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

Newtownsandes, a Lixnaw Emigrant and More

1916 commemorative garden in March 2023


What’s in a Name?

A story from a 1939 newspaper;

There is a likelihood that the inhabitants of the village which was known as Newtownsandes, in North Kerry, may become confused regarding the name of their locality. The village was originally named after a well-known North Kerry family named Sandes. Subsequently It was called Newtowndillon, after the late John Dillon, father of Seamus Dillon, T. D. That title, however, was not retained, and the place reverted to the old name. Recently Con. Brosnan decided to call It Newtownsheahan, after the late J. Sheahan, who, while serving In the I. R. A., was killed by the British in 1921. Mr. Brosnan is at present employing 25 men in preparing a football field, which is to be known as the Sheahan Memorial Park. Now the local Fianna Fall Cumann has unanimously requested that the name Newtownsandes be changed to Newtownstack, in memory of Austin Stack. It is suggested that the people will not be deeply interested in the controversy, as they will continue to refer to the village briefly as Newtown.

I think the village is still officially Newtownsandes.


From the mailbag

A man who never forgot his Kerry roots;

……. My father, Des Diggin, grew up in Ballinclogher Cross.  Whether he lived in New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco- he always considered Ballinclogher his Home.

And to regularly get Home, we would drive through Listowel and visit his sister Mary Daly on 32 Bridge Road (last house on the left before the actual bridge). 

Unfortunately they both passed away earlier this decade.  I attach my father’s 2021 obituary in the Irish Echo, a weekly American paper he read since the 1950s.

So my Listowel connection are my absolutely wonderful Daly relations.  Happily, over a lifetime Mary and Jack Daly, as well as my fantastic cousins have regularly very kindly welcomed me.  

Likely hundreds of times I delightfully walked around the Square to enjoy Listowel’s lovely craic.  Often I would unexpectedly meet a cousin. 

I have terrific memories of time spent with my relations in Listowel.  From quiet walks on deserted streets long after pubs officially closed to huge enthusiastic crowds drawn by the amazing fleadh.

I truly feel a terrific kinship with Listowel.  It really is my home away from home, but far too infrequently visited of late.

So when I luckily stumbled across your blog during the pandemic, it was a way to reconnect a bit from a distance.  

Seeing your pictures and reading your informative and illuminating articles of familiar places and people is both a nice comfort and educational.

And inspirational to eventually plan another trip to catch up with my relations, perhaps (directly thanks to you) for the first time even during the Races!  My daughters may get a kick out of the quite fashionable Ladies hats which you regularly highlighted. ……


A Listowel Road Sign

Traffic disruption in Listowel due to roadworks has been far from a laughing matter in recent times. However the road signs have raised a smile or two along the way.

I dont know if an “advanced” warning is a very superior warning or one that had been brought even further forward than an advance warning.


Something to Look Forward to


Great News from the Capital

John Given sends us news of a theatrical triumph for Listowel’s Christian O’Reilly.

John wrote:

Hi Mary

I attach a photo of Listowel playwright Christian O’Reilly standing outside the Abbey Theatre on Thursday last where his new play ‘The Table’ played to a rapturous full house at its opening night on the Peacock Stage, having started its run at the Town Hall Theatre, Galway.

The Table is a wonderful allegory of the Civil War and is the story of a west of Ireland family of musicians whose prized possession, their kitchen table, becomes a cause of dispute and controversy. It’s a highly original, poignant and touching work which is also full of comedy and music and is for theatre goers of all ages. The Table runs until the 20th of March.

Could Christian be the first Listowel playwright to feature on the National stage since John B?

Something to feature on The Listowel Connection (which I read every morning) perhaps?

Best regards,

John Given

(Doesn’t it sound brilliant!)



St. John’s Ballybunion


Back in the Classroom

1 Comment

  1. Bronwen Davis

    I have seen that Moyvane is also known as Newtownsandes. Is this correct? I have ancestors who married in Moyvane in 1833. Kind regards,

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