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

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Mary Cogan, retired from teaching in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am a native of Kanturk, Co. Cork.
I have published two books; Listowel Through a Lens and A minute of your Time

Craftshop na Méar remembered

Olive Stack’s Church Street Mural


Then and Now

Scully’s Corner in 2007 and 2023


Craftshop na Méar

(a short and very incomplete history)

Craftshop na Méar

In November 2010 a knitting group met for the first time in Off the Square Café. We met in response to an ad. that Isobel Barrett had placed in a shop window. The ad looked for interested people to meet to knit and natter.

We originally called our group Knirvana, conjuring up images of knitting heaven. This name proved a bit problematic in online searches so we changed to Knitwits.

In 2011 two things happened that changed the direction of the group. 

  1. Off the Square café closed and we moved shop to Scribes on Church Street.
  2. We met Namir Karim, himself a crafter and a great supporter of crafting.

We were usually 8 to 18 knitters and crocheters knitting and chatting in our lovely sunlit window haven. Soon we extended operations to a second day, Tuesdays . All the while another group was meeting in The Family Resource Centre on Thursday evenings. Some people were now knitting three times a week.

We were knitting for family and friends, for charity and some were knitting for sale at craft fairs or to fulfil orders.

The next big development came in 2013 when Namir suggested we open a craft shop. No. 53 Church Street was available to rent. The landlord, Robert Corridan, is a big believer in history and heritage. He believed in what we were doing. Namir was willing to back us by paying the rent and the costs involved in setting up the enterprise.

We adopted Robert’s life size yellow pig as our mascot. The late Dan Green won the competition to name him and with Crubeen in the window we were in business.

Mary Keane performed the grand opening on December 10, Namir’s birthday, Rosa sang and we had a bit of a party.

Canon Declan blessed the venture

In the following  years we had craft classes, Cois Tine events, product launches and celebrations.

Alice Taylor at one of our hooleys

In 2017 the shop closed its doors for the last time. The venture had run its course.

One of the early days, crafters with Dan Green R.I.P and Miriam Kiely, whose family lived in No. 53.

Friendships were made and memories banked for future reminiscing.

I hope this little history has brought back some memories for the lovely crafters who worked together in and for the shop.

May the sod rest lightly on those with whom we shared those good times and who are now gone from us.


Remember Phone Boxes?


Daffodil Day 2023

Some of the lovely people I met on Friday morning out in the cold and wet collecting for Daffodil Day.



Main Street in March 2023


Teacher Retirements

Photo and caption from The Kerryman

INTO Listowel branch members marking a number of retirements at the Listowel Arms on Friday. Back, from left: Henry Molyneaux and John McAuliffe (Scoil Mhuire de Lourdes, Lixnaw), Richard O’Carroll (Lisselton NS). Middle, from left: Teresa Browne (Dromclough NS), Anne Larkin (Ballybunion NS), Norma O’Carroll (Slieveamhadra NS), Maura Enright (Ballyduff NS). Front, from left: Mary O’Connor (Listowel INTO Branch Secretary), Mary Hennessy (Presentation Primary Listowel), Bernie Sheehy & Catherine McEllistrim, (Scoil Realta na Maidne), Rita Goulding (Slieveamhadra NS), Mary Nolan (Duagh NS), Susan Walsh (Ballyduff NS) , Lily Morris (Ballybunion NS), Breda O’Dwyer (Slievemhadra NS), Dermot O’Connor (Listowel Branch INTO Chairperson). Photo by John Stack


Then and Now


Tony O’Callaghan, Artist

The beautiful copper work of Listowel artist, Tony O’Callaghan has been presented to several Irish presidents and taoisigh.

Erskine Childers 1974


Listowel Actor’s Latest Gig

Shannon Airport’s last advertising campaign features Listowel actor, Seán McGillicuddy.


Memories, Memories

This old cookery book with no colour or illustrations was standard issue in second level schools in the mid 1960s. My copy is in a dreadful state but I keep it because of this.

A laughable “recipe’ for custard made with custard powder in my sister’s beautiful handwriting.

My sister passed away in 1964, aged 15 years.


Road Signs and Civil War Disruption

St Patrick’s Day 2023

Canon Declan O’Connor and his neighbours enjoying the 2023 St. Patrick’s Day parade in Listowel Town Square


Another String to his Bow

Dave O’Sullivan found us this in The Kerryman archive from 1961. These beautiful signs were designed by the great Michael O’Connor.

Would anyone know of the whereabouts of one of these or does anyone have a better photograph of one?


The Civil War and the Lartigue

Story from Mark Holan’s Irish American Blog

Civil War Toll on The Lartigue

Mark Holan

Anti-government forces in the Irish Civil War attacked the Listowel and Ballybunion Railway several times in early 1923. Damage to the rolling stock and stations of the 9-mile monorail between the two Kerry towns, and the impracticalities of operating such a unique line in the newly consolidated Irish rail system, forced its permanent closure in October 1924.

Passengers and mail on the LBR had been targeted by Irish republican forces during the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921. In January 1923, during the civil war, armed men forced the Ballybunion stationmaster to open the line’s office, goods store, and waiting room, which they doused with petrol and paraffin oil and set on fire. Within an hour a similar attack occurred at the Lisselton station, about halfway between the two terminuses.

Such destruction is generally attributed to the IRA forces opposed to the Irish Free State. These “irregulars” also cut down about 1,700 yards of telegraph wire and six poles between Listowel and Ballybunion, matching attacks along other Irish rail routes.

Nicknamed the Lartigue after inventor Charles Lartigue, the monorail was “suspended indefinitely” in early February 1923 due to the sabotage. Nearly 40 employees lost their jobs, impacting about 100 family members and ancillary businesses.

With the train out of service, a char-a-banc and motor car service began operating between the two towns, but it also came under attack in March.Once the civil war ended later that spring, the Lartigue was repaired in time for the busy summer season at Ballybunion, a seaside resort. By mid-July, the Freeman’s Journal reported the Lartigue “has already, particularly on Sundays, been taxed to almost its fullest capacity in the conveyance of visitors.”

Like the Lartigue, however, the national newspaper also would have its run ended in 1924.


Then and Now

2007 and 2023


Friends Reunited

Mary Sheehy met this lady twenty years ago on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. They met last week by chance in The Flying Saucer café, Listowel.


A Poignant Poem of Family Love

The Week After St Patrick’s

John McGrath

The week after St Patrick’s, my mother

pressed his suit and packed his case,

drove him to the station for the early train

from Ballyhaunis to the crowded boat,

then on to Manchester and solitude

until All Souls came slowly round again.

I don’t remember ever saying Goodbye.

At seventeen I took the train myself

and saw first-hand my father’s box-room life,

the Woodbines by his shabby single bed.

I don’t remember ever saying Hello,

just sat beside this stranger in the gloom

and talked of home and life, and all the while

I wanted to be gone, get on with mine.

Westerns and The Western kept him sane,

newspapers from home until the time

to take the train came slowly round once more.

Lost in Louis L’Amour, he seldom heard

the toilet’s ugly flush, the gurgling bath

next door. Zane Grey dulled the traffic’s

angry roar outside his grimy window.

Back home the year before he died we spoke

at last as equals, smoked our cigarettes,

his a Woodbine still, and mine a tipped.

My mother would have killed us if she’d known.

The phone call came as winter turned to spring.

I stood beside him, touched his face of ice

and knew our last Hello had been Goodbye.


Then and Now

Childers’ Park entrance March 2023


Last of Tom O’Halloran’s photos

These look like celebrations in the Pitch and Putt clubhouse. Sorry I can’t name all the people. R.I.P. those gone from us. A big thank you to Tom’s family for sharing the photos. They brought back memories to many.


Some People I met on St. Patrick’s Day 2023

Robert Pierse and Sally O’Neill
Peter and Mary McGrath
Mary and Matt Mooney

Dancing is always a huge part of the parade. This year, with all the schools and sports clubs taking part it was hard to put a cohort of dancers together. Fair dues to Johnny Cronin for representing as best he could the dancing community.

He also had the smallest cutest dancer of them all.


Tony O’Callaghan, Artist in Copper

The late Tony O’Callaghan’s artwork hangs in more Listowel homes than any other artist. He is also well represented further afield.

Here is a still from a You Tube video Dave O’Sullivan found. It’s from 1984 and it is in Ballyporeen. Derek Davis, M.C. is presenting a Tony O’Callaghan copper plaque to President Ronald Reagan of the USA.

Full video here;

Reagan in Ballyporeen


Toddy’s Seat

In Childers’ Park, Listowel


St. Patrick’s Day 2023, and Tony o’Callaghan Remembered

Corner by the old Slua Hall in March 2023


Some People I met on St. Patrick’s Day


More of Tom O’Halloran’s Pitch and Putt Photos

My photo of The Dandy Lodge and Gable of Pitch and Putt Clubhouse in March 2023

Toddy Buckley R.I.P., Tom O’Halloran R.I.P, Eileen Worts R.I.P. and Pat Walshe

Tom O’Halooran R.I. P. and Anne Hartnett


Tony O’Callaghan , Artist in Copper

The Sculpture in Listowel Town Square is the design work of the late Tony O’Callaghan, a man better known for his copper plaques which are now proudly displayed in houses in Listowel and beyond.

I’m going to tell you more about Tony O’Callaghan and his work next week . Today I’m going to share with you a beautiful piece he made to be presented to Éamon ÓMurchú.

The story in Éamon’s words;

St Ciarán

Bronze plaque is of St Ciarán.  I got a present of it when Principal of Scoil Chiaráin, Glasnevin (1970-2000).  St Ciarán was born in 512 and was a pupil of Mobhi who had a monastery in Glasnevin – hence the connection with the locality.

His feast day is on September 9th and he was the first abbot of Clonmacnoise.  He is renowned for his learning and production of books.  

The impact of education and the natural world occur again and again in the stories about Ciarán.  It is written that a stag wandered up to Ciarán to hold his books in his antlers and retired daily without getting his books wet – hence the depiction on plaque.


That “Comely Maidens” Speech Remembered

(from The Irish Times)

The maiden referred to in the final paragraph is the unfortunate girl caught kissing her beau in public. She never served her sentence because she returned home to Scotland but it was left hanging over her should she ever return to these shores.


Then and Then and Now

2007 to 2023


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