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

Category: Schools Page 2 of 3

A Prayerful Year in North Kerry

Glendalough, Co Wicklow

Photo Éamon ÓMurchú


A Photo of a Photo in The Advertiser


Laborare est Orare


By John McGrath

Walking with dolphins on a summer’s day

High over Ballybunion,

Talking with ravens in Ballyegan bog,

December morning after rain,

Watching a tumbling star

In a blue-black January sky,

The moon ringed with gold

Over Cnoc An Óir,

Listening to a choir of thrushes

Or the vespers of a thousand starlings,

Turning day-old hay

Towards a sweetening July sun,

Smelling the first rose of April

Or the first turf-fire of autumn.

Incense, mystery, music, majesty

And many places,

Many ways to pray.


A Pres. Memory

Keelin Kissane, winner of An Post writing competition with her mother, Vourneen, a representative of An Post who sponsored the competition and Sr. Consolata and Sr. Sheila Mary of Presentation Secondary Scho0l, Listowel.


Just a Thought

My reflections in the Just a Thought slot as broadcast on Radio Kerry last week

Just a Thought by Mary Cogan


Listowel Characters

The first of the murals at the end of Colbert Street was nearly finished when I photographed it on Thursday last July 21 2021. Listowel’s Siobhán Mooney was helping the artist with the final touches in the sweltering heat.

The quotation is from Brendan Kennelly

“All songs are living ghosts. And long for a living voice.”

By the time you see these the mural will be finished.


West Side Story 1990 and A Poignant Poem

What a Shot!

Leaping fish by Criostóir Grayson


Beautiful Church Street Home


West Side Story 1990

The operetta undertaken by Presentation Secondary School Listowel in 1990 was West Side Story.

As well as excellent actors, dancers and singers, some of the principals were also excellent writers. Dave O’Sullivan found the following essays by some of the cast published in The Kerryman.


A Poem for You


By John McGrath

I broke my father’s spade today.

Bent the blade against a sullen stone

and felt the final fracture. 

Saw the gaping wound and knew

that wood and steel no longer bound

his hand to mine, this line

between us lost beyond recall.

Caressed the silken shaft

of polished ash, where

fingers’ grip and hip

and sinewed thigh combined

with wit and skill

to break reluctant soil.

I broke my father’s spade and thought on Time,

the sullen stone that one day breaks us all.



Stop Press, Stop Press…..Listowel is going to be Gorgeous

I just got the most marvellous email from Maeve Queally.

Listowel Characters

Listowel Characters is a project that was conceived when we were developing the brand.
We wanted to leverage what we are known for as a town and bring it together in one creative project. Colourful Unique Shopfronts / Signwriting / Literary HeritageTo create a Literary & Visual Treasure Trail
The objective of this project is to work with local and national talent to create a visual narrative of the literary heritage of Listowel. We want to make it accessible to the public and to reinvigorate the streets of the town with bold, colourful and thought-provoking artwork.
Each artist/sign-writer is assigned a wall to work on. The Artist/Signwriter would then choose a quote or excerpt from the works of a North Kerry writer to create a bold, colourful, typographic mural in their chosen style. We worked with Writers’ Week to come up with a shortlist of quotes.
We have secured 3 walls so far and have engaged the following Artists/Signwriters:Martin Chute – Listowel – (He will be commencing his wall in the early Autumn)Garreth Joyce  – from Cork has been assigned the old ESB Wall and it is in progress. His work is experimental and modernCormac Dillion – from Dublin is starting his work on Kays Wall on Charles St next week. His work is in a more traditional style of sign writing.
The project is lead by The Listowel Business & Community Alliance and is being supported by Kerry County Arts and Creative Ireland.
It’s a really exciting project and hopefully will bring tourists into town when the greenway is open next year. If you want to know any more please feel free to get in touch.
Best Regards,Meave

Lads, I’ve looked at the work of all these signwriters and we are so lucky to have them agree to work on the town. The place will be transformed, I tell you. We’ll be the envy of the country. Let’s hope we don’t get notions.

A Song, a Story and a Few Shops

Photo; Chris Grayson somewhere in Cork


From the Pres. Scrapbook

Winner of An Post writing competition


Colourful Listowel

Some Listowel traders have chosen really strong bright colours for their recently painted shopfronts.

This is Betty McGrath’s Listowel Florist on Courthouse Road

Lizzy’s Little Kitchen on Church Street

Sheahan’s Grocery on Upper William Street

Daisy Boo Barista on Church Street


One Hundred Years Ago

As it appears from Duagh School in the schools folklore collection:

The following is a version of a song composed by Timothy Mc Govern in the year 1922, lamenting our betrayal by Mulcahy, Griffith and Collins and also the murder of Jerry Leary and Johnny Linnane by the Black – and – Tans.

The Banks of the Feale


Through the green hills of Kerry my ballads are ringing,

Sinn Féin is my motto and my land “Gránuaile”

The lads and fair lassies my songs will be singing

When I’m laid down to rest on the banks of the Feale.


When I think of the tyrants

the landlords and grabbers

My heart it feels cold and my courage runs down.

Kerry stood first in the red gap of danger

While Murphy encamped on the banks of the Laune.


When Mulcahy and Griffith and Collins betrayed us 

And battered the four courts be 

sure ’twas no fun.

The sassenachs helped them with no one to aid us.

While sharp rang the crack of an Englishman’s gun.


Brave Jerry Leary and Linnane 

from North Kerry

And Buckley, that hero of fame and renown,

With bombs and grenades they were killed in a hurry

While Murphy encamped on the banks of the Laune.


Sad was my heart at the death  of brave Rory

And Buckley and Traynor and Foley likewise

With bombs and grenades we invaded their stronghold,

Our boys were victorious in country and town.


Though we laid down our arms we did not surrender

We’re ready to die for old Ireland again

The gallant Republic has men to defend it

Regardless of prison torture and pain.


Here’s to the man who stood first in the ambush

God bless those brave men whom

the traitors shot down

My curse to the traitors who fought for the strangers

While Murphy encamped on the banks of the Laune.


Éamonn Ó Corradáin


Éamonn Ó Corradáin




Ploughing the Cows Lawn

The man on the right of this picture is the Thomas J. Murphy, victualler who arrived home to Listowel 100 years ago, having spent none months in Ballykinlar Internment Camp. Thomas was known locally as The Colonel.

The picture was sent to us by Tomas’ grandson, Paul Murphy. Paul would love to know who the other men are or what was the occasion of the photograph. Can you help him?


A Heatwave a century ago and a Look at Listowel Primary Care Centre today

Grotto at O’Connell’s Avenue

O’Connell’s Avenue Grotto


From Sr. Consolata’s Scrapbook


One Hundred Years Ago

Listowel was basking in sunshine on June 16 1921 according to this old newspaper unearthed by Dave O’Sullivan.

Could History be about to repeat itself?


Listowel Primary Care Centre

Listowel Primary Care Centre is a purpose built medical services facility in Greenville.

I have never been to the primary care centre. My friend was visiting the dietician and I asked her to take a few photos.

In this photo you can see a section of the old stone wall that divides the centre from the community hospital.


Living Her Best Life

This is Delia O’Sullivan in David Morrison’s picture. This image was used by The Jack and Jill Foundation as part of their fundraising Art sale.

You can still buy the cards as part of a pack on the Jack and Jill website.

Delia chose another picture from the same session for the cover of her new book of creative pieces. The book includes some of Delia’s prizewinning essays as well as new work.

Why the onion? I discovered on reading Delia’s book that her mother called this vegetable an ingin. I thought my mother was the only one who pronounced onion thus. Anyone else encounter this weird pronunciation of this everyday word?

John McGrath was responsible for introducing me to the work of this heartwarming and amusing writer. John has done invaluable work in encouraging and mentoring local writing talent.

I’ll be bringing you a few of John’s own poems soon.


Doon, Ballybunion, Presentation Sisters and “Let them eat Brioche.”

on the Cliff Walk, Ballybunion


Some Public sculptures in Ballybunion


One Hundred Years Ago We were cut off

Before we had broadband


Memories, Memories

Presentation Sisters, Listowel when they lived in the convent in Greenville. Most of these lovely women have now passed away but the memories linger.


An Act Of Civil Disobedience….Ploughing the Cow’s Lawn

Over the years since I’ve been writing this blog, several local people have told me their family story of this incident from 100 years ago. Margaret Dillon, Eileen Sheridan and Paul Murphy have shared memorabilia with me from that time.

But it was very remiss of me not to acknowledge that yesterday’s account of the incident was researched and written by Kay Caball. Kay has done very thorough research into that time in Listowel’s history and she gave a most informative talk on it complete with photos and graphics a few years ago in The Seanchaí.

Another addendum to the story came to me yesterday in the form an email from Eamonn Dillon.

Eamonn wrote;

It is with great pleasure that I reach for my phone every morning just to see what new nugget or gem you have posted overnight.  Thank you so much for your great work. I am sure that very many follow your blog but – and I include myself in their number – they do not either thank you or provide feedback.  
Your blog this morning was a particularly good example.  I remember in the early 1980’s visiting the Old Folks Home at the hospital in Convent Street.   One of the residents was John Joe Mulvihill who lived just up the road from me in Church Street. Indeed the name Mulvihill is still in plaster over the door to this day. He lived with his two sisters Aggie and, I think, Peg. All three are long gone now.   I recall John Joe vividly describing the gathering of the Volunteers from the town itself as well as from the surrounding areas, the march to, and the gathering outside,  the Estate Office , the specific orders to all Volunteers to gather peacefully, the marching into Lord Listowel’s fields, the ploughing of the fields and the general excitement. His mind was crystal clear and perfect and it is one of my regrets that I did not have the presence of mind to record him. He was one of the, I think, 13 men, who were arrested. He told me that he was sentenced to 3 months in jail for his participation. One of the reasons that he told me so much about it was because the man marching next to him was Edward (Ned) Stack from Carrueragh, (Knockanure Company) my maternal grandfather.  On the day he was arrested,  John Joe told me that Ned went left and he went right. Ned got away and John Joe was arrested!


A Fact about Cake

” Let them eat cake’ was never said by a callous Marie Antoinette to starving Parisien revolutionaries who were demanding bread.

Cake is the translation given of the French brioche which isn’t really cake at all, just fancy bread. There is so much sugar in today’s bread that the line between cake and bread is very blurry today too.

The famous “let them eat cake’ line had been in use in France well before The Revolution. It was a kind of cliché for aristocratic decadence, implying that the rich eat fancy bread so if the poor are clamouring for bread why dont they go the whole hog and demand brioche. The slogan was used during the French Revolution for propaganda purposes.


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