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: Woulfe’s Bookshop Page 1 of 2

Listowel Police Mutiny in 1920

Photo; Éamon ÓMurchú in Malahide


Family Time

One of my Ballincollig grandchildren attends Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin.

I attend their show last week. It was hard to believe that they were just primary school fifth and sixth class pupils. They were superb.

There is my little Cora giving it socks as an exotic dancer.


Tony O’Callaghan and the Listowel Police Mutiny

This is the Tony O’Callaghan plaque on display in Listowel Garda Barracks. It is a record of the names of the mutineers.

“On June 19th 1920, fourteen rank and file members of the Royal Irish Constabulary in Listowel defied the order of their superior officers and refused to hand over the control of the barracks to the British Military, and to adopt a shoot to kill policy against the local community. This incident – forever more known as the Listowel Police Mutiny – was a seminal event in the Irish War of Independence.” Kerry Writers Museum.


Then and Now


A Ballybunion Sunday

Essential training and practice for this vital service takes place on Sunday mornings in Ballybunion. My daughter-in-law took the photos.


A Fact

A jiffy is an actual unit of time. It’s 1/100 of a second.


Holiday Snaps

Woulfe’s Bookshop, photo; Éamon ÓMurchú


Lovely Images of Loughshinney

by Éamon ÓMurchú


From an old New Zealand newspaper

New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXIV, Issue 17, 21 August 1896, Page 17

The news of the death of Jeremiah Enright, which took place at Nightcaps on the 14th inst, was received with general regret in this district. The deceased, who was a comparatively young man, was born (writes an occasional correspondent) at Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland, and came to this Colony about twenty years ago. He resided for the last twelve or thirteen years in the Wrey’s Bush district, where he was held in the highest esteem by all who knew him. He complained of a cold about ten days before his death, and, notwithstanding all that medical skill and careful nursing could do, he succumbed to his illness on the 14th of August. His funeral was one of the largest seen in the district. He was buried in the Wrey’s Bush cemetery. The Very Rev. Father Walsh officiated at the grave. 


The Quiet Man

I told you last week that, back in 1951 when electricity was coming to rural Ireland, the village of Cong in Co. Mayo delayed the installation of power so that the village could be used as the location for a film starring John Wayne and Maureen OHara.

It looks like the move paid off. The village has monetised its part in the popular film into a little industry with many tourists calling there.

Éamon ÓMurchú took the photo when he was in that part of the west.


Poetry Town; Poet Laureate

In Ireland the week of Sept 10 to 18 2021 is dedicated to poetry. Our newly appointed Poet laureate, Dairena Ní Chinnéide will be writing and presenting a poem celebrating Listowel and its people.

Look out for lots of poetry related activities.


It’s the Little Things

Earlier this summer I had a little rant at Lidl. One of my bugbears was the difficulty of ever getting a shallow trolley. As a small person I was often in danger of sustaining a serious injury as I nose dived into a deep trolley in an effort to retrieve my shopping.

I also made the complaint to the proper channels, i.e. Lidl.

When I visited today this is the sight that met my delighted eyes.

A whole row of bright new shiny SHALLOW trollies in Lidl Listowel Sept 6 2021.


Turf cutting, Street lighting, and an Interview with Brenda Woulfe

Mine, All Mine

Chris Grayson took this marvellous photo in the National Park, Killarney. This is a family group. The huge stag is lording it over his harem of hinds and babies.


Bord na Móna in the 1930s

 The first All Ireland Turf Cutting Championship was held on 21st April 1934 at Allenwood, Co. Kildare. 

From the late 1600s to the end of the 19th century around 6 to 8,000,000 tons of turf were cut each year for home heating and sale. 

The industry in the 1800s mainly produced moss peat for animal litter and some briquettes. However by the early 1900s the amount of turf cut each year had fallen to around 3,000,000 tons. 

The turf cutting championships were organised as part of a campaign to increase the amount of turf cut and reduce the imports of coal. Eamon De Valera and other Ministers attended each year. The competitions ran from 1934 until 1939. When the war started everybody went back to the bog so the competitions were no longer needed. This photo shows the wing slean competition in 1934.


Listowel’s Street Lighting

As I was taking a stroll around town with my camera last Sunday, I noticed how we have lots od different forms of street lighting.

These two at The Horseshoe and the Garda Station are a throwback to another era.

These lights are at Allos.

Colbert Street and Upper Church Street


We have a brand new website and it’s shaping up nicely.


Don’t Miss This

Athea will feature on RTE 1 Nationwide on Friday October 11 2019 at 7.00 p.m.


In Case You Missed this in Yesterday’s Examiner

This piece about Brenda Woulfe of Woulfe’s Bookshop was written by Marjorie Brennan and published in yesterday’s Examiner

It was something I always wanted to do — I’ve been a book-lover all my life, since I was a small child, encouraged by my mother. I’m sure she thought I’d never go to such extremes. I made three attempts to open the shop and on the third one, I said to myself ‘Brenda, you’re getting to an age now, if you don’t do it, you never will’. 

That was it, I just did it. 

What did you do before you bought the bookshop? My family had a pub and restaurant, The Horseshoe, in Listowel, and my brother had it. 

He sold it in 2005 and when he came down to tell me, I said do you have something to tell me because I have something to tell you.

He thought I would be devastated but I told him ‘I’m opening a bookshop’. So it all worked out, nobody was upset.

My other brother Jimmy was the mid-west correspondent for the Irish Examiner, he’s retired now.

I always loved books . Both my parents were book people. 

My dad had a hotel, the Marine Hotel in Ballybunion, and I remember always during the summer, if he had to go to Limerick or Tralee, he would go to Hurley’s [Tralee] or O’Mahony’s [Limerick], and he would have a big pile of books stacked up on the floor to be read during the winter. 

He would sit down on a stool in the bar at night, just the one light on over his head, with his Black and White whisky and soda. He had his book and his pipe, and he was in heaven.

Yes, there is a real love and understanding of books in Listowel.

I remember in the pub as a child,listening to two men talking, this is back in the 1960s, one of them had come home from England, and all he had brought back was a suitcase of books, there was a kind of reverence in the way he said it.

He had no money but he had books. I can’t remember what my first book was but we were always reading something, whether it was the deaths in the papers or whatever.

We were always a newspaper house, we’d get a daily paper, an evening paper and several papers on Sunday, then the local paper on a Thursday or Friday. Bryan MacMahon was my brother Jimmy’s teacher and he gave Jimmy the job of reading the leading article and summarising it for the class.

 I would love to read most of the books I order but I don’t have the time. I was reading an interview with the author Ann Patchett recently, she opened a bookshop in Tennessee. 

She said there were so many books coming in that she was just reading quarter-books. And that’s me exactly, so I don’t feel as bad now, if it’s good enough for Ann Patchett…

But you get a good feel for a book after reading a quarter of it, although you might miss a fantastic ending. But you can’t have everything.

The recession was a struggle but it picked up. I’m just hoping there won’t be too many taxes in the budget but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Everybody struggles so why should bookshops be any different?

And there’s only myself so I don’t worry about dependants or anything like that, which is a big plus. I just keep going.

The book clubs are great to support me, and I give them a 10% discount. All those little things help.

I have quiet days. It’s a challenge, but it’s one that I love. And if it wasn’t a challenge, sure what would we do, we’d get lazy.

Writers’ Week, I wouldn’t be here only for it. That and Christmas. It’s so busy that I don’t get the chance to soak it all up and enjoy the fantastic people who come into me.

I’m out and about, organising books to be sold at the different events. Colm Tóibín is great, he always makes for the antiquarian section.

People like that, they are great supporters and they appreciate that the independent bookshop is a struggling entity. But there is still a good few of us around the country, fighting the good fight.

 I am a people person, absolutely, being reared in a pub. I get a great buzz if I’m walking down the street and someone comes up to me and says, ‘that book you recommended was great’. That to me is worth a million pounds.

My niche is people who come in and they don’t know what they want, I kind of suss out what other books they’ve read, what they watch on television or whatever, and I get a kind of a feeling. 

I pick out a few books and I have two nice comfortable chairs, I say, ‘Sit down there and have a look’. I rarely get it wrong. Mind you, they’re probably too nice to tell me when I get it wrong!

Holy Well in Coolard, The Ball Alley, the Vincent de Paul shop and Michael Healy Rae in Woulfe’s

Sunday Morning Walk

Childers’ Park, Listowel Co. Kerry November 18 2018


Well in Coolard  (Dúchas Collection)

There is a holy well in Coolard and many people visited it on certain days. The same prayers are said at every well and whilst saying it they make nine rounds. When people visit the well they take a bottle of the water home with them and some moss. The water of the above well cures sore throats and rheumatism. The water of the well is never used for any domestic purpose. There was a scarcity of water and the people took the water from the blessed well. They couldn’t get it to boil.

Rinn Tuirc School collection 10 5 1938.

St Bartholomew’s Well, Coolard, Lisselton

Collector Nancy Hanrahan-Informant- Michael Hanrahan, Age 60

The blessed well is situated in a thick wood near Coolard. The well is shallow and a stream of fresh water flows from it. Many people in the district visit the well three times a year, to pay rounds. They go around the well nine times and they say three rosaries. If they have not the rosaries finished when going around, they kneel by the well and finish them. When they are going home they leave money or holy pictures or pieces of cloth on the tree beside the well. Anyone having sores washes them in the water. They also take three sips of the water and also some water with them. The people living near the well use the water for household purposes. It is said that the well was situated farther up on the wood once. A woman washed clothes in it. Then it moved down to where it is at the present time.

Holy Wells 17 – 11- ’38


Woodford Pottery Nativity

I love my Woodford Pottery crib. I will light a tea light in it every evening from now to Christmas.


The Ball Alley

Listowel men of a certain age remember the ball alley with great fondness. There have been essays and poems written about the exploits of Listowel’s handballers. I don’t know if the Sheehy brothers who are commemorated on this seat were among the champions but they would have certainly enjoyed being reminded of the days when the ball alley was the centre of young men’s social calendar.

Some years ago in a project undertaken by the young people of Xistance Youth Café the walls of the now disused alley were decorated with graffiti. Over time the pictures have taken a battering from the weather but most are still intact and looking beautiful.

These Pictures are on the side walls. The end wall has had to be replastered.


Second Time Around

One of my favourite Listowel shops is Second Time Around, the St. Vincent de Paul shop on Upper William Street. It is always staffed by smiling friendly volunteers and there are always great bargains to be had from the stock donated by some really kind  (and stylish) donors.

On Wednesday week when I called in I met these two lovely ladies, Ingrid and EileenR looking after the shop.


A Booksigning at  Woulfe’s

Michael Healy Rae signing John Hartnett’s copy of his book, Time to Talk

Michael with John and the shop staff, Fiona, Mary and Brenda


Lyre Postman Retires

(Photo and text from Joe Harrington on Facebook)

Our Postman, Seán O’Connell, on his last day as Lyreacrompane Postman delivering the mail to Norrie Connell, Carrigcannon on Friday November 30 2018. Seán has been the postman in the Lyreacrompane district for 38 years! Happy retirement Seán.

Woulfe’s, Listowel Sporting Ballads, Carnegie Library and Tralee

Woulfe’s Bookshop

This is Woulfe’s Bookshop in Church Street Listowel


Listowel Football and Sporting Ballads

 Vincent Carmody gave us an essay on some of the sporting ballads written by Listowel people. I will serialise it over the next few days.

Listowel and the written word have been synonymous over the years, so it
is of no surprise that many of the town’s penmen have at various times put pen
to paper to record in verse form for posterity the deeds of man and beast.

One of the earliest pieces that I know of is a short unrhyming lament by
a player who had played for Listowel against Tralee. We do not know the result
of the match, nor the name of the writer,

Likewise, the Painach Somers,

Near his eye he got a kick,

Saying, “For we are shamed, lame and blind,

Since we played in sweet Tralee”.

The Somers referred to was a Tom Somers from Convent Street, a local wit
and all-round sportsman. He was once asked if he ever score a point.  “I did once”, was his answer, having paid Mrs
Grady for a pint, she gave me the pint, then after a while, she put up a second
pint thinking I had her paid for it, I sang dumb for once.

At an athletic meeting he won a race for the first time. As he was
congratulated on coming first, his answer was, “I am first at last, I was
always behind before.”  


The Carnegie Library 

 All the talk of the library prompted people to look up the origins of the Carnegie in Listowel. Here is the result of some delving into the archives.

Not great but the best we could do


The Mall, Tralee

The Mall Tralee is pedestrianised. It is now a lovely space.

On the Saturday I visited it even had its own preacher.


St. Patrick’s Day in Listowel

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