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 Kennelly

Tim Kennelly Dinner in 2002, Neodata Remembered and three humans

My Silver River Feale


Junior Griffin’s Memories

This is Junior’s father John Griffin. Many people will remember him as a great amateur engineer and the go to person to mend clocks, umbrellas etc.

Kay Caball who grew up as a neighbour of the Griffin family has a vivid memory of him on a fateful day when Bert Griffin got into one of his many childhood scrapes.

” We lived right across the road from the Griffins  in the Bridge Rd before we moved to Gurtinard in 1948 but I knew Bert better as he was the one older than me – Junior must have been a ‘big boy’ then.   Bert used often joke with me about the time I gave him a ride on my tricycle – a big black one as far as I can remember.   Young fellas didn’t wear shoes then and he went off for a cycle round our back yard in his bare feet but got his (big) toe stuck in the chain.  Talk about an emergency – there was no A & E or no Ambulance then.   I can just remember crowds of people in the back yard all giving conflicting advice on how to extricate the toe without success.  Eventually Johnny Griffin (their father ) had to be called away from his job (was it McKennas?) and he had a hacksaw and had to saw the chain off to get Bert released.  Somehow or other then I was blamed – apparently I gave him a push at the wrong moment.


Tim Kennelly Dinner, October 25 2002

Junior let me photograph some of his memorabilia of this great night. In the above photo are Bert GriffinR.I.P., Mary and the late Eamon O’Connor, Vincent and Kathleen Carmody

Junior has kept his menu which was autographed by many of the football greats who attended.

At the front are Mike Nagle of Ballybunion, John Brosnan, Junior and Fr. Kieran O’Shea


Neodata Memories

Neodata is no more…..November 2016

Kathleen Nolan worked in Neodata in the 1970s and 80s. She very kindly agreed to tell us what she could of the history of the place:

“The Neodata office in
Listowel operated as a processing centre for the Philip Morris cigarette
company in the United States. Coupons were collected from cigarette packets and
sent with order forms for different products. 
The office in Listowel handled the coupons and processed the orders. The
data was sent back to the U.S. and the goods supplied to the customers.

I am not sure when the office
opened but I worked there as a typist in 1973 along with a lot of other women.

One room was assigned to
typists and the other was the mail room.

I worked in Neodata again in
the 1980s as a mail opener and I micro filmed the order forms. Typists were
also employed at that time. The big change was that the typewriters had been
replaced by computers.

Lorry loads of mail were
collected at Shannon in the mornings and brought to Listowel for processing.
Neodata also had offices  in
Newcastlewest, Kilmallock, Abbeyfeale .

The office in Listowel may
have become an eyesore in recent years but we should not forget the huge amount
of employment it generated for the town and its environs during those years and
as a consequence generated a lot of money for the many women, married and
single who worked there. There were some men employed there but not many. This
earned it the nickname “The Henhouse”. 
Wags earned there were largely spent in town and it was a great loss to
a lot of people, workers and shops. It was a very busy place and friendships
were formed there that endure to this day.”


Some Humans

Jimmy Deenihan, Daisy Foley and John Mulvihill in Listowel Community Centre for BOI Listowel’s Enterprise event on Nov. 26 2016


Mystery Solved…..Violá! A beautiful new Seat

The sculptor is Darren Enright.

I photographed the beautiful piece of street furniture, which celebrates Listowel as Ireland’s Best Small Town in the Tidy Towns’ Competition, from all sides so that you could get a good idea of its size and location.


Monday Dec 5 news from town

 In St. Mary’s last night the Kerry Choral Union performed in concert. ‘Oh Holy Night’  

featured both the junior and senior choirs, singing a variety of Christmas songs.  Heavenly!

We also have a lovely new parish Christmas card this year. When I buy my one today I’ll photograph it to show you. They cost €1 each from the parish office, Carmel’s or JackieMcGillicuddy’s.


Snippet from Radio Kerry website: 

Listowel Food Fair’s annual book award is to be sponsored

next year by the Irish Dairy Board. The 20  11 Kerry Food Book of the Year was awarded

 to chef Edward Hayden for his book ‘Food to Love’. The announcement of the new sponsorship was welcomed by Minister Jimmy Deenihan who said there is likely to be

 strong competition for the prize next year. The Kerry Food Book award is judged on the quality of production, clarity of recipes and good design.

A roundabout in Listowel was dedicated to our north Kerry footballing hero. The roundabout in Cahirdown is

now named the Tim Kennelly Roundabout after the five-times all Ireland winner who died in 2005.

Saturday’s ceremony was attended by Tim Kennelly’s widow Nuala, his sons Tadhg and Noel and his daugher Joanne. The official naming ceremony was conducted by Mayor of Listowel, Marie Gorman and Mayor of Kerry Tim Buckley.


My next piece is from Saturday’s Irish Times. I love it and I trust you will love it too. The old photo of the late John B. and Mary I found on the internet.


If you read the memoirs of Austin Currie, former civil rights leader in the North who later became a Fine Gael TD and junior minister, you will find an amusing reference to the present writer.

In the Year of Our Lord 1990, I was assigned to travel around the country with Mr Currie and report on his ill-fated campaign to become President of Ireland. Although he didn’t win, his transfers got Mary Robinson elected as the first woman to hold the office.

Anyway, the Currie campaign fetched-up in the fine town of Listowel, Co Kerry. It was quite late at night and, although there was a fair crowd on the street to welcome the candidate in a torchlight procession, it was too late to get anything about it in the next day’s paper.

One of our first ports of call was the public house of John B. Keane, playwright and Fine Gael supporter. He was very well-disposed towards me because, in a previous manifestation as a drama critic, I had written a reasonably-favourable review of a play he had written, called The Chastitute (combination of “chaste” and “prostitute”) about a repressed Irishman who is obsessed with sex – used to be a fairly common type. At the time, John B. was unfashionable on the  Dublin scene and he was correspondingly grateful even for the mild approval in my play-review.

Anyway, faced with a choice – between spending my time in conversation with the immensely wise and entertaining John B. and traipsing the streets late on an October night to witness events I couldn’t report on – I chose the former.

Mr Currie – whom I came to both like and respect – was slightly miffed next day but he subsequently conceded in his good-humoured way that, in my position, he would have made the same decision. He tells the story in All Hell Will Break Loose, published by the O’Brien Press in 2004.

Sadly, I don’t remember the details of my conversation with the late John B. except that he was terrific company. I was reminded of the occasion last weekend when I caught the penultimate performance in the week-long Dublin run of Big Maggie, in an excellent Druid production directed by Garry Hynes.

The central character is a classic Irish matriarch, newly-widowed by the death of her shopkeeper husband. At last liberated from this uncaring womaniser, she starts to make her presence felt in the family and the community.

One by one, all her four children are forced to leave home but Maggie insists at all times – and not without some plausibility – that it is for their good.

Despite hearing some concerns in advance that lead actor Aisling O’Sullivan (well-known from the TV series, The Clinic) might be too young and elegant in appearance for the part, I felt she put in an excellent performance. Other cast-members were very strong as well.

In some ways, the play reflects the position of married women at the time it was written in the last 1960s but it is also a fine character study of a dictatorial personality-type. I have met some real-life versions of Maggie (Thatcher?) Polpin in my time, who inspired fear with their ironfisted behaviour and devastating putdowns – but thankfully not many!

I see the production is playing in various towns around the country before returning to Dublin for two weeks starting January 30th, although it is not being staged in Listowel. Don’t miss it.

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