Today’s account of Christmas in Listowel workhouse is from the Kerryman of 1908 and I’ll give it to you as Junior Grifin wrote it to me. 

He came across the article when he was researching the origins of badminton in Listowel.

“What was Listowel and Ireland like when they commenced Badminton?

The year of 1908 was still in living memory of the great famine, Ireland’s own holocaust.

There were several workhouses set up around the Listowel area to cater for the destitute men, women and children during the famine period and there was at least one still in use in the early years of the 20th centaury.  This was located around the area where the hospital is today; indeed many older people still refer to the Mass in the hospital church as “the workhouse Mass”.

The workhouse was under the auspices of the “Listowel Board of Guardians” and the “Kerryman” report of the childrens Christmas party under that body in 1907 read as follows;”


Christmas treat to the Children of Listowel Workhouse

“The Xmas treat entertainment which has become a pleasing annual event in the lives of the little children of the Listowel Union, was carried out in an admirable manner on the night of New Year’s Day.

Mrs. Foran, Lady Guardian for Listowel, and vice-chairman of the board, was-as been her wont since she became a guardian of the poor-the central figure, as well as the originator of this year’s Xmas tree entertainment, and the manner in which the various details incidental to such pleasurings were carried out, as well as the considerateness with which she contrived to give pleasure to the individual little ones of the Workhouse by her kindly and tasteful distribution of the good things provided, gives evidence of her thoroughness of head and heart. The delight of the little ones was apparent in every nook and corner, where they could be seen gloating over their presents either singly or in groups.

The Ladies who were present were and who assisted in distributing the toys, etc., were- Miss J. Broderick, Miss Hartnett, Miss Lyons, Miss Nolan, Miss D. Nolan, Miss McElligott, Miss O’Donnell.  The Matron of the workhouse and the school mistress were most assiduous in securing comfort for the children.

The band of the Listowel Total Abstinence Society attended the entertainment, and ably rendered choice selections of music from 8 to 10 o’clock.  This did much towards enhancing the pleasure of the little workhouse children, and enough credit can hardly be given to the band, individually and collectively for their decent, humane and manly action in their giving to the children of the very poor, if even for only two short hours in the year, a glimpse into the joyful and mirthful things of life, which are by forces of circumstances to them denied, and which to the more fortunate little ones outside the workhouse walls are matters of daily, perhaps hourly occurrence. It is particularly creditable that each individual member of the band played his part with much zest and earnestness for those little waifs and strays of humanity as he could have done in the palace of a King and for the most select of audiences.  They well merited the thanks which Mr. Maurice Griffin, editor of the “Kerryman”, bestowed on them, and the proceedings terminated, leaving everyone with the pleasurable knowledge that those for whom the treat was inaugurated were for this one night as happy as if there was never a shadow of a care or sorrow in this vale of tears.

The following are the contributors- Mrs. R.H. McCarthy, The Glebe, box of toys; Miss McElligott, Mount Rivers, beautiful dressed doll, boxes of sweets, cakes, chocolates and picture books; Miss Hartnett, two gipsy dolls; Miss Foynes, mother-hubbard doll; Miss Stewart,  Sailor doll; Miss McAuliffe, box of toys; Mrs. Barry, tin of biscuits; Mrs Crowley, 2 boxes candy; Mr. T Walsh, oranges; Mr. Daly, oranges;

Mr. Corridan, box of sweets; Mrs. Foran, £2.


Some Christmas windows

Listowel Travel

And a Christmas window dresser


This is the view up up Church St.      Do you like our new Christmas light feature?

St. John’s with tree


People who attended the launch of Vincent Carmody’s book


Some photos of Listowel people in the Memory Lane section of this week’s Kerryman


Don’t forget the Santa parade at 1.00p.m. on Sunday and the Craft Fair in The Seanchaí.