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

Tag: Bryan MacMahon Page 1 of 8

Ballylongford, A Pebble, a poem and a Very Clever Sculpture

Ballylongford Mill today; Photo by Breda Ferris


It’s the simple things like sharing a donut….


A Tribute to a Beloved and Missed Mentor

Elizabeth Carroll (Liz Chute) remembers Bryan MacMahon and his influence. The story is told in Liz’s screenshots from her Instagram feed.

The Pendant


That Naas Sculpture

Helen O’Connor and Dave O’Sullivan filled me in on this one.

Title: Siren

Artist: By Alex Pentek

Location: Siren is located on the green adjacent to Naas Fire Station on the Newbridge Road.  

History of the project:
Over the last number of years, Athy and Naas have both opened purpose built fire stations.  A refurbishment of the fire station in Monasterevin has also taken place.  As part of the building programme, Kildare County Council engaged three Irish artists to further enhance each building by means of commissioning art works, through the Per Cent for Art Scheme.  The Fire Officer, Michael Fitzsimons and County Arts Officer Lucina Russell considered the physical building and their particular location when designing a brief for the commissions.   

Artist statement:
The sculpture shows how I think the sound of the fire alarm would look if it were not a sound but an object.  As the sound of a fire alarm broadcasts the message that the help of the Naas Fire Service is required, it is not a soothing sound, but a loud and shrill noise that forces anyone who hears it to consider their own personal safety for a moment.  As the traditional fire-bell has been replaced with the wailing cry of the air horn, the form of the proposed sculpture comprises of a series of fluted horns, pointing outwards in all directions as if to make sure that everyone gets the message.  

About the artist: 
Alex Pentek is a graduate of the Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork and currently works from a studio at Monard, Rathpeacon, Co. Cork.   

With the style of the work ranging from abstract to figurative, he have worked predominantly on large-scale public art sculpture commissions for outdoor locations using durable materials. Some of this work includes two life-size female figures from cast marble sand in Tralee, Co. Kerry; three giant leaves in cast bronze in Clonakilty, Co. Cork; and four giant seeds from carved oak in Tower, Co. Cork, to name but a few.  During this time he has also carried out several smaller scale, private commissions for both indoor and outdoor settings.

While continuously exploring aspects of Nature in a variety of materials ranging from sheet metals, cast bronze, ceramic, carved wood and cement, he also enjoys the challenge of new materials. 


Bog in Ballylongford, an old Christmas card and Listowel Printing Works is Relocating

In the bog; photo by Breda Ferris


Lord Listowel 1963

photo found on Glin Historical Society

This is the 5th earl, William Hare. The current earl is Francis, his son from his third marriage.


A Listowel Christmas Card

Listowel; men, Michael O’Connor and Bryan MacMahon collaborated in the making of six Christmas cards. The cards were produced by Oriel Press.


A Poem as Halloween approaches


Fuel of the Future?

Enjoy this old ad.

This month we read that Ireland is now importing horticultural peat from Latvia.

Read all about it here;

4000t of Horticultural Peat arrives in Drogheda


Listowel Printing Works is gone from Church Street


Memories, Listowel People and Ballygologue Park

Canon’s Height, Listowel Co. kerry


Jimmy O’Quigley Remembers

Jimmy gave me this photo from his box of treasures. Some of the people in it are Philomena Chute, Mrs Joe Broderick, Anna Moore, and Jerry O’Flaherty

Back; Mikey Fitzgerald (a tailor from Charles Street) Seán Grogan, Mr. Prendeville from Castleisland.

This old letter was given by Owen MacMahon to Jimmy. The quality is poor as it’s a copy of a copy but it’s worth the effort to read it. It is a letter from Bryan MacMahon, then Príomhoide of Listowel Boys National School to Canon Brennan, the school manager. He is reporting an accident in the school grounds in which Jimmy broke his arm. Jimmy had his arm in plaster for his First Communion.

The tone of the letter tells us a lot about the relationship between the Canon and his parishioners who, by all accounts, lived in fear and dread of him.


Hi Ho, Hi ho as off to work we go

It’s always a pleasure to meet cheerful happy people when I’m out and about. I met Peter and Anne Marie on their way to work bright and early on a Saturday morning.


This lovely old stile is on the John B. Keane Road.


Listowel Squash Club

Sean Tracey, Charlie Nolan, Billy Galvin, John McGuire, and Sean Comeford at a squash tournament in Tralee.

Charlie, who gave me the photo, doesn’t remember the year.


Ballygologue Entrance in June 2021

Residents of Ballygologue Park always take great pride in their estate. It was lovely to see wild flowers like daisies, buttercups, vetch and clover allowed to bloom alongside the cultivated flowers and shrubs.


In The Magic Hour

Brightening Air was an initiative of The Arts Council. Between June 11 and June 20 2021 Coiscéim Dance Studio brought us ” Ten days of incredible Arts experiences in surprising locations nationwide.”

Listowel was chosen to be part of the project and In The Magic Hour was presented to us in The Handball Alley. It was live-streamed on the following evening. I presumed that that video would be left up but I cant find it now. So this is what happened.

I called by earlier in the afternoon of June 18th. The ball alley looked the same except for the presence of 20 chairs. I was relieved to hear that we would be seated for the performance.

I’m back at 9.30 p. m. for the performance. The Magic Hour is dusk which they estimated would be 9.30 to 10.30. It was later on this particular evening so we had to wait until 9 50 to get the show on the road.

Above are some of the lucky people, socially distanced, who got tickets. I’ll tell you about the magic tomorrow.


Christmas in Kerry, Hospice Tree and Muddy Paws relocated

St. John’s Listowel on Dec 1 2019


Christmas Customs

From The Dúchas Schools collection

Christmas Night
In the district the preparation for Christmas began with cleaning and decoration of the house. Sprays of holly, ivy, and mistletoe are used for decorating the walls and windows. Christmas is usually a busy time for the shopkeepers for every housekeeper goes to the nearest town for a supply of provisions and dainties and Christmas candles.

Christmas Eve, one or perhaps two large candles are placed on each window. At nightfall the candles are lighted and the supper is prepared. The table is laid with all sorts of cakes and jams and fruits. Then a big fire is made and a log of bog deal placed in the centre of it – (yule-log). Then all sit down to a delicious meal.

When it is all over and everything in order each person is treated to whatever they wish, whiskey, wine or porter while the children have their own refreshment – lemonade, lemon-soda etc. Then where there are musical instruments in the house a few hours of enjoyment follow.
About ten o’clock the rosary is said and all are in bed for midnight.

Collector Nora M. Stack- Address, Lahardane, Co. Kerry


Muddy Paws has Moved

Muddy Paws Dog Grooming is now across the road beside Betty McGrath’s.


Blessing Ceremony at the Remembrance Tree

Keeping the flame, we gathered outside St. John’s on Sunday December 1 2019 to remember those we had lost to cancer. 

People braved the cold to gather in The Square.

People bought commemorative yellow ribbons and attached them to the tree.

Stalwarts of Listowel Hospice committee, Jenny Tarrant and John Croghan were there early.

 Local people who came out to remember

Helen Moylan ties on her ribbon

Elaine Lyons, one of the chief organisers of the project attaching a ribbon

Lovely to see children there too.

Máire Logue was offering tea and a biscuit.

Members of the local Hospice Committee in St. John’s Listowel on Dec 1 2019

Marie and Judith were remembering too.

Sr. Margaret and Canon Declan O’Connor, both of whom have lost family members in 2019.

Batt O’Keeffe explained what the tree was about and spoke a bit about the hospice.

Canon Declan blessed the tree.

We all looked skywards, remembering.



I printed the below list of rules last week and it reminded Nicholas of a fictional scene in a Bryan MacMahon play.

Mary, very interesting list of contract conditions and rules for U.S. female teachers in 1923. 

The ‘at least two petticoat’ rule reminded me of Listowel’s Bryan McMahon’s  quote in, I think, his book, The Honey Spike: ‘Two legs in the one stocking!’ The so-and-sos are coming.’ This chastity warning was said to have  been called out by Travellers to their  women when a Traveller from a certain Kerry family approached them. 

St. Luke’s Day, St. Mary’s Stained glass, Piseoga and A Minute of Your Time

St. Luke’s Day

Window in Taur Church

Saint Luke the Evangelist, whose feast day occurs today, has many strings to his bow. He is the patron saint of artists, physicians, bachelors, surgeons, students and butchers. In common with some of his fellow saints he is also mentioned in weather lore – 

St. Luke’s Little Summer, summerlike days around 18th October.

St. Luke’s Day did not receive as much attention as St. John’s Day (June 24) and Michaelmas (September 29) and others, so, to keep from being forgotten, St. Luke used his influence to give us some golden days to cherish before the coming of winter, or so the story goes. Sadly, he tried in vain. His feast day is forgotten by all except those on the loony fringe of folklore. Forecast for the weekend isn’t great – heavy rain, hail, thunder and the first widespread frost. Maybe he will prove them all wrong, or maybe he has just given up trying?  

Photo and text: Raymond O’Sullivan


Statue of Bryan MacMahon at The Kerry Writers’ Museum


Stain Glass Windows in St. Mary’s, Listowel


Folklore in the Dúchas Collection

Piseoga gathered by Lyreacrompane schoolchildren from older people in 1936.

51. If the right side of your nose is itchy it is said that someone is talking good of you.

52. If the left side of your nose is itchy it is said that someone is talking bad of you.

53. If you right eye is itchy, it is said that you will be crying.

54. If your left eye is itchy it is said that you will be laughing.

55. If you marry on a Wednesday you will never have a day’s luck.

56. You should never carry a coal of fire out of a sick house.

57. You should never give away money on a Monday because you would be spending money for the rest of the week.

58. Thirteen is an unlucky number because at the Last Supper Our Lord and His twelve apostles were present and one of the twelve apostles betrayed Our Lord.

59. If you were playing cards and to have a dormouse in your pocket you are sure to win.

60. If you put the frame of a dead woman’s hand under a tub of cream it is said that there will be no butter taken.

61. You should never carry a coal out of a house on May Eve

62. If you throw an old shoe after a couple who are getting married it is said that they will be lucky.

63. If you wash your hands in the dew early on May morning it is said that you will be ripping knots for the rest of the year.

64. If you hear an ass braying it is the sign of a person dead. – You should never interfere with a fort. (No 24) (One day a man was crossing a fort and he saw a nice blackthorn stick growing inside in it. He went in & began to pull it. It was a beautiful summer’s day. As he stooped down a shower fell on him. He looked up and saw the sun shining. He stooped again and another shower fell. He looked up again and saw the sun. He stooped again and a shower of blood fell on his clothes so he went away without the stick).

65. If you spill salt it is the sign of bad luck because Judas, before he betrayed Our Lord, when reaching over, spilled the salt.

66. You should never strike a cow with a white-thorn because it is said that the Cross of Calvary was made of white-thorn.

67. If you hear a cock crowing it is the sign of bad luck, because when the cock crew St Peter denied Our Lord.

68. You should never hit anyone with a brush.

69. You should never catch a tongs in your hand unless you want it.


A  Minute of Your Time

Here I am finalising arrangements with Elaine Kinsella of Radio Kerry for Saturday evening’s launch.

Dont forget…7.30 in St. John’s

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