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: vietnam

Shortis’ Ballybunion, Vietnam and coursing in the 1960s

Blennerville in 2017

Photo: Chris Grayson


Shortis’ Bunker Bar, Ballybunion

An Anglican priest, lecturer and writer called Patrick Comerford writes a great  blog here 

Patrick Comerford’s Blog

The below photo and story is from his January 8 2018 post.

William Shortis was born in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, in 1869, and came to Ballybunion around 1888 and worked for about a decade as the Ballybunion station manager on the Listowel & Ballybunion Railway (L&BR). This unique, nine-mile monorail ran between the two Kerry towns from 1888 to 1924, and was known affectionately as the Lartigue, after its French inventor, Charles Lartigue.

Shortis was a founding member of the nearby Ballybunion Golf Club in 1893, and he built Shortis’s bar and lounge around this time. Like many pubs of the day, the premises included a general shop, selling everything from groceries and hardware to shoes and clothing, as well as coal, iron and oil, and William Shortis also exported salmon to Harrod’s in London.

William Shortis married Annie Brown, but life took a sad turn for the family in 1905. Annie, died in childbirth on 7 June 1905, and William died five months later on 12 November 1905. Local lore suggests he died of a broken heart, leaving five children with no parents.

Annie’s sisters, Norah and Mary Brown, moved in to take care of the Shortis children.

By 1911, the eldest son Patrick Shortis, aged 18, was a theology student at All Hallows’ College in Drumcondra, Dublin, studying for ordination to the priesthood.

But five years later, Patrick Shortis died in the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916. He fought at the GPO in 1916 and was killed with the O’Rahilly in an assault on the Rotunda. His brother, Liam Shortis, was a Republican prisoner during the Irish Civil War, but was released in 1924 and became an eye specialist. Dr Liam Shortis died in the 1950s.

The pub on the corner of Main Street and Cliff Road in Ballybunion was renovated around 1930, and a render pilaster pub-front was inserted at the ground floor. The pub was extended to the rear to north in late 20th century, with the addition of a single-bay, single-storey flat-roofed return that has a dormer attic added. The shopfront has pilasters, decorative consoles and modillion cornice, and the painted rendered walls have decorative panels at the east gable end.

Today, the bar is also known as the Bunker Lounge, which is appropriate considering the role of William Shortis in founding the Ballybunion Golf Club around the same time as he was building his pub and shop.

A cut-stone plaque on the corner of this building reads: ‘To the memory of Lt Patrick Shortis born here in 1895, killed in action in the Easter Rising, Dublin 1916, erected by the No 7 Kerry Republican Soldiers Memorial Committee, 1966.’ 


Crossword Poems

I love poems and I love crosswords so, when I recently saw a book entitled Crossword Poems in one of my favourite shops, Second Time Around, Upper William St., Listowel I was intrigued.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may

Old Time is still a flying

And that same flower that smiles today

Tomorrow may be dying.

This is an example of a crossword poem. 

Apparently in the years before WW2 British schoolchildren all followed a common course in English, so there was a corpus of poetry known to every child. The compiler of The Times crossword always had one clue that was a line from one of these well known poems with a word omitted.

People had a kind of sentimental attachment to these poems and in 2000, the people at Parsimony Press published an anthology of the well loved poems under the title

 Crossword Poems.

Here is another one;

The Lady Mary Villiers lies

Under this stone with weeping eyes.

The parents that first gave her birth,

And their sad friends laid her in earth,

If any of them, Reader, were

Known unto thee, shed a tear;

Or if thyself possess a gem

As dear to thee, as this to them,

Though a stranger to this place,

Bewail in theirs thine own hard case;

For thou perhaps at thy return

May’st find they darling in an urn.


Mike and Marie Moriarty were in Vietnam


Coursing Photo from the 1960s

You’ll have to help me with the names


Storm Fionn at Skellig

Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan on Twitter

Holidays, Holy Well in Ardfert and that flood of 1828


Do you remember when going on your holidays meant going a few miles out the road to your cousins? Those were the best holidays except, maybe,  for the times when your cousins came over from England for a bit and brought with them a few hand-me downs. 

Those lucky enough to have visiting American cousins were the really lucky ones. Americans were rich and often has gadgets like cameras. I grew up in a house with no camera. Most of the photos of us as children were taken by American relatives. 

When cousins came you got taken places, often only to visit other relatives but that was the height of excitement in  the 1950s. Cousins from abroad loved jobs like saving hay, a trip to the bog or the well, bringing in the cows or having a go at pulping mangolds. This stuff was all new to them and they thought it was all “great gas’. Because they enjoyed it so much, it didn’t seem like drudgery any more.

I was reminded of all of this when I got some holiday snaps from my peripatetic friends at Christmas.

While I was at home in rain soaked Ireland other people were sharing their holiday snaps from exotic destinations.

My sister in law was in Vietnam

My niece went to Venice.

My friend, Mary Sobieralski, was in Cologne.


Women pray at a holy well in Ardfert  sometime in the 1930s

Photo; Ireland The Old Country

One thing that fascinates me about this photo is the very colorful shawls on the two women on the left. These are more like table coverings and not at all like anything I have ever seen before worn by Kerry women.


Listowel Drama

Sive marked a pinnacle of successful drama for Listowel folk.

Below is Liam O Hainnín’s photo of the sleeve of his L.P. of the play.

Listowel Drama Group are taking to the road again. Next March in Holycross in Tipperary a wider audience will get a chance to see the brilliant production of Blythe Spirit we all enjoyed so much last year.


Apropos My Flooding in Abbeyfeale Story

I posted this last week: 

Irish Examiner 1841-1999, Saturday, 25 January, 1941; Page: 10


The most destructive flood in the Feale for a century was recalled by
the death of Mrs. Nano Stack, of Moynsha, Abbeyfeale, which took place
in her 90th year, after some weeks illness. About the middle of the
fifties of the last century. Mrs. Stack, when a child of about six
years old, was save  by her brother, the late Dl. O’Connor , Church
Street, Abbeyfeale, who took her in his arms, and climbing a wall of
their house at Islandanny, which the big Feale flood had isolated,
remained  so until the flood subsided. This flood, which occurred in
August, broke down the Feale Valley with tremendous depth and force,
and swept to their death eleven persons.

and it drew this response from Nicky Leonard:

Hi, Mary,  I have read your very interesting  account of the narrow escape, at Islandanny.  of Mrs. Nano Stack from the great Feale  flood.

I had previously come across the following report  in the Spectator of 1858; it probably refers to the same great flood. How factual the account of the deaths and destruction at Abbeyfeale is, I am not certain. The last paragraph is particularly apt  in the light of the current Great Floods.
Best wishes,  Nicky Leonard: 

From The Spectator of 25 September 1858:

“…there have been very serious floods in Limerick, Kerry, and Cork. At Abbeyfeale, in the river Feale, five persons were drowned, bridges, houses, and a great deal of property destroyed. 

In Cork and Connemara alike walls were swept down; vessels carried from their moorings; stacks of corn, hay, oats floated off; potato fields submerged; horses drowned. 

The destructive effects of this sudden rising of the waters in the south of Ireland will be painfully felt in many a village and homestead.”

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