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 Kerryman Unbuttoned

Kerry speech, Ballybunion Seats, a new sand artist and some photographic puzzles solved

David O’Brien Irish Wildlife Photo Competition


The Kerryman Unbuttoned by Redmond O’Hanlon published in Shannonside Annual

(last paragraph)

Perhaps not least
of the attraction of the Kerry idiom is its ancient lineage. It stems from
generations when Irish was the tongue of farm and fair. It still constitutes
the warp and woof of daily intercourse and is ‘honourable in the gates.” It is true one must be on the alert for intruders. There is such a thing as
manufactured idiom, but it is a poor dead thing, still-born for all the travail
of the pen that strove to give it life. Counterfiet coinage of speech, it bears
the marks of the self conscious file and its shine is not the patina of age.
Read Synge’s plays and listen to its tinny jingle.

This refusasl to
conform in our Kerryman, this robust individuality, who would have it
otherwise? Kerry speech is as uninhibited as the deer that skip on Torc; as
colourful as the changing mists that veil the purple Tomies; as impatient of
restraint as the waters that spill over Derrycunnihy Cascade; as haunting as the
echoes of the bugle call flung back in falling cadence from The Eagle’s Nest.
And spoken by its maidens, this Kerry speech sweeps away the unwary stranger’s
last defences, prompts him to forswear his allegiance, and in Kerry is his
consolation when he remembers home.



Commemorate Me

“With no hero courageous tomb

Just a canal bank seat for the passerby.”……Patrick Kavanagh

I think of Kavanagh when I see these memorial seats in Ballybunion.

I learned from the Ballybunion Tidy Towns page that putting memorial plaques on seats is an initiative of Kerry County Council. If you would like to have your loves one commemorated on a seat all you have to do is contact Kerry County Council and they’ll tell you all about it.


Mario is in California so who is the newest beach artist?

On April 21 2018, I spotted this magnificent creation. I zoomed in closer and I think that is Ballybunion’s own Pixie O’Gorman I see putting the finishing touches to this sand installation.


A New Miss Marple Gets us Closer to Success

Kay O’Leary has recognised the lady in the centre of the photo with Arthur Chute and Charlie and Violet McCarthy in John Hannon’s photo. She is Hannah O’Connor who used to work at Latchfords and later became a hackney driver. Thank you, Kay.  Now we only have one lady left to identify. Could she be a Tralee lady as well?


My good friend, Cathy Healy has been on to me again. The man stroking the dog is not Liam Healy. He is his brother, Mike Healy. The lady with the curlers in is Mary Corridan and the little boy is one of the Bunyan family.

Grugs, Rabbits, Town League 1950 and North Kerry; the Swedish connection and National Poetry Day 2018

Chris Howes, Irish Wildlife Photography Competition


The Kerryman Unbuttoned by Redmond O’Hanlon Part 5 

 ….Early I learned that in Kerry the ‘accounts’ that are so prominent a
feature of the social structure of the county are distinct (but not completely
so be  remembered) from financial
statements or debts unpaid. Ramblers have no affinity with the tinkers but are
the Kerryman’s word for loose stones on the road. To be taken up in the bones
may baffle any doctor outside of Kerry. The complaint seems endemic to the
county-  tribute to its mists maybe and,
so far as can be gathered medical treatises are silent on the subject. It is
doubtful too if a medical man can state with certainty the location of his grug
on which a Kerryman sits betimes.

It was in the
townland of Trieneragh near Duagh where the land falls away in eye-soothing
sweeps towards the river Feale, that I met a young man who was a specialist in
the art of indirect approach. I had made my way slowly towards the road from
the inch by the river, burdened with a rifle and a bunch of rabbits when I met
him. Eyeing the bag from time to time as we chatted he at length observed
reflectively, “If my mother met you now she would ask you for a rabbit.” Adding
somewhat unnecessarily that she was terrible fond of rabbit. I thought a brace
of graziers but a small fee to pay for this delightful example of Kerry tact.
In any event, I had been shooting over my young friends fields……


Town League 1950

This old photograph from Vincent Carmody’s Living history popped up again recently on Facebook.

The occasion is the Ashes team for the Listowel town league of 1950.

The players are

Front Row. D.Prendeville, John B., Toddy Enright (holding mascot, Frank Pierse) Jim O Neill, Mick McAuliffe, Jimmy Harris, Mick Cotter.
Back Row. Timmy Walsh, Michael McGuinness, Jim (Roddy) O Sullivan, Mick Barrett, Micheal Quigley, J.Ryan, Jim Deveraugh, Tom Finucane.


Spotted on My Walk

A blackbird, a dry wall and a ruin


A Swedish Influence in North Kerry

A few months ago I had Vincent Carmody’s story of Lars Larsson and how his relatives came to St. Michael’s graveyard to seek out his grave.

On the foot of this story, Jim MacMahon wrote to tell me how it came about that a Swedish man was buried in Listowel.

Sweden was a big dairying country and companies like Alfa Laval had trained many technicians and engineers.

A far seeing creamery manager in Ballyheigue, a granduncle of Jim MacMahon’s, advertised in Sweden for some operatives with technical experience to work in Ballyheigue Creamery. Three of the men who came were our friend Larsson, Nielson and Monson. Larsson was killed in an accident but Nielson and Monson went on to marry local women and their descendants still live in North Kerry or else visit often.

The Monson descendants have a jewellery business.

Monson Irish Jewellery


Did you do Your Leaving Cert in St. Michael’s in 1968?

A 50 year reunion celebration is being planned for this class and the organisers are encountering some difficulty in rounding up the last few old boys.

Here is an extract from Ned O’Sullivan’s email:

A group of us are planning a reunion weekend on the 7-9 September 2018. It entails a social gathering plus hopefully a nostalgic return to the school, photo exhibition, and some other things finishing with a day at the Races on the Sunday. We have established contact with most past colleagues but we are in the dark about a few. 

It’s possible that some of them read your blog and we would be v thankful if you could put it out there for us. 

Committee members are Michael Moriarty NT., Teddy Murphy, John Moloney n Christy Sheehy. 

Many thanks Mary

Ned O Sullivan. 

Ned has given me his phone number in case anyone of his classmates is reading this and wants to get in touch.


Healys of Convent Street and their Neighbours

Cathy Healy sent the photo to her uncle Pat in England and he confirmed that the young boy is Mike Healy, Cathy’s uncle. The lady in the hair rollers is till a mystery.

Common sense says that she would not be going too far from her home in rollers, I’d say she was a neighbour of the Healys and of John Hannon who took the photo, so we’re looking for someone from the Gleann area to put a name to a face. Liam Healy R.I.P. would have remembered her name and as Cathy said he’d have the dog’s name as well.

We miss them every day.


National Poetry Day 2018

Poetry Ireland decided to celebrate National Poetry Day 2018 on April 26 2018. Listowel Writers’ Week went to town on it, literally. They took to the streets and they gave everyone a poem in their pocket and challenged everyone to read at least one poem on Poetry Day.

Here are some of the people they met with a poem.

Would you read a Poem on Poetry Day          by Mary Cogan

with apologies to Dr. Seuss

Would you read it in a shop?

Would you read it with a cop?

Would you read it in a car?

Would you read it with a jar?

Would you read it stuck in traffic?

Would you read if it was graphic?

Would you read with Sinead and Liz

Máire or Maria, gee whiz

Poetry Day brought to my mind

That Writers’ Week’s not far behind.

Listowel Writers Week and the National Children’s Literary Festival run this year from May 30th to June 3rd.

See what’s in store here

Listowel Writers’ Week 2018 programme

Kerry Idiom, Cheryl’s Closure and Women in Media 2018

Brown Hare by Tracy Marsden…Irish Wildlife photography competition


The Kerryman Unbuttoned  Part 4

Redmond O’Hanlon in Shannonside Annual

Once I had
occasion to call on a strong farmer near Finuge. I knew him  but slightly then but well enough to have
noted the practical streak that made him a successful farmer. He was away from
home when I called and it was with some surprise I learned that he was in the
garden. His farm lay between the road and the river and as I ambled towards The
Feale, I pictured my farmer working in his glasshouses tending tomatoes or
early vegetables or flowers for market. Or I thought thast maybe he goes in for
blackcurrants or strawberries or other small fruits in a big way. Possibly he
might be pruning or spraying serried lines of Cox’s Orange, Allingham Pippin, or
Lane’s Prince Albert or Worcester Pearmain or Bramley Seedling. Why, we might
even get to discussing fruit trees in general, I imagined as I hurried along.
But it was not to be. I found my farmer merely “rising to” his potatoes and a
further stage in my education on Kerry idiom had been reached. For in Kerry the
garden is a tillage field and poattoes, root crops and grain are all equally
likely to be found there.

Here, I admit, I
felt a bit resentful at what was to be an abuse of language. “If this field is
a garden,” I countered, “ What do you call the space in front of the house
where you grow flowers?” “Flowers,” echoed my Kerry man, “Where do you come
from, boy bawn? ‘Tis aisy we are in Kerry about flowers.”

Before the
farmer’s house one will often find a dry wall. The expression always sets me
thinking. Here I was baffled again, for I thought there must be some
distinction implied. But so far I have not come across a wet wall. Walls, of
course, whether in Kerry or Limerick are a subject in themselves. But here it
seemed I was ignorant of even the most elementary principles of wall
construction. Built without mortar or cement, as in Galway, one might concede
the point, but any examples I have seen were solid examples of the builder’s
skill with plumb and trowel.


Another One Bites the Dust

Cheryl’s vintage shop has closed its doors.

Across the road is the empty Craftshop na Méar


Remember Pat Slemon’s Shoe Shop?

Photo: John Hannon


Women in Media 2018

Katie Hannon of Duagh and RTE was one of the stars of the show. Here she is catching up with her old school pal, Máire Logue who was on a kind of busman’s holiday, enjoying our neighbour’s festival.

This was the really prestigious panel for the first symposium I attended. These formidable women of the media world are  our own Katie Hannon, prize winning investigate journalist, widely acknowledged as one of the best in the business, Caitríona Perry, news anchor, author and rising star in Irish journalism, the very impressive Susan Daly, editor of the best online journal bar none, The, Deirdre O’Shaughnessey of Cork 96FM fame  and Miriam O’Callaghan. probably Ireland’s best known woman in media.

Máire, Lucy and Rose basked in the summer sunshine.

Mary O’Rourke and Nell MacCafferty were representing us, the retired generation.

The years have been kinder to some rather than others.

I knew Chloe Walsh when she was in a brown uniform in Pres. Listowel. She is still the same lovely girl and I was delighted when she approached me after I had failed to recognise her.

John Kelliher took this great photo of a group of Listowel Ladies who attended the grand opening of Women in Media 2018. Katherine Lynch and Miriam O’Callaghan have only a tenuous Listowel connection but Katie Hannon is one of our own, a neighbour’s child and we are all dead proud of her.

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