31 August 2009

Listowel, Co. Kerry

Listowel, Co. Kerry
Photographs and information from M.McEnery, August 2009

Within last year, Listowel Town Council has become responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the alley, which is located at the south-eastern side of the town adjacent to Listowel Bridge on the N-69 Listowel to Tralee road.

The Alley

Standing on the dead line
I face the pockmarked wall,
it hides the bridge above me
fond memories I recall,
the side walls mark the theatre,
the concrete floor the stage,
four players take their places
the finest of their age.
The cocker’s hopped and hardened,
Junior’s feet fix solidly
he contemplates the angle
of the first trajectory.
His swinging arm begins the game
the ball’s hit low and fast,
a signal to John Joe and Tom
this will be no soft match.
Dermot standing by his side
sees his neighbour win first toss,
a simple game to twenty one
no ace is easily lost.
I watch them from the grassy mound
behind the dead ball line
 hear the cries of older boys
cheer each one at a time
and in the space of half an hour
the ball has weaved its way
through every nook and cranny
in this battlefield of play,
the long ball to the back line
the close one to the wall
the deadly butted killer
seemed to hit no wall at all
and in end the four of them
take leave just as they came
and beckon us to take our place
and learn more of their game,
the game that gave such pleasure
the game I got to know.
when I was young and full of fun
in the Alley years ago.

by John Fitzgerald

Source: http://listowelconnection.blogspot.com Many thanks to Mary Cogan and John Fitzgerald

Memories of the ball alley in Listowel

When school was o’re, our hearts would soar,
At meals we would not dally,
With homework done, to seek our fun,
We’d wander to the alley.

To toss that ball against the wall,
And combat every rally,
With pouring sweat we’d play‘til death
Those games within our alley.

With left hand or right we’d try our might,
Until the grand finale,
But win or lose, how we’d enthuse
On those games played down the alley

Each game was fought, the prize was sought,
The marker counts his tally,
The match was won at twenty one,
‘Twas victory in the alley

But time moves on, the youth now gone,
No more do young men sally
To toss that ball against the wall
Of my beloved alley

Yet, memories hold of comrades old
Until the last reveille,
Of times gone by which brought such joy
Those days spent down the alley

by Junior Griffin

Source: http://listowelconnection.blogspot.com Many thanks to Mary Cogan and Junior Griffin

    "There was a time when we literally had nothing in our pockets and handball was our main sporting outlet as it really cost us nothing. In fact as young boys during the war years some of us in the Bridge Road made a bit of money out of the handball.

    On a Sunday morning the alley was packed with many young, and not too young, men awaiting their game of handball.  No emigration.  A few of us budding entrepreneurs from the Bridge Road would have picked up one old penny somewhere, when there was 240 pence to the old pound, and we would make our way to a lovely old lady named Mrs Dowling about a mile outside Listowel and buy apples from her and then go back to the alley and sell our apples. Our aim was to make a profit of 3 old pence, 2 pence for the Sunday matinee and the one penny left would buy us 2 squares of the old Cleeves slab toffee. Our week was made, we wanted nothing else. The two squares were joined together and we would break them by hitting them against the metal leg of our seat in the local cinema. More than likely a square, or maybe both, would hit the ground, but the word hygiene was not on our dictionary in those days. What a lovely, carefree life it was.

    The end of the war changed all that, as most of the hand ball young men of that era emigrated to different corners of the world. As I got older I played a lot of handball myself and gave many years as secretary of the local club.. The game of handball meant a lot to us in those days and I honestly believe that as young boys and then as young men it kept us out of harm’s way as the game of handball was such a brilliant game to play". Junior Griffin, May 2020


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