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: Tar Abhaile Page 1 of 2

Dromin Well, some old advertisements and Tullamore National School

(photo: Timothy John MacSweeney, wildlife photographer)



(photo;Ballybunion Prints)

Scairbhín is the time of year from mid April to mid May when the weather vacillates between balmy and baltic. The old people used to say, ‘Don’t shed a clout ’til the may is out.” The may in this case referred to the flower of the blackthorn bush often referred to as “the flower of the may”.


Count Your Blessings

Our ancestors lived through tough times. We are so lucky to live in a prosperous Ireland.

Dublin tenement 1940s

Blitzed London street

Our poor misfortunate ancestors evicted from their homes


Dromin Well

Our amateur folklorists in 1937 took upon themselves to research stories of holy wells. One girl heard a story about Dromin well outside Listowel. According to the story, a girl called Depra, who was deaf and dumb was brought by her parents to the well and left there for three days. When her parents returned after the three days they found “to their joy” that their daughter could hear and speak. She told them that during their absence a beautiful lady had appeared to her and told her to drink from the spring. Depra did as she was told and immediately she was cured. She could hear and speak. The beautiful lady smiled sweetly and disappeared.


1916 /2016

( photo: 1916 Commemoration)

In the aftermath  of the 1916, several booklets were published. This collection is in the Capuchin Archive.


Some Great Old advertisements

Kay Caball of Kerry Ancestors lend me this recently.

I bring you today some ads from this publication, most of them for businesses long gone from the town.


Who, Why, When?

Antony Hegarty (formerly of Tullamore) sent me this photograph from New York. It was published in The Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine. Antony is anxious to find out the provenance of the photo. Does anyone know who is in the photo and what was the occasion?


Tar Abhaile

Julie and Glyn Evans

Mary Cogan, Kay Caball and Evelyn O’Rourke

“Don’t forget , TG4 , This Monday night. A night of Genealogy with North Kerry Reaching Out. This week’s programme of the “Tar Abhaile ” series comes from Listowel and other locations around North Kerry and West Limerick.

The first descendant who features this weekend is Julie Evans, a teacher from Sydney Australia who discovers the mystery behind how her grandmother’s grandmother, Bridget Ryan, ended up leaving Listowel Workhouse in 1849 and on a ship to Australia as a 16-year old girl as part of the Famine Orphan Girl Scheme. 

The second is Angie Mihalicz, a retired teacher from Beauval, Saskatchewan, Northern Canada who comes back to discover what she can about her grandfather’s father, Peter McGrath and his mother Ellen, who emigrated to Canada at the height of The Famine and after a long search finally gets to stand on the land of her ancestors.

This programme is a repeat.

All the schoolboys named, Tar Abhaile and painting.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Listowel

Flavins window


Mike Enright took this great photo of a sunrise in Ballybunion, November 2013


Don’t forget to watch TG4 on Sunday night next at 9.30

Julie and Glyn Evans pictured outside the famine graveyard in Listowel in Spring 2013.

Julie’s search for her the truth about her great great grandmother brought her to Teampaill Bán Famine graveyard.


Dan Doyle’s old photo has brought much pleasure and not a few sad memories to many in Listowel and further afield. May the Lord have mercy on the souls of the men no longer with us who in this photo are smiling here as hopeful little boys, To the others who are still with us, thank you to those who have contacted me and a special thanks to Tadhg Moriarty and Aidan Murphy who put their memories to the test  and passed with flying colours.  Below are all the names as supplied to me by the two aforementioned men.

Má tá bréag ann, bíodh.   (If there’s a lie in it let it be).  This was the old storytellers get out phrase.

Front row

Oliver Doyle, Denis McElligot, Ned Lyons, John Burke,
Mark Walsh, Liam Gunn, Christy Walsh,Jimmy Moore, Padraig Walsh, Michael Scannell

Aidan Murphy, Ned Moriarty, Eamonn Hartnett, John
Beechinor , Stephen Coffey. 

Middle row 

Paddy Neville, Timmy Rellihan, Richard Keating, Maurice
Chute, Colm Keane, Paudie Carey , Michael Hannon, Paddy Horgan,
Pat O Donoghue, Tom O Connell,

John Sweeney, Gerry Kiernan, Gerry Murphy, PJ Brown

Tom O Connor.

Back row

Peter O Reilly, Pat Stack, Eamonn O Carroll,

Maurice Carroll, Kevin Woulfe, Raymond O Mahoney, 

Denis O Connor, Nelius Scannell, Tom McElligott, Tadhg
Moriarty, Michael Barry, 

Tim Nolan,  Paddy Duggan, Dan Doyle, Liam O Driscoll.


Fred Chute continues his painting while he chats to Martin Hickey on Church Street last week.


Date for the diary

Tomorrow night Weds, November 27 the committee of the great Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine will be in Conversation with Weeshie on Radio Kerry at 6.00 p.m. The winners of the competitions will be announced. I have entered a few photographs and I have high hopes.

The GAA and Ireland’s Civil War, Tar Abhaile and Tralee video

Weeshie Fogarthy  drew our attention to this article in The Irish Times. 

It makes interesting reading.

The wind that shook the Farney

October 11th, 2013

by Frank McNally

Source: The Irish Times

The Civil War has been on my mind for another reason
this week, because among the windfall of autumn books that have fluttered into
my mail-box lately is one called Forging a Kingdom: The GAA in Kerry 1884-1934.

Written by UCD academic Richard McElligott, it traces
the first 50 years of Kerry GAA as the formative period that established the
county’s national dominance, at least in football. And of course the decade
after 1916 was pivotal to this development.

The commitment of Kerry players in those difficult times
is testified by the story of John Joe Sheehy’s appearance in the 1924 Munster
final. Sheehy would have been an automatic starter at corner forward. But there
was a slight problem on this occasion in that, as a prominent anti-treaty
militant, he was still on the run.

Naturally, however, football took precedence. On the day
in question, he entered the Limerick venue as a spectator and, before throw-in,
emerged from the crowd, togged out, to take his place. It’s almost needless to
add that Kerry won, after which Sheehy’s warm-down routine was to disappear
back into the crowd and resume his fugitive status.

A year earlier, the same man had been among the first
arrivals at Ballyseedy after eight of his colleagues were massacred in the
single most notorious incident of the war. So not the least impressive thing
about the Limerick appearance was that it was facilitated by his team captain,
Con Brosnan, a Free State Army officer who arranged safe passage.

But the part of McElligott’s book that most fascinates
me, for personal reasons, concerns a game six years later: the All-Ireland
Final of 1930 (by which time, incidentally, the now off-the-run Sheehy had
become Kerry captain).

This was the first and still, sad to say, only senior
(men’s) All-Ireland final involving my own county, Monaghan. And although there
can’t be many supporters left alive who witnessed it, the trauma has since
passed into folk memory, where it continues to be painful.

Whatever divisions lingered within Kerry football after
1923 had clearly resolved themselves by then. A uniting factor may have been
the death, on the eve of the match, of Dick Fitzgerald: a giant of Kerry GAA.
Indeed, his bereaved county men at first wanted the final called off, and when
it went ahead anyway, they probably needed no extra motivation.

But, as the book suggests, they had some. Kerry were
also by then perceived to be a predominantly republican outfit. The Monaghan
team, by contrast, “contained several officers in the Free State
Army”. The northerners may also have been tainted by association with Gen
Eoin O’Duffy, then Garda commissioner and future Blueshirt.

Either way, Mc Elligott writes, “the match would
enter GAA folklore as the last battle of the Civil War”. The result on the
scoreboard was bad enough – an 18-point win for Kerry: 3-11 to 0-2. But the
beating handed out by Sheehy and his men was not limited to goals and points.

Afterwards, Monaghan lodged an official complaint, both
about Kerry’s “brutality” and the apparent bias of the referee, who
was said to have waved play on at one stage when the losing team had three
players down injured. At a central council meeting, the Ulster team’s
representative likened the match to a “Spanish bull-fight”.

To this day, a vague but collective memory in Monaghan
has it that, during the second half, an unnamed substitute refused to play when
asked, having become a conscientious objector. Despite which, the complaint was
thrown out.

That Kingdom side went on to complete a four-in-a-row,
although there was some retrospective corroboration of the complaints against
them when, before the 1932 final against Mayo, the referee was moved to enter
the Kerry dressing room beforehand and harangue them about their persistent
“blackguarding” (McElligott’s word) of opposition players.

Monaghan, as I say, have not been back in a senior final
since. Maybe this is one potential area of closure that should be discussed at
the aforementioned Civil War conference in Athlone. In any case, the day-long
event will take place on November 23rd at Custume Barracks. Booking and other
details from


Did you ever do this?

Back in the 1960’s there were no GHD’s you know.


Tar Abhaile

These photographs were sent to me  by Red Pepper Productions. You have probably forgotten by now but back in the Spring, Kay Caball of My Kerry Ancestors and I, on behalf of NKRO made a Tv programme with Julie and Glyn Evans from Australia. The programme is to be broadcast on TG4 and will be called Tar Abhaile.  Our programme will be the third in  the series. I’ll keep you posted.


Lovely promotional video for Tralee here

Tar Abhaile,Confirmation and some forthcoming events

I am coming to the end of my Tar Abhaile sequence.

On the day after the filming Julie and Glyn Evans returned to Listowel to see places away from the TV cameras.

In this photo Julie and Glyn are standing in front of  the wall that once surrounded Listowel workhouse. You can see where a gate once hung. Through this gate the cart carrying the bodies of the dead were carried down An Bóthar Dubh to the Teampall Bán burial ground.

Jim Beasley who lives in the property where the wall is, has made his garage door to look like a replica of the old workhouse gate.

We also visited the site of the old workhouse. We went to the nearby old Mercy Convent, now the St. Senan’s Day Centre. Eileen Bunyan, the nurse manager of the centre, gave us a guided tour.

Since all the workhouses were built to the same template, the Listowel one would have looked like this.


Mr. Signs, Martin Chute was busy on Church St. this week.


Confirmation 2013



Dont forget the Tea Party and sale in aid of Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail in the Plaza today.


If you have some clean books that you are finished with, would you kindly drop them into Spar where they are collecting books for sale at the Parents and Friends Garden Fete.

Chutes Bar and more from Red Pepper and the Tar Abhaile project

Progress report

The front of Chute’s Bar is beginning to look different already. Danny is going to do the facade first in order to improve the look of the place. The interior refit will take a lot longer.


No Callers

I hope you can read it….it’s good


Poster from 1948


Day 3 of the Tar Abhaile adventure took us to Co. Limerick

Glyn is greeted by Fr. Joe

The “descendants” in the sacristy with Fr. Joe. If this priest looks familiar to my Listowel followers it could be because his previous career was as a chef in Kerry Group in Listowel.

This is the Red Pepper crew plus a few amateurs recording the action at Limerick City Library.

Our travels took us to Laurel Hill where we met the FCJ archivist, Sr. Eileen.

Sr. Eileen is a remarkable woman with a great grasp of the history of the FCJ order in Ireland and she is a consummate story teller. I could listen to her all day. The Sr. Eileens of this world are now few and far between and their stories need to be recorded.

 We ended our journey in a country churchyard, surrounded by daffodils and birdsong.

Here we are, frozen solid but soldiering on to bring you our tale. Watch out for us on TG4 in September or October.


On Monday, as I passed by the building in Market St. that used to be used by the Franciscan Sisters I spotted this fellow trapped inside.

While I was photographing the bird, a good samaritan took out his mobile phone and rang for help to free him.


Some more from Confirmation 2013


Listowel Military Tattoo

Keep checking in with their website to see who is coming. It will be a brilliant weekend in town. Don’t miss out on the fun

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