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: Tim Griffin

Teach Siamsa Finuge, Presentation Convent and an artistic old post box

Bridge Road, Listowel, through the Millennium Arch in March 2020


The sod was turned for the building of Teach Siamsa in Finuge in 1974

Photo shared on Facebook by Siamsa Tíre


Presentation Convent Listowel 2007

Presentation Convent Listowel

by the late Tim Griffin 2007

Below is just a snippet of a long article by Tim Griffin R.I.P which he wrote following the closure of the local convent which was so dear to him.

As with all big houses of the 18th and 19th centuries, Listowel  Convent had a well in the yard. Up to quite recently, an electric pump was pumping water from that well. It also had a Laundry and a Drying Yard for the clothes lines. There was a big garden and a bountiful orchard. There was a cow-stall and cows, which had to be fed and hand-milked. Extra feed, such as hay, straw, turnips, mangels and potatoes, often had to be bought for them in the Market Yard. 

A number of Domestic Staff were also employed, e.g., carers, cooks, cleaners, nurses, and maids. Richard Mackessy from Glounaphuca would have been one of the first gardeners and farmhands there and his son, Richard (Dick), took over from him and was there until the late 1980s. As the schools got bigger, the cattle had to be sold off. Timmie Walsh worked at the Convent, as a gardener and maintenance person, up to the mid-1990s.

The Convent Sisters used to do visitations to the local hospitals and they recited the Rosary in the nearby funeral home at removals.

Visitors were always made welcome and were provided with refreshments. There was one group of visitors that always called to the Convent – they were, of course, the “Knights of the Road” or more commonly referred to as tramps. Some of them were decent people who had fallen on hard times. One of them I knew was from Wexford, a real gentleman, who told me he would “start his rounds” in early March and finish again in late October. Convents were always in his itinerary as well as B&Bs where he would have been known over the years. A pot of tea and a plate of sandwiches were always forthcoming at the Convent and were graciously received. He told me that the allocation of the Free Travel Pass had made life much easier for him. I have not seen him in the last few years but then don’t we forget the ceaseless toll of time.

The Presentation Convent has ceased to exist in Listowel but Presentation Sisters will still be working in Listowel, continuing the work initiated by their Foundress many years earlier. After being in Listowel for 163 years, it is very sad to see the Convent go. Over that period of time, the Presentation Sisters have made a wonderful contribution to Listowel and its hinterland. The people of North Kerry owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.


A Double Post-box

Someone who knows how much I love old postboxes sent me this card recently. Isn’t it lovely?


Owen MacMahon needs your help

I have gone through all the Drama Group programmes since 1944, 

a task long put on the long finger.

However, I am missing the following
1961 -Autumn Fire – produced by John O’ Flaherty
1966- Two on a String – produced by Ml Whelan
1967 – a Letter from a General – produced by J O’Flaherty
1970 – The Couple Beggar – produced Bill Kearney

Would you be able to put on a plea on your blog in due course? 

I’ve no doubt there must be copies around somewhere. 

It would be great to a complete collection.

Thanks Owen.

More horse fair photos

Faces glued to Tarrant’s window

This man had a lovely young donkey to sell.

Some Faces at the Fair

You could buy a dog kennel  at the fair.

 or a saddle for your horse.


I took this photo on Upper Church St. on Saturday morning as the council were doing an early morning sweep of our streets.

What odds? An interesting piece of graffiti on Ladbrokes’ shutter.


This man’s Listowel connection?

He is my nephew, Philip, former amateur cyclist now amateur marathon runner, who completed the Chicago Marathon in 3.38. I’m as proud as if it was Olympic Gold! Roll on New York.


I was very sad to hear of the passing of Tim Griffin. Tim was a Christian gentleman who loved nature  and was really knowledgeable about holy wells, grottos, convents, old dwellings and local history generally. May he rest in peace. He will be missed.


Some great examples of Hiberno -English from the new dictionary of same:

act the maggot, to / tə ækt d̪ə ʹmægət̪/ phr., (figurative) to behave in an irritating manner, perhaps resembling the wriggling of a maggot. O’Connor, Ghost Light, 78: “It’s not that any of us would want to be acting the maggot”.

bawsy /ʹbauzi:/ n., drunken, ill-mannered person. K. Bielenberg, Sunday Independent, 12 June, 2010, 5: “The same half-cut bawsies will discover a hitherto hidden passion for the mysterious Asian tyranny”. 

bejaysus /bɪʹʤe:zʌs/ int. (colloq.), from the exclamation of surprise “By Jesus”, with HE pronunciation of the letter e, as in tay/tea, /e:/ instead of /i:/. See JAYSUS. 

Bertie Speak /ʹbɛrt ̪i: spi:k/ n. phr., an idiosyncratic mode of speech practised by the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, referred to on RTE Radio1, 2009: “The most famous example of which was his immortal statement, ‘it took Ireland thirty years to become an overnight success’ ”. 

blooter /ʹblu: t̪ər/ n. ‘a clumsy, blundering person. blootered exhausted; incapable of further exertion; helplessly drunk < Scots bluiter orig. obsc.’ (Fenton, Ulster-Scots).

blow-in /ʹblo: ɪn/ n., ‘a term meaning someone living in an area, who did not originate there’ (Brewer).

Bord Snip Nua /bo:rd snɪp ʹnuə/ n. phr., < Ir bord < E board; < Du snippen; < Ir nua < E new, slang term for the committee which reduced government expenditure, Irish Daily Mail, 21 July, 2009, 15: “Bord Snip Nua attitude towards state-spending is nothing new in politics”; Ross and Webb, Wasters (2010), 206: “This quango was also targeted by An Bord Snip Nua”.

circling Shannon /ʹsɛrklɪŋ ʹʃænən/ phr. pej. (colloq.), a euphemism for being unwell and incapable of action, arising from an incident which took place at Shannon airport in 1994 when the Russian President Boris Yeltsin was unable to leave the plane, while the Irish TAOISEACH, Albert Reynolds, waited. ‘Paddy was certainly circling Shannon that night’ (CS, Mayo).

conniption /ʹkʌnəpʃɪn/ n. (colloq.), hysterics, ‘She nearly had a conniption (fit)’ (SC, Wexford).

coolaboola /ʹku:læbu:læ/ adj., term of approval, derived from American slang ‘cool’ with boola borrowed from the second term in Ir ruaille buaille, ‘Everything is coolaboola’ (DD, Dublin). 

cow’s lick¹ /kauz lɪk/ n. phr., ‘when the hair in front over the forehead turns at the roots upwards and backwards’ (PWJ).

craw-sick /krᴐ: ʹsɪk/ adj., ‘ill in the morning after a drunken bout’ (PWJ) < MDu craghe, throat, gullet.

D4 /di: fᴐ:r/ n. phr., adj., (colloq.), a term used to describe the variety of HE that originated in the fashionable Dublin 4 postal district, but which has now become a phenomenon encountered throughout Ireland. It is on the one hand seen as a marker of social aspiration and alternatively derided as an affectation. The variety employs features of Home Counties British English and, latterly, American English. The phonetic alterations and vocabulary were humorously depicted by Paul Howard, in the speech of his alter-ego Ross O’Carroll-Kelly, in his popular Irish Times columns and series of novels, e.g. “cor-pork” (car-park), “roysh” (right), the quotative “like”, “I’m like, I’m sure I’ll bump into you again”, and the High Rising Terminal, which makes declarative statements sound like questions, “I think the whole economic thing may also have helped?” (Howard, Irish Times, 14/11/09). 

dogs in the street /dɑgz ɪn ðɛ st̪ri:t̪/ n. phr. (colloq.), used to refer to common sense knowledge or a collectively agreed opinion, George Hook, Newstalk, 13 November, 2009: “The dogs in the street know that”.

dose /do:s/ n. pejor. (colloq.), ‘a common pejorative HE term, meaning a ‘tedious or gloomy’ person: ‘She stayed all morning to complain and she’s a dose,’ or a person who looks gloomy, tired or sick: ‘You look a right dose today.’  The word also means a bout of illness such as flu: ‘I got a funny dose while I was on holidays.’  In all its senses it is often used with the intensifier ‘right’ ’ (Brewer).

drink taken, to have /t̪ə hæv drɪnk ʹt̪e:kən/ phr., ‘a phrase often used comically or euphemistically to mean really drunk, and featuring in rural courts as a plea for mitigation: ‘My client had drink taken, Your Honour’ ’ (Brewer)

dubes /du:bz/ n. (colloq.), Dubarry brand deck shoes, Irish Daily Mail, 8 July, 2010, p. 9: “Dubes are as much part of the South Dublin uniform as a Leinster jersey with the collar turned up and a Starbucks latte”.

Galway Tent /ʹgᴐ:lwe: tɛnt/ n. phr., marquee set up by the Fianna Fail political party at the Galway Races to entertain its supporters. 

ghost estate /go:st ɛste:t/ n. phr., unoccupied or unfinished housing estate, deserted because of the collapse of the construction industry as a result of the recession, graphically described by Michael Lewis, ‘When Irish Eyes are Crying’, Vanity Fair, March 2011, 112-131.

jaysus /ʹʤe:zʌs/ int., adj., a colloquial HE pronunciation of the expletive interjection, ‘Jesus’, demonstrating the HE preservation of the archaic Elizabethan English vowel, the ‘tay/tea’ variation, for which see TEA.  In HE, the word also has an adjectival usage. Joyce, Ulysses (1922) 9. lines 59-60: “She gets you a job on the paper and then you go and slate her drivel to Jaysus”; Behan, The Hostage (1962), p. 157: “So open the window softly. For Jaysus sake, now hang the latch”; McDonagh, A Skull in Connemara (1997), p. 105 (1999 Ed.): “Seeing as you’re as drunk as Jaysus”; McPherson, The Weir (1998), p. 33: “Jaysus, Jim. That’s a terrible story, to be telling”. The expression is sometimes rendered in HE asbejaysus /beʹʤe: zʌs/ ‘by Jesus’, as an interjection which serves the same function as the original, Behan, Confessions of an Irish Rebel (1965) p. 77 : “And be jaysus, not the first nor last of many apologies I’ve had to make subsequently”; Plunkett, Strumpet City (1969), p. 314: “ ‘Bejaysus’, one of the men told the group, ‘but it put the wind up me’ ”; Carr, Portia Coughlan (1998), p. 36: “And you’ve a tongue on ya, that if I owned ya, I’d mow the big-shot, stuck-up bejaysus out of”. The Slieve Bloom Hotel, Cavan which, set in a relatively remote location, dazzles passers-by when they catch sight of it because of its magnificent appearance is known locally as ‘the bejaysus hotel’ (GG, Dublin).

jig-time /ʤɪgʹ t̪aim/ n. phr., (colloq.), in the time it takes to dance a jig, i.e. briefly. ‘Will do it in jig-time’ (GK, Dublin).

marry in /ʹmæri: ɪn/ v., ‘the term used to describe the phenomenon whereby the groom moved into the bride’s house and took over the bride’s farm rather than vice versa, < Ir cliamhain isteach which refers to the man in such a marriage, from the same root as < Ir cleamhnas, match’ (Brewer).

peann luaidhe /pjaun ʹƖu:i:/ n., Irish for ‘lead pencil’, as used in polling booths. ‘He said “get rid of those stupid peann luaidhes and use the electronic machines instead”’ (JF, Dublin). 

sheep-shagger /ʹʃi:p ʹʃægər/ n. pejor. (colloq.), < OE scep sceacga, disparaging term for a country person (MK, Dublin).

stroke politics /stro:k ʹpᴐ:lətəks/ n. phr., HE term for political practice in which voters are coaxed with empty promises > OE stracian v., rub softly with the hand or an implement (ODEE).

tinkers /ʹt̪ɪnkərz/ n. (colloq.),  members of the Traveller Community, O’Connor, Ghost Light, 57: “You seem fond of tinkers”.

Tube in the Cube /t̪u:b ən d̪ə kub/ n. phr. (colloq.), idiosyncratic nickname for the new convention centre on the banks of the Liffey in Dublin, RTE 6.01 News, 6 Sept., 2010.

what’s the story /ʍᴐt̪s d̪ə ʹstᴐ:ri:/ phr. (colloq), ‘what’s the latest news?’ (MK, Dublin).

woke up dead /wo:k ʌp dɛd/ phr., HE, imaginative reference for sudden death.

yay-high /je: hai/ adj., equivalent to knee-high, in examples such as ‘When I was yay-high, I would walk to school’ (MD, Monaghan).

The Third Edition of the renowned Dictionary of Hiberno-English will be published by Gill & Macmillan on 28 October, priced at €24.99. Compiled and edited by Terence Patrick Dolan, the new issue covers such phrases as Bertie BowlBertie SpeakD4circling ShannonAn Bord Snip Nuachancer,dig-outdubes and ghost estate


Jer was at the All Ireland Ladies Football final and he shot this video

Commiserations to my past pupil, Louise Galvin and all of the gallant Kerry ladies.

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