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

Shopping with a Two Year Old

Christmas altar in St. Brigid’s Parish Church, Kildare Town


Photoshoot with child in Kildare Village

It’s December 7 2023 and I am in Kildare Village because everyone assures me that it’s ‘magical’ at Christmas and the perfect place to take a few photos.

Aoife McKenna is my model. My model is aged 2, hates wearing a coat, won’t sit in a buggy, loves shops and is very independent.

Everyone knows you are meant to face Christmas installations in order to see them. What’s this turn around to Nana business.

Ah, there we are, Aoife, Nana and a reindeer in Kildare Village in December 2023.

More reindeer, which Aoife insisted were horses. Who ever saw a blue reindeer or a blue horse either for that matter. The coat is still on and we are shopping so two out of three ain’t bad.

There is a rule in the Kilkenny shop that you have to buy 2 items so clever Mammy bought 2 sachets of Christmas room scent to keep little hands occupied and to prevent breakages.

Aha, Sculpted by Aimee put the make up palette at child level.

Mmm, is this how I apply it?

Evicted by Mammy, unceremoniously from the shop. Now I’m here in the rain with Nana.

This is what we came for. Christmassy things to pose in.

Another shop, another eviction.

Photoshoot going downhill fast.

I’m tired of this. Take me home please.

Back in my happy place. Homeward bound.

Listowel Writers Week at the An Post Irish Book Awards

Simone Langemann and Eamonn Dillon of Listowel Writers’ Week with Mary ODonnell whose poem won the LWW sponsored award.

Brid Mason, Fr. Anthony Gaughan and Eamonn Dillon at the award ceremony.

Memories of Christmas in Ireland in the 40s and early 50s 

By Marie (Canty) Sham

Maria grew up in O’Connell’s Avenue Listowel. Here she looks back on a very happy Christmas time.

I remember

Going to the wood to cut the holly which grew wild, and the moss to put on the crib. 

Christmas Eve cleaning the house, the excitement of setting up the crib filling jam jars with sand and putting the candles in them, decorating them with crepe paper, putting up paper chains, my mother would have made a large Christmas pudding in a gallon and put it aside. 

The turkey or goose was bought at the local market and plucked by our neighbour Bill Boyle. He must have done it for everyone because the road would be covered in feathers. The innards were still warm when it was cleaned out, that was all on Christmas Eve so it was fresh.

We were not well off but we were lucky as my father was always working, we were not short of anything. At that time in Kerry there was a lot of unemployment.

The shops mam shopped in during the year gave a Christmas box. One shop would give tea, sugar and maybe a pot of jam. That shop was called Jet Stacks and it is not there now. The butcher Murphy’s would send Danny to deliver us maybe a large piece of lamb, of course it would be delivered by him on his bicycle with a basket in front.

I can also remember a donkey and cart outside the shops with a tea chest and all the shopping would be put into it. These people would be from the country and would not come to town again until after Christmas.

There was a shop called Fitzgibbons and we would pay in whatever we could afford for toys or anything else. I paid in sixpence a week for a sewing box and I still had it when I got married. Mam paid every week for the Nativity figures for the crib I have never seen anything so beautiful since.

The ham would be on the boil and with the crib set up. The candles would be lit by the youngest member of the house, I think at 7 o clock 

Our clean clothes would be kept warm over the range ready for midnight mass.

Going out on the frosty night and seeing all the windows with lighted candles was wonderful.

Home after mass a warm fire in the range a slice of the ham or maybe a fry! Our stockings would be hanging at the end of the bed. We did not get much; my dad was very good with his hands and would make things for us. He made a scooter once and a rocking horse.

My brother Neil wanted a mouth organ and it was like in the song Scarlet Ribbons, dad went to so many shops until he got one for him. I was too young to remember that but mam told that story.

Christmas morning I will never forget waking up to the smell of the turkey roasting.

Up quickly and look if Santa had come, our stockings might have an orange, we always got something. I remember getting roller skates; I also remember getting a fairisle jumper from Santa. The problem was I had seen my aunt knitting it. All the children would be out in the Avenue with their new toys to show off.

Before dinner our neighbour Paddy Galvin would come in to wish a Happy Christmas and mam would give him a bottle of stout. I think that was the only time he ever called in. We would have lemonade and stout in for Christmas.

Dinner was wonderful, our Mam was a great cook. There was Mam Dad, Nelie, Paddy, Doreen and myself. My brother Junie came along later, and after we would wrap up warm and visit the cribs; one in each church, hospital, convent and St Marys and bring home a bit of straw for our crib which I think was blessed.

More food when we got home 

Bed and looking forward to St Stephens day and the Wren Boys, no cooking on that day we finished up the leftovers.

What wonderful times!

A Fact

A sheep, a duck and a rooster were the first passengers in a hot air balloon.



In Kildare Village


Drama in Kilcullen

1 Comment

  1. Seán

    A great story from Marie Canty Sham

    Are the Canty family still living in St Brendan’s Terrace

    Was Joe Joe and Con part of this family?

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén