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

Category: Duagh Page 1 of 2

A Heroine, A Horse and a Hen

Áras an Phiarsaigh


Dublin Kerry Honours

There I am at Women in Media in Ballybunion in 2019. On my right is Duagh native, Katie Hannon who is now being honoured by the Kerry association in Dublin. She is to be their Kerry Person on the Year 2023.

Photo: Radio Kerry

These two national treasures, Ambrose O’Donovan and Tim Moynihan, the voices that bring GAA matches to Kerry people all over the world, are also to be honoured. Their match day commentaries are the stuff of legend. They are to be dubbed Laochra Chiarraí (Kerry Heroes).


A Local Spat

in the letters page in 1901


Listowel, 27th March 1901.

Dear Sir,

In your last issue Mr John J Foley takes exception to the remarks made in my notice of the concert recently held in Listowel, in so far as his “comic” recitation “Thady Kelly’s Hen,” was concerned. It is only natural that Mr Foley should endeavour to prove that the item, so far from being objectionable, was entitled to the honour of a National anthem. If I were in his position it is more than probable I would also try to justify myself in the eyes of the public. Placed as I am, I am sure Mr Foley will have no objection to my defending my criticism, particularly as it was written in a spirit which commends itself to himself. Whether he does or not, I intend doing so, and if he regards my remarks in this and in future letters unpleasant he has no one to blame but himself.

I at once join issue! with Mr Foley on the question as to whether “Thady Kelly’s Hen” is an Irish poem of true racy humour, without any savour of the stage-Irishman or of the English music hall,” or a miserable, drivelling , idiotic caricature of the National character. It is a matter of indifference to me whether he rendered the item in Tralee or Timbuctoo without evoking hostile criticism. I am aware that there are some sterling Irishmen in Tralee, but at the same time I am not ignorant of the fact that it contains its due proportion of shoneens. The question at issue is not whether “Thady Kelly’s Hen’ was hall-marked in Tralee or elsewhere, but whether it should or should not be recited before a self-respecting Irish audience.

Now, let us see what the recitation was about. Thady Kelly, as impersonated by Mr Foley, was a besotted ignoramus who never drank porther until he was dhry.” ” While giving the recitation Mr Foley was continually scratching his head in the most silly fashion, under the delusion evidently that he was doing something particularly clever. This is the manner in which the Irishman is usually caricatured. He is represented as a drunken, improvident, “omadhaun,’ who is tolerated on account of the “bulls” he perpetrates. Mr Foley cut the most ridiculous figure he could assume as he murdered the English language in a style never heard in this country. I have no objection to the wholesale massacre of the English, language, but I have a decided objection to have my countrymen held up to ridicule. A sillier, more disgusting and humiliating performance, I never witnessed, than this so-called comic recitation, and Mr. Foley would be well advised if he never again attempted to perpetrate an atrocity which cannot fail to detract from his reputation.

Mr Foley tries to make a point out of my statement, that the people who applauded his recitation did not appear to grasp its insulting significance. I reiterate that statement, and the best proof that they did not grasp it is furnished by the fact that he was not hissed off the stage.

Mr Foley also makes some mild insinuation about “fanatics.” I do not think it is necessary to waste time dealing with the observation, particularly when I take into account the fact that Mr. Foley was not in the most amiable mood when his letter was being written, and that, under the circumstances an ebullition of feeling was only to be expected. Besides as a journalist, I am not over thin skinned, and I do not certainly expect Mr Foley to be over fastidious in his choice of epithets. I have some other observations to make, but will reserve them for my next letter. In the meantime let me express the hope that when Mr Foley comes to Listowel again, he will not be accompanied by “Thady Kelly’s Hen.”

I am, faithfully, YOUR CORRESPONDENT .

( I looked online but couldn’t find the “poem” anywhere)


When you Meet Someone Deep in Grief

“Slip off your shoes
and set them by the door

Enter barefoot,
this darkened chapel

hollowed by loss,
hallowed by sorrow.

its grey stone walls
and floor

You, congregation
of one

Are here to listen,
not to sing.

Kneel in the back pew,
make no sound

Let the candles

By Patricia Mckernon Runkle


Home is Where the Horses are

This fellow, affectionately known as Johnny, loves to come to the fence for a nuzzle.



Here is the answer to the horse related question you didn’t ask.

Why is a horse’s height measured in hands?

The term “hand” is traditionally used to measure the height of horses because it was originally the standard unit of measurement during the Middle Ages. One “hand” is equal to 4 inches, which is the approximate span between a human’s thumb and outstretched fingers.


Lovely Listowel Memories

Listowel Town Square in November 2022


Round the Block

A Poem by John Fitzgerald

Let us go then, you and I

Round the Block, beneath the sky

Like two prisoners on a street

Back in time when young boys meet

Past busy lanes, bustling shops

Penny sweets and summer shots

Munched in silence when alone

Thinking of those friends now gone.

Up William Street, left and right

Pubs, clothes shops will catch the eye

Smell of commerce everywhere

Traffic vying to get you there

Coffee shops and restaurants

Fancy names when hunger taunts

“Hot dinners” there once in vogue

Pizzas, burgers now to choose.

At the Sheriff’s, Charles Street

Corner boys a vantage keep

Swapping tales and street reviews

Up to date with daily news

Live the painters, the wood grainers

Eagle eyes, true colour changers

Cut stone houses there to see

I know you and you know me.

Leaving Charles Street for Forge Lane

Halfway Round the Block we’ve come

Blacksmiths two and cobblers one

Artists each and everyone 

Short the street but great the craft

Lineage of a class apart

As we head down to Church Street

Last leg of the Block we reach.

Linking Church Street to the Square

Young and old pass everywhere

Shopfronts of an older day

Proudly boast an ancient way

Harp and Lion in God we trust

“Spes in Deo” is put first

Latin, French and Irish mix

In bold relief, in plaster rich.

As we walk we talk a lot

Writers, stories priming thought

Bryan, the Master and John B.

Raise the bar for all to see

Characters, an endless list

Can lift mood at a twist

Each time ventured Round the Block

Transformed but no memory lost.

Threaded beads of incident

To be found in every sense

Raise your head, they put you down

That’s what happens in my town

Lower it and they raise you up

That is what is called support

As the bell strikes in the Square

Our walk is timed to finish there.


Hollywood Memories

Charles McCarthy spotted this in the Towers Hotel


Traditional Holly and Ivy Decorations


Well Deserved Honour for Duagh Broadcaster


Christmas is Coming

Christmas is coming

And the goose is getting fat.

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.

If you haven’t got a penny a ha’penny will do.

If you haven’t got a ha’penny

God bless you.

November 16 2022


Raceweek, Duagh and Mallow

Photo; Chris Grayson at St. Mary of the Angels, Beaufort


St. Bridgid’s, Duagh

Beautifully detailed colourful window behind the high altar

The windows and stations of the cross were donated by local families and emigrants.


Betty McGrath’s, September 2021

Few people loved race week as much as Betty McGrath. She loved the style, the excitement but most of all the days out with her beloved family and friends. This year, 2021, Betty’s daughter Grace has pulled out all the stops to dress a window that Betty would be proud of.

Sadly, Betty passed away before Raceweek 2021.

May her kind soul rest in peace.


Clock Home, Mallow

Sept 2021


Snámhaí Sásta

Friday Sept 10 2021 was International Suicide Awareness Day and this lady, June Curtin, is working hard to raise awareness of the tragedy that is suicide. .

June joined the Ballybunion Dippers sea swimming group in an event to highlight the therapeutic benefits of sea swimming.

The very well supported event was a huge success.


Culture Weekend

Last weekend, Sept 17 to 19 2021 was a great weekend in town for it included an International Storytelling Festival, Poetry Town events and a free concert.

Oh and Listowel Races opened on Sunday too.

Friday evening was the opening night of the storytelling festival. Two very sketchy “nurses” were on hand to make sure Covid regulations were observed.

This storyteller is Colum Sandes and his story was graced with music and mimicry.

Maria Gillen was the bean an tí. She kept the show rolling, singing songs and telling stories.

Maria with Jimmy Deenihan who was dividing his time between the Poetry Town events and the storytelling.

Our own Frances Kennedy was one of the star turns. For me she also had the best line of the night. She said we were all so tired of Covid restrictions that “a straw would pull us out the door now”.

The audience loved Gabriel Fitzmaurice heart-warming anecdotes and poems.

On Sunday morning a crowd regrouped at Kerry Writers’ Museum for some very interesting story walks.


Listowel Community Orchard

A beautiful spot down by the Feale is the community orchard. The pears are nearly ripe. The horse chestnut tree is laden with conkers. There are herbs galore for all to pick and use. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic.


In Duagh

I like to call to Duagh church and grounds to reconnect with Fr. Pat Moore. He is still very much there in spirit.

“Somedays I just sits.”

I sat on the bench dedicated to Fr. Pat’s memory.

I sat and looked at the church where he ministered and the house and parish centre where he lived, worked and prayed.

On a sunny September day in 2021, it was a haven of peace and birdsong. Fr. Pat’s spirit is there among the people who loved him.


Kitchener (1901)

A correspondent of Mr. T. P. O’Connor’s weekly writes as follows regarding the present Commander-in-Chief of the forces in South Africa.

Let me set you right about Lord Kitchener’s natal spot, regarding which I happen to know a good deal, having myself been born within a couple of miles of it. He was born at Gunsborough Cottage, which was lent to his father, Lieutenant-Colonel Kitchener, by the father of the well-known ci-devant Irish M. P., Mr. Peirce Mahony, of Kilmorna. Gunsborough is within three miles of Listowel, the capital of North Kerry. He was baptised at the little Protestant Church hard by now in ruins, I believe by the late Rev. Robert Sandes, a representative of the family of which the late Mr. George Sandes, of Grenville, Listowel, was a well known member. The Kitcheners subsequently went to live at Crotto House, which Colonel Kitchener afterwards sold to Mr. Thomas Beale Brown, a near relative of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach. The true history of the whole vexed question of the connection of the Kitchener family with Kerry was told during the late Soudan campaign in the columns of the Irish Times by Major Kiggell, of Cahnra, Glin, County Limerick, whose son, Major Lancelot Kiggell, is now on Lord Kitchener’s staff.

New Zealand Tablet, 25 July 1901, 


Church Street Tattoo Shop

The tattoo shop has gone from pink to blue. It is probably more in keeping with the dark vibe coming from the shop.


Getting in the Mood

Flavin’s window is getting us in the mood.


Emigration and Returning

In Listowel Tidy Town’s herb and fruit garden


A West Kerry Wake

Béal Bán by Éanon ÓMurchú

Snuff, tobacco, porter, port and tea…a great child’s account of a wake in the west Kerry Gaeltacht in the last century.

An Tórramh


Duagh Priests…A Massive Contribution

Jer Kennelly has done Trojan work in documenting the worldwide contribution of North Kerry born priests. He has trawled through countless old newspaper obituaries in his search to see that these great men are not forgotten. I have been bringing you just some of the many life stories he has unearthed.

When I found myself in Duagh recently I took notice of all the priest’s burial places just to the left of the church. They tell a story of emigration and sacrifice and the global reach of a small village.


The Castle Hotel, Ballybunion

Photo from Glin Historical Society on Facebook


Carroll’s of Course

Carroll’s Hardware in The Square is being repainted. It is going back to a more heritage yellow colour and the sign writing by the master, Martin Chute, is clear crisp and traditional.


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