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Derrynane, loom band bracelets, Rory McIlroy and a mural in Athea

Tarbert goes west

When I arrived for my break in The Derrynane Hotel I was surprised to see so many Tarbert people in the hotel lobby. It transpired that Joan Murphy was with a Tarbert group on a historical tour of the peninsula when they called in to meet their old friends, David and Mary O'Connor in the Derrynane Hotel before going home.

The hotel is a lovely family run, family friendly retreat in an absolutely beautiful corner of this lovely county.

The view from my hotel room window. The seagull came every morning.

Food miles are kept to a minimum here. This is the hotel's herb garden. 
The O'Connors believe in supporting local producers and everywhere you looked in the hotel, there were local crafts on display and in use.


Derrynane Fairy Trail

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of the fairy folk and this summer, in the company of my lovely grandchildren, I have enjoyed many fairy related experiences. 

Derrynane is the best.

The woods are dense and the path surrounded by lush greenery. A great habitat for fairies.

The little fairy houses are beautifully constructed and often concealed in the trees. Looking for them was part of the fun.

This is the fairy restroom, a kind of public toilet for fairies who might find themselves short taken while out and about in the woods.

There is a ruined tower in the wood. Nearby a fairy architect has designed a replica for his fairy client.

I have given you just a taste of this magical place. The Fairy trail is in the woods beside Derrynane House. When you are finished visiting the fairies, you can have tea in the tearooms and visit Daniel O'Connell's chariot. Derrynane beach is also within walking distance so this is an ideal place for a day out with small ones. 


Loom Banding; Summer 2014's craze

Three year old Cora gets to grips with her loom.

 So many bands, so little time!

You can also make loom bracelets on your fingers.


Garvey's Super Valu are having a loom banding day on July 25th next with demonstrations and competitions galore.

By the way I could swear that I noticed that Rory McIlroy wore a band bracelet throughout the Open and his mother was wearing one on Sunday. Rory's Sunday one matched that fashion mistake of  a grey and pink get up that Nike kitted him out in.


Savannah McCarthy

(Photo from Listowel Celtic's  page)

Savannah and the Ladies U19 Football team will play their semi final in the European Championship on Thursday July 24 2014.


Homeward Bound

Photo: Athea Tidy Towns

Lovely study of  man and  horse. I love the way the absolute trust between man and beast is conveyed…reins loose and hand in pocket, both in working mode yet totally relaxed…perfect harmony  and understanding.

Some sights from a traditional Irish summer.

Stacks on the bog

As part of the annual Stack Clan Gathering which took place at the weekend, the troop took a trip to the bog where Seamus Stack and his family introduced the visitors to the joys of a day in the bog. Ger Greaney took these photos.


Fleadh na Mumhan

This photo from Celtic Steps gives a good impression of the huge crowd that thronged Killarney's streets at the weekend for the fabulous outdoor concerts that were part of Fleadh na Mumhan 2014.


Soccer Success

Photo; Gareth Maher

The Irish girls' under 19 team caused a huge upset in the European Championship by beating a fancied English team. Listowel Emmett's Savannah McCarthy scored one of Ireland's two goals.  The very talented seventeen year old is one of the big stars of women's football. Then to crown their victory against England they went on to beat Sweden last night. Savannagh scored one of Ireland's two goals. Roll on the semi-final

Another less well known Kerry connection to the team was told to me by Mike Lynch

"the manager of the Irish Ladies' Under 19 team, Dave Connell, went to Minard to learn Irish as a lad back in the 1970s.  He and his mates from the Cabra area enjoyed “The Gaeler” (as they called the Gaeltacht) a lot, particularly as Dublin were pretty good at Gaelic Football at the same time!"


Meanwhile in Muckross

On Muckross Traditional farms, the hay is saved in the old fashioned hay and is brought home to the barn on an old style hay float.


Old Post box

This old post box is at The Six Crosses


Lovely film of some of the highlights of Listowel Writers' Week 2014

A wedding in Bantry

A wedding with a difference


Bantry Bay

Last week I attended a family wedding in a beautiful corner of the country. The wedding was in Glengarriff Lodge and Louise and Benny, the happy couple, are two of the three directors of Vantastival Music Festival This is an early summer  music festival where families or others roll up in camper vans and tents to enjoy  a weekend of music and fun. Many of the guests at this wedding were music folk or festival helpers or both.

Some chose to camp in the grounds of the lodge.

 The wedding marquee was decorated with wild flowers.

Wild flowers in jam jars decorated the tables and tree branches hung with tea lights in jars provided the lighting.

The Lodge is not a hotel, merely a four bedroomed house that the family used as their base for the week of the wedding. The groom, Benny, cut down a tree in the nearby forest and made some of the seating for the day.

A river runs beside the lodge and the sounds of flowing water added to the musicality of the ceremony.

The ceremony was conducted in a clearing in the forest and the guests sat on blankets or on the terraced ground in front of the lodge.

Bunting and other adornments were hand made by friends of the couple. Louise and Benny are both artists.

The dress code was very flexible and accommodated all tastes and styles.

We ate a pig cooked on a spit and lots of salads and home made fare.

The marquee came all the way from Co. Louth. It is the Vantastivel marquee, but was also ideal for the wedding reception.

Cork Luxury Loos are just that; luxury, by portaloo standards anyway.

These 'flowers' were made from painted plastic bottles.


I am delighted to see Rory McIlroy back at No. 2 in the world rankings after a great weekend when he became the first European golfer to win three different majors.


Ard Cúram cycle and Prof. Kennelly

Ring of Kerry Cycle for Ard Cúram

A staggering number of 578 people cycled in The Ring of Kerry cycle to raise funds for the new
 day centre for Listowel's elderly.

Ard Cúram had a busy band of volunteers out preparing and distributing food and refreshments to the cyclists. A big credit is due to all involved.


The Early Days


Fulbright Scholar

This is Professor Edward Kennelly and he has a strong Listowel connection. His father is Jim Kennelly of The Cloth Hall, Upper William St.

The following is from the internet:

Lehman College congratulates Professor Edward Kennellyof the Department of Biological Sciences for his 2014-2015 Fulbright Scholarship to research modern Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Hong Kong. He is one of 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals selected for the prestigious honor.
Dr. Kennelly will work with colleagues at the Institute for Chinese Medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong as he performs fieldwork, in vitro activity testing, and chemical analysis in an effort to better understand how selected modern TCM formulas may exert their effects.
As traditional Chinese medicines continue to grow in importance outside of China, so does the need for a thorough understanding of how it is used and how it works. “TCM as practiced in Hong Kong offers a unique opportunity to study both a well-regulated system of complementary medicine, and one that is undergoing rapid modernization,” explains Prof. Kennelly.
Dr. Kennelly’s research focuses on the biological activity of certain compounds found in plants, also known as phytochemicals. He is specifically interested in phytochemicals with biological activity that may help to prevent or treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer.
In addition, Dr. Kennelly serves as the Executive Officer of the CUNY Graduate Center’s Program in Biochemistry.  He teaches and mentors students in the CUNY Ph.D. Subprogram in Plant Sciences and Biochemistry at the Graduate Center. His lab maintains close collaborations with Columbia University,  The New York Botanical Garden, Minzu University (Beijing).


Sign in Clonakilty, Co. Cork

Spotted by Ger Greaney

A visit to Wetlands, Tralee, and Athea, Co. Limerick

My grandchildren are the greatest joy in my life at the moment. Getting to know one's grandchildren is a blessing not granted to everyone and I am eternally grateful that it has been granted to me.

Last week, when Sean and Killian visited, we went to Wetlands, one of the Kingdom's great visitor attractions.

This yoke is called  a zorb. The boys had great fun rolling around in them on the lake.

After the zorbing the boys couldn't wait to take to the water again, this time in a pedalo.

They got a good drenching when they got stuck under one of the fountains….great fun.



 Despite their scepticism about the fairy folk, they loved the legend of the Athea giant and his unfortunate mother and they were willing to give the worry tree a try. As the Kerry man said, "I don't believe in fairies, but they're there."


We carried on to O'Halloran's Garden Centre  and the Blueberry Coffee Shop

My two boyeens are animal lovers and they particularly love these ones, who are so tame and friendly.

A feature of the village of Athea is the abundance of really great mural art. This agricultural themed one is my favourite


Siamsa Tíre

Siamsa, the early days


Moyvane Playground opening

 Your invitation: 'Official opening of the Moyvane Community Playground will be held this Sunday, 20th of July at 2pm. This will be a family fun day with Bouncy Castles, Face Painting and many more....Hot Food, refreshments and treats will be available on the day... Lots of fun for both young and old, so come along and enjoy the opening of a fantastic amenity to our local Village...We look forward to seeing you there. "


Gather by the Feale

Some Vikings arriving in Abbeyfeale ahead of this weekend's festival

Listowel Castle and some Listowel success stories

Listowel Castle…a great visitor attraction

Diane Nolan C.C. at her day job as tour guide in Listowel Castle.

 I visited the castle with my two young visitors. They enjoyed the tour and they learned so much from our guide, Mike Moriarty. They were particularly fascinated with the gory and disgusting details of toilet facilities and the siege in 1600 when,  18 soldiers  held out throughout the siege, only for 9 of them to lose their lives at the hands of the victor.

 This massive door is actually a double door with the planks on one side lying horizontally and on the other side vertically. The original door was hung as the walls were being built. This reproduction hangs a few inches off the floor.

Mike pointed out to us that there were three different types of window in the castle. There was no glass in the windows. They were glazed with animal intestines.

This is the primitive toilet. There was one on each floor. They were used as wardrobes as well since the ammonia in the urine was good for killing off fleas and other bugs. 

Sean is standing beside a cubby hole. These were in every room. They were used for standing a candle out of a draught or for putting any goods that you didn't want sitting on the floor.

Views in one direction over the river and in the other over the town are an added bonus of the tour.

For native and visitor, a trip to the castle is a must this summer. The tour takes about 45 minutes and it's free.


Round Ireland sailors

Father and son team, Derek and Conor Dillon took part in the Round Ireland yacht race and….they won their section!


Sinead O'Hanlon from Listowel is the current Miss Kerry


Listowel Cúl camp 2014

The kids are having a great time in Listowel Emmetts grounds.

World Cup Winner 2014: the listowel connection and Namir Karim of Iraq and Kerry

We knew him when he was only a lad

Mario Goetze who scored the winning goal for Germany in the 2014 World Cup final played in Listowel in 2008 in an under-16 international against Ireland.

You read about his Listowel connection right here first in April 2013.


From Iraq to Kerry with love

This is your blogger with my friend, Namir Karim. The photograph was taken in Craftshop na Méar in Church St. 
Namir has 2 businesses in town, Scribes and the craftshop and I can attest from personal experience that he is one of the kindest and most generous people you will meet in a day's walk.

This is Namir with his lovely daughter, Rosa, who manages the craftshop. Rosa is blessed with a beautiful singing voice and her parents' outgoing and cheerful personality. Namir also has a son, Peter who is destined to go places in this life. I'll write about him at a future date.

This is why Namir is in the news. On Ryan Tubridy's show on 2FM on the 10th July 2014 (you can listen back on the RTE Player) Namir told his fascinating story. With Namir and Ryan in the photo is Namir's wife, Kay.

Namir's story in brief

 There are very few Iraqi people in Ireland.  But Namir is well used to belonging to a minority.  He comes from one of the few Christian families in his native Iraq. As he told Ryan, Iraq has about 20 different religious sects in all. We are familiar with the majority Shia and their enemies, the Sunni, but there are several smaller faiths as well, including a very small scattering of Christians.

Namir was doing his compulsory military service in 1991 when all hell broke loose in his troubled country. Iraq, under Sadam Hussein, invaded Kuwait. The U.S. entered the war. Namir along with his fellow soldiers were given a week's leave in exchange for a donation of a pint of blood. Iraq was expecting massive amounts of casualties and so was stockpiling blood. During his week's leave, Namir fled with his family to the north of the country and to relative safety.

A year earlier Namir had met the love of his life, an Irish nurse called Kay Carr from Ballydonoghue. Namir's mother had suffered a stroke and was in hospital in Bagdad. The family heard of an Irish hospital/hospice  which had a very good reputation and they were anxious to move their very ill mother there. This hospital was staffed entirely by Irish nurses. While his mother was here, Kay and Namir met and fell in love. Namir described Kay as 'the most caring person in that hospital". The lovers had to be careful as any association between a soldier and a foreigner would be treated with suspicion.

To cut a long story short, Kay returned to Kerry. Her contract had ended and she was free to leave. She and Namir vowed to meet again when the war was over.

When the war ended in September 1991, Kay could not believe her ears when she got a phone call from a very relieved and now free Namir.  Kay had heard nothing from him since she left Iraq and she feared that he was killed in conflict. She was overwhelmed with relief to hear that he was alive and still in love with her and willing to come to Ireland and make a new life with  her.

Namir remembers that the film Not Without my Daughter was showing in all the cinemas at the time. This did not paint the best picture of an Iraqi son in law.

The Carrs however welcomed Namir into their family. Kay and Namir married and started a family of their own.  Namir's first business was a a shop at Fealesbridge. Since then he has had a succession of different businesses. Now he enjoys his time in Scribes and Craftshop na Méar. He is very much part of the Kerry community now.

Namir's Iraqi family were into different kinds of craft and Namir, when he takes a break from the café, loves to make candles, paint pictures and to try his hand at new crafts. He is in his element in Craftshop na Méar or chatting to the Knitwits knitting group in Scribes. His beloved late mother was a knitter.

Namir Karim is a lovely man with a great back story. Ryan Tubridy said he thought that there was the makings of a book or a film in the story.
What about George Clooney to play Namir?


Listowel Heritage Trail

These signs are popping up around town. They are signposts for Listowel's Heritage Trail, a walking tour of the town with stops at various landmarks. You can collect your map in The Seanchaí and off you go. Number 4 is St. Michael's Graveyard.


The Boomtown Rats in the 1970s  (Eric Luke)


An Utterly confusing road sign

Kenmare  (Photo; Irish Central)


Shawnee visitors and a Mennonite choir in town

Visitors to Listowel from our twin town, Shawnee in the U.S. were  in Christy's on Wenesday night last to wash down the hearty meal of bacon and cabbage that Seán Moriarty cooked for them. Also in my picture, on behalf of the host town, are Damien Stack of Tura Lura Tours and Norella OFlynn.

Joan Walsh was accompanied by her sister when she came out to greet the visitors. Joan's late husband, Tom, was the Mayor of Listowel when the first Listowel group travelled to visit Shawnee.

These people are not from Shawnee. They were in Christy's on Wednesday as well, having a good time.

Irish musicians provided the entertainment, in competition with the second semi final of The World Cup. The American visitors had no interest in the soccer. They loved the music.

The distinguished looking gentleman in this group is the mayor of Shawnee, Jeff Meyers.


Meanwhile, across the square in St. John's…...

This is an anabaptist choir, also from the U.S. They were visiting Listowel as guests of The Christian Fellowship of Listowel. There were 50 visitors in all staying with local families. They gave a heavenly concert of well known and some unknown (to me anyway) songs with a religious flavor. They used only the human voice, no instruments other than a tuning fork. They produced some beautiful harmonies and delighted their large and appreciative audience.

This is a Facebook picture of the group before their departure.


Rathea 1950

Tom Fitzgerald sent me the names.



Bettie Moloney R.I.P.

Last week we bade farewell to one of the town's old stock. A familiar and stylish figure behind the counter in Robert Moloney's in The Square or walking the streets of Listowel, Bettie was an affable and gentle lady. She will be missed.


As a postscript to the Munster hurling final here is Gary MacMahon's lovely poem. I'm sorry about the quality of the photo.


Good news for all Irish people not living in Ireland

You now have a minister in The Dáil to represent you.

And he's from KERRY!

Jimmy Deenihan

Athea's Fairy Mountain and Blueberry Coffee Shop and Home Bakery

"Up the airy mountain
And down the rushy glen
We dare not go a hunting
For fear of little men."

I brought my three fairy loving granddaughters to Athea to visit Sliabh na Síóige.

Tús maith, leath na hoibre. Here the best start is to read the story of the Athea giant. He was carrying the body of his dead mother to the graveyard which sits on top of Sliabh na Sí and on the way she fell apart. Her head fell off, her back bone fell to the ground and she disintegrated. (Maybe our giant left her a bit too long before he undertook to bury her.) The fairy, Lú, consoled him and helped him out in his distress.
Only slightly frightened by this gruesome tale, we headed up the mountain.

We searched and searched and eventually concluded that the bugs in the bug hotel were all asleep or hiding.

The girls left their worries with Cróga, the worry fairy.

Worry free, we headed to the next stop on our adventure ; the local highly recommended coffee shop.

Blueberry was not busy on the day of our visit but it will be once the secret gets out.

On every table there is some food related reading material for you to enjoy while you sip. This makes it a perfect place to go on your own or with children who are happy to play in the nearby playground. The place is very very child friendly and adult friendly as well.

Here is an extract from the book I chose, called A Cup of Tea and A Nice Sit Down. If ever there was a right book in the right place this is it. I could have sat perusing it for another hour. But this place has other delights which beckoned.

The Café is located in O'Halloran's Garden Centre and pet farm;  definitely one of this area's best kept secrets.
How many Listowel people have visited here?
I hope many more will after they read this.
 It's the perfect outing for a good value afternoon's entertainment for the visiting grandkids. I'll be back this week with my two fairy sceptic grandsons. Even if they scoff at an Slua Sí, I know they will love the animals and the food here.

This donkey was the firm favourite. We will be back to see him again soon.

Colouring, a chalk board and a well equipped playground kept the children amused while we dined. I would highly recommend this visitor attraction to all age groups. You might come away with a plant for your garden or a delicious cake for that surprise visitor.

Visit their Facebook page Here


Eyre Square Galway 1945   (photo LIFE magazine)

Dingle, Listowel and a U.S. connection

Fungi in the morning

Dingle as Fungi sees it at sunrise

These stunning photographs were taken by the good people who photograph Fungie every day for his very own website:  w


Kerry locals for a season

I met this lovely U.S. family in Craftshop na Méar. They have to choose every summer between Florida and Moyvane and again this year they chose to be in Moyvane. They have come to North Kerry so often that they have added Namir Karim of Scribes to the list of their many Irish  friends.


A great photo of a young Bono from Eric Luke's old negatives.


Listowel Cinema a.k.a. Listowel Movieplex

The recently extended cinema looks great after its facelift.


The Sive Walk and John Paul 11 Graveyard

John Paul 2 cemetery is always beautifully maintained and is now looking particularly well after the recent annual graveyard mass.


Jim MacSweeney took some great photos on the Ring of Kerry Cycle. Here are a few local ones from his collection of 800

Elaine McGuire

Someone from Finuge

Noel Hilliard

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