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: Nunday

Nunday through the lens

Due to popular demand, Monday’s post is coming to you a day early.

There will be no post tomorrow.


Excitement was building to fever pitch all week. The whole town was behind the O’Brien family and looking forward to a good day on Saturday.

Betty McGrath had one of the more imaginative window displays but lot of businesses took on the nun theme for their windows.  Fair dues, all!!!!

By 5.30 the town was a sea of black and white, with all roads leading to the sports field.

The weather was begin to spit rain as we headed out.

We had to wait for our 3 unlikely looking postulants

There were a few familiar faces who had taken the veil for the evening and a lot of un nunlike behavior on display.

Cogans en famille

Cora O’Brien directing proceedings

Friar John having a laugh

Brenda, Maura and the little sisters of the bookshop

Nora Relihan, Helen and Róisín Kenny, Sr Maisie and her postulant

Noreen Brennan and sisters in every sense of the word.

Checking the iPhone

Are my seams straight?

Betty McGrath has a word in the ear of the reverend mother.

Patsy Kennedy looks every inch the part.

Jer Kennelly shared a great video of the event.

In case there was any doubt, the record was well and truly beaten. Listowel on June 30 2012 had over 1400 people dressed as nuns in the same place at the same time. Look out for us in The Guinness Book of Records.


Don’t forget that it was all done to raise awareness of  the tragedy of suicide and the work of

Pieta House

Eucharistic Congress, Bona fide travelers and nuns

Jer Kennelly went to the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.

Here he is with Dana.

Jer also found this video of the 1932 congress

(8.30 a.m. I have to make a big appeal to my email followers here. I made a big booboo with this post. Instead of putting in the link to Jer.’s youtube video and pictures of the congress, I mistakenly put in a link to Jer’s email telling me about the photos etc. I will have to investigate if this opened my listowelconnection account to everyone. If so, I will have to delete that account and start again. While I am sorting it, I will have to appeal to you all to delete the mail with this link. M.C.)

(9.30 a.m.  Looks like all is well T.G. Normal service is now resumed.)


Remember our Gleasures of The Square?

George features in this story from 1901 as recounted by the County Archivist, Michael Lynch, on the Footprints section of Kerry Today on  Radio Kerry, December 2011.

… On the same
day, (Dec. 2 1901)  at Listowel Petty
Sessions, George Gleasure, publican, The Square, was charged with a breach of
the Licensing Act on 1 November 1901, in that he allowed a man named Lyons to
drink on his premises after hours.  Two
other men present on the premises were deemed to be bona fide travellers and were not summoned.  The case was eventually heard on 23 December
– it was adjourned from the earlier date due to the fact that evidence of Mrs
Lyons and the 2 relevant police constables was in direct conflict,
necessitating a call forward of the 2 travelling customers for their evidence
to be heard – Magistrate Mr Gaussen explained the rules with regard to bona fide travellers, and their
entitlement to be served drink after hours. 

He said
that it was wrong for publicans to assume that so long as a man lived 3 miles
from where he was caught that he was entitled to a late drink.  This was only one of the essentials of a bona fide traveller.  Such a person had to prove that he wanted the
drink to travel (perhaps the origin of “one for the road”?).  A publican should ask where the person had
slept the night before, and what brought him to his place (i.e. to establish bona fides).  Failure to do so could result in a summons.

In relation
to the Lyons case, Mrs Lyons testified that she had asked Gleasure to allow her
husband to stay on the premises until his agitated state had passed.  This state was the result of his earlier
having had his cattle legally seized from him. 
She also stated that she had not seen him since about 6.00pm that
evening prior to arriving at Gleasure’s. 
This was directly refuted by evidence given by Mr Matthew Behan, public
house & hotel proprietor, who stated that the Lyons’ had been on his
premises from 8.00 to 10.00.

Nolan and Aylward stated that when they entered Gleasure’s, they found a tray
with 3 glasses on it, indicating that al 3 present had been drinking.

With the
various conflicting and contradictory evidence, the majority of the magistrates
hearing the case voted to dismiss.

Since this
case had taken up (not to say wasted) a great deal of legal time, the next
person up was always likely to suffer! 
This was 12 year old Michael Broder, charged with procuring money by
false pretences – 3s. each from Mrs Elizabeth Loughnane (publican &
shopkeeper, Church Street) and Mrs Margaret Thornton (a farmer’s wife,
Curraghtoosane).  On 11 December, Broder
had represented to both ladies that Miss Potter (Church Street shopkeeper) had
sent him to collect the money.  Mrs
Thornton had asked for a written request from Miss Potter, which Broder brought
to her (forged) on a return visit.

He pleaded
guilty, and his father (Edward Broder) undertook to repay the money.  Magistrate Gaussen, no doubt frustrated by
the previous case, ordered that young Broder be given 12 strokes of a birch
rod, and cautioned him to be more careful in the future.

Different times, indeed!


Ah, that takes me back to the glory days of Irish soccer and to the innocent times of call boxes when we had to make an effort to make a telephone call.

Today’s youngsters can’t imagine a time when you could walk around free, with no one having any idea where you were unless you happened on a call box and you had change or a call card and you chose to ring them and tell them. 

Happy days!


Nunday in Listowel, June 30th 2012

Let me remind you again of the fundraiser for Pieta House. It is promising to be a landmark day in town. Don’t miss your chance to be part of it. It was never so easy to take the veil. Anyone, male or female over 10 years of age can participate.

Call in to Finesse, John B. Keane’s, Easons or Christy’s, pay over your €20 and register. You will get your nun’s habit and your registration receipt. You can also register online  and collect your outfit on the day. Then come along to the sports field, Frank Sheehy park, home of Listowel Emmets on Saturday June 30th at 5.30 your habit and veil and wearing sensible black “nunny” shoes and join in the fun. Don’t forget to bring your receipt. They will need those to be verified in order  to break the record for the most people dressed as nuns in the same place at the same time. 10 minutes apparently counts as “in the same place at the same time” for Guinness Book of Records purposes.

I’ll be there with family and friends in tow. See you there!

These are the kind of nuns you will see on June 30th.

You won’t see these kind of nuns. This is a picture of Benedictine nuns working on a bog in Mayo in the 1920s


Nunday and Writers’ Week

Michael D. Higgins with Sean Lyons approaching Listowel Arms  where he officially opened Writers’ Week last night.


From  (the writer is not credited on the website)

Wednesday May 30 2012

HOW TIME flies. I cannot believe that it’s 10 years today since the death of the Bard of Listowel, John B Keane.

It’s hard to believe the voice of this brilliant man, playwright and author, has been silent for a decade.

From a room above his pub on Market Street in my Co Kerry hometown, John B surveyed his kingdom, giving us world-renowned plays, and even a weekly column in the Herald.

From his little eyrie he crafted the flow of humanity into unforgettable prose.

John B was a classmate of my elder brothers. He was a private man and he could be caustic in his way, not suffering fools gladly.

I remember an American visiting his bar once. Before he left he told the writer that he really enjoyed meeting him, but he had a complaint: “There is no lock in your men’s room.”

The playwright replied: “Musha, you needn’t worry your head about that. I’m here for 30 years and there was nothing ever stolen from that place.”

Listowel Writers’ Week starts today. It’s a fitting tribute to the great man.

One of the first events of Writers’ Week was our schools’ programme. Áine Ní Ghlinn, writer, poet, lecturer and journalist visited 5 schools in North Kerry on Tuesday and Wednesday. My picture was taken in Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail.


Looking good! This is how this corner of William St. will look. Renovations continue in The Keg, now rebranded as Behans.


Now to something far more serious:

photo by Dominick Walsh

can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together
when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.’
~Jane Addams

Cora O’Brien could have given up but she didn’t. Out of her immeasurable grief and desolation at the loss of her lovely son, she has found the strength to reach a hand of help to other people struggling with thoughts of suicide and self harm. I am printing here Majella O’Sullivan’s article from Friday’s Irish Independent.

CORA O’Brien has no idea what
caused her teenage son David to take his own life five years ago.

She and her husband Martin and
their two younger children have understandably struggled to come to terms with
it since.

However, she feels strongly that
parents need to talk to their children about suicide the same way they would
about other topics like drugs or alcohol.

“We just have no clue what
happened,” she told the Irish Independent. “There was no one thing
that you could say was big enough by any means for him to do that.”

David was in hisLeaving Certyear at St Michael’s
College in Listowel, Co Kerry.

The popular student had filled in
his driving licence application, hoped to study in the University of Limerick
the following year, coached his school’s basketball team and worked two jobs at
weekends for pocket money.

“There was just no possible
way you could think he was depressed, if anything he was the opposite,”
his mother added.

Mrs O’Brien is hoping to break theGuinnessworld record of getting as
many people as possible in the one place dressed as nuns to raise buckets of
money for Pieta House — the self-harm and suicide prevention organisation.

“I think a lot of people don’t
even know Pieta House is there or about what it does, so this is about raising
awareness that there is help out there,” she said.

‘Nunday’ in Listowel will be on June
30, and Mrs O’Brien is hoping the idea will inspire people to turn up to help
break the record of 250, which she hopes they’ll easily achieve.

“Well, I have 500 habits so
hopefully we’ll get enough heads to put them on,” Mrs O’Brien said.”

– Majella O’Sullivan

I urge everyone who can to make it to Listowel on Saturday June 30th 2012  at 5.30. If you can call to Finesse, Christy’s, John B’s or Easons in the next few weeks, you can pay your €20 there, collect your habit and get all the paperwork out of the way before the event. You can register online at

 If you can’t make it to Listowel or if dressing up as a nun is a step too far for you, you can also donate to the charity in the above shops or through the website.


I got lots of great pictures at opening night of Writers’ Week. I’ll post them next week,D.V.

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