Morning has Broken


by David Kissane


Memories of the summer of 1972 concluded




There were a few breakout occasions in those last days in St Michael’s College. There was one Saturday, never talked about “publicly” since, which brings a smile to the eyes even now. Especially now. A week before the curtain came down on our classes. A history lecture was announced for Leaving Cert students and it meant a trip to Tralee. A bus was organised and the craic was good. Freedom was in the air. We arrives a bit early for the afternoon lecture and someone suggested that a visit to a pub to get a sandwich might be an idea. A sub-group of us headed that way. Others went a more reliable direction.


A sandwich was the extent of food service in most pubs in those days. Unfortunately Perri crisps were the only item on the lunch menu that Saturday and someone said that his mother took Guinness for nourishment. A nod was as good as a drink so glasses of Guinness were ordered nervously. The barman considered all of us to be of reasonable age. Which most of us were in those days. It is reported that a clear liquid like Poitín was produced at some stage but history does not record that fact.


Suffice it to say that we were a little late for the lecture. It was a very good lecture though, on early modern Irish history, and history took on a new and stirring atmosphere that afternoon. Under the influence of alcohol on tender brains. The Nine Years’ War was never fought so clearly and the Great O’Neill became greater. When the lecture was over and questions were solicited, the standard of questioning by some of our group was exceptional. What did the wives do while the men were away fighting the English? What would an Irish leader say to rev up his men before a battle? Did Queen Elizabeth really fancy Grace O’Malley? And Henry the Eight…well we went to town on him!


In the end, the lecturer praised our corner (at the back of the room) on the quality of our interest in history and the depth of our knowledge. He said history was safe in our hands. We nodded and embraced the applause.


Some of us took notes on the lecture. They were written in a script not known up to then. Like thorny wire that had been over-run by a mad bull.


The sting in the tail came when the pub gang missed the bus home – in those days, five o’clock was five o’clock – and it was very late that night when I staggered in home.


My father had a look at me the following noon and commented that another great battle had been lost in Irish history. I appreciated his analysis.


On the following Monday, our history teacher likewise praised our interest in the lecture and wryly added, with a trademark wink, “And I’d say Kissane and friends learned a bit more than history on Saturday last!”


I recalled with gratitude that comment when I attended his funeral thirty years later. Rest in peace Mr Molyneaux Junior.


Earlier, during the Lent of that year, there was the trip out to the annual retreat to the Redemptorists in Limerick. Always a good occasion for discussions and evaluation, the few days were a welcome break from class routine and we never felt that religion was being forced on us. Well it was 1972. A visit downtown one evening, perhaps without permission by a group of us, caused a bit of a stir but was handled positively by the brothers, who engaged with us and our moderate rebellistic intentions.


But again we missed the bus home and had to thumb the coast road on a wet and cold March afternoon. Light in the soul but heavy in the body.




No awards night in 1972. No graduation ceremony. We ended classes on the Friday before the exams began and there was a guarded feeling of “yahoo!”. After all, the big test was yet to come. But as a group of us walked freely down Church St for the first time with no classes around the corner, I recall Neil Brosnan singing “Mammy Blue” and there was a lyrical quality in our gait. We were sailing to Byzantium with a new version of ourselves and when the Convent girls passed us going the other direction – how come the Convent girls always seemed to be going in the other direction! – a vague and exciting hope was dripping from the Listowel air.


Then the isolation of the few days before the first exam and the worry of have we done enough and where are my maths notes and I’ve forgotten all my Keats quotes and steel guitar strings pinged nervously in our backbones and huge butterflies grew in our stomachs and soon the exams were over and then an explosion out the gate and down into town.


A few of the previous year’s Leaving Certs had adopted the fashion of getting their hair permed. I decided to go for it after a lot of “willIwontImaybeIwill” indecision. Eventually I made up my mind to have the perm done that last day of second level education. My then flowing locks (where are they now!) had gone wild in the daily cycle to the school bus and back. It’s amazing the amount of flies and midges that could get stuck in long hair. The only challenge was it had to be done in a hairdresser’s  – ie, a women’s hairdressing salon. No barber would do that sort of thing. In fact, barbers didn’t like fellas who let their hair grow. For obvious reasons.


I excused myself from the gang and headed into a hairdresser’s in Church Street to have the hair-curling experience. Opened the door and four women turned towards me from their perming and locked me in their gaze. A variety of curlers on their heads. Their eyes went right through my resolve. I felt like Moses at a disco. “What can I do for you?” the hairdresser asks, with a wink at her customers. “Ah, I have the wrong shop!” I blurted and made a hasty retreat back to the boys outside Flavin’s Bookshop, making some excuse to them about no bookings available. Hallo real life. Gulp.


I was going to retain the fuzz for that summer of ’72 and for some summers afterwards. With the help of hairspray it learned to lie down for short periods but more often than not, it retained a spirit of its own and ran free around the ears. And beyond. Upwards and outwards. It was a hairy time indeed to be alive in 1972.


We went in somewhere for a bite to eat and didn’t seem to hang around town too long. For a classmate, Mike Bambury and myself, it was down to Kennelly’s travel and book tickets for the boat from Dún Laoire to Holyhead for two days later. No other students were doing anything like that and it was a magic feeling. I had a sister in Birmingham who would put us up for the summer. I had already spent two summers working there so the confidence cup was brimming and the teaspach was high.


                                                  Bridge Between Two Worlds


And so the very next day the two of us started thumbing a lift in Listowel, right outside St Michael’s College, our Cape Canaveral of take-off. We looked in the gate, past the apple trees then in their June bloom and up the window of the classroom most of us would never see again. Funny old feeling it was. We didn’t realise it fully then, but in that moment, looking in at the College, we were standing on a bridge between two of our worlds. The world behind us, of being a student and the world ahead of being an alumnus. There were already bridges crossed, and many more to come. Sometimes these bridges are hidden from us as we cross them and don’t reveal themselves for years. Crossing from the early morning cycle down the hill and the yellow bus and walks up Church Street and Roly Chute’s shop and  the old wooden desks and the sport and the ambling lunchtimes and the return home and the chat on the bus and the walk up the hill and the homework and the notes.


In that moment of tranquility we were subsumed inwards to the echoing stairs, to the ring of the hand-bell that was rung between classes, to the buzzing classroom, to the teachers who had kept the faith of believing in the art of teaching life through subjects and sport and activities. The five years spent in the college concertina-ed together in one packaged ball of memories. The fusion of the dark days when we went to school with burdens with the days of illumination and progress. The search-for-identity days and the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnell days. And the nights in between. All flowing together now and ready for the next stage over the Moon River we crossed at that moment. The mundane and routine were to become exotic and special.


I don’t know if we said goodbye or thanks to any of our teachers in the weeks before, on the final day of either class or exams. If we didn’t, we quietly thanked them now in our minds for being educational ambassadors to us.


While we were trying to resolve the paradox of these rushing feelings that June day, one of the teachers came walking past, enjoying his summer holidays and asked us where we were off to. “Birmingham!” we declared in unison. He checked if we were serious and when the truth dawned, he said “Fair play to ye. Good luck lads!” and walked on down past the sports field and the graveyard.


We thought of our class-mates who had walked out the gates of the College for the last time that June of 1972 who visualised their own pathways ahead. We had a hierarchy of individual needs and expectations as all students finishing their second level classes this week of June 2022 have: a secure career, to walk on the Great Wall of China, to own a house, to build a business, to own a castle, to create something fulfilling, to win an All Ireland medal, to find love…


We would be tumbled and humbled and rebuilt many time in the years ahead but for the first time in our lives, the town and the College seemed like a small place.


It was that day we left the Listowel and the St Michael’s that we had known for five years. Forever.


                                                              Thumbs Away


Thumbs out and we got a lift quickly and were in Limerick in a few hours. God be with the days of thumbing lifts! The stories and the characters and the legends.


Into Limerick and searched the streets knocked on a bed and breakfast door and got a double room to save money and on with the bell-bottoms and orange shirts. Combed the fuzzy hair as best we could and out on the town with a couple of girls whom we had met in the Gaeltacht the previous summer and a rocking night was had by all.


Train to Dublin the next day with fuzz inside the heads as well as outside and the “boat” to Holyhead that night.


And then came the summer of our lives. Morning had broken indeed all of fifty years ago.

From Listowel Connection June 2022






Kerry writer with Clare roots




September 29, 2011        979 Views




The Lament for Tommy Daly, possibly the best known Clare hurling ballad, was written by a Kerry man, Bryan MacMahon from Listowel. He was, however, very proud of his Clare ancestors.




His mother, Margaret Mary Kennedy, was a Clare woman and her parents, John, and his wife Joanna, are also buried on the ‘windswept hill’. Joanna’s sister, Mary, was married to Batt Reidy and MacMahon claimed they were Sean O’Riada’s great-grandparents. That was not the only connection between MacMahon and O’Riada, as MacMahon can claim some of the credit for the formation of Ceoltóirí Chualainn.


In 1960, O’Riada was musical director with the Abbey Theatre when MacMahon’ s play, The Song of the Anvil, was in production. They decided to use traditional music as the theme and O’Riada gathered a group of musicians to perform for the play. Out of their rehearsals for the play grew the world-famous group.


MacMahon wrote many other ballads about Listowel and Kerry and possibly the best-known is The Valley of Knockanure but he was better known as a playwright, novelist and short story writer.


Bryan MacMahon worked all his life as a teacher in Listowel, where he influenced many of the great writers of North Kerry, all the while writing himself. His first short story was published in The Bell and it earned him a reputation as a writer of note and he regularly had stories published in newspapers and magazines. His first collection, The Lion Tamer, appeared in 1948 and the following year his first play, The Bugle in the Blood, was performed in The Abbey.


He didn’t just write for adults and his Jackomoora and the King of Ireland’s Son (1950) and Children of the Rainbow (1952) were published worldwide. He was equally proficient in both English and Irish and wrote a translation of the autobiography Peig.


He learned Shelta, the ancient language of the travelling people and took a great interest in their history and culture. Many consider The Honey Spike (1961), which is set in that community, to be his best play. It tells the story of a young couple travelling from Kerry to Antrim because they want to see the top of Ireland.


As well as his plays he also wrote historical pageants including those used at the medieval banquets.


He was also commissioned by the GAA to write a pageant to be produced in 1966 to mark the 50th anniversary of Easter 1916. His Seachtar Fear, Seacht L, with a cast of over 400, was staged both in Croke Park and in Casement Park in Belfast.


He travelled worldwide, lecturing and speaking on writing and also in this country often spoke on local history and the importance of knowing your own locality.


This love of place led him to be one of the founding members of Listowel Writers Week, which is still going from strength to strength. He was awarded many prizes and honours and was a member of Aosdána.


Known around Listowel as the Master, that was the name given to his autobiography published in 1992. He died in 1998.


Bryan MacMahon, literary giant, native of Kerry but also proud of his Clare roots, was born in Listowel on September 29, 1909, 102 years ago this week.






Vincent Carmody Remembers Great Times in the Cinema


As someone who grew up quite close to the Astor, the cinema site itself, the adjacent railway property, in and around the Sluadh Hall and around the creamery were play areas for those of us from the top of William Street.


A particular thing that we used to do when in the cinema yard was to pick up pieces of the celluloid film which would have been cut from the reels as the projectionist would splice reels together. We would take these clips home and get real enjoyment if any actors faces appeared on the clips.  Another thing that would have been discarded were sticks of carbine.  They would have been used in the projection room. This room was attached to the end wall of the cinema and was accessed by concrete steps to the upstairs projection room. Underneath was the boiler room.


Pat Dowling of the Bridge Road was the projectionist. He was a mechanic at Moloney’s Garage in William Street and was also a member of the Fire Brigade. Jeremiah O’Connor of O’Connell’s Avenue was his assistant. Mrs Woulfe of St. Brendan’s Terrace was manageress and worked in the ticket office, while Michael Nolan and John Joe O’Connor were doormen.


There was no shop in situ in our time. Sweets would have to be bought at either Jet Stacks, Quills or Kelly’s from further down the street.


Admission to the gods (hard seats) was four old pence, middle soft seats, I think ten pence and the more up market balcony around would have cost one shilling and three pence.


The Astor would show the same film, at the most, for two nights, whereas the Plaza would usually have the same film for three nights. Both cinemas would have afternoon matinees and and night show on Sundays. There were some in the town who would alternate visits to both cinemas on different nights. One nightly man in particular, was a pipe smoker and he would have two pipes, smoking one until it got hot, then changing it for the second one.


Advertisements for many local shops would appear on screen prior to the shows. Then usually what was shown next was either a serial or shorts, then trailers of upcoming films. If it was a serial, this would continue over a period of weeks. A great favourite at one stage, was a half hour Scotland Yard mystery case.  This was presented by an actor called Bruce Seton, (at that time I was not to know that I would get to know him very well when I worked in the Devonshire Arms public house in Kensington London in the 1960s).




At one time, whoever was booking films must have got a bargain in buying in bulk. For about five Sundays in succession, films starring a cowboy by the name of Whip Wilson filled the screen, so much so, one local wit, put it out that Wilson was lodging at a local B & B. 


Being at the Astor on Sunday September 11th 1955, is a date I remember quite vividly. The reason for this, is that in that year, both All Ireland semi finals ended in draws on the two previous weekends. Both replays were re-fixed for the 11th, Kerry playing Cavan and Dublin playing Mayo. I remember that the Kerry match was played first, meaning that it did not finish until nearly four o clock. The Astor management, realising this, wisely put back their starting time to facilitate cinema goers who would have been listening to the match on the radio.


Another standout memory is of attending a showing of Angela’s Ashes.  I found this a depressing movie, more so, as it seemed to have been filmed in near constant rain and depression. Leaving the cinema shortly after ten o clock that evening, we exited to a lovely bright warm summer evening. It felt great after what we had seen on screen.  


Another vivid memory for me is seeing Dead Poets’ Society. At the end of the film, Eamon Keane, recognising a fellow actor, Robin William’s tour de force, stood and applauded for a full five minutes


On occasions (especially before Walsh’s Super Ballroom was built in the 1950s) the Astor was used as a Dance Hall. In the 1940s there were occasional supper dances, with dancing at the Astor and a supper meal been served at the Slua Hall across the road.


I can also recall a variety show sometime in the early 1950s.


I, like many, regret the closure of the Astor, now Classic,  as a cinema. However I realise that without a regular substantial  audience attendance, a venue like this could not pay its way. Hopefully this fine building will not be pulled down and maybe have a rebirth, as it could be used as a theatre, exhibition space, museum  or boutique cinema.


Meanwhile, I salute the late Kieran Gleeson, his wife Teresa and family, for the pleasure which they gave to Listowel cinema goers. I thank them for rescuing the Astor and making it a worthwhile and pleasant location for North Kerry film buffs from January 1987 until its closure in January 2022.


had two cinemas in Tralee. Brendan Coffey ran the Listowel cinema.










Hi All




I have informed the Ballydonoghue Cce branch of Comhaltas that It is with regret that I will not be returning as Set Dancing teacher in Ballydonoghue after 43 years. I have put alot of thought into my decision over the Christmas and due to a number of reasons including Covid-19 and the effect it has had on everything and still not knowing when we can return if at all this year.




I started classes in Ballydonoghue in 1978 and during my time I have had some very memorable ventures.




Our first All Ireland medal was in 1996 when our U8 set brought home medals in the U15 set competition in Listowel. We also won All Ireland medals in Ballycastle Co Antrim Castlewellan CountyDown Tullamore, Co. Offaly, IrelandPeter StackBallina Co MayoEnniscorthy Co. Wexford and Drogheda, Ireland




Winning our first All Ireland winners medal in Ballycastle County Antrim in 1999. We also have had much success at County, Munster, as well as other competitions all over the country.




We also travelled to take part in Sean Dempsey International competition in Manchester on several occasions having much success.




In 2008. 23members from the branch did a branch exchange with the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann – O’Neill Malcom Branch CCE in Washington DC. This was a very rare experience and we enjoyed visits to Capitol Hill, reception at the European union offices, also at the Irish Embassy, visiting Baltimore, Virginia, Maryland and seeing places we could only dream off. Finishing our trip with a performance on the Millennium stage In the Washington Dc Kennedy Centre where we were told we would have 200 to 250 attending and ending with over 1300 people watching us for an hour long concert.




Our trips to the RTE Studios for our performances on TG4 was a highlight for all our dancers.




I have to acknowledge the input Liz McNamara had on both Dolly and myself and the dancing class. She was a great support to us and always showed her support to every child regardless whether they won or not as she was always very proud that they had represented the branch.




Again many thanks to everyone in the branch for their support over the last 43 years and we would like to wish the branch much success in the future.




To Ballydonoghue GAA for the use of their clubrooms down through the years and of late their fabulous new building I would like to say thanks to all the officers past and present. Also to Jackie Hegarty and Tom in Tomasinis ye were always willing to help in any way ye could and put yer building at our disposal.




To the parents who have supported Dolly and myself and the class down through the years I want to thank you.




Last but not least to you our dancers wherever you may be. Passing through the doors of Ballydonoghue GAA clubrooms on a Saturday morning and Tuesday evening of late, I thank you all for the pleasure and joy you brought to us. We have made some great memories together and hope you will always remember your dancing days in Ballydonoghue.




















St. Mary’s Church, Listowel re-opened for public worship on Monday May 10th, 2021.  We are delighted to have you all back. For the safety of all who attending public worship, we ask you to note the following: - Due to the size of our church, which allows for a capacity greater than 50 people, we can accommodate an increase in the numbers permitted to attend Mass.  The church is divided into pods or sections and no more than 50 people are permitted in each pod or section. Each pod or section will have its own communion station for the distribution of Holy Communion. Exit from the church at the end of Mass will be on a   staggered basis.  Please do not congregate on the church grounds after Mass. A team of ushers will be in place at each Mass to guide people to their seats, facilitate the distribution of Holy Communion and organizing the exit from the church at the end of Mass.  Please co-operate with the ushers. A face mask or covering must be worn when attending the church. Please sanitise your hands on entering and leaving the church. There are collection boxes at the rear of the church for the collection of envelopes, offerings, and donations.  Your continued support and generosity are greatly appreciated. The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday continues to be suspended and a person may come to a weekday Mass instead of attending Mass on Sunday.  For people who may be nervous about returning to Mass or who may be unable to attend Mass for whatever reason, you can participate in the Mass online at www.listowelparish.com or through the Parish Radio link.  You can also visit our beautiful church at any time for private prayer.


Funerals & Weddings The maximum number that can attend funerals and weddings is 50 people, regardless of the size of the church.


Mass Schedule: Monday – Saturday 10.30 am


Saturday Vigil 6.15 pm. / Sunday 9.00 am & 11.30 am


First Friday of each month at 7.00 pm.




Fr. Declan & the Parish Pastoral Council.      May 6th, 2021



Extract from letter by Billy McSweeney


Listowel Connection Dec 2020




Hi Mary,




I read with interest the recent Connection notes on Mrs. Griffin




 who lived four doors away from my home in Upper Church Street.




I remember her as a quiet, reserved and gentle woman. By then




Mr Griffin had died and her children, Michael and Betty,




had moved out of Listowel. She lived alone in no 95 and taught




the boys in the National School. How she controlled 40 odd,




 unruly boys in First Class with such consummate ease is




a mystery to me; and she did this year after year. In 1948




 I was one of these 'scholars' and my time under her tutelage




 is remembered with pleasure. Bean Uί Grίoffa was a treasure.




My older brothers all attended this school in turn and even




 as a 2½ year old I felt that anywhere my brothers  could go




 then I could also go, so on odd occasions I made my way




 to the school which was no more than 100m up the street.




I still remember the hollow sound of the latch on the door of




 First Class as I lifted it, entered the room, saw a friendly




 face and planked myself on the desk at the head of the class




 beside Bean Uί Grίoffa.





North Kerry Literary Trust recently launched history of the Earls of Kerry


The Book on the Fitzmaurice Family was compiled  by Kay Caball


Jimmy Deenihan said the Trust was 'delighted' to publish Kay's work. "Evidence of the physical impact of the Fitzmaurices is dotted across the North Kerry landscape, including Ardfert Friary, Listowel Castle, Ballybunion Castle, Ballymacaquim Castle, Rathoneen Castle, the Hermitage in Lixnaw, and what was once the jewel in the crown, the Old Court in Lixnaw," Jimmy explained in his foreword to the history.




"The Fitzmaurices also influenced the future literary and cultural landscape of North Kerry, through their role as patrons of the arts...The Fall of the Fitzmaurices covers the period from 1697 to 1818, spanning the lordships and earldoms of Thomas, William and Francis Fitzmaurice. It describes the grandeur of the Old Court during the time of Tomas Fitzmaurice and Anne Petty, while also explaining the background and context to the scene of desolation described by English writer Arthur Young when he visited Lixnaw in 1776, after Francis the 3rd Earl of Kerry abandoned the Old Court.



"In addition to providing an exhaustive historical analysis of this essential aspect of Kerry and Ireland's history, Kay Caball also succeeds in giving the reader an insight into the excesses enjoyed by society's upper classes during this period, whether it be in Dublin, London, Paris or Lixnaw. While researching The Fall of the Fitzmaurices, Kay consulted a wide variety of sources, including the correspondence between Francis and his land-agent, Christopher Julian. Housed in the Archives Nationales in Paris, these letters provide a unique window into the socio-economic conditions prevailing in North Kerry at this time. The relevance of these letters as primary source material adds greatly to the importance of Kay Caball's book," Jimmy wrote, adding:


Nov 2020 Listowel Connection










Frank Murray R.I.P.






The following obituary to Listowel's Frank Murray was printed in The Irish Times. I'm sharing it here to show how proud Listowel should be of this native son.




Frank Murray – made huge contribution to community and comprehensive education




An Appreciation






Denise Burns






Frank Murray: a charismatic and friendly leader with an ability to relate positively with people, to address issues strategically, and to find solutions that were fair to everyone.re to FacebookShare to TwitterShare to Email AppShare




Frank Murray was born in Listowel, Co Kerry, in March 1944. He excelled at GAA football and continued playing during his years in UCD. His love of Gaelic games resulted in Frank becoming a steward at Croke Park for more than 30 years.




Following his graduation with a UCD commerce degree, Frank obtained a teaching qualification, and in 1967 began his career in Belfast.




Appointment as a deputy principal in Tallaght Community School in 1973 began his long association with the emerging and rapidly growing secondary education sector in Ireland. In 1977, he became the founding principal of St Mark’s Community School in Springfield, Tallaght, Dublin.




Frank was the general secretary of the Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS) from 1990 to 1996. His professional support for boards of management and school principals of community and comprehensive schools was outstanding. In many communities nationwide, Frank facilitated the amalgamation of existing secondary and vocational secondary schools into new community schools. A colleague described as “monuments to Frank” the many community schools in different parts of the country that Frank helped to establish. His energy, insight, problem-solving and negotiation skills and his ability to interact positively with people contributed enormously to the sense of community and professionalism in the community and comprehensive education sector.




In 1994, Frank completed a master’s in science (educational management) at Trinity College Dublin, with a dissertation on the amalgamation of schools that in turn became the blueprint for future school amalgamations.




When the then-minister for education Niamh Bhreathnach established the Commission on School Accommodation in 1996, Frank was appointed the executive chair. The commission included school management bodies, teacher trade unions, and parent representative bodies. Its first task was the controversial rationalisation of the Vocational Education Committees nationwide. The commission reported on criteria and procedures for the recognition of new schools, procedures for the recognition of Irish-medium schools, the future amalgamation of schools and the planning for provision of schools in urban and rural areas. Frank’s expertise with statistics, his consultative style, and his friendly disposition, combined with his outstanding skill as a chairman, lead to reports that had the consensus endorsement of all the partners in education.




His inclusive style, his willingness to listen to concerns from all partners, and his ability to create a pleasant environment for respectful dialogue facilitated the consensus outcomes.




Several schools benefitted from Frank’s chairmanship of their boards of management and he was a director of the Loreto Education Trust. He served on numerous interview boards for positions of senior educational management. His advice to the Department of Education was invaluable.




When Frank retired from the commission in 2009, he continued in a voluntary professional capacity on school boards of management and interview boards until his illness demanded his full retirement.




Frank will be remembered as a charismatic and friendly leader with an ability to relate positively with people, to address issues strategically, and to find solutions that were fair to everyone.




Frank died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family, on August 22nd. His funeral took place in St Colmcille’s Church in Knocklyon on Wednesday 26th. His children paid warm tribute and a former colleague, Tommy Flynn, outlined Frank’s great contribution to Irish education.




Frank is mourned by his wife Barbara, who cared for Frank with great care and dedication, his three children Michael, Catherine, and Conor, son-in-law Alan, daughters-in-law Mary and Kathrin, and six grandchildren.




Vincent Carmody on Listowel Connection writes;


In my 2012  book, 'Snapshots of an Irish Market Town', I gave a brief history behind the naming and the attempted re-naming of the streets (without an official plebiscite) of the town. There was another aspect of the streets which I did not mention, this was, of course, the location of the most popular street corners, where townspeople, mostly men, would gather, at evening time and on Sundays, to discuss or gossip on the major events, local, national or even international  events or happenings of the day. As it were, those days, youtube or facebook. 




 Each street had its own popular corners, those were usually called after whoever owned the particular corner house, with each corner having its own regulars. Those which I mention would have been the major corners, however I am sure a few other, more local corners, hubs !, could make a claim to fame.






Possibly the town's most famous corner was Walsh's corner, now McKennas', famous, as it was immortalised as the location by the late John B. Keane in several articles which he wrote on the subject of corner boys. This corner was also the meeting point used by the local G.A.A. when the Emmets club had an away fixture.




Further up the street, at the junction of William Street Upper and Charles Street, stood Dillon's Corner, this was afterwards known as The Sheriff's or Carmody's.  Up to the present day this corner is used as a meeting point for the players of the local Celtic Soccer Club as its assembly point prior to traveling to an away fixture.




 Church Street had three well known corners,  the major one been, Cotters Corner, at the junction of Church and Main Street, this is now Scullys, Further up the street, at the corner of what is now Colbert Street and Church Street, was The Bridewell corner, This was formally the location of the towns gaol or Bridewell, The street (Colbert Street) was also known as Bridewell Lane.




The corner further up Church Street with its junction to Courthouse Road, now Doran’s Pharmacy, was known as McGinleys Corner, more recent locals would have known it as Crowleys.






Down in the Square, at the junction of Main Street and the Square, stood Leahy's  Corner, while further up at the exit from the Square to the Bridge Road stood Collopy's Corner, the Collopy family ran a small hotel and the area was also known as The Custom Cap, as Lord Listowel's agents collected tolls at this point. The building is now owned by Kieran Moloney,




Even though Walsh's Corner was remembered in a literary sense by John B, Collopys' is the only street corner remembered in verse. This is found in a way of a pronouncement, by a well known local bellman, Mick Lane. A local distressed lady, having lost her cloth furry muff !, asked Lane to advertise it on Market day, Lane did so, ringing his bell and calling out his newly composed lines,




Lost, but not found,


From Collopys' corner up to the Pound,


A hole in the middle,


And furry all round'.




 There were other gathering places for locals, The Bridge, back in Convent Street was a popular rendezvous for natives of 'The Gleann', while people from the top of William Street gathered at the front of St Patrick's Hall. A popular meeting place of residents of the Boro (Charles Street) was, I believe, at the Courthouse gate.I also remember large groups gathering outside where Ned O'Sullivan shop was and also, outside what is now Gerard Leahy's Accountants in Main Street. This was formally the Fire Station and Urban Council Office.




  Some corners, due to their central location were strategic locations for the erection of cinema billboards, three  I remember quite clearly, were Leahy' Cotters' and Shanahans' corners.  




I am sure that I may have missed out on some, anyway for what it's worth, that's my tuppence worth !!




From Listowel Connection April 2020


I included this old advertisement last week. It prompted Mike Moriarty, whose family ran Moriarty's on William Street for years to tell us his memories of Duhallow and the Sheehan family.      My parents would have done business with Duhallow down through the years. I still have vivid memories of their rep, Tim Vaughan. The brand was very highly rated by our customers. Once a year we would visit the factory with our parents, This was at a point of the year when they would be selling "seconds". Now you would be hard pressed to find a flaw in these garments but the regular customers to our shop could not get enough of them.


                  There was a strong personal bond between the owner, John Sheehan, and the retailers. We would have been entertained in his house. Indeed, when my brother, Ned, died John Sheehan, although quite frail, made his way to Listowel to the funeral. Later, when John himself passed away I was in Kanturk to represent the family at the wake in his house.






Mike Moriarty.






P.S. "Hose" was/is simply socks. Eventually I guess it referred to knitwear generally.




Wuhan, now infamous as the origin of the coronavirus, was once an outpost for Catholic missionaries who founded Catholic hospitals in the city.


Purcells later transferred to Upper Charles Street,  Listowel, to the house where the clinic is  now and where the professor died in 1930, at the age of 82. He is buried in Listowel. His wife with her son and daughter later moved to Bridge Road, where another old Clounmacon neighbour gave them no less than two adjoining houses which he had built, at a modest rent. Rita lived in one of these houses. She recalled her father as a strict and accurate teacher who demanded the highest standards of application from his pupils and who would tolerate no pettishness. I also recall him in his  role as organist in St. Mary's Parish Church,  singing perhaps "The Shadow of the Cross" during Holy Week.





A Christmas Tradition from Listowel Connection Dec2019


Wren boys by Vincent Carmody


The wren-boy tradition on St. Stephen's Day is unfortunately, now nearly a thing of the past. Now, only a few small groups, or individuals carry on a tradition, the origins of which, are lost in the mists of time. In the time of the big batches of wren-boys, under the leadership of their King, these groups would traverse the country roads all day, and as evening and night approached, they would head for the larger urban areas to avail of the richer pickings in the public houses.




The North Kerry area was well catered for, with two large groupings in the Killocrim/Enismore and Dirha West areas, There was also a strong tradition in the Clounmacon side of the parish.


Some time after the wrens-day, it was the custom to organise a wren-dance. When the date was picked, a house offered to host the dance. The dances were all night affairs, with liberal quantities of food and drink provided.




In the early 1960's I spent three years in London,  during which, I worked in a pub, The Devonshire Arms, in Kensington, for a year or so. At this time, The Harvest Festival Committee, under Dr. Johnny Walsh, organised the wren-boy competitions in Listowel. Mr Johnny Muldoon, of London, had met Dr Johnny in Listowel and told him that he would organise two dances in his Dance Halls in London, provided that the Listowel committee send over three or four wren-boys to be in attendance. During their stay in London, Dan Maher, who managed the Devonshire, invited the Listowel contingent to the pub. On the particular evening I was serving in the lounge bar. (the pub was a gathering place for many film and TV actors who would have lived nearby). Suddenly Dr.Johnny threw the double door open, and in came the Listowel wren-boys, led by the leader, Jimmy Hennessy. Jimmy, wearing a colourful pants, had only some fur skin over his shoulders and chest and a headpiece with two horns. The others followed, faces blackened, and wearing similar outfits, all beating bodhrans. To say the least, those present did not have an idea what was happening.  To this day, I can hear the remark which one man, Sir Bruce Setan, (he, of Fabian of the Yard) at the counter said to the other, Christopher Trace (of Blue Peter fame), Blimey, they're coming in from the jungle. They will kill us all.


There was no one killed, and I think that Jimmy Hennessy enjoyed drinking pints of Guinness and pressing the flesh, surrounded by people he usually saw, only in the Plaza and Astor.






Kerry News Monday, September 19, 1938


At the Listowel District Court on Saturday, before Mr .C. S. Kenny, B.L., D.J..


This being the Annual Licensing Sessions and there being- no objections all publicans certificates were renewed.




Renewals of Wholesale Beer Dealers’ Licences were granted to Michael Dowling, Market Street, Listowel; Elizabeth Galvin, William Street, do.; George Gleasure, The Square, do., and Maurice O’Brien, Castle Inch, do.


Amedee Crowley, William Street, Listowel, was granted a renewal of General and Game Dealer’s Licences.






Agnes Macaulay, publican. The Square, Listowel, was granted an occasional licence for the Race Course Bar on the occasion of the Listowel Race Meeting.






Patk. Coffey, Tralee, was granted a temporary licence to hold dances at “The Astor” Cinema, Listowel, on the three nights of the forthcoming Listowel Race Meeting. The hours fixed are from 11 P.m. to 6 a.m. on each day.






Patk. Sheahan, Kilmore, Ballyduff was granted a licence to hold open air dances in Listowel on the three days of the Listowel Races from 12 noon to 8 p.m.






The following were granted renewals of licences for dance halls: — Trevor Chute, proprietor of ” The Plaza,” Listowel. John Collins, in respect of Walsh’s Ballroom, Listowel. Michael Cronin, Secretary of the Lixnaw Coursing Club. Maurice Heffernan, owner of a hall situate at Shronebeirne, Duagh. John Curtin, in respect of a hall at Tourhane. Batt Joy, for the Bedford Hall. Timothy Kelly for a hall at Lisroe, Duagh. Timothy Langan in respect of the Lyons Memorial Hall, Duagh. Ml. Regan for the “Six Crosses” Hall. Michael Scannell, proprietor of Scannell’s Hall Listowel. Jerh. Whelan, In respect of a hall at Crotta. John Woulfe, for the Dromolought Temperance Hall.




From Listowel Connection Sept 2019


The Convent bell, was operated by the pulling of an attached rope, this was located close  the Sacristy, which was at the back of the Sanctuary. The ringing of this  bell was mostly the preserve and duty of the Sacristan, Sr. Aloysius.




For one year, back in the mid 1950s, (c 1956), I was an Altar Server. My mother decreed that, as my father, his two brothers and my two older brothers had donned the surplice and the soutane of the Convent Chapel, then I would have to follow in their footsteps. So, when arrangements were made, I had to undergo a crash course in the old form of the Latin Mass.  For this I was coached by Tony Dillon, a senior altar server at the Convent. When I was deemed proficient I then had to go before Sr. Aloysius for the oral exam, The Latin, was learned off like a parrot without any knowledge of what it meant, even today 60 years on, much is still remembered, 'Introibo ad Altare Dei', Mae Culpa, Mae Maxima Culpa etc etc. Practical training followed before been allowed to doing any serving.




I enjoyed my year and a memory of it came back to me some years ago, on this occasion I had spoken to a group on Kathy Buckley's time in the White House, at a question and answers after the talk, I was asked if there was anyone in life that I had met and afterwards regretted that I had not spoken to them of their earlier life. I thought and said yes. An elderly couple used attend daily morning mass at the Convent Chapel in my time as a server, their names, Ned and Anne Gleeson, Anne was blind and she would link Ned as they went, they were daily communicants and many a morning I held the paten under their chins as they received, years later as I developed a love of local history I found out that Ned Gleeson was the man who delivered the Listowel Town Commissioners address of welcome to Charles Steward Parnell, on his famous visit to Listowel in 1891. In racing parlance, that would have been a story, straight from the horse's mouth.


From Listowel Connection

Fisheries Officer:  Darren Halpin


From:  Listowel, Co. Kerry


River Basin District (RBD):  Shannon River Basin District


How did you become a Fisheries Officer?


I was always fishing as a young fella. My uncle was in fisheries for over 30 years so I was always intrigued about what he did. He was a good influence in my life and I followed his footsteps right into my career.


What does an average day look like?


I go into the office in the morning, meet the Assistant Inspector and go through any emails that have come through. Then we plan out our day and what we’re going to do – it might be a spawning patrol, estuary patrol or coastal patrol.


What is your favourite part of the job?


There’s a lot to be said about getting up in the morning and wanting to go into work. You’re outdoors, out walking, you’re allowed work on your own initiative a lot of the time, too, which is great.




I’m interested in nature and wildlife. I love walking the banks of the rivers just to see the fish and wildlife along the river. There is such variety in the job – you could be doing boat patrols, estuary patrols, jet ski or kayak patrols. There is always something different.


What is the most challenging thing about the job?


Sometimes dealing with the public can be challenging. You could be dealing with a pollution incident on a farm – one farmer might be very accommodating and there is no issue and then another farmer could be argumentative or confrontational. You have to be able to handle that.


You do a lot of unsocial hours, too. But you get used to it.


What do you think are the most important skills needed for the job?


Communication skills are important. You are dealing with the public all the time. Every situation can be different – there are different ways in how you communicate and react to situations.


Teamwork is also a big thing, you are working as a team all the time so you need to be comfortable with that.


What would you say to someone considering a job in fisheries?


If you’re really into the outdoors and fishing, then it’s definitely the job for you. You will get as much out of it as you put in.


Source; Off the Scale Magazine online


Ballybunion Radio Station from Listowel Connection


Despite references in several publications, Ballybunion Station was not built by Marconi, and never operated commercially. The station was built by the Universal Radio Syndicate. Construction started in 1912, but the station had not obtained a commercial licence by the time World War 1 started. The company went into liquidation in 1915. A sister station at Newcastle New Brunswick, built to the same design as Ballybunion, suffered a similar fate. The Marconi Company bought the two stations from the liquidator in 1919, mainly to prevent their use by potential competitors. The stations were not idle in the interim, however, having been appropriated by the British Admiralty almost immediately upon outbreak of the Great War and kept in constant activity as key components of the allied communication system until the Armistice of November 1918.




The Marconi Company did not use the stations commercially, and it would appear that the Ballybunion station was only used briefly, in March 1919 for a successful telephony experiment with the Marconi station in Louisbourg, and for communication with the R34 airship in July 1919.




In March 1919, Marconi engineers H.J Round and W.T. Ditcham made the first east-west transatlantic broadcast of voice, using valve technology, from the Ballybunion station using the callsignYXQ. The first west to east voice transmission had already been achieved by Bell Systems engineers from the US Navy station at Arlington Virginia to the Eiffel Tower in October 1915.




The contents of Clifden and Ballybunion were sold for scrap to a Sheffield-based scrap merchant, Thos. W. Ward in 1925.


DONATIONS Listowel from Papers


Freemans Journal 1763-1924, Thursday, April 23, 1846; Page: 4


ABSENTEE Lord Lansdowne has offered the Kenmare relief committee a LOAN of 5001., to be REPAID at their convenience. Lord Listowel and Sir Edward Denny have given free donations of 3001. each to Listowel and Tralee.






1968 Old Boys Reunion St Michaels




Michael Moriarty sent me a few photos from the recent reunion of the 1968 St. Michael's class.




 "One of the photos is of our surviving teachers along with the present principal, Johnnie Mulvihill, all of whom were our guests at our dinner on Sat 8th Sept. We had a wonderful weekend. We met up for an informal “meet and greet” on the Friday evening (complete with name tags!). On Saturday morning we were in St. Michael’s where Johnnie Mulvihill gave us a guided tour of the college including the room where we attempted to sit in the same seats we had in our Leaving Cert year. We were also treated to a tasty reception in the college. In the afternoon We had a guided tour of the town led by Vincent Carmody which was very informative both to those of us who are residents of the town and the lads who are scattered throughout Ireland and beyond."


At the door of Listowel Garda Station Vincent Carmody, their historian guide took this photo during their Guided walk around Listowel;


 Front row: Seamus O’Donovan, Willie Keane, Jerry O’Flaherty, yours truly, my younger brother Tom, Paul O’Brien.


 Second row: Christy Sheehy, Michael Moran, Michael Crowley, Teddy Murphy.


Back row; Maurice O’Connell, Tadhg Leahy, Ned O’Sullivan, Liam Cummins, Pat Flaherty.




Mike Moriarty kindly gave me a bit of information on the Listowel connection of the old boys;




Seamus O’Donovan is a brother of Stephen O’Donovan, Upper William St.


 Willie Keane is a brother of Norita Killeen.


Jerry O’Flaherty grew up in the house that was incorporated into Allo’s when that restaurant expanded.


Paul O’Brien is a brother to Carmel Harnett, whose daughter runs the creche at the top of Cahirdown.


Michael Moran is from Billerough out near the six crosses.


Michael Crowley grew up in the house that is now Doran’s Pharmacy.


Teddy Murphy is a brother of Margaret Murphy who works with Dr. Daly.


Maurice O’Connell is a brother of Thomas the builder and is married to Alice Gleeson who grew up where Jumbo’s is now.


Tadhg Leahy is a brother of John (taxi man) and grew up in Leahy’s Drapery in Market St. Tadhg and myself married two sisters!


Liam Cummins is a native of Ballybunion. Came in by bus each morning but had to thumb home. Retired guard now living in Abbeyfeale.


Pat Flaherty, an only child, grew up in the Red Cottages in Cahirdown and comes home frequently from Dublin.


Christy Sheehy of Listowel


Ned O'Sullivan...no introduction necessary


    So there were plenty drapers’ sons in the class; Tadhg Leahy, Ned Sullivan and the two Moriartys.


Harrington Papers


M S 40,644 /3; Photocopies of items collected by Harrington relating to the period 1921-23 in Co. Kerry; includes report by Cornelius Dee on the killing by Crown forces of Patrick Dalton, Gerry Lyons and Patrick Walsh near Knockanure, Listowel, Co. Kerry on 12 May 1921, ms, 3 sheets; report on the Feale Bridge/ Brosna Road ambush, ts, 2 sheets, undated; transcript of letter from Liam Deasy recommending an end to hostilities, ts, 4 sheets, undated, [post 29 Jan. 1923]; 8 items, c. Jan.-Feb. 1923.