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

Tractors on Parade and Con and Paddy Minogue of Rathea

Vehicles in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2015


Kennedy Home

The former Greenlawn/ Kennedy Home is to get a new lease of life soon.

The notice on the gate says that the Brothers of Charity are asking for planning permission to change the use to a Family Resource Centre.


Minogues of Rathea

A few weeks back I reproduced a story first told in the Rathe Irremore Journal. It was one of my most popular posts in a long time.  

Today I bring you another story from the same journal. This time is Kitty Sweeney’s account of a man who lived a sad and lonely life but who had many friends and admirers in Rathea.


It is said when we start looking back over
our lives, it’s a sure sign of old age creeping up on us. When we think back
and once again draw from the archives of our minds, all that is stored in there
for as far back as we can remember, things 
that happened are partly forgotten and have laid dormant for so long.
These memories can belong to faces, places, the sound of voices that come
re-echoing out of the past, friends, neighbours, family long  gone, but some little figment of remembrance
lingers on. When we draw these out again and re-live them, it’s amazing how
much is stored away in the caverns of our minds. The friends and people we knew
so well who formed our community one big family and whose names have been
erased as it were forever. It’s nearly half a century since these people walked
among us. The family I am going to tell you about, are a father and son, Con
and Paddy Minogue. It doesn’t seem that long ago since they left us, but I
recently asked someone who is in his fiftieth year,”Do you remember Paddy
Minogue”. Never heard of him was the reply.

Con and Paddy Minogue lived in a thatched
little “cot”, consisting of one room, a stones throw from Brown’s
Bridge. The father a poet, the son the singer – that’s why I would like to write
a little memorial to them. Con was a farm labourer, his family were of Clare
extraction, but he came to these parts at the time of the “hiring
fairs”, when labourers went to market places and were hired by the
farmers. He also broke stones on the road for the council, drew turf to Tralee
with a jennit and cart – a hard life by any standards, but these people never

Con was a poet and he wrote plenty of
poetry – a lot of comic commentary on happenings in the locality and Skelligs
lists. I can remember him rhyming them off at our house during the dinner when
he worked with my father. He would be eating and reciting. Some of these local
verses were frowned upon by the “boyos” they were written about. But
his serious ballads were beautiful – the one surviving one, the well known song
“The Banks of the Sweet Smerla Side”. He also wrote other lovely
songs, one about the “Mass Rocks of Ireland”, but sadly they are all
lost. Today he could hold his own with the best poets of the day. But alas he
was born too soon and his work was not appreciated. I don’t think he lived to
pension age. He is laid to rest in Finuge cemetery.

While the father was the poet and
balladeer, his son Paddy was the singer, and anyone who remembers him singing
will agree that he had a glorious voice. He could use his voice so well for
someone who never had a singing lesson – it was melodious and beautiful. Paddy
had the misfortune of losing his mother when he was only a few years old, he
didn’t remember her. His father re-married, but his step-mother didn’t have
much authority over Paddy. He didn’t bother with school too much, he didn’t
believe in spending his day at a bench learning the three R’s. He was like an
adopted son of every family in the surrounding townlands, everyone liked him.
Paddy spent his years singing and enjoying himself. He was welcome at every
hooley and invited or not he turned up, his hair shining with
“Brillantine” (it could be bought at Pike for 2d. a Bottle). Paddy
had a very narrow little head, he couldn’t get a peaked cap small enough, so he
had to roll several sheets of the “Kerryman” lenghtwise and fit it
inside the cap to keep it from falling down over his eyes.

He was very popular when it came to the
saving of the hay or the turf cutting. He would promise faithfully to come, but
if he got a “wink” from a girl somewhere else, he was like an elusive
butterfly, he was gone – he loved the girls. During the many days he spent on
our farm doing the chores, we would have him singing all his newest songs. At
milking time, in the times of stools and buckets, we would sing along with him,
the same at meadow time and at the picking of the spuds or at whatever job we
were lucky enough to have Paddy doing. He was innocent and harmless, everyone’s
friend, he had no foes and he never missed Mass on Sundays. He lived life
without worries or cares, he never took a wife, he said they were too
troublesome and of course maybe they let him down. When Paddy was in his late
thirties he became a diabetic. He didn’t have anyone to look after him – his
latter life was mostly spent in hospital and eventually he went to Killarney
and never came home again. When he died, he didn’t have one single family
member alive. He died rather suddenly and by the time the news reached Rathea,
he was already buried in Aghadoe – a beautiful place – His neighbours were very
upset as they would have brought Paddy back to be buried beside his father –
not that it mattered where he was laid to rest.

He was certainly one of the decent flowers
that blushed unseen. I hope there are hoolies up in heaven because if there
are, Paddy is there for sure giving his rendering as only he could of the
“Bold Gatty Boy” – the last verse went like this,

“Tomorrow Mulcahy will stand on the dock

 watching forever the turns of the book.

The judge will reply, with a wink in his

more years for the Bold Gatty Boy”.

Kitty Sweeney.


Folklore, Green shoots and Tadhg Kennelly honoured in Sydney


Agricultural Show in 1953 and other old stuff

1 Comment

  1. Unknown

    Thank you Mom we did not what a wonderful writer you were

    Peggy Sweeney

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