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: Virgin Rock

Courthouse and Ballybunion’s Geographical Sea Features

Photo; Éamon ÓMurchú


Courthouse Plaza

Looking towards the courthouse and library from Courthouse Road

Listowel Courthouse in June 2021

Áras an Phiarsaigh in June 2021

Planting and Seating in the Courthouse Plaza


What to look for on The Cliff Walk, Ballybunion

Everywhere to your left as you walk along the cliff edge you will see signs of erosion. The sea has eaten far into the cliffs and the coastline is indented and rugged.

This is the legendary blow hole, known as the Nine Daughters Hole. The legend says that around 800A.D. the local chieftain, O’Connor, had nine daughters. A Viking ship sailed up and the nine Vikings on board fell in love with the nine O’Connor girls. Daddy was having none of it. He lured the girls one by one to the edge of the blowhole, by telling them that he had dropped his valuable torc (a piece of jewellery) into the chasm and he sent them to look for it. He then tossed the poor girls one by one into the hole.

I don’t believe a word of it. Would all nine girls fall for the same ruse? Not any O’Connor girls I know anyway.

Anyway the legend has it that he tossed the nine Norse boyos in after them so a kind of rough justice was done.

This is a sea arch. It is such a perfect example that it is often the one used in geography textbooks. It is known locally as the Virgin Rock. I couldn’t find the legend behind this one but I think before it was cut off and as eroded as it is today monks lived on it.

This structure is more recent than the others. I think it is for dipping sheep. The sheep went in one by one into a trough of disinfectant to get rid of lice and ticks etc.



When I was in Ballybunion, who did I meet but regular North Cork visitors, Tony and Joan Boyce. They were in their home away from home for a few days. Tony and Joan are my cousins.


John O’Halloran R.I.P. Remembered

Junior Griffin has been in touch to tell me of the passing of another old handballer.

John (also known as P.J.) O’Halloran was a neighbour of Junior’s in Bridge Road. He was one of the many young men who loved the handball alley and spent many happy hours there.

John lived in Killarney where he was a teacher in the Community College. Like Junior he went on to play badminton and was very involved with the Killarney club. Junior met him on an almost weekly basis during the badminton season. He says the chat was rarely about badminton, but about handball, Bridge Road and Listowel in general.

John passed away last September. May he rest in peace.


One Hundred Years Ago



Horse chestnut tree, Knockanure Vintage Day 2017, Ballybunion and the Florida Rose in Town

Lovely Kerry Bridge

Photo; Ita Hannon


Magnificent Listowel Horse chestnut Tree

This beautiful tree is located at the gate of Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail.


Knockanure Vintage Day 2017

Sunday August 20 was the date chosen for the annual Vintage Day in Knockanure. It must have been one of the worst days of a summer memorable for bad days. However a few brave souls ventured abroad and of these Elizabeth Brosnan and Jer took a few photos.


Hydrangeas at Coláiste na Ríochta


Upper Church Street

At the corner by Ballygologue Road

St Michaels’ College

I met these lovely girls after their summer camp in Listowel.


A Blustery Day in Ballybunion 

While I had my two lovely boyeens with me for their Kerry holiday we decided to brave The Cliff Walk on a day so windy it was fit for little else but walking.

The windswept boys viewed the incoming clouds.

We encountered a band of brave souls coming in the opposite direction. They were the U.S branch of the Kissane family who were in town for their clan gathering.

We could watch sea erosion at work before our eyes.

We briefly sheltered in this shepherds’ cottage.


Up the Kingdom

Elizabeth with her Rose of Tralee escort.

Elizabeth with her mom, Mary Kay and her sister Sarah

At a reception in The Seanchaí, Listowel on August 23 2017 Sarah and Elizabeth Marince, granddaughters of the late Tom O’Donoghue of Tanavalla and Pittsburg sang his favourite song

Up The Kingdom

Jimmy Hickey today, Moyvane church bell in 1856 and an old cigarette card

Autumn in Childers’ Park, Listowel

photo: Deirdre Lyons


The Dance Continues

Jimmy Hickey has lost none of his enthusiasm for the dance. He is passionate about his craft and he acknowledges his responsibility to pass on the steps to the next generation.

 Jimmy teaching the young boys in Scoil Realta na Maidine recently. This is where his own dancing career began.                                                                                                          (photo: Facebook)

St. Patrick’s day parade some years ago.

St. Patrick’s Day Céilí

Jimmy with Canon Declan O’Connor at last year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade

The link below is to a clip from St. Patrick’s Day 2014 when Jimmy danced with two of his pupils, Patrick and Mairead Brosnan

St. Patrick’s Day 2014

Like all good teachers Jimmy accepts that he can also learn from his pupils. He told me that he often taught a child a step one week, only to have that child come back the following week with a completely different interpretation of the same step. “And it was often better.”

Long may Jimmy Hickey, master dancer and dancing master, continue dancing, teaching and learning.

Now to finish with, Charlie Nolan has prepared a compilation of his videos of Jimmy Hickey and his dancers down through the years from 1985 to 1991. This video includes feiseanna, St. Patrick Day Ceilithe in the boys school, Jimmy dancing with two of his star pupils, the late Mary Murphy and Mary Hartnett and, the icing on the cake, the Liam Dineen Ribbon Dance.

Dancing Down the Years

Jimmy wears his fame lightly. It was my great pleasure to tell his story.


Moyvane; A Bell and a Well

Moyvane’s 160 year old church bell and a recently rediscovered well.

 Below is from The Freemans Journal  20.03.1856

The novel and interesting pontifical ceremony of blessing of a Church

bell was performed in all its solemn forms on Palm Sunday, at the

chapel of Newtownsandes, in the North East of County Kerry, by the

Right Rev. Dr Moriarty. The bell, which was manufactured by Mr John

Murphy, of Dublin, is a very beautiful one. It was placed on a

platform before the altar in the Sanctuary. The local clergy and a

large multitude of people, who seemed to take the deepest interest in

the proceedings, were in attendance on the occasion. The Bishop

addressed the congregation a touching and suitable discourse, which

was listened to with almost breathless attention. It was the first

ceremony of the kind performed in Kerry since the reformation and the

bell is the first Church bell tooled in the parish of Murhur since the

same period.

Dublin’s “freedom bell”, the first Catholic Church bell to ring in

Dublin in breach of the Penal Laws 200 years ago,

Fr Michael Blake defied penal laws by tolling the bell in 1811, 18

years before Catholic emancipation. He faced charges, but was

successfully defended by O’Connell, then a young lawyer.

Legend has it that O’Connell rang the bell to celebrate emancipation

in 1829, creating the crack which remains visible today.

Moyvane is quiet these days


Mike Enright found these great cigarette cards online. He thinks they date from 1924.

Sunday October 30 2016


A New Career Beckons for your Blogger

No, not really …more like a minute of local fame.

My moments in the sun will come courtesy of Radio Kerry. Next week from November 7 to 11th at 7.30a.m. and 12.00 noon I will be bringing you Just a Thought. Next week my “thoughts”  will be available online.


A Sad Old Memory

Does anyone remember a tragic house fire in 1965 when a lady by the name of Kitty Reidy was burned to death?

Junior Griffin remembers it because on that night, in Nurse Chapman’s lying in hospital in William Street, Junior’s late sister, Patsy, was giving birth to her son, Sean Breen. She remembered the commotion and sirens as the house fire was in a house on Charles St. next to Carmody’s corner.

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