture of Mammy swan with her brood of 2015. Earlier this month the same swan and her husband returned to the exact same spot to build their nest. 

Anyone who knows anything about swans knows that they value their privacy and independence so Bridget kept well back to take her first photo of the returned swans.

Then came the biblical deluge of April 10 2016 and all her friends were worried for Mammy swan as the water rose around her nest threatening to swamp it. Mammy swan became agitated, toing and froing from the nest. Two local friends of the swan staged a quick intervention while she was on one of her wanderings and, using pitchforks, raised the nest to a higher spot. Thankfully, the swans accepted the new higher location and they have now returned to hatch their eggs in their beloved nesting spot.

Don’t go near them. I’ll keep you updated.


Deja Vu all over again

Back in 1927, Ireland was in a similar pickle to today’s shaky political situation.

The Irish general election of June 1927 was held on 9 June 1927. The newly elected members of the 5th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 23 June when the new President of the Executive Council and Executive Council of theIrish Free State were appointed.

The election saw the establishment of Fianna Fáil as a participant in the Dáil, taking most of the support and many of the members of the abstentionist Anti-Treaty Sinn Féin. The impact of this shift was to remove Cumann na nGaedheal‘s working majority among TDs attending, making the Dáil short-lived. (Wikipedia)

Irish Independent Saturday, 27
August, 1927; Page: 10


The news of the decisive dual
victory of the Government in the Dublin by-elections caused great jubilation
amongst all Government supporters in Tralee. The announcement of the Dail
dissolution and such an early General Election, while creating general surprise,
came as a veritable bombshell to the Opponents of the Government, says the ”
Irish Independent” correspondent. President Cosgrave’s decision has the
unanimous approval of all his supporters there as well as of merchants,
traders, farmers, and all others having a stake in the country. The lead given
by Dublin is taken as ominous, and the belief here is that it will be fairly
generally followed throughout the Saorstat at the General Election. The chances
of Fianna Fail are being freely canvassed, and while many of their supporters
are confident of doing better this time owing to the party having entered the
Dail, the extreme section of followers, confined mainly to the younger
idealists. are so disgusted with the taking of the oath that a big number of these
young voters who worked so hard for the party last June will take no part
whatever in the coming election.


Supporters of the Government are
convinced of a sweeping victory on this occasion. ” If the Government don’t
sweep the country this time,” said one prominent Tralee gentleman, ” God help
the country; but the people have got so sick of political wrangling now that
they will put an end to it for ever.”

An influential member of the
Farmers’ Union Party heartily welcomed the early General Election. His only
regret is that it will not give sufficient time to the farmers to meet and
throw in their lot with the Government party, which they so loyally stood by in
the recent crisis. Their duty, however, he said, was to stand by the Government


Picturesque streetscape on Bridge Road

Hill Top, Bridge Road, Listowel April 2016


The Whole Picture

Betty Stack has sent us the full picture of that cast from the Dan Keane Show in the mid seventies.

Here is the list of names, all except one man,

From back;  Kieran Kelliher,Patrick Flaherty, Seán Ahern, Timmy Leahy, Seán Broderick, Liam Tarrant, P.J. Ryan, Jerry Nolan, …….  ……, Gerard Buckley, Michael Dowling Christy Stack, 

Muriel Dowling, Geraldine Dowling, Kathleen O’Connor, Betty Stack, Maureen Dowling, Honor O’Connor,  Mary RyanPaudie Keane, Timmy Brosnan, Peggy Sweeney, Philomena Dillon and Dan Keane


What a week!

Last week started out for your blogger with a lovely family birthday.

Then was marred by the illness and hospitalization of a beloved grandchild.

The week ended with a feast of great things in North Kerry; Women in Media in Ballybunion, A Hen Night Epiphany in St. John’s, and a celebration to mark Brendan Kennelly’s 80th birthday.

If you are not interested in any of these things you are in for a lean few days on Listowel connection as I intend telling you all about my adventures, complete with pictures.


The Ones to Watch

Padraig O’Connor of Ballyduff is on the far right. He is pictured here with his UCC team who were honoured in Cork for their participation in an international business competition in Canada.

Left to right; Brenda Nestor, JMUCC Coach with the 2016 Cork University Business School team: Jess Griffin, Julian Hoare, Klara Sarkovska and Padraig O’Connor being recognised for their participation in the John Molson University Case Study Competition 2016.

Swans in Ballyduff, Town League in Scoil Realt na Maidine

Swans in Ballyduff

When this swan nested in Ballyduff, my friend, Bridget O’Connor, kept a close eye (from a distance) on developments. In time the proud Mammy Swan hatched out a family of lovely cygnets. Bridget caught a series of snaps as Mammy Swan rose from her nest for a brief stretch. She captioned one of these photos “Winging it” and The Irish Examiner printed it in their Readers Photos section.

The swan and cygnets became such a popular attraction in Ballyduff that local people began calling her Kate Middleton, so many people were anxious to see her babies.


Irish Hare

Perfect capture of an Irish Hare by wildlife photographer, Timothy John McSweeney


Scoil Realt na Maidine Town League

For as long as people can remember, June in Scoil Realt na Maidine is street league time. This year the teams are beautifully turned out as they pose for photos for Facebook. May the best team win!


R.I.P. James Last

Live in Tralee 1983


Corpus Christi photos coming up next week


Yeats Day

Ballybunion in the aftermath of January storms 2014

This is Ballybunion on Sunday, January 12 2014

 The beautiful beach was fairly empty except for our family.

Banks of sand were washed up beside the Sea Rescue garage.

Damage to the the remaining door of the Sea Resue premises

This piece of driftwood looked a bit like a beached alligator.

Damage to the sea side windows of the little shop

Grass on the cliff looked as if it had been “combed” by the wind.

I don’t think I’d like to live in this cliff top apartment.

Two birds on a wire surveyed the deserted beach.

Looking down from the road


A mystery nearing a solution

Do you remember the obituary to Pat Abruzzo?

“Mrs. Nora Patricia Abruzzo, of Woodstock, GA., passed away Tuesday December 24, 2013 in an automobile accident in Warren County, GA. She was 67.

A Funeral Mass will be held 10:30 A.M. Thursday, January 9, 2013 at Transfiguration Catholic Church with Father Tran officiating. Burial will follow at 12:30 P.M. Thursday January 9, 2013 at Georgia National Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 2-7 P.M. Wednesday, January 8, 2013 at Woodstock Funeral Home.

Mrs. Abruzzo was born March 12, 1946 to the late Dan and Nora Sweeney Kirby in Listowel County Kerry Ireland.

Mrs. Abruzzo was the Director of the Microbiology Department at Kennestone Hospital.”

A few local people set to work on solving this mystery. Progress was slow but Kay Caball cracked it for us . This lady, who was known as Patsy Kirby in Duagh, came from The Mall.


Jer. Kennelly took this photo of The Big Bridge

This is Timothy John MacSweeney’s study of 2 swans at Ross Castle, Killarney

National Library picture of Adare Co. Limerick, 1900


Maura Esmond sent me these.

The annual Snow Sculpture contest in Breckenridge, Colorado, attracts contestants from all over the world. These are just a small sample of the many magnificent works of art on display . They are all made from snow.

Swans, Chum Moloney and recruitment in Ireland

Jim MacSweeney took this lovely snap at Ross Castle, Killarney


Maeve Moloney sent these pictures of her dad, the Chum Moloney and friends in the 1980s. The photographs were taken in John R.’s pub


Tumbling paddy

I have received a request from a reader for a photograph of a tumbling paddy. I don’t have one but surely someone out there took a photo in a hayfield where some skilled haymaker was gathering hay with one.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry. It was before your time.


Photo from The Irish Emigrant Facebook page

So many young Irishmen in search of adventure answered this call. Records of their service will soon be available on line.

Diaries have also been digitized. Here is an extract from  one. I found it on the BBC’s website.

A private war diary kept by one of the First Battalion’s soldiers, Captain James Paterson, has also been digitised.

Captain Paterson died on 1 November, some six weeks after an entry said the scenes he witnessed were “beyond description”.

“Trenches, bits of equipment, clothing (probably blood-stained), ammunition, tools, caps, etc, etc, everywhere. Poor fellows shot dead are lying in all directions. Some of ours,” he said.

“Everywhere the same hard, grim, pitiless sign of battle and war. I have had a belly full of it.”


Progress report from Duagh Sports’ Centre. The windows are in.

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