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

Michael O’Connor, Illuminator; Update

Listowel Town Square


Kerry Writers’ Museum; Great News

This is the late Michael O’Connor who was born and reared in No. 24 The Square, the house that now houses Kerry Writers’ Museum.

In the above picture Michael is looking at the Book of Kells. He is not just looking, he is studying the work of the masters of the art he loved so much.

Michael was a calligrapher and illuminator and his work is now acknowledged to be on a par with the work of the monks who created The Book of Kells.

“No one is a prophet in his own land.” according to the bible. Not so in the case of Listowel’s Michael O’Connor. In collaboration with Bryan MacMahon, he produced Christmas cards, bookmarks and other commissions for the local market. Far and away the largest of their Listowel projects was a big illuminated picture with words by Bryan MacMahon and calligraphy by Michael O’Connor which was commissioned by the Race Committee to commemorate its centenary in 1958.

On the right is Thomas O’Connell, chairman of the Race Committee with Michael Kennelly, Michael O’Connor, Dan Moloney T.D. and Dr. Bryan MacMahon on the occasion of the handover of the work to the race committee during race week 1958

The Stokes family, descendants of Thomas O’Connell who have kept this important piece safely until a home was found for it, handed over the picture to Jimmy Deenihan, representing Kerry Writers’ Museum during Listowel Races 2022.

Pictured at the handover of the piece to Kerry Writers’ Museum on Friday September 23 2022 are Olive and Oonagh Stokes with Owen MacMahon and Jimmy Deenihan

The O’Connor family, children of the calligrapher/illuminator have many pieces of their fathers work in their possession. They have agreed to donate these to Listowel’s Kerry Writers’ Museum. Stephen Rynne, who has been co ordinating this round up of the work of our most famous artist has also located many more pieces and he has also agreed to donate work in his own possession as well.

Now the good news….Kerry Writers Museum has secured funding to mount this important exhibition. Very soon we will all be able to see and admire these beautiful examples of Celtic Art.

People who study celtic art will flock to Listowel to see these national treasures.


Ladies’ Day, Listowel Races 2022

Ladies Day is always a big Day on The Island. It is also traditionally the day the students come as its Friday and the start of their weekend.

Not so many students this year but lots and lots of ladies.

There was music and prosecco in The Square to get everyone in the mood.

Martin McCarthy was giving out roses and glasses of bubbly.

Classy’s bus was shuttling people to the racecourse.

Sharon and Anthony were waiting for the shuttle bus.

The very dapper veterans were taking up a collection from racegoers in The Square and at the gate.

I took shanks mare by the river. There was strict searching for alcohol and drugs at the entrance. They didn’t bother me. Old age has some perks.

(more tomorrow)


A Fact about a Genius of our Time

This was shared on line by Janice Williams and Simone Langemann

“Alan Turing ended his own life on June 7, 1954. He bit into an apple laced with cyanide and ate a bite of it. He did it because the British government chemically castrated him, humiliated him, and prosecuted him for being gay.

For that reason there is a bitten apple in the Apple logo… In honor of Alan Turing. He invented computer science and using his early designs cracked the Enigma code – the encrypted machine that the Nazis and the German Army used to communicate secret commands to each other during world war – thereby saving millions of human lives and bringing us to the modern computer age.

Pride month isn’t just about dancing on floats in gold shorts and waving a rainbow flag. It is about remembering that everyone has the right to be happy, to love who they want to love and to recognize the outstanding contribution that everyone can make in a society free of fear or prejudice.” Vía: Alejandro Jodorowsky/Samira HM



More Sustainable Fashion


Beautiful Things


  1. Éamon Ó Murchú

    Well done Mary to you and all associated with this wonderful project. Comhghairdeachas ó chroí

  2. Joan McCarthy

    Well done to you Mary , The Kerry Writers Museum Board and all concerned with the O’ Connor exhibition. Many Thanks to all who gave so generously to the exhibition. It will become a very special attraction for locals, young and old and our visitors.

  3. Kay Caball

    Mary, great news on Michael OConnor’s planned exhibition in the Writers Museum. You are too modest though … as you were the person that Stephen Rynne contacted initially & you have been ‘pushing along’ all the other parties to this successful conclusion

    • listowelconnection

      Thank you, Kay.
      This is a magnificent legacy from the O’Connor family to Listowel. They have gifted us our own “Book of Kells”. I’m only delighted to play a small part in bringing it home.

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