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: Mick Finucane

Christmas craft fair, Ballydonoghue magazine and a teacher heroine

The Ventry Warrior was laid to rest yesterday, his coffin shouldered by the son and nephews of whom he was so proud. His daughter read lines from Liam MacGabhann’s Blind Man in Croke Park.

Kerry is poorer for Páidí ÓSé’s passing. In the words of Seán Walsh at the graveside

““May the Ventry sod rest lightly on this noble warrior and may the angels bear him 

gently to God’s happy playing field” 

Listen, asthore, for those old eyes are sealed

Tell me once more when the Kerrymen take the field

Tell an old man who is feeble, grey and old

Do they walk proudly still wearing the Green and Gold?

Jer sent me this photo of Páidí with Aidan Moloney in Dingle recently


Today’s Christmas poem

is called Kerry Candlelight and I asked Pierce Walsh to send it to me for the blog after he had told me this story one day on Church St.

“I was privileged to have been taught by the master ( Bryan McMahon ) and he imparted many great poems and stories to his pupils but one that is full of memories for me is “ A Kerry Candlelight “. After leaving school I spent a couple of years in London and I have such a vivid memory of the train journey to Hollyhead and  it was as if I was back in the Master’s classroom reciting  “ A Kerry Candlelight””



I am
standing here in Euston, and my heart is light and gay,

For ‘tis soon I’ll see the
moonlight all a-dance on Dingle Bay. So behind me, then, is London, with the
magic of its night,

And before me is a window
filled with Kerry Candlelight.


‘Tis the lovely light of glory
that came down from heav’n on high,

And whenever I recall it,
there’s a teardrop in my eye.

By the mountainside at
twilight, in a cottage gleaming white,

There my true love sits
a-dreaming, in the Kerry Candlelight.


She’ll be waiting by the turf
fire; soon our arms will be entwined,

And the loneliness of exile
will be lost or cast behind,

As we hear the Christmas
greetings of the neighbours in the night,

Then our hearts will beat
together in the blessed Candlelight.


Now the train is moving
westward, so God speed its racing wheels,

And God speed its whistle
ringing o’er the sleeping English fields,

For I’m dreaming of an altar
where, beside my Breda bright,

I will whisper vows of true
love in the Kerry Candlelight.


Craft Fair

On Sunday last I attended the annual Christmas craft fair in The Seanchaí. Here are some of my photos from the fair. Such talented craftspeople we have in Kerry! I bought some of Pat’s Woodford pottery mugs, really stylish and functional; my engagement gift of choice. I loved the beautiful glass products I had seen on Nationwide but I could find no excuse to buy them. 

The knitting by Anne Egan, Ella O’Sullivan, Frances O’Flaherty and Dawn Thomas was the best you will get at any craft fair anywhere. I bought too much goodies from my favourite baker at Westcove Confectionary. She makes meringues to die for and her chocolate cake is finger licking good. In fact everything she bakes is delicious. There was also beautiful jewelry, exquisitely carved wooden ornaments and Swinky Doo’s beautiful fabric brooches, tree ornaments and party favors.

The Carmodys, Vincent and Dick were signing their books. 

You all know that I think Vincent’s book is a treasure, but, while on a different scale, Dick’s book is also a little gem. AND he has very kindly given me permission to quote from it, so look out for first hand accounts of country ways and a life of carefree innocence lived under the shadow of a country schoolhouse.


Last week the hard working magazine committee in Ballydonoghue launched their annual publication. It is a huge triumph for such a small parish to produce such a high quality journal year after year. This year’s book is a massive leap forward in terms of layout and design. There is colour on every page, the magazine is divided into colour coded sections and this year there is am emphasis on young people and on current news from the parish with beautiful colour photographs of local people.

Gerard with Mick Finucane and David Kissane

Above is Gerard Neville receiving 1st prize in Adult Creative Writing at launch. He is seen here reflected in the beautiful mirror made from local slate which was his prize. 

His story was “ Just Caws”. He also received the Danny Curtin Perpetual Trophy. 

Gerard grew up in Inch West, Listowel, taught as Primary Teacher in Gaile N.S. Thurles,  until he took early retirement in 2009. He has had stories and poems published in both English and Irish.


An Irish American teacher killed in the massacre in Newtown

Anne Marie Murphy lost her live trying to shield the children in her care from the gunman

“An Irish American family have paid tribute to their hero daughter who died ‘serving children and serving God’ in the Connecticut school massacre.

Mother of four Anne Marie Murphy was shot dead by gunman Adam Lanza as she protected her pupils at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday morning.

The 52-year-old Katonah, New York native was shielding the bodies of students when Lanza opened fire on them in the tragedy which claimed 28 lives. Her body was found on top of a group of children, desperately trying

to save them.

Her grieving parents have paid tribute to their daughter in a moving interview with the New York Newsday publication.

Dad Hugh McGowan and mum Alice spoke of their broken hearts after the death of the special-education teacher, found in a classroom covering a group of children who died alongside her.

Hugh told Newsday: “A first responder said she was a hero.”

The sixth of seven children, Anne Marie’s parents described her as “artistic, a fun-loving painter, witty and hardworking.”

Mum Alice said: “She was a happy soul. She was a very good daughter, a good mother, a good wife.”

The McGowans, both 86, were looking forward to welcoming Anne Marie and 36 fellow family members home for the Christmas holidays. Now they will remember the hero teacher.

“We loved being together,” Alice McGowan sighed in the Newsday interview.

Dad Hugh added: “You don’t expect your daughter to be murdered. That’s sort of a shocker. It happens on TV; it happens elsewhere.”

Mum Alice revealed how she turned to prayer when it became apparent Anne Marie wasn’t going to come home from school on Friday.

She added: “As time went by and Anne Marie didn’t contact anyone, well, then you’re waiting and waiting and waiting. When the news was confirmed, my first reaction was to grab my rosary. Then we wept.

“I’ve done my crying. Haven’t we all? I’ll miss her presence. She died doing what she loved. She was serving children and serving God.”

The McGowans attended Mass on Saturday morning at the St. Mary’s of the Assumption church in Katonah.

Father Paul Waddell explained: “I was preparing to pray at the start of Mass but I looked up and saw a lot of teary eyes.

“They told us about their daughter, that she was a teacher, she was killed in Connecticut. So we prayed at this 8 o’clock Mass for all of them and for her.”

Murphy’s family have asked that donations be sent to Autism Speaks, 1060 State Rd., 2nd Floor, Princeton, NJ 08540 or donated online at”

My friend, Una

This is Una from Tanavalla. Una did not always live in Listowel. In fact she was born in Wales but she spent most of her life in England.

Una and I belong to the same knitting group. On any given Saturday when we come together to “stitch and bitch” there are usually 8 or 10 in our group. Five of these ladies have spent most of their lives outside of Ireland. It gives me hope that some of our young people who are leaving our shores in droves may one day find their way back.

Back to Una!

This is Una in her younger days when she worked as a ‘clippie”; bus conductor to you and me, in Birmingham. I suppose our young people do not know what a bus conductor was. She went on to be a bus driver before leaving it all behind to raise a family with Liam. They now live in happy retirement in Ballygrennan.

Una has shared her old photographs with NKRO. Why don’t you come along and share some of your old snapshots with us too. We are  in Greaney’s Spar tomorrow from 10.00a.m. until 2.00p.m. We look forward to meeting you and sharing memories and stories.


 This picture and text were taken from  The National Archives. The National Archives releases one picture every month.

“This photograph dates back to 31 December 1942. It
illustrates ploughing in the grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin. With the advent of
rationing during the Emergency, parts of land around the Áras were farmed to
boost food production.  “


N.N.B.  Set your machines to record Nationwide on Monday night next. Mick Finucane of Urlee, Lisselton is set to be the star of the show.


If any Irish parish wants to know how to put together an heirloom of a community magazine they should look to Ballydonoghue, Co. Kerry. This year’s publication is a triumph and the committee are to be congratulated on a job thoroughly well done.

If anyone wants to know how to do a launch, again Ballydonoghue gives a master class every December.

I was in Tomáisín’s on Friday night and it was a great hooley.

Frank Lewis of Killarney and Radio Kerry did the honours on the night. He has been a regular in Ballydonoghue over the past few months where he has been talking to the parish raconteur, Mick Finucane, who, unfortunately, could not make it to the launch. Mick has become a star on Radio Kerry with his tales and stories. Frank Lewis understands the value of recording people like Mick Finucane and future generations will be grateful to him for the work he is doing in this regard.

James Finnerty is the chairman of the magazine committee and he paid just praise to all his fellow workers.

Bhí rogha gach bia is togha gach dí on the night and here are two of the ladies who greeted me at the door and made me welcome with a warm cup of tea on a very cold night.

Sean Lynch and John Stack recorded the night in photographs and John McGrath was everywhere taking informal shots.

The walls were adorned on the night with the artwork of Eamie Kissane. Jimmy Deenihan was there  to launch this art exhibition. Jimmy paid tribute to his friend who was an artist by nature but also a football man and, above all, a doggy man. Though Eamie did not share Jimmy’s political views it was clear that Jimmy had a deep respect and admiration for the man. His widow, son and family were there in Tomáisín’s on the night to share in the celebration of a local great.

Vincent Carmody is a contributor to the magazine. Here he is in chat with Jimmy.

Yours truly is also a contributor. Here I am receiving my prize for my winning photo.

Entertainment on the night was provided by Stevie Donegan. No better man….

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