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: The Gallant Greenville Team

The Gallant Greenville team, The Boro team of 1944and Ballybunion

Eason, Church Street

This used to be Listowel Printing Works and before that was Kearney’s


Sportsfile Picture captures the joy of Ireland’s Win

Keith Earls celebrates with his daughters after Ireland’s great win on Saturday.


This is the Boro team who played in the Town League in 1944. Denis Quille sent us the photo.


Vincent Carmody’s essay on Listowel’s Sporting Ballads and Ballad Makers 

Continuing from where I left off last week…..

Bryan McMahon is widely remembered, locally and nationally, for the
writing of very many well-known ballads, of sporting and of a local nationalistic
fervour. Among them, The Hounds of Glenoe (his recall of younger days hunting
with fellow townsman, Berkie Brown and others they spent days hunting in the
hills behind Banemore) A verse is worth recalling,

See Reynard is golden as there he goes roving,

He twists and he turns, he’s the bracken’s old hue,

He pauses to sniff the mad winds of the evening,

Then pointing his cloosheens he fades from the view,

You’ll pay for your crimes now, my tawny marauder’

The hens and the chickens, the turkeys you owe,

For here they come roaring with music full-throated,

North Kerry’s avengers, the hounds of Glenoe.


‘Victory song for Old Kentucky Minstrel’ This was to honour the feat of the
greyhound of that name, owned by Ballybunion Bookmaker and Publican, Jim Clarke,
winning the famed Waterloo Cup.  It begins;

The Ballybunion Sandhills now, with bonfires are all aflame,

On the green fields of Tipperary, sure, they shout a greyhound’s name,

The coursers of Kilkenny brave, they raise a loud ‘halloo’,

Since Old Kentucky Minstrel won the English Waterloo.

Local ballads, The Town of Listowel, My Silver River Feale, The Valley
of Knockanure, The Brow of Piper Hill (this was written in his later years,
when he used drive with his wife Kitty out to Smearla Bridge, parking his car, before
walking up to the top of Pipers Hill)

In one verse he recalled,

In the evening late, from McCarthy’s gate

I climb to Dillon’s lawn

Below me then in that lovely glen

A picture fair is drawn

O’er the River Feale from Purt to Beale

And home by the ruined mill

A rainbow see, arching fair and free

To engarland Pipers Hill.

Bryan also had a great love of hurling, and among his ballads he wrote
two recalling the deeds of famed Tommy Daly of Clare and Cork’s peerless
Christy Ring. On the football front he wrote a memory of the 1953 All Ireland
Football Final, between Armagh and Kerry, called, ‘Saffron and Green and Gold’.

Garry McMahon inherited his father’s gift of writing ballads and had
left a legacy of these before his untimely death.

Even though John B. is remembered locally, nationally and
internationally through all his great works, his only football remembrance is one,
where he recalls the fete of the Greenville team winning the 1956 Listowel Troy
Cup (this was the secondary football competition run by the Listowel football
club, known locally as Listowel’s National League in deference to the Town
League, which would have been classed as The All Ireland)  John B. would have traditionally played with
Church Street- The Ashes,  however when
he bought the pub in William Street, he threw his lot and considerable skill
with the Greenville team, because, as he often said, the team members were
better customers and porter drinkers than the townies.)  

The Gallant Greenville Team, 1956

Come all you true born Irishmen, from here to Healy’s gate

And I’ll sing for you a verse or two as I my tale relate

You may speak about Cuchulann bold or the mighty men from Sneem

But they wouldn’t hold a candle to that gallant Greenville team.

Ha-Ha! said Billeen Sweeney “sure I’ll tackle up my ass

And I’ll put on my new brown suit that I wear going to mass

I’ll hit the road for Listowel town by the morning’s airy beam

And I’ll bring home Berkie’s mutton for that gallant Greenville team”

The dry ball won’t suit ‘em said the pundits from the town

But they pulverised the Ashes and they mesmerised the Gleann

Next came the famous Boro, their fortunes to redeem

they shrivelled up like autumn leaves before the Greenville team.

“T’was the white trout that done the trick” John L. was heard to say

“We ate ‘em morning, noon and night in the run up to the fray

They hardened up the muscles and they built up the steam

Until no power on earth could beat that gallant Greenville team”


Deirdre Lyons in a cave in Ballybunion


A Poem

Some people shared this on the internet for Mothers’ Day, March 11 2018 but it’s true for everyday.


by adrian Mitchell

My Mother and Father died some years ago

I loved them very much.

When they died my love for them

Did not vanish or fade away.

It stayed just about the same,

Only a sadder colour.

And I can feel their love for me,

Same as it ever was.

Nowadays, in good times or bad,

I sometimes ask my Mother and Father

To walk beside me or to sit with me

So we can talk together

Or be silent.

They always come to me.

I talk to them and listen to them

And think I hear them talk to me.

It’s very simple –

Nothing to do with spiritualism

Or religion or mumbo jumbo.

It is imaginary.

It is real.

It is love.

The Gallant Greenville team, Namir Karim and Blackbirds

Zebra in Fota

Photo by Chris Grayson


There is nothing like a bit of local rivalry to inspire a poet.

The Gallant Greenville Team 

by John B. Keane

Come all ye true born

From here to Healy’s Gate

And I’ll sing for you a verse
or two

As I my tale relate.

You may speak about
Cuchulainn bold

Or the mighty men from Sneem,

But they wouldn’t hold a candle

To that Greenville team.

“Ha-ha!’ says Billeen

“Sure I’ll tackle up my ass

And I’ll put on my brown suit

That I wear goin’ to mass.

I’ll hit the road to Listowel

By the morning’s airy beam,

And I’ll bring home Berkie’s

For the gallant Greenville

“The dry ball won’t suit

Said the pundits from the

But they pulverized the Ashes

and they mesmerised the

Next came the famous Boro,

Their fortunes to redeem,

But they shriveled up like
autumn leaves

Before the Greenville team.

“’Twas the white trout that
done the trick,”

John L was heard to say.

“We ate them morning, noon
and night

In the run-up to the fray.

They hardened up the muscles

And they built up the steam

Until no power on earth could

The gallant Greenville team.”


Dear Old Athea

From; Born in West Limerick on Facebook


This is Namir Karim with his friend and work colleague, Brigitta pictured in Scribes of Church St. Listowel

From Iraq to Listowel

(a love story)

There is nothing ordinary
about Namir. Just one of the extraordinary things about him, is that he is an
Iraqi Christian. Above and beyond that he is a Christian, a living example of
Faith Hope and Charity. His latest Christian act is to start a Friendship Club
in his restaurant in Ballybunion. Twice a week he  hosts a kind of men’s
shed for everyone. He  provides the venue and people can come and sit and
talk and just enjoy a bit of company. Everyone is welcome and if people would
love to come but have no way of getting there , Namir will do what he can to
solve that problem too.

So who is Namir Karim and how
did he find his way to North Kerry?

Namir met his wife who was
then his girlfriend in Iraq. Namir’s mother was very seriously ill and she was
being cared for in a hospital which was run by an Irish organization on behalf
of the Iraqi government. Kay Carr was nursing in this hospital and she grew
fond of her very ill patient and maybe a little fond of her son as well. Kay
advised the Karim family to take their mother home to die. She told Namir that
his mother would go straight to heaven. She had done her suffering on earth.
Namir remembers that as his mother left the hospital, Kay had tears in her
eyes. “ I wondered if the tears were for my mother or for me. Either way it
made me feel good.”

Namir contrived an excuse to
return to the hospital to see Kay. He said that he was having trouble with some
of his mother’s equipment. Kay offered to come to help the family sort it out.
Kay took a big risk in visiting an Iraqi home. Fraternising with the local
people was forbidden for the staff at the hospital. Kay stayed for dinner at
the Karim home that evening . Both she and Namir knew that this was more than
good friendship.

When Kay returned from a
short visit home to Ireland, Namir asked her out. They began seeing each other in
secret and they pledged their love to one another. All students in Iraq at the
time had to spend at least two years in the army. Namir was doing his
compulsort service in the army. He was in his final years of training to be a
civil engineer. A fellow soldier told a superior officer that he had seen Namir
with a ‘foreign’ girl. He got five days
in jail for the offence.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait
Namir’s national service was extended by a year. Initially Kay and the other
Irish citizens were not allowed to leave. Saddam Hussein’s regime was at its
height and it was very dangerous to flout any of his laws. Eventually Kay and
the others were allowed to leave. She bad a tearful farewell to Namir and they
promised they would find a way to be together once the war was over.

When the Gulf war started in
January 1990 all communication with Baghdad was stopped. Namir wanted no part
of the war and he devised a plan to escape active service. There was a rule
that if a soldier donated blood, he was given a week off. During this week,
Namir escaped with his family to a Christian area in northern Iraq. Due to a
very happy coincidence, his disappearance went unnoticed as the office building
based in Baghdad was bombed and destroyed and all records of who should or
should not have been present were destroyed.

When the war ended, Namir
returned to the city and gave a Red Cross worker he met a letter to get to Kay,
who he knew would be worried sick about him. Namir began to plot his escape. He
planned to get over the border into Jordan and if Kay still wanted him he would
sell up what he had in Iraq and fly to her.

Easier said than done. Iraq
did not want skilled engineers leaving at a time when it was trying to rebuild
the country after the devastations of war. Kay still loved him but getting to
her proved very tricky and involved a lot of lying. Love found a way and Namir
and Kay were reunited at Dublin airport on November 5 1992, a day before Kay’s
birthday. They married in a registry office when Namir’s visitor’s visa ran
out. They had their proper church wedding in Kerry in June 1992 with lots of
music, dancing and celebration.

Namir lost no time in assimilating into the Kerry community in which he now lived. He built on the skills he had learned from his mother who was a great cook and crafter. Namir started work in his brother’s restaurant, The Captain’s Table. Since leaving there he has gone on to own his own restaurants and  shops. Nowadays in 2017 Namir has two restaurants, Scribes in Listowel and Namirs in Ballybunion. He also has Craftshop na Méar in Listowel.  Namir has played badminton with the Listowel club and soccer with Lisselton Rovers.

Namir and Kay have two lovely adult children, Roza and Peter. Roza is named after Namir’s beloved mother who was the Cupid who brought Namir and Kay together.

Namir and Roza

More tomorrow


 Blackbirds singing in the Garden of Europe


Mea Culpa

Frozen River Feale 1963

Totally my fault that the link to this great video didn’t work previously.  I have now made the video public. I am grateful to  Charlie Nolan for alerting me to the problem.

This short video was shot by Jimmy Hickey and digitised by Charlie Nolan. It shows some local people walking and skating on the frozen river. Charlie has accompanied the track with the heavenly voice of Joan Mulvihill, who is far too young to remember the frozen river, singing My Silver River Feale.  It’s well worth a watch. Sorry again for messing it up the first time.

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