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

A Friday Miscellany

Courthouse Road

The Horseshoe

Looks like this eatery is about to have something added to its facade.

Paddy Glavin Remembers The Feale

Moments of Reflection

Listowel printing Works at Tannavalla

Paul Shannon printing up another iteration of my book…exciting times.

Moments with Aoife

Aoife and her Nana on Charles Street

Happy days with a bubble wand

Little Known Kerry Writers from The Newspaper Archives

New York NY Irish American Advocate 1916-1918

Mr. James J. O’Neill, Librarian of National University of Ireland, in a series of monthly lectures at the Carnegie Library, Listowel, Co. Kerry, read an interested paper on some distinguished Kerrymen.”

Mr. O’Neill after a rapid survey of Ireland’s ancient scholars, and their merits said that Kerry had Just cause to be proud of its place in its countries roll of fame —————–

Kerryman prominent among the writers of that literature. Hugh Kelly, the Kerry dramatist was born in Killarney in 1739. At an early age he removed to Dublin closed his career, and he died in 1777 at the early age of 38.

——– Richard Cantillon, the political economist, sprang from a Kerry family He was born at Ballyheigue about the beginning of the 17th century .

Among the writers in English we have the names of Bartholomew Dowling, Mrs. Mary Downing and Maurice O’Connell.

Mrs. Mary Downing was the daughter of Daniel MacCarthy of Kilfadimore, near Kenmare. She contributed many pieces of prose and poetry to the columns of the Cork Southern Reporter under the pseudonym of Christabel.

The O’Donoghue of the Glens, a leading figure in Irish politics from 1858 to 1868, was another distinguished Kerryman.

Lest we forget, Thomas Moore’s father was a Kerryman. Dr. Douglas Hyde, the great father of the Gaelic League, also has ‘Kerry blood in his  veins. To Irishmen the name of O’Connell is synonymous with their redemption.

Harman Blennerhasset the talented, but unfortunate son of Conway Blennerhasset of Castle Conway, Killorglin. He sailed toAmerica in 1726, and settled down to the life of a country gentleman, with his bride, the beautiful and accomplished Miss Margaret Agnew. After a few years he had the misfortune to meet the notorious Aaron Burr.

Mr. James Franklin Fuller, of Gasnacree, is another artist of whom Kerry may feel proud.

A Fact

In 1830 Sarah Josepha Hale wrote the well known nursery rhyme, Mary had a Little Lamb. She based it on an experience of her own when she was teaching in Newport, New Hampshire in the U.S. A pet lamb followed one of Hale’s students to school and refused to leave. The lamb waited until it was reunited with “Mary” at close of classes.


Canon Adderley of Listowel

Friday Morning walkers trecking through the Garden of Europe during Writers’ Week 2024

Window Displays

During Writers’ Week 2024, shopkeepers displayed books in their windows. Some people concentrated on books with a local connection.

I was chuffed to see my A Minute of Your Time among the pictures of calves on Horan’s window.


According to this week’s Ireland’s Own the Maloneys were a bright and holy bunch.

Canon Adderley

Jer. discovered this piece of Church of Ireland history for us.

Edward Adderley and his wife Mary Hale were ancestors of the Adderley family of Innishannon, Co Cork. Francis Adderley of Innishannon, Co Cork, and his wife Elizabeth (Fowkes) were the parents of Thomas Adderley (1713-1791), a politician, landowner, amateur architect, developer of the linen industry and MP.

Thomas Adderley was still a child when he inherited his father’s estate, and was educated at Trinity College Dublin. He built the town of Innishannon, Co Cork, brought 60 Huguenot families to Innishannon in 1747 to establish a linen manufactory, and built a charter school there in 1752.

Robert moved to Limerick in 1905 and was Curate of Saint Mary’s Cathedral (1905-1908) and Vicar Choral (1905-1918). During that time, he was the Precentor of Limerick for ten years (1908-1918). During World War I, he was also a chaplain to the forces in 1915-1919.

After the war, Canon Adderley spent almost 30 years as Rector of Listowel (1918-1946), which was amalgamated with Ballybunion in 1922, and Brosna and Abbeyfeale in 1928, all now part of the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes.

In the cathedral chapter, he was Prebendary of Croagh (1918-1924), Prebendary of Kilpeacon (1924-1940), Treasurer of Limerick (1940-1941), and then Dean of Ardfert (1941-1946). But the position of Dean of Ardfert was a sinecure or nominal appointment: the parish of Ardfert was amalgamated with Tralee in 1921, and the Church of Ireland parish church closed in 1945.

He died in hospital in Tralee, Co Kerry, on 12 October 1946.

Graveyard Masses 2024

Another Nursery Rhyme Fact

Goosey, Goosey, Gander is a nursery rhyme originating in the time of Cromwell. Cromwell’s soldiers persecuted Catholics. They sought them out everywhere, even in “the lady’s chamber”. When caught, the unfortunate Catholic was sometimes executed by tying a rope to his leg and flinging him down a flight of stairs.


Poetry, Drama and Memories

The Big Bridge in May 2024

+ Nóra Relihan R.I.P+

Photo credit: Paul O’Flynn

Nóra Relihan, who passed away on June 14th 2024, deserves a statue in her honour in her adopted town of Listowel, for Nóra was central to every significant cultural development in Listowel during her lifetime. She packed more into her life than many people do in many lifetimes.

Nóra was named Kerry Person of the Year 2023

(Photo and text from Kerry Association in Dublin)

Nóra had a varied career throughout her lifetime with solo tours, drama, TV, and film appearances, including “Fair City” and TG4 film “Limbo”.

Jimmy Deenihan, Chairperson of the Selection Committee, said “Nóra Relihan richly deserves this prestigious award in recognition of her immense contribution to the promotion of the Arts during her lifetime. One of her greatest achievements was the establishment of St. John’s Theatre and Arts Centre in Listowel which is regarded as the premier small arts centre in the country. She now joins the pantheon of renowned Kerry Artists who have received the award to date including Pauline Bewick, Brendan Kennelly, Fr Tony Gaughin and Fr Pat Aherne”.

In announcing the award, Mary Shanahan, Chairperson of the Kerry Association in Dublin said “Nóra has made a unique contribution to the promotion of the Arts in Kerry and nationally. She deservedly merits the accolade “Voice of the Kingdom” for her role as Director, entertainer, broadcaster and for her role in the various arts activities in North Kerry”.

In accepting the award Nóra Relihan said; “I am delighted and honoured to receive this award from the Kerry Association; it is a really lovely tribute to my interest and work in the arts over many decades”.

Photo from Kay Caball

Nóra (in sunglasses) with John B. Keane and the cast of Sive. On the right is Dan Moloney T.D. who entertained them in the Dáil after their big win in the All Ireland Drama Festival in 1959.

Here Nóra remembers her performance as Mena Glavin. Nóra, always glamorous and stylish, transformed into the shrewish, put- upon Mena was a triumph of acting.

Nóra was also an evocative writer.

Photo from Kay Caball …..Nóra, second from left with the cast of Drama at Inish in 1955.

Nóra loved the stage. Whether as a cast member in a big production, as a solo performer, performing on location, touring, or producing, the stage was Nóra’s home. It was fitting that her family returned her to St. John’s in Listowel to bring the curtain down on her long life.

Nóra is remembered in Kerry for her programmes on Radio Kerry, her Signposts to Kerry and Hospitals Requests. Her mellifluous voice was perfect for radio.

I took this photo with Phil in John B. Keane’s pub during one of Nóra’s final performances, a one woman show.

Nóra with her neighbours on Nunday in 2012.

Nóra at Writers Week in 2014 with Brenda Woulfe and Mike Lynch.

Nóra with her great friend and co founder of Listowel Writers’ Week, Noreen Buckley, was honoured at a commemorative meal in 2014.

With Joe Murphy in St. John’s

Nóra Relihan leaves behind a cultural legacy to her beloved Kerry. We will not see her likes again.

A great lady has exited the stage. We are lucky to have known her.

Monday, May 17 2024


Michael Guerin, Owen MacMahon and Mary McKenna on the Friday morning walk at Writers’ Week 2024.

Owen was an excellent Byrne in Listowel Drama Group’s recent production of John B. Keane’s Big Maggie. Mary was only 10 when her late father played the same role with Kilcullen Drama Group in the first ever amateur production of the play many moons ago.

The cast….Mary’s late dad was Johnny O’Neill. The play won many accolades at the festivals. Johnny won the award for Best supporting actor at the All Ireland final in Athlone.

The Sullivans

This is an extract from Ireland’s Own. It contradicts what I had always believed, i.e. that ÓSúilleabháin meant one eyed rather than dark eyed.

Another Fascinating Fact

The contrary Mary of the nursery rhyme was known as Bloody Mary, the Catholic daughter of Henry VIII. Queen Mary was a fanatical Catholic. She tortured and killed Protestants and buried them in her “garden”. Her ‘silver bells’ were thumbscrews and “cockle shells” were instruments of torture attached to male genitalia.


Buckfast Tonic Wine, British coins and a bit of Listowel too

Bicycle Stand on Market Street

At Opening Night Listowel Writers’ Week 2024

Local poets, Matt Mooney and Mary MacElligott

Local blogger, me, with writer, Pat Sheedy

Update to my Facts on British Coins

Kathy Reynolds sent us the full story.

Hi Mary

I hope you are well and enjoying better weather than we are in cold wet England. Your blog always gives me my early morning read alongside the Times. Although no expert on coinage and tap & pay is now nearly standard a few outlets still prefer “real money” so I feel I must add a little to today’s fact.

King Charles III became King in September 2022 immediately on his mother’s death but he was crowned on 6 May 2023. 

The first completely redesigned set of coins were issued December 2023 and the flora and fauna design took me back to the Irish coinage of my childhood, particularly the Atlantic salmon on the 50p reminding me of the florin. However a Memorial 50p entered circulation in December 2022, marking the transition from Queen Elizabeth II to King Charles III. Also a special 50p coin marking King Charles III’s coronation went into circulation on Thursday, 10th August. Notes entered circulation in June 2024.


Kathy Reynolds


I think they got the message. Breda and Margaret tell me that there has been no postering of litter bins since we highlighted the issue here.


An American wine connoisseur made the mistake of reviewing Buckfast… Here’s their tasting notes:

Buckfast Tonic Wine (No Vintage)

Screw cap, took it off about 30 minutes before to bring in some air. Apparently made by monks in England. Decided to try while cooking dinner. Poured into a glass, first glance has a very inky almost brownish color that you see in older wines. Very syrupy, liquid clings to the side of the glass when swirled. Almost 15% ABV.

Stuck my nose in and was hit with something I’ve never experienced before. Barnyardy funk (in a bad way) almost like a dead animal in a bird’s nest. A mix of flat Coca Cola and caramel with a whiff of gun metal.

On the palate, overwhelming sweetness and sugar. Cherry Cola mixed with Benadryl. Unlike anything I’ve tasted. I’m not sure what this liquid is but it is not wine, I’m actually not sure what it is but it tastes like something a doctor would prescribe. A chemical concoction of the highest degree. Can only compare it to a Four Loko.

Managed to make it through a couple small glasses but not much more. Has absolutely ruined the evening drinking-wise for me as I tried to drink a nice Bordeaux after but the iron-like metallic sweet aftertaste I just couldn’t get out of my mouth even after a few glasses of water. I don’t drink a lot of coffee regularly so I also have mild heart palpitations from the caffeine after just drinking a bit of this and feel a slight migraine.

An ungodly concoction made by seemingly godly men. I believe the Vatican needs to send an exorcist over to Buckfast Abbey as the devil’s works are cleary present there. After tasting this “wine,” the way I feel can only be described as akin to being under a bridge on one’s knees orally pleasing a vagrant while simultaneously drinking liquified meth through a dirty rag.

I’ve drank a lot of wines in my life and will never forget this one.

(I don’t think he liked it!)

Commemorative Seat

On our Friday walk at Writers’ Week we passed by Paddy Fitzgibbon’s memorial.

Fascinating Fact

The words of the nursery rhyme, Mary had a Little Lamb, were the first replayed words in human history through Edison’s playback on June 22 1878.


Art, A Classic Poem and Novels Galore

Market Street in June 2024

Art in Market Street

On a window in Market Street

A Poem we Learned at School

W.B. Yeats wrote this poem in 1930. It has stood the test of time.

Tae Lane Store Window

Clodagh O’Sullivan runs one of the busiest, most stylish shops in town. She took time out of her busy life to source and mount the most marvellous Writers’ Week window display.

Kerry Group celebrated 30 years of sponsorship of the Kerry Novel of the Year this year.

Clodagh sourced a copy of EVERY one of the 29 previous winners. They are all displayed on her window in Church Street, along with this year’s winner, Remembrance Sunday by DarraghMcKeon.

A Will

Jer Kennelly is great for uncovering snippets of social history.

(There is a Becher Street in Mallow to this day.)

SIR JOHN WRIXON-BECHER, 3rd Baronet (1828-1914), JP DL, High Sheriff of County Cork, 1867, who espoused, in 1857, the Lady Emily Catherine Hare, daughter of William, 2nd Earl of Listowel.  His son Sir Eustace William Wyndham Wrixon Becher (1860-1934) Bart, DL, 1915, Creagh, Skibbereen, Ballygiblin, Mallow, listed  1922.  Executor of his father Sir John Wrixon Becher, M.A., D.L., (1828-1914), £11,299.

Talk on a Learned Listowel Lady

(Text and photo from Kerry Writers’ Museum on Facebook)

Cecile O’Rahilly: Kerrywoman, Celticist and Textual Critic | Lecture by Dr. Síle Ní Mhurchú on Thursday 20th June at 8pm in Kerry Writers’ Museum in Listowel

Join Dr. Síle Ní Mhurchú for a lecture on the life and accomplishments of Cecile O’Rahilly, a prominent Kerrywoman known for her contributions to Celtic Studies.

Cecile O’Rahilly, born in Listowel in 1894, made significant strides in her field and is remembered for her meticulous editing of notable Irish literary works. She was the first woman to hold the position of assistant professor at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

Dr. Síle Ní Mhurchú, a respected senior lecturer in Modern Irish at University College Cork, will delve into Cecile O’Rahilly’s life and scholarly impact during the lecture.

Save the date for this enlightening event on Thursday 20th June at 8 pm, hosted in Kerry Writers’ Museum in Listowel.

🎫 Admission is €5 payable at the door.


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