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 listowelconnection@gmail.com

Tag: tennis

More from Opening Night Writers’ Week 2022

Listowel Arms Home, Listowel Town Square in June 2022

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More People at Opening Night, Writers’ Week 2022

These two lovely ladies were out in support of their friend, Catherine

Because it was so long since we had been out at an in -person event, Catherine Moylan, on Opening Night asked us to introduce ourselves to the people sitting next to us. I was sitting beside these lovely ladies who , like myself, have worked at the chalk face.

Eilish Wren
Con and Catherine Kirby

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My Trip to Cork

The Cork branch of my family are very sport orientated. On my recent trip, for the first time since she was a teenager, I watched Anne play a tennis match She was taking part in an open competition in Sundays Well.

Sunday’s Well is a bit more posh and aware of its history than her own club, Lakewood. Lakewood is the old John A Woods Sports and leisure Club. No boating here but soccer and pitch and putt as well as tennis.

Anne and her partner, Kevin won their match, beating the top seeds. I took the photo after their tough match when Anne was not looking her most rested!

Poor Cora sustained an ankle injury at her soccer academy and is hobbling in a boot for a while.

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From Pres. Yearbook 1991

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You Have to Laugh

This lady bought a robotic lawnmower. It is scheduled to mow the lawn at a given time every day, hail, rain or shine. She took pity on it on the first wet day.

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Memories, Memories

David Kissane Remembers happy days in St. Michael’s.

David Kissane pictured recently after he had won a silver medal in the British Masters 3K walk in Derby.

Thoughts of one of the Class of ’72 in St Michael’s, Listowel

                                            By David Kissane

It all happened on the way to the toilet. An outdoor toilet. Well it was 1972 in an out-of-the-way place on a North Kerry hill. It was one of those early May mornings. Crisp air on my face as I went out the back door. A look up at the hill to the north to say hallo to the spring of my life. So far. A promising sky. Hedges of fuchsia with baby blossoms between the hill and me. Blackbirds and thrushes and robins making their music all around. A cow lowing in Neleen Brennan’s field to the left with Ballybunion clearly outlined against the shining Atlantic Ocean to the west. Down the hill to the south, the world and St Michael’s College were waiting.

My mother had turned on the radio as I went out the door and the words of Cat Stevens wafted out of our Pye radio into the Lacca air after me: 

                                   “Morning has broken

                                   Like the first morning

                                   Blackbird has spoken

                                   Like the first bird

                                   Praise for the singing 

                                   Praise for the morning

                                   Praise for the springing

                                   Fresh from the word…”

And fifty years later on, this very week I am still awed by the song. I didn’t know at the time that it was a hymn published in 1931 and adorned later by a traditional Scottish air. That May morning it chased me out and tackled the brain and heart. It was to become for me the anthem of 1972. The year of our Leaving Cert in St Michael’s College, Listowel.

Come walk in my shoes for a few paragraphs and recall your own last days of Leaving Cert. See what your journey back will do for you. 

Later that morning I would cycle down the steep hill past Neleen Brennan’s house that once housed a World War 1 soldier who was blown to pieces in an orchard in France after only a fortnight of the war, past Ned Kennelly’s on my right and then down the lethal Fahas bends, where I had once lost control of a bike and spent a week picking furze bush thorns out of bodily nooks and crannies, past Roger Kissane’s house, turn left at the “bridge” over a small stream that drained a hillside and over to Gunn’s Cross and right turn down Gunn’s Hill, past my old primary school on the left, 1815 steeple and graveyard on the right and on to Lisselton Cross. Two morning miles that I had covered out and back for five years of my second-level schooling. Then on board the yellow school bus after a short chatty wait in Jeremiah Behan’s shop door and off then the long route to Listowel, Convent girls, College boys and Vocational School boys and girls coming on board at various stops. Gerard Neville from Inch would join me in the seat as he had done for years. Down the narrow road to Dromerin and Jerry Riordan and neighbours would join the bus near his parents’ shop. Over the River Gale then and eventually to our destinations.

Walk up town to the college. Check out the Convent girls going the opposite way. Say hallo to the Tech students on the left. See who was coming out of Roly Chute’s shop on the corner. Chat and news from the newsicians. Turn right into the college lawn with the budding apple trees in front of the three-storey building. One storey underground. In the door. Up the marble stairs. Sit down. Open books. Leaving Cert a month away. The year of our lives.

More tomorrow….

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Copper Beech, Presentation Girls, tennis and Kerry cows in America

In Listowel’s Pitch and Putt Course

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Old Girls



Photo: John Hannon Any help with names or date would be appreciated

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Standing Outside the Wire



When the local Sinn Féin food committee ploughed up Lord Listowel’s lawn during the food shortage of WW1 they left the tennis courts. These were eventually taken over by the people of the town and Listowel Lawn Tennis Club was set up. Since then the lawn tennis has become tarmac tennis and this is how the courts look today.

Prompted by all the talk of the Cows’ Lawn recently Cyril Kelly sends us this lovely nostalgic essay about times past in the tennis club.

SLICED BACKHAND CROSS-COURT LOB

Every year, when the Wimbledon circus rolls round, still vivid recollections came churning up from deep in the corduroy folds of memory. Far from the sophistication of strawberries and cream, these memories have a mossy redolence rising from Feale river stones, smells of fehlerstrom, buachalán buí and crusty cow pats, all the embalmed odours of the Cows’ Lawn, that commonage on the edge of town where the Listowel Lawn Tennis Club had its two grass courts, plus a dilapidated railway carriage which went by the exotic moniker of The Pavilion. The tennis club was like an exclusive compound of the Raj; it was enclosed by a chicken wire fence which separated the lower caste, namely urchins like myself, from daughters of merchants, bankers and ne’er-do-wells. Unfortunately, in such a setting, togged out in durable brown corduroy jacket and short corduroy pants made by my redoubtable milliner mother, pubescent infatuation was incapable of negotiating an invulnerable passage through the layers and feverish strata of puppy love. 

In the nineteen fifties, mothers possessed an infallibility which was every bit as dogmatic as  that of Pope Pius XII. And if a boy had the temerity to question this God given right, such a heresy could always be dealt with by use of the wooden spoon, an implement of enlightenment which was often administered with ecclesiastical zeal. So, if a mother decreed that the local tennis club was off-limits, needless to mention, an explanation was neither asked for nor offered. The ball alley was fine, and fishing for white trout was also deemed a healthy pastime, but the tennis court, where gorgeous young ones in tennis whites might be loitering, was, for mysterious maternal reasons, not granted an imprimatur. 

Therefore, on this particular evening, as I stood at the perimeter fence of the local den of iniquity, clad in my corduroy get up, I felt the giddy pleasure of the miscreant. My eager little heart was going pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat as I stood there, my face meshed to the chicken wire while I watched Patricia, the Maria Sharapova of the day. A year older than myself, Patricia had that prepossessing, pouting beauty which playfully clawed young boys’ hearts, toyed with them, and then, with feline disdain for their wellbeing, cast them aside. 

Imagine that same eager little heart when, out of the blue, Patricia called me into the enclosure and thrust one of her friend’s tennis racquets at me. 

Now, she called over her shoulder as she swaggered to the other side of the net. Love all

And tossing the white fluffy ball into the air, left hand tapering gracefully aloft for a split second, right hand coiled behind her, blonde hair uncurling loosely onto her shoulders, she was a veritable Venus, poised on the opposite baseline. But then, with what seemed like satanic intent, she unleashed a swerving serve that flashed past my despairing lunge. 

Fifteen love, she piped that precious word once more as she sashayed to the other side and served again. 

How I scurried around, like a manic mongrel, trying to return her shots which were whizzing past me. Unwilling to cry halt, I persisted until, panting and perspiring, they invited me into The Pavillion. As Patricia towelled her temples daintily, her Pekinese bitch snooped around me, sniffing my sandals disdainfully. 

I like your style, Patricia said and suppressed laughter tittered from her friends. Standing there awkwardly, I admitted that it was my first time playing tennis. 

I don’t mean your tennis, she scoffed, pointing. I mean your trendy trousers

Amid an eruption of laughter, I looked down and noticed, for the first time, the chocolate brown bands of corduroy where my pragmatic mother had let down the legs of last years faded pants. 

I never ventured near the tennis court for the rest of that season. 

And this year again, as I set my television aversion aside and tune in for Wimbledon, I know that as I watch some  poor bewildered bloke scrambling to retrieve a viciously sliced backhand cross-court lob, I will suddenly be waylaid once more by  the memory of those mortifying moments from the summer of fifty five, when the Sixth Commandment, with all it forbade and all it decreed, sat severely aloof on the umpire’s chair. 

(Interestingly Junior Griffin tells me that the pavilion referred to was an old carriage from The Lartigue railway.)

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Believe it or Not



Last week I brought you the story of Mike Flahive and his work to preserve the Kerry cow breed.

A fan who tells me that I am her ‘favorite blogger in the world” writes the following among a list of things she learned from a recent blog post.

“Second, I hadn’t heard of Kerry cattle before. I’ve been very interested in heritage breeds in America so I immediately had to check out Kerry cattle. As it turns out, the nuns of Our Lady of the Rock Benedictine Monastery on Shaw Island off the coast of Washington state raise them. So, there’s actually a place fairly close by where I can go meet a Kerry cow in person! (Of course, it would be on a green, lush island where they’d feel at home.)”

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