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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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.


Butterflies, Michael Collins, Hurling and Anonymous Letters

A picture, A Botany lesson and some philosophy from Raymond O’Sullivan on Facebook

Buddleia, the butterfly bush (Irish: tor an fhéileacáin), divides gardeners into two warring factions: to the ecologically minded it is a noxious, invasive weed, and to the other it is a colourful perennial shrub, which, just as it says on the tin, attracts butterflies. Personally speaking, although the buddleia in my garden is c. 20 years old, it has yet to reproduce itself and every August it isfestooned with flowers and butterflies.

In many cultures around the world butterflies are associated with the souls of the dead. The transformation of the caterpillar into a butterfly provides a perfect model to explain the concept of the soul leaving the body, of life after death. Some people believe that if a butterfly lands on your shoulder it is the soul of a deceased loved one making physical contact with you again. A nice thought, but, be that as it may, no garden truly blooms until butterflies have danced upon it and I would not be without my butterfly bush.

“May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun, and find your shoulder to alight on
To bring you luck, happiness and riches today, tomorrow and beyond.”- Irish Blessing.


There’s Something about Hurling

Ivan O’Riordan took this awesome picture of the victorious Limerick hurlers returning home on August 20 2018

The country has gone mad for hurling this week but in some places it was ever thus.

A photo from The National Archive of Michael Collins throwing in the slioter at the start of the 1921 All Ireland Hurling Final.

A Short Year Later


Unwelcome letters

Recently I received some “warning letters” which upset me. They weren’t anonymous, but nevertheless, upsetting. I took consolation from this article by John B. Keane in The Limerick Leader Archive.

ANONYMOUS letters again this week. This week there is a long one, a poison pen epistle from London. I gave it away after the first two pages. It must have been twenty pages long. It was a deliberate attempt to misinterpret a statement I made recently on television.

With regard to poison pen letters, I have this to say. Those who write them are in dire need of medical treatment and the letters, instead of being frowned upon, should be given to one’s local doctor.

He will find men in his own field who may be helped in their study of mental problems by such letters.

This latest letter sent to me is only one of hundreds I have received down the years. Whenever I receive good publicity at home or abroad in newspapers, magazines or television, these letters never fail to arrive. At first I would be worried but as time went by I realised that the unfortunate people who write the letters are not really to blame.

Envy, jealousy, annoyance, resentment and hatred are in the makeup of every human being and when these fester or turn sour the result is often the nasty anonymous letter.

The first one I ever received was after I wrote Sive. The letter was posted in Listowel and it had a clipping from the Catholic Standard enclosed.

It was a very vicious letter and the clipping was attached in a futile endeavour to support the claims of the writer. My wife and I were very upset at the time and spent a few sleepless nights over it.

I was so upset that I decided to find out who sent it. A tall order one might think. Not really.

The fact that the letter was posted in Listowel did not necessarily mean that the writer was a native of Listowel. However, I had a hunch that the person was from Listowel.

At the time, quite a number of people in the town received the Standard every week. I was one of them. I found out who many of the others were and I proceeded to investigate.

It was simplicity itself. A woman friend, on my instruction, would borrow a Standard in an effort to trace the writer.

Eventually, a Standard turned up with a piece missing. The piece I received fitted perfectly into the vacant space.

I, therefore, found out without difficulty who the writer of the letter was. I got the shock of my life, so much so that I never want to know the identity of any poison-pen author again.

The woman was a stout churchgoer and avowed goodie.

All I did was to hand her back her clipping and letter. She accepted without a word and I recalled a number of good turns I had done her down the years.

The moral here is this. If you receive an anonymous letter tomorrow or the day after or any other day do not be upset. Rather be concerned for the sender.

St. John’s, old Limerick, a Ballymacelligott memoir and a street céilí

Moon over St. John’s in February 2018


Limerick 1940’s

Photo from a site called European Beauty on the internet


Being a Teenager in Kerry in the 1950s

This is an extract from a great memoir by Jerry Savage R.I.P.. You can read the whole memoir on

Find My Kerry Ancestors

Growing up at home in our school days we helped at home on the farm.  We were never bored.  In winter time we helped tend the cows and horse and clean out the stalls.  We also learned to milk the cows.  In the springtime we helped to set the potatoes and sow the oats and other crops.  In summer time we helped to save the hay and then draw it to the shed.  The oats and wheat were cut and saved in August and threshed in September.  That was the day we loved the most and a lot of the neighbours, called a ‘meitheal’ came to help on the day and we had a day off school.  We also cut and saved the turf.  It was hard work and we travelled eight miles on a horse and cart to do it. We also drew it home on a horse and cart.  There were no oil fires then but all these jobs prepared us for our experiences later in life.

Starting school in Tralee Technical School was an experience.  We had to cycle five miles to and from school, in winter and summer, rain or shine but we got used to it.   We made new friends and we took on new lessons to learn new subjects.  After two years I was selected as an apprentice to a garage in Rock Street in Tralee in 1942.  Motor cars were scarce then. There were only lorries and tractors.  The hackney men, teachers, doctors and parish priests had cars.


Seachtain na Gaeilge 2018

I happened to be in Tralee during SnaG 2018 and there was a street céilí in full swing in the square.

Providing the music was that great Kanturk balladeer and musician Tim Browne. I taught Tim a cúpla focal many moons ago


Doran’s Corner?

There is a tradition in Listowel of calling a corner after the shop that stands there. I wonder will this corner come to be named after the new pharmacy.


Looking for Flavin Family

I have been contacted by Stephen Flavin who is looking to make contact with any of the Irish side of his family, particularly anyone who may remember his late father.

“My name is Stephen Flavin. My father (deceased) was Michael Joseph Flavin who was possibly named (or even related to ) Michael Joseph Flavin Nationalist MP. 

My father was born in Listowel Dhirah West in 1917. I am trying to find anyone who may have known him when he was a boy/young man before he emigrated around 1946 to Corsham in Wiltshire. I would love to find a (school) photograph of him. He attended a local national school in the area around Listowel. He may have been mentioned in the school register/log book. 

Anyone from your group who can help in anyway would be fantastic.  

I realise that my father’s name was fairly common. I have seen a picture of Michael Joseph Flavin related and connected to FLAVINS book shop but this is a different man and family. 

My grandfather was Patrick Flavin and he married Julia nee Quirk and they lived with their children 4 sons (my father was the eldest) and 1 daughter called Sheila who married Frank Galvin who continued to live in the family cottage in the middle of a peat bog in an area called Dihra  West which is off the Ballybunion Road. You probably know that area well. “

Mary Gore, Centenarians in Limerick, and children enjoy a day off school

St. John’s Arts and Heritage Centre, Listowel in October 2017


The Late Mary Gore

Some time ago I posted a small tribute to Mary. I couldn’t for the life of me find the few photos I had put together to accompany such a tribute when I got round to doing it. As often happens, I came upon them when I was searching for something else so here they are.

Mary with a beloved granddaughter, Leigh in The Square at the Friday Market some years ago.

Mary chats to Eileen Greaney at a book launch in The Seanchaí.

Mary’s daughter, Helen and Mary’s lovely husband, Cliff

Three generations of Kellys.

Mary with her neighbour of many years, Georgie Molyneaux.

Fond memories of a lovely Listowel lady.


Some Limerick People who lived to a great age

Old age in Limerick

First, Archdeacon Patrick Lyons was born in Kilmallock on 16 March 1893 to Jeremiah Lyons, a farmer, and Bridget O’Keeffe. In 1911 he was a boarding student in St Munchin’s College, which was on Henry Street at the time. He was ordained as a priest nine years later. He has served as the parish priest to Ballingarry for 42 years. Patrick passed away on 1 January 1999, aged 105 years and 291 days. Next, Bridget O’Malley was born in Cappamore on 24 May 1883. In 1905, she entered St Leo’s Convent in Carlow as a postulant and was professed as a nun, becoming known as Sr Bernardine two years later. She spent over eighty years in the convent, passing away in 1989 aged 106 years 196 days. Finally, Bridget Cagney was born in Croom on 2 July 1876, the second youngest of Patrick Cagney and Ellen Irwin’s twelve children. She joined the Presentation Order in Listowel, Co. Kerry in 1895 when she was only 19 years old and became known as Sr Berchmans. She became a teacher in the convent primary school and taught music into her eighties. Two of her sisters and a brother had also taken religious orders. She passed away in 1981, aged 105 years and 160 days.

Get Fresh Air!


A Warning to Anglers in The Feale

I photographed this sign on the river walk. It is warning about the dangers of the spread of crayfish plague.


Schools Out for Ophelia

Last week schoolgoers had two days off due to Hurricane Ophelia. Day 2 of the hurricane, October17th was a balmy summer like day and it was lovely to see families making the most of the unexpected holiday.


At the NeoData Car Park

I snapped this yesterday. I don’t know what’s happening here. Are they extending the carpark?

The Library, Ancestors and descendants, a Dan Keane limerick or two and lifting the North Kerry Railway Line

The Best Free Entertainment in Town

This is the Listowel branch of Kerry County Library. Membership is free for everyone. There are books on every topic, magazines, newspapers and computers to keep you busy for hours. It is one of the most valuable resources we have in town. If you’re not already a member, drop in and join. It’s free.


Another Loss to Church St.

This business has moved on from here.


Seeking Lacey or Hickey Relatives

Every now and again people contact me who are searching for their Listowel ancestors. I am not the right woman for this job at all. Kay Caball of My Kerry Ancestors is the expert in this area.

Kay’s latest blog post about common surnames in North Kerry is worthwhile reading for every family historian.

surnames in Kerry can be the cause of a lot of head scratching when searching
for Kerry Ancestors.   O’Sullivan, O’Connor, O’Connell, O’Donoghue,
Fitzgerald, Stack, McElligott, Murphy, Walsh families are thick on the ground
and when these surnames are combined with the traditional naming patterns of
sons and daughters, identification of YOUR family can be a bit fraught.

Have I any hints to help you identify the correct family?  I have been
giving this some thought lately. I have been researching the family of William
Walsh who was living in Janesville, Wisconsin in 1860[1].
 His descendant Molly had done sterling work going through U.S. records
and found a William Walsh living in New York in 1855[2]. 
This Census stated that William was aged 30, Head of the Household, lived with
his wife Honora (20), his son Michael (0) and his mother Joanna (54) Widow,
 and his brother John (17).  While we would have to discount all
these ages as only approximate (with the exception of Michael, born in N.Y), we
have really good stuff here – William’s mothers’ name and a brother’s
name.  And most importantly, William’s first son is called ‘Michael’, from
which we can almost certainly take it that William’s father’s name was also
Michael.  See
traditional naming practices.
 All are ‘Born in Ireland’ with
the exception of Michael

You can read the rest of this very interesting tale HERE

My quest today is not for ancestors but for descendants or other living relatives.

The request comes from a lady called Tracey Beckley who lives in the Isle of Wight.

Our first person of interest is Henry Lacey from Listowel who married Honora Hickey sometime in the 1920s. Honora died in 1932 leaving Henry with 6 children to raise. The youngest of the family was Mary, Tracey’s mother. Mary was adopted at age 4months and she never met any of her siblings nor did she know what happened to any of them. Henry emigrated to Coventry in England at some point. We know this because Tracey has got his death cert and this is given as his address.

Tracey is anxious to make contact with anyone who might remember this family or know anything about them or where they went. She sent me 2 photos, one of Henry Lacey and another of Edward Lacey, one of his sons.


A Limerick or 2 from The Master ; Dan Keane R.I.P.

An illiterate poor fellow in Cahir

In his whole life had only one prayer

When he went on his knees

It was certain to please

“Dear God, I am here and you’re there.”


A lady whose name is Eileen

Her house it is spotlessly clean

Some years ago

She wed Billy Joe

And their family grew up in Trien.


The End of the Line

Warren Buckley took this photo  1988 as the tracks were being lifted from this stretch of line which is now the John B. Keane Road.

Warren writes,  “My recollection is that it I took the photo near where ALDI is now. The vertical line left of the gate house is the mast that the ESB had in the field opposite Cherrytree Drive.”

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