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 Spinning Wheel

Nicknames, Covid 19, The Bridge to Nowhere and The Spinning Wheel Restaurant

2016 just before Bailey and Co. opened


Listowel Small Square with the Spinning Wheel Restaurant where Footprints is now


Fighting the Surge

Mike O’Donnell’s cartoons celebrate the bravery of our frontline medics.


Back to the Bridge

Do you remember the old story here about the bridge outside Duagh that was built at huge expense and then lay idle for years? This tale sparked Joe Harrington’s interest and he did a bit of digging…

Hi Mary. As you outlined last week Mr Flavin MP questioned Balfour about Duagh Bridge in the House of Commons in 1898 as to why the bridge built in 1891, seven years previously, was not available for public use. Interestingly, the bridge is mentioned in a list of tenders for road maintenance in the Kerry Evening Post of November 16, 1892 where it was referred to as a “new bridge”. The Grand Jury of Kerry had erected the bridge at a cost of £3,496 10s. Gerard Balfour, the Chief Secetary, acknowledged that; “…no proper crossing has been provided by the railway company at this point. The grand jury, …state they have no power to employ a person to look after the gate… I am advised there is no legal provision under which the railway company or the grand jury can be required to provide a crossing, and the Board of Trade inform me they have no power to intervene.” 

Mr Flavin tried to ask why the Grand Jury had used ratepayer’s money to build a bridge without first sorting things with the railway company, but he was ruled out of order.

The railway line existed before both the new road and Duagh Bridge over the Feale, running from Foildarrig to Lacka East, was put in place.  Why the Waterford and Limerick Railway Company did not agree to a level crossing to facilitate the opening of the new connecting road and bridge is not clear. The reasons may have been the high cost of constructing or staffing the crossing or, as Mr Balfour said, there was no legal compulsion on them to do so. 

Interestingly, the Limerick & Waterford Railway Act was passed in 1826. It was the first Act authorising an Irish Railway Company, but it wasn’t until May 1848 that the Company began to build their rail network.  The line from Ballingarrane Junction (two miles north of Rathkeale) to North Kerry was opened in December 1880 so, when it came to the question of a level crossing for a new road, the Railway company had ‘squatters right’ so to speak. 

Two years prior to Mr Flavin’s unsuccessful representations to government the Kerry Evening Post of March 11, 1896 carried a report on the proceedings of the Grand Jury and its efforts to deal with the problem of the ‘bridge-to-nowhere’. A report stated, in the absence of an agreement with the Railway Company on the construction of a level crossing, the cost of a bridge over the railway line would be £700 and it would cost £1,000 to carry the road under the Railway line. 

Moving into the next century the Kerry Evening Post of August 9, 1902 reported that the County Surveyor urged the Council to approve the works regarding the approach road to the ‘railway bridge at Duagh”.  At this stage it seems the Railway Company had agreed to build a bridge over the railway line but the Surveyor “had not yet heard from the company as to when they will proceed with it”.   The work on the approach roads required the taking in of one and quarter acres of land. Lord Listowel claimed compensation at the rate of £22. 10s per Irish acre and two of his tenants, William Stack and Daniel Keane, claimed £90 and £60 respectively for the loss they would sustain. The total claimed by the tenants for the one and a half acres would be around €20,000 when updated to today’s money values! The Council also had the option of compulsory purchase. 

So, it seems Duagh Bridge carried no traffic for the first twelve years of its existence – a possible world record! The nearby railway bridge that was eventually built to allow traffic to proceed no longer spans a railway line – instead it will offer a fantastic view of the North Kerry Greenway which will pass under it.  This railway bridge and the nearby Duagh Bridge makes yet another interesting story for the many visitors who will traverse the Greenway in the future.


A Kerry Story from The Examiner

Story and photo from The Irish Examiner

Former Kerry hurler John ‘Tweek’ Griffin has topped the poll to find Ireland’s most iconic sporting nickname.

Griffin, who retired in 2017 after 15 years in the Kerry senior jersey, just held off another Kingdom legend Tim ‘Horse’ Kennelly by less than 100 votes.

In a 2018 interview with the Irish Examiner , Griffin said he has no idea where the nickname ‘Tweek’ originated, though he recalls it had already stuck by the time he was in first class in school in Lixnaw. 

Kerry football great Kennelly won five All-Ireland medals, earning the ‘Horse’ tag due to his formidable strength from the centre-back position.

Making up the top five polled were Cork hurling powerhouse Diarmuid ‘The Rock’ O’Sullivan, former Cork City star Liam ‘The Conna Maradona’ Kearney, and ex-Kilkenny hurler Martin ‘Gorta’ Comerford.

Munster rugby duo John ‘Bull’ Hayes and the late Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley also feature in the top 10.

It’s clear the poll particularly captured imaginations in a certain pocket of North Kerry, turning into a head-to-head between local rivals Listowel Emmets and Finuge/Lixnaw.


A Poem from Noel Roche

Noel is a recovering alcoholic. His road to recovery had many painful twists and turns. He acknowledged some of them in poetry.

This is a  sad poem of relationship breakdown


Listowel Primary Care Centre

John Kelliher photographed this facility from start to finish.

Mountcollins, The Spinning Wheel and Sex education on the farm.

Jonathan Fleury of Carrigaline for The Rebel Cup Photographic competition.


Ballybunion May 11 2017

Photo: Catherine Moylan

Mario Perez did a sand art tribute and we all gathered round to say another farewell to our friend Fr. Pat Moore. I’ll post more photos next week


Artist at Work in Listowel Town Square

Monday May 8 2017


The Church at Mountcollins

Here are a few more photos from my recent visit to this chapel on the hill.


Do You Remember The Spinning Wheel?

Where Footprints now stands there once was a successful restaurant called The Spinning Wheel. James Scanlon, whose family owned this business shared with us some photographs from the 70s and 80s.


Learning about the birds and the bees in the fifties

( from Jim Costelloe’s Asdee)

Taking a hen turkey for service was a job
for women, but, unfortunately, in our house the males had to do it. The bird
was put into a canvas bag a hole was cut in the bag so that she could stick her
head out in case she smothered. Dedending on the distance away to the cock, she
was transported either by hand, on one’s back or on one’s arm, or taken by
donkey and cart. Either way, it was a very embarrassing situation for us as
boys to be seen by our school pals taking a hen turkey to the cock. We often
went through the fields, which was a much harder journey, rather than meet one
of the school peers. Being seen taking a hen turkey to the cock was nearly as
bad as being accused of ‘trying” hens for eggs.

In general, the service did not take very
long, but sometimes the cock would be slow, especially if it was a busy time
and business was brisk. A cock turkey has very long claws and all breeddoing
cocks have their claws trimmed, otherwise they would damage the hen turkey’s
back during service. A well feathered hen would have some protection, but
breeding hens are inclined to lose some of their feathers during the laying season.
To protect them, a piece of a man’s jumper was often tied on their backs during
mating. The male turkey, always referred to as a cock and not a cockerel often did
a lot of prancing on the female during service so protection on her back during
service was essential.

As a hen turkey generally laid fifteen to
twenty eggs, she would have to be serviced three or four times to make sure all
the eggs were fertilized. This meant more embarrassing trips for us. It
happened that an odd young turkey, in her first breeding season, would not lie
first but would lay without lying and consequently the egg would not be fertilized.
That egg would be eaten by the man of the house. Turkey eggs are larger than
duck or hen eggs, though smaller than goose eggs and they are speckled.

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