This blog is a personal take on Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am writing for anyone anywhere with a Listowel connection but especially for sons and daughters of Listowel who find themselves far from home. Contact me at

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Roses by the Feale, Grandchildren and a Famine Potato experiment in North Cork

On the banks of the Feale


My Boyeens are all Grown Up

That was then.

This is now.

Blink and they’ve grown.


Jam on it

God be with the days. Once upon a time you could buy jam in one pound and 2 pound pots.



All over town there is upgrade work going on on shops and roofs and facades.


The Lumper; The Famine Potato

Raymond O’Sullivan decided to do a little experiment this year and he has kept us, his Facebook friends, posted.

He planted a crop of Lumper potatoes. This variety is no longer popular as it has little or no resistance to blight.

Here is Raymond’s August update.

My experiment with Lumpers, the Famine potato, is progressing. Planted at the beginning of May (cuckoo spuds), they flowered in June, a month earlier than I expected, and, though I sprayed them twice with Burgundy Mix the haulms began to die back at the end of July, only three months from the planting date. I pulled a few stalks today and above is the result. A good crop, the eyes are deep, not as big or as ‘lumpy’ as one might think, with a couple of exceptions, but they are probably premature.

This is only mid-August, and they were still in the ground when the blight first appeared at the end of September in 1845.

If the result confirms the hypotheses, you’ve made a discovery. If the result is contrary to the hypotheses, you’ve made a discovery

{Burgundy Mix is a Bluestone and Washing soda mix discovered in 1860 as a protection against Blight. They had no spray in Famine Times.}


Outdoor Dining, Knitting, a Mural and a Limerick

Bridge to Listowel Racecourse


Outdoor Living in Summer 2021

Flanagans of Church Street with a well co ordinated outdoor on the pavement seating area.


Some Premises getting an upgrade


Knitting is having a Moment

An English newspaper caption writer came up with the best one for this. Olympics 2020 when Tom Daley came out…as a knitter.

He may have won a gold medal for diving but he has won even more plaudits for his knitting. While waiting between dives, Daley chilled out by knitting himself a cardigan.

We were ahead of the curve in our family. Here I am eleven years ago teaching Killian, aged 4, to knit.


A Laugh

There once was a man of Bengal

Who was asked to a fancy dress ball;

He murmured “I’ll risk it-

And go as a biscuit.”

But a dog ate him up in the hall.



Update on the Mural

The latest mural in the Listowel Characters project is on Mill Lane. The quotation is from Maurice Walsh. The final piece of the quotation seems to me to say that Kerry is a small place too.

I returned later yesterday and this is how it looks now.

The artists, Mack Signs, were putting the finishing touches to the letters.

“and you can put your finger on the village and the river, if you are able.” I’m still puzzling it out.

You can see the remains of the doodle grid. That will all be covered up in the end.

This gives you an idea of the scale of the mural in situ.


A Charity Shop, A Holy Well and a Swim

Peacock Butterfly by Paddy Fitzgibbon


Roses by the Feale in July 2021


Volunteering in the VdeP shop

All the Covid regulations are observed in Vincents in Upper William Street. Abina and Sarah were in charge when I visited on Friday July 23 2021.

You should call in soon. They will be selling off all their summer stock in their much anticipated sale.


The Blessed Well in Kilshenane

(From the Schools’ Folklore Collection)

Saint Senan was a great Kilshinane Saint. His well is situated in Kilshinane in John O’Connor’s farm. Many people pray for sore eyes or for any sore they have. If they are to be cured they will see a white trout in the water.
It is thought to be a very good well as people come from far and near to pray rounds there. We may pray rounds there any day, but there are four special days for doing so – Saint Senan’s day, the 8th March, the Saturday before the 1st of May the Saturday before Saint John’s day, and the 24th June, and the Saturday before Michalemas the 29th of September. Saint Senan’s well is surrounded by an iron railing.
There are three statues over the well placed there by one who may yet be canonized – the late Miss O’Connell, Principal teacher of Dromclough Girls’ National School. One of these is of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the Sacred Heart, another of the Mary of the Gael Saint Brigid. It is thought that the well sprang up suddenly one one night because of Saint Senan’s prayer.
In olden times a pattern as held there on Saint Senan’s day 8th of March Whenever there is a funeral at Kilshinane cemetry crowds of strangers go to see the well. It is thought that long ago some person took home some of the well-water to boil as an experiment but if it was down since it would not warm not alone to boil.
When people go there they bring home a bottle of the well water with hem, some people leave money there to repair the well. Miss O’Connell R.I.P. The Principal Teacher of Dromclough Girls national school get it repaired first, and got the statues over the well and the iron railing round it also.
Collector Eileen Hannon- Age 14
Informant- Mrs Bridget Flaherty- Relation grandparent- Age 74- Address, Mountcoal, Co. Kerry


My Girleens are Growing Up

My three lovely granddaughters love the water. Here they are after their evening swim in The Dock in Kinsale.


Tralee Mercy Sisters, Records Destroyed and A Trip Home

It’s still safe to visit us.


Mercy Sisters First Tralee House


On this Day; June 30 1922

June 30 1922 was the day that future genealogists’ and family researchers’ hearts were well and truly broken. On that fateful day, the biggest explosion ever seen in Dublin destroyed records of Irish administrations from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Earlier damage had already been done during World War 1 with the pulping of census returns for 1861, ’71, ’81 and “ 91.

What was lost in the explosion of 1922?

Census returns for the years 1921, 31, 41, and ’51

One thousand Church of Ireland parish registers

Wills and deeds and land transactions

Court Reports

Military Records

Was this explosion an accident?

Sadly, no.

The public records office was housed in The Four Courts in Dublin. 

On April 14 1922, anti treaty rebels under Rory O’Connor occupied this building.

Pro treaty forces of the Free State government under Michael Collins attempted to dislodge them.

On June 30th the rebels in The Four Courts, now under Ernie O’Malley surrendered.

The arsenal of ammunition and explosives the rebels had stored in The Four Courts was torched and thus was lost a millennium of official Irish records.


Going Home

I made a trip to Ballincollig recently to catch up with some of my family. Clíona and Seán were on their way home to Kildare from a wedding in Kinsale. Their happy event is due in early August and I’ve hardly seen them for the whole 9 months.

The boys are boyeens no longer. They are as tall as their dad now.

On my way home to The Kingdom I called to my family in Kanturk.

This time there were 3 horses to greet me in the field near the house.

This is Woody, the newest of the three. The two well established ones were bullying him out of my picture.

This noble looking fellow was the boss on this occasion.

Just to spite them I’m putting a picture of Woody all by himself in all his chestnut beauty.


Ireland’s Love Affair with the Kennedys

Of all the American presidents, Ireland held a special place is the heart of JFK and that love was reciprocated. The combination of his youthful good looks, his superb speechmaking and declared love for this “green and misty isle” of his ancestors on both sides, meant that on his visit here shortly before his death, he was feted like a film star and world leader rolled into one. The photograph printed in a Sunday newspaper of President and Mrs. Kennedy was displayed in many Irish homes side by side with The Pope.

So I was not surprised when a local man shared with me an album of photographs and newspaper cuttings that an Irish American nun had put together for him.

The album included autographed photographs of JFK and Jackie.


Lovely changes in The Small Square

The green awning and wind shelter at Lynch’s are an enhancement to this corner.


Handball in the 1950s and a Trip Home

Schiller in Listowel’s Garden of Europe in June 2021


New Path

Upgrading the entrance to Childers’ Park Listowel in summer 2021
How it looks today


Listowel Handball Alley, June 2021

Handballers Scattered

Junior Griffin remembers that after the war Listowel was hit by mass emigration. Some of those who emigrated were handballers. The 1950s , however saw a resurgence in the fortunes of Listowel Handball Club.

Along with the experience John Joe Kenny, Dick O’Connor, Kevin Sheehy, Jackie Fitzgibbon, Tim Shanahan and Mick Glynn, new enthusiasts such as Dermot Buckley, Tom Enright, Kieran O’Shea, Gene and JJ O’Connell, Junior and Bert Griffin, Thomas Hassett, Johnny O’Halloran, John Maher, Aidan Keane, Richard (Dick) Galvin, Joe Moriarty, Danny Enright, Darby Broderick, Tony O’Connor, Frankie White and John Keane began taking the game seriously

Tournaments were again commenced and an approach was made to Frank Sheehy, chairman ion the Gaelic Weekly newspaper to ask him to sponsor the singles tournament.

The first final of the Gaelic Weekly Shield tournament was an all family affair with Junior Griffin overcoming his brother, Bert in a close final.

Junior receiving his trophy from Fank Sheehy
in May 2021 Junior showed me his framed photo of Frank Sheehy presenting him with his trophy.

At the same tournament when Junior took the senior title, Breandán ÓMurchú took the junior one. I think it says something about both these men and their great love of handball they keep framed photographs of their most memorable moments in their houses.

Junior remembers that one of the main features in those years of the late fifties and early sixties was the immense interest in handball shown by the students in St. Michael’s College. Boys like Brendan O’Shea, Michael Enright, the four Murphy brothers, Batty Hannon, Eamon O’Brien, Tony Dillon, John Fitzgerald, Cyril Kelly, Seamus Browne, Bernie Murphy, Chas Chute, Brendan and Denis Quille, Buddy Scanlon, Jimmy and Michael O’Sullivan and Kieran Hayes brought a wonderful freshness to the club.


Finally a Trip Home

I’ve missed being able to visit my childhood home during lockdown. However when I visited recently, it was a bit of a Marie Celeste experience. In the fine weather everyone is in the fields.

Sunny day in the old homestead
An old milk churn is repurposed as a plant pot.
deserted yard on a sunny day in May 2021
Even the stables were empty

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