Friday, 22 May 2015

Listowel, Old GAA Brochure and Writers Week 2015

Ireland's most famous dolphin

photo:  Fungie Forever


Public Consultation

Last week, the Heritage section of Kerry County Council conducted a drop in consultative event in The Seanchaí . We got to tell the consultants what was good and bad about our town and we got to tell them of any opportunities we saw for improving our town for residents and tourists. I was there with my camera. Here are a few snaps I took on May 13.


Ads and images from 1960 GAA Brochure


Vincent Carmody and Jim Cogan R.I.P.

Vincent Carmody knows the history of Listowel and its people better than anyone.  This year, his morning walks during Writers' Week promise to be the best yet. If you are in town, join Vincent and his  followers. You won't regret it!


Date for the diary

photo; Writers' Week

On May 31 at 12.00 in St. John's

Poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice & musician Danny O’Mahony share a passion for the traditional music, song & poetry of their native North Kerry. Fitzmaurice and O’Mahony collaborate in this unique project to bring the audience on a journey, celebrating local masters and their legacy of poetry, music & song.


For The Young Ones

Judi Curtin will be in Listowel Community Centre on  Friday May 29th.with her Big Book  Quiz.

You don't need too much book knowledge for this one. It's a team effort for teams of 4 people.The atmosphere will be fun and relaxed. The prizes are super. Easons is sponsoring this event so goody bags of books etc could be on offer.
Suitable for book loving or not so book loving young people aged 9 to 12.


Coming up


Ladies Day

The hardest working lady in Listowel for the past few months has been Eilish O'Neill. She has organized a great event for Sunday May 31st. So ladies get your glad rags on. It promises to be a good one!



I posted these two photos on Wednesday to illustrate my great story about Liam Healy. I had asked Cathy for a photo of her father as a boy. She sent me these without caption, I presumed (wrongly) that the boys with Liam were his brothers. They weren't. They were his classmates and the photo was cropped from a school photo.

Apologies to the boys, now men involved. Liam is the cute little fellow on the right and Tony Stack is next to him

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Fungi, Liam Healy and progress at the Plaza

That dolphin again!  photo Fungie Forever


Listowel Writers' Week opens on May 27 2015

Olive Stack's image provides  the lovely cover for their year's programme.


Kitesurfing in Ballybunion Last Week

Photo:Ballybunion Prints


Liam Healy Reminisces

Liam and his daughter, Cathy

After school, Liam went to work for Duggans, cutting turf. He earned 15 shillings a week delivering milk for Jim Walshe. He worked from 6a.m. to 6p.m. and he was only 15 years old.

One day on his way home from the bog he met Eddie Lawlor who asked him if he would like a “proper job”. His father consented to him going to work for Eddie Lawlor. Liam spent eight happy years delivering minerals around North Kerry.

But the grass is always greener on the far side of the hill. Liam saw men his age returning from England where they were working. They had fancy clothes and fast cars and he thought that he would like a piece of that action. He took the boat, only to discover that the fancy clothes were bought on the never never and the cars were rented. In fact his life at home was much better than most of the emigrants (AND there was a sweetheart in the picture by now). Liam only stayed in England for 18 months and this is the only time he has ever lived away from his beloved Listowel. He returned to Eddie Lawlor and a new job as a salesman.

His late wife Joan is the love of Liams life. They knew each other all their lives and Joan carried a torch for the young Liam for a while before he first asked her to dance in Walshes ballroom. Liam had another little job there. He used to work in the cloakroom. There was an area behind the dance floor, behind the crowd of onlookers and close to the cloakroom and there Liam and Joan put on a display of jiving. Liam walked her home that night and they fell in love. They had a sort of long distance relationship for a while because Liam emigrated for a time and Joan emigrated for a spell as well but they kept the spark alive and eventually married and had 4 children.

An early photo of Listowel Racecourse
By now Liam was interested in photography and he had never got that early love of photographs of racehorses out of his system. He had a half day from work on a Thursday and he spent every Thursday and Sunday photographing horses at Race meetings & Point to Points. Liam returned home every night, even if the race meeting was as far away as Dundalk. All this travelling and working full time as well was taking its toll on Liam. He asked Joan if she would mind if he took up the photography full time. He remembers Joans answer, “The first day the children are hungry Ill tell you.” Joan joined Liam in the business. Liam took the photos and Joan ran the office. Pat, his eldest son was displaying a good eye for a good shot and Liam Jnr was also taking an interest in photography.

Liam and his friend, Pat Walshe, reading my book shortly after its launch.
Everywhere he goes, Liam makes friends. He is very grateful to one of these friends, Max Fleming from Tramore. He had the power to allow Liam on to the race track to take his pictures. That was the beginning of the business that today is Healy Racing.

In a horrible instance of history repeating itself, Liam lost his beloved Joan and was left with 4 youngsters to rear. She had breast cancer for 3 years but it was a clot that killed her in the end, on November 27th. 1987,  three days after her birthday which she spent at home with Liam and her family. Liam still misses her but he takes consolation in his family of whom he is so proud.  He now has 6 grandchildren Kevin, Siún, Jack, Ruth, Adam and Sean who also show great interest and love for what Healy Racing does.

Liam’s two sons were keenly interested in the racing photography and came into the business with their dad. He sent the two girls to college and they both did well and got good jobs. Such is their love and admiration for their dad and their pleasure to be in his company that they have all chosen to work for Healy Racing.

In Liams words, Pat is the face of the business, Liam is the engine, Cathy is the voice and Lisa the mother figure in the background keeping the show on the road. There is  now a third generation of Healys with an interest in photography coming along.

It was my great pleasure to talk to Liam and to hear  his memories. I am very grateful to his lovely daughter, Cathy for arranging it all and for supplying some photos. He is a man I greatly admire, one of Listowels underrated great men.

I searched around for one word to describe Liam. I toyed with honest, upright, kind, humble, talented, entertaining, generous etc. etc. I finally chose loyal as the word to best describe him.
Liam is loyal to his roots.
He is fiercely loyal to his family who plainly adore him.
He is loyal to his hometown, Listowel.
He is loyal to his friends.
But above all Liam is loyal to himself and true to the values he learned in his childhood home. He has passed these same values of generosity, kindness and neighbourliness, hard work and humility on to his children who have all done him proud.

Liam Healy is living proof of a fact I have always maintained that there are qualities which will take you far in life which are a more valuable asset than anything that can be measured in Leaving Cert. points.


Progress at The Plaza

The site is cleared and building is due to commence at the back of The Plaza


Pastoral Scene

Cattle in a field outside Killarney last week


Thinking Ahead

What have you planned for the young ones for the June Weekend?

Bring them into town on Saturday May 30th at 12.30. Have them dressed as any character they like. The  Elsa costume will be getting an outing on Sunday for the Frozen singalong but it will be fine for this one too. Princesses, pirates, vampires etc.etc. all welcome. Prizes galore.

Make This year's Childrens Festival at Writers' Week the best ever.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Liam Healy , Knocknagoshel and some local people I met

Another great Fungi and friend photo from Fungie Forever


Healyracing's Father Figure

I took these photos of Liam Healy on Listowel Racecourse, a place where he is truly at home. For years I watched from my perch beside Jim on the wheelchair stand as Liam went about his work. Liam always had a kind word and a bit of banter.  He never had a tip though!

I took this photo of a chance meeting on the street in October 2009. Jim loved to run into Liam when we were out and about. He was always good for a chat.

Now back to my story of Liam's early life and his awakening interest in photographing horses and horse racing.

Liam is a self confessed hoarder. As a young boy, as well as the photos he got from the newspapers Roddy O'Sullivan in Moriarty's Betting Shop gave him, he used to go to the “quarry hole” in search of old papers so as to cut horse pictures from them. The quarry hole was the local name for the town dump, now The Garden of Europe. Paddy Kennelly, Paul Kennelly and Paddy Hartnett were the men on the dump horse and cart in those days. When they saw him rummaging around in the refuse, they volunteered to keep him any newspapers they came across.

Cutting out photos of horses, sorting them and keeping them became Liams hobby. All very innocent but we must remember that Liam lived in a 2 bedroomed house with no spare storage for his hoard of papers.  Again his Convent Street neighbours came to the rescue. Bridge Joy, a neighbour and a widow gave Liam the use of her shed to store his stash. He was now spending precious hours in there cutting and sorting his pictures. His father became concerned that he was doing this when he should be studying. Liam had loads of ability for schoolwork but he loved the horse pictures more than lessons.

His father took the drastic step of confiscating and burning all of Liams treasured cuttings. Such is the mature Liams generosity of spirit, that he holds no grudge against his father for this act . His father was trying to rear his family as best he could in difficult circumstances. He believed, as many parents do, that education holds the key to unlock a better life for his children and he did what parents did in those days. He got rid of the distraction. Liam understands fully.

Liam has happy memories of school. His favourite teacher was Frank Sheehy who he can quote and mimic with the accuracy of a sharp memory.  Mr. Sheehys nickname was The Bulldog. He remembers “Tháinig long ó Valparaiso….” The first poem he learned in Frank Sheehys class. He remembers the ash plant which was used more as a threat than a punishment. Bryan MacMahon, who Liam describes as “a great encourager” also taught Liam and he remembers marveling at the mathematical abilities of one of his classmates, Patsy Browne who still lives in Ballygologue Park.

Liams father, Paddy Healy worked for Kantoher/Castlemahon Creameries. He went around the country buying eggs for them. After that he had his own business selling goods. Paddy was a good father and he tried to instill good manners and a good attitude to work in all his children. Liam remembers that he always put his left shoe on first. When Liam asked why he replied that life is a dance and a man always leads with his left foot.

Paddy remarried, Babe Lynch from Cnoc an Óir. They had  3 daughters, Geraldine, Elizabeth and Catherine and they became one happy family. His father bought Number 9 and extended their house. Babes sisters because aunties to the Healy children and the two families blended happily.

As his family were growing up and could help with the business, Paddy took on an agency for newspapers. Liam remembers going to the station to meet the 6 oclock train. Then he ran down William Street and all through the town to the Bridge Road delivering the papers as he went. The newspaper then cost one anda half or two pence. People in town usually ran up a tab and paid at the end of the week. When he had delivered to the Bridge Road, Liam came back and collected another bundle and sold these door to door in O’Connell’s Avenue.

Liam liked this run better because the people paid for the paper as they got it and so they came out to chat.  ( Even back then Liam loved to chat).

His father had another string to his enterprise bow.  He bought fish from Finbar MacAulliffe and sold them on Thursdays and Fridays. Before Vatican 2 changed the rule that forbad the eating of meat on Fridays, everyone ate fish so there was an opening for someone to bring fish to the outlying areas. People did not come to town everyday but they did come to the creamery. So, on Thursdays and Fridays Liam used to stand at Lisselton creamery and sell fish to the farmers. He also sold fish in Ballylongford and on fair days in Athea. All of this enterprise meant that Liam was frequently absent from school. Despite this, Bryan MacMahon felt that he was good enough for St. Michaels and encouraged his dad to send him there. Liams brother Pat was already in secondary school. There was a fee of £12 per annum in those days plus books and other school related expenses. Liam says that his dad just couldnt afford it. Liam stayed on in national school as one of the last 2 boys in 7th class in the old boys national school. 7th class was for those who were not going on to secondary school but were too young to leave school altogether.

(continued tomorrow)


Arise Knocknsgoshel

Recently I had occasion to visit the picturesque North Kerry village of Knocknagoshel.

Main St.

Knocknagoshel post office

the parish pump

an older parish pump

old milk churns

the school

Duagh Sports Centre

very impressive


Hardy Fundraisers

Anna and Cáit braved the elements to collect for The Irish Heart Foundation. Liz Dunne stopped to buy a badge.


Snapped in Bank of Ireland

Joe Murphy was doing his banking as I was hanging out with my camera.


Are you a cyclist who loves a card game?

If you answered yes to the above question here is Saturday next, May 23 2015 sorted for you.

"A great fun event - cycling 65KM purely at leisure through the rolling North Kerry countryside - collecting playing cards from 5 locations - returning to McCarthys Bar in Finuge for BBQ, refreshments and good banter and more importantly handing in those cards - the one with the best poker hand wins. A day of fun to raise money for MS Ireland and great preparation for the Ring of Kerry, The RoNK (Ring of North Kerry) - perfect for beginners/ leisure cyclists."

Make your way to McCarthy's Bar, Finuge at 3.00p.m. and away you go.