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

Big Houses

Egmond House, Kanturk, February 2023


Those Lazy, Hazy Crazy Days of Summer

A few years ago Carmel Sweeney Gornall shared these two photos with us. They are well worth a revisit. Happy days!

1988 Summer Camp in Listowel Community Centre

1987 Summer Camp in Listowel Community Centre


The sad end of Kilmorna House

This is how Kilmorna house is pictured and described in Kerry Writers’ Museum site;

Kilmorna House, known locally as the Great House, lay four miles south east of Listowel and six miles north west of Abbeyfeale. In 1834 the house was purchased by Pierce Mahony. It incorporated the original house that had been built in 1700, but Kilmorna House was of a much greater scale, much grander. It comprised three floors, 20 rooms, a library of books, a chapel, wonderful walled gardens and terraces with granite steps, all overlooking the river Feale as it flowed and meandered its way through the north Kerry countryside below.

Pierce O’Mahony had a step son, Arthur Vicars who loved Kilmorna and spent a lot of time there with his half brothers

Vicars had a glittering career. “In 1896 Arthur Vicars was knighted, in 1900 he was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) and in 1903 he was elevated to Knight Commander of the order (KCVO). He was also a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a trustee of the National Library of Ireland.”

However he became embroiled in scandal when “The Irish Crown Jewels” which were in his keeping were stolen. The gutter press of the time had a field day with him, raising questions about his sexuality and his faithfulness to his wife and his suitability for high office. He refused to resign and protested his innocence of any wrongdoing.

He fled to his place of sanctuary, Kilmorna House.

In 1921 The War off Independence was being bitterly waged in these parts. Any Englishman, particularly an aristocrat who fraternised with members of the British Army was suspected of spying.

Vicars was shot on the grounds of Kilmorna House on April 14 1921 and a placard placed around his neck with the words ‘SPY. INFORMERS BEWARE. IRA NEVER FORGETS’

Kilmorna house was sacked and burned. His widow fled to Listowel to Gurtinard House.


Former Presentation Convent, Listowel

This is how I like to remember the convent.

This is how it looked on Saturday February 4 2023

The good news is that the building is to be refurbished. The owner of the derelict building spoke to Donal Nolan of “The Kerryman”.

“Owner of the Convent John Whelan has informed The Kerryman that the refugees bound for Listowel will comprise women, children and elderly people in the main.” ………

“Mr Whelan said he was moved on humanitarian grounds to help accommodate Ukrainian people; in the building he owns that was once home to generations of nuns.”….

“This is purely for Ukrainian refugees, mostly women, children and elderly people. The building is there and it’s empty and it would be a shame not to look after people there in this way. I hope there will be a welcome extended them by the people of North Kerry and Listowel,” Mr Whelan added.

Asked as to how many would be accommodated in the old Convent, Mr Whelan replied: ‘In and around 50’. (The Kerryman Feb. 2023)



Sad stories and beautiful Jewellery


“Old forgotten far off things and battles long ago….”


  1. Brigid Brigid

    Thanks for the KILMORNA PIECE!

  2. James Kenny

    Hi Mary, do any of your readers have a history of the convent building? Looking at your photographs it seems to comprise of two buildings; the left area appears to be an extension of the main building. The configuration of the windows are different.

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