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


Canon’s Height in Summer 2024

Aisling Shannon, Master classes

Con Curtin Music festival 28 29 30 June 2024

Our banjo tutor Aisling Neville. 

Aisling Neville is a multi-instrumentalist who hails from Listowel in Co. Kerry. Aisling has spent many years on session circuits all over Ireland at various festivals and fleadhs. She holds 7 All Ireland titles, winning the Senior Banjo in 2003. Due to this success, she was selected for the Comhaltas tours of Ireland, Britain, and North America. Aisling completed the BAMus in UCC and was the recipient of the Doc Gleeson Award for performance excellence while in attendance there. She was also a member of The Bedford Cross Céilí band in recent years. Aisling is  a primary school teacher in Co. Clare  with over 20 years of experience teaching in various settings. She has adjudicated extensively at county and provincial level also.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

This image has gone viral. The unfortunate motorist changed his mind when driving through the Conor Pass and attempted to turn back. The car was removed later but our photographer seems to have left by then. I looked for photos of the removal of the car but couldn’t find any.

Wouldn’t you die….?

Bibiana Foran

I brought you this photo last week.

Jer Kennelly found her mentioned in this newspaper clip

Killarney Echo and South Kerry Chronicle 1899-1920, Saturday, 22 April 1911

When an old age pensioner enters the Workhouse the pension is no longer paid. As the law is at present, such old persons entering the Workhouse cease to be pensioners. An effort is being made to change the law. ———–

Large numbers of the old people who became old age pensioners at the beginning of the year-have gone back to the Workhouses. The food, comforts, and accommodation of the Workhouse are something more than they can obtain for 5s. a week outside. Inmates of Workhouses, in Kerry and elsewhere receive better .treatment than they did in years gone by. Still, respectable old people do not like the Workhouse, and it’s  only right that homes should be established for them. 


The members of the Listowel branch of the Women’s National Health Association, met last week and, judging by the statements made at the meeting, it would seem that the movement against consumption and its causes has made much progress in that district. If any doubts were entertained regarding the assertions that the disease can be cured the statement made at the meeting in question, by Mrs. Foran P.L.G., should have the effect of removing them. She informed those present that some persons sent from the Listowel district to the sanatorium for treatment had returned quite restored to health. 

We Have a Winner

My granddaughter, Cora, plays soccer with her club, Lakewood, and with her school, Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin. The schools’ competition is a 5’s blitz. It is very hard on the nerves because if your team goes down a goal you have very little time to make it up. Last week Cora’s team, representing Cork, won the Munster Schools’ Final and are now into the All Ireland final.

Hopes are high for victory in her other discipline, Gaelic football. Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin is into the final of Sciath na Scol to be played later this week.

Cora with her proud parents

Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin team

A Rallying Cry

A Fact

In 1220 Henry 1 laid the foundation stone for Westminster Abbey in London.


Ballybunion, Listowel and Kanturk

Ballybunion in early summer 2024

A Friday Laugh

In Kanturk

This premises in Kanturk is now the home of Yumm café but when I was growing up it was the home of Sarah and John O’Connor. This couple were the salt of the earth, Sarah, in particular, was involved in everything in town. She was in the Legion of Mary, Comhaltas, every play and show in the Edel Quinn Hall, the youth club, the bible study group and more.

Importantly, in the days before internet, emails and Zoom, Sarah typed up a twice yearly newsletter that was eagerly anticipated and much appreciated by Kanturk people who lived far from home. England was far in the days before cheap air travel. Sarah gathered all the news of births, marriages and deaths and anything else of interest . She was journalist, typist and post woman.

Whenever I met Sarah away from Kanturk she was always good for the “stand”, a selfless generous saint of a woman. May she rest in peace.

By the way the 1900 over the building signifies that it was a national school, the first in Kanturk.

From 2007

The Farmers Market was busy on Fridays in 2007

Dillon Boyer R.I.P, Pat and the late Mrs Walsh met up with Junior Griffin.

Nettle Soup

Yesterday I told you that it is recommended we eat nettle soup twice a day in May. Yesterday too I met up with my friend, Liz Dunn, and she had a story for us about nettle soup.

Liz and Jim watch Clarkson’s Farm. This TV programme which they watch on Amazon Prime follows Jeremy Clarkson’s adventures on his farm.

One of the workers on Jeremy’s farm is Lucca Allen, son of Rachel Allen. Lucca, one day, made nettle soup for Jeremy and it is now a staple on the menu on Clarkson’s Farm.

A Fact

The San people of southern Africa use a set of tools that dates back 44,000 years.


In Ballybunion

One of the lovely welcoming park benches in Childers Park Listowel

Church of St. John, Ballybunion

St. John’s in Ballybunion is one of the most magnificent churches in the Kerry Diocese.

Mary Young, whose seated statue is placed facing the church was one of the main benefactors.

Mary has left us all a spectacular legacy.

This beautiful window is above the main altar.

Water Safety

I don’;t fully understand it either, but it sounds nice.

Nettle Soup

Pic and text from

Here is something that many of you will have heard already – eating nettles in May. My grandmother would always have one feed of them cooked up with the bacon and cabbage. I’ve heard others who say that you were meant to have three feeds of them. Good for the blood apparently – full of iron. I make nettle soup with them and you’d never know they were in it once mixed with other vegetables. 

Text: Michael Fortune

A Fact

Nelson Mandele’s name at birth wasRolihlahla which means troublemaker.


Sticks and Stones-and Teabags

Three Cornered Leek, May 2024


If you’ve ever wondered what the gabhlóg in Baile Gabhlóg (Ballygologue) was. Here is your answer from

Gabhlóg/Gabhaileog – A Forked Stick

Here’s another little Irish word still found in the rural speech of many older people in Wexford (and other counties too). It’s a handy little thing called a gabhlóg/gabhaileog which would be used for holding down briars when cutting them with a billhook or also used to prop up a clothes line. Pronounced ‘goulyogue’ I once heard a story of it being used by a man to describe a PYE TV. He didn’t know the brand of the TV but remembered it was a P, a “Gabhlóg’ and an E. 

I heard it used in other counties too and the image here is of my nighbour Ken Hemmingway showing me this one day. Interesting to point out, here in Wexford many of these old Gaelic words are found right across the rural communities, native Gaelic, Anglo-Normans and Plantation families and everything in between. In fact I find many of the 16th/17th century Plantation families hung onto these old words and sayings more than their Gaelic neighbours. Just an observation as sometimes you get purists with notions about language and who “owns it” and I always like to knock them on their head a bit. Great little word.

Text: Michael Fortune

Remembering Seán McCarthy

Remember Christian and her Ph.D on Thade ‘s hen. Well back home in the U.S Christan is looking through the treasures she bought on her recent trip to Ireland. This is one such gem.

She photographed the reference to Listowel for us.

Seán MacCarthy’s song is included.

You have to Laugh

Mary McAulliffe shared this one on Facebook. I know he is running as an independent but surely someone would have told him before he put them up.

The Marathon

A Fact

A New York tea merchant invented the tea bag …by accident. His name was Thomas Sullivan (Irish? Don’t know)

This is how it came about.

Thomas sent tea samples to his customers in little silk bags. His customers thought that they were to immerse bag and all into the pot to make the tea. When Sullivan heard this, smart boy that he was, he realised he was on to something. He replaced the silk with the cheaper gauze and went into commercial production of teabags in the 1920s. They didn’t become really popular until the 1950s.



Wild garlic among the trees in Listowel Pitch and Putt course

Remembered with a seat in the Park

Here is a 2020 Facebook comment from a relative of this lady:

Bibiana Foran was my grand aunt. The OS most probably stands for her initials of her maiden name…she was O’Sullivan. Her home was in Lacca, Ballyhahill. Her brother Patrick was my grandfather. She was an amazingly capable lady….had a huge impact on the lives of many of the underprivileged in Listowel. She befriended many of the political prisoners during the trouble times. She with Lady Aberdeen, established the first sanatorium in Peamount, Dublin. A letter to her from prison from Thomas Ashe is in Tralee library. I gave it to her grand daughter, Grace, ( now sadly deceased) who had it presented to Tralee library. My aunt , Nora O’Sullivan, had that letter among her possessions, as she inherited Auntie Bibbie’s property in Ballybunion. I felt her grand daughter should have it. She & husband Jeremiah, also owned the Horseshoe Bar in Listowel & Cahirdown house in Listowel . Would be happy to give further info if needed. Irene Hynes 

Sporting Poem

I remember the bus bringing the newspapers in the days when we had morning papers and evening ones. In those far off days “the football pitch, the snooker hall and the handball alley” were the gathering places for men.

Happy Birthday to You

80 is the new 50. Youthful Nancy Collins has held back time. Unbelievably this lovely lady celebrated her 80th birthday last week.

Nancy celebrated her milestone day with her friends in Vincent’s. Listowel’s Vincent de Paul shop where Nancy regularly volunteers.

I was at the cinema

This is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful films I’ve seen. There isn’t a spare word or gesture. The characters are pitch perfect, the scenery breathtaking and the film was very faithful to McGahern’s beautiful writing.

Writers’ Week has organised a showing in The Plaza on May 31th, followed by an interview with director, Pat Collins.

A Fact

The first electric kettles were sold in the 1890s. The automatic switch off when boiled function wasn’t invented until 1955. Early electric kettles sometimes boiled dry or burned through the housing. They were very dangerous.

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