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

Ballybunion’s Marian Grotto and Listowel’s Charlie Nolan

A gate in Howth by Éamon ÓMurchú


Ballybunion Grotto

At Ahafona cross there is this lovely secluded grotto. It is beautifully kept and a great credit to all who look after it.

In front of the grotto is a row of seats remembering the people who loved this place very much.


Charlie Nolan

A while ago when I was doing my bit about handball in Listowel, I published this picture of Charlie Nolan with the Joe James trophy he won 50 years ago. To promote that post I also published the picture on Facebook.

Some people, seeing the photo, thought that Charlie had won some recent accolade. He hadn’t but he deserves one, so here goes.

This is Charlie Nolan in his happy place beside his Silver River Feale, photographed by Paddy Fitzgibbon.

Very often it is only when someone spends years away from their native place that they truly appreciate it. This is not true in the case of Listowel’s Charlie Nolan. Charlie was born and bred here and has spent most of his adult life in and around his beloved river Feale.

John Lynch and Charlie Nolan, Listowel historians

In a town famous for writers and composers, Charlie is a doer, a local historian who chronicles Listowel life not in words but in video pictures. He worked for a long time with his great friend and fellow videographer, John Lynch. They went out in all weathers to document significant happenings in town. They made a great team. When John stepped back, Charlie continued on his own to record life in the town he loves so well.

Charlie with fellow local historian, Jer Kennelly

He spends hours of his time editing his videos and putting a soundtrack or captions to them. Then, most importantly, he shares them with everyone.

Charlie on the reviewing stand recording a St. Patrick’s Day parade

Charlie grew up in O’Connell’s Ave, and many of his childhood neighbours and friends are scattered throughout the globe. These are the audience that most appreciate his videos of Listowel life as they remember it. He is doing them a great service and they appreciate it. 

Charlie Nolan and his sister, Eileen Worths

Charlie is also hugely supportive of what I do. He is one of the greatest promoters of Listowel Connection.

Charlie Nolan recording my walking tour of Listowel Town Square during Writers’ Week 2018

Charlie is up for learning new things too. Here he is on a Googling trip with Damien O’Mahoney.

Charlie is happiest outdoors, whether in Gurtinard Wood or on The Feale.

To a whole other audience, Charlie Nolan is a wildlife videographer. He has a deep knowledge of Kerry wildlife and he has an unequalled knowledge of the River Feale. He has captured on film all the native birds and animals of North Kerry and he has introduced them to an audience that may never have got to see them otherwise. Spending hours by the river is no hardship to Charlie but he uses his time there to patiently video the wildlife.

Charlie, second from left with Seán Treacy, Billy Galvin, John Maguire and Seán Comerford

Recently was the first time I heard about Charlie, the champion handball and squash player.

This man is nothing if not modest. He “can walk with kings but keep the common touch”. Charlie has only a small appreciation of the high regard in which he is held locally. He is part of the fabric of Listowel and one of the town’s  noblest sons. He deserves the freedom of the borough or any other lifetime accolade that can be bestowed on him.

Charlie Nolan is a local treasure and Listowel is very lucky to have him.


Ballybunion, A Ball Alley Poem and a Fact


In Lizzy’s, Ballybunion Community Market and New Coffee Shop on Church Street


  1. Marion Moynihan

    Love the Gerry Hanberry poem Mary. He was a classmate of mine in NUIG. A lovely man. He is also a talented musician and singer and played at our wedding in Connemara. Can’t believe he’s on his 5th book of poetry.

    • listowelconnection

      Wow Marion, that’s extraordinary. I had not actually seen the poem in the paper. John McGrath, a local poet, shared it. I thought it was so true and so touching. I must read some more of Gerry’s work.

  2. Bridget O’Connor

    A beautiful, very well deserved tribute to Charlie. Míle buíochas Mary.

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