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 3

Drama in Kilcullen

Christmas crib in Duagh.

photo from 2022

Out of Order

One of the highlights of my trip to Kildare was a visit to the Town Hall Theatre, Kilcullen for a most enjoyable evening of theatre in the company of family and friends.

My daughter Clíona surrounded by her McKenna, O’Neill and Muldoon in-laws in the ample foyer of the theatre.

The play was a fast paced farce full of confusion and misunderstandings and was played to perfection by the local cast.

The part of Miss Worthington was played by Sinead O’Neill who posed for me beside a photo of her late grandfather who was also a member of Kilcullen Drama Group.

The O’Neill’s were out in force to support Sinead.

Mary and Anne O’Neill beside their late father’s photo.

This group has a strong Listowel connection.

There was a period in the 60s and 70s when they staged almost every John B. Keane play.

The group have the most comfortable theatre in which to perform.

This theatre began life as a cinema and it has the marvellous tiered seating and physical closeness associated with a small old style cinema.

The place got a major overhaul in 1999. This huge work was spearheaded by a man called Pat Dunlea. Pat was a garage owner and Volvo dealer. He persuaded Volvo to sponsor the seats.

These are the most comfortable theatre seats you’ll ever sit in.

Seated comfortably, we were treated to a head spinning, laugh a minute adult pantomime.

The action took place in Buswell’s Hotel in Dublin.

In the interval, “Buswell’s staff ” served us tea in china cups.

Another nice touch was the cast came to meet and greet, pose for photos and chat in the foyer after the show.

If you are ever in that neck of the woods and these people are performing be sure to go along. They were just the tonic for a cold evening in Winter.

Christmas at The Claus House

Home Alone

A Christmas poem from Mary McElligott

‘What will I do Mrs Claus?”

Santa rubbed his head.

He really was exhausted.

His legs felt like lead.

His head was pounding, throbbing.

He was frozen to the bone.

Mrs Claus was too busy cleaning,

To listen to him moan.

He was like this every year,

I suppose you’d say, stressed.

She’d listen, support and encourage,

Take out his long sleeved vest.

Christmas Eve was looming,

Three more sleeps to go.

Was it his age? She wondered,

Gosh, t’was hard to know.

Mrs Claus was high dusting,

Changing sheets and beds.

Five hundred elves was no joke,

The last time she counted heads.

One hundred stayed all year

But in October that count went up,

Hard work for Mrs. Claus,

To get it all set up.

She cooked and cleaned their dorms.

She worked out their Rota,

24/7 their job,

Hard, juggling that quota.

She loved it though, being busy,

Loved caring for the elves,

They were like their children,

When they didn’t have any themselves.

Some poor elves were homesick,

In the North Pole for a whole twelve weeks.

She often saw tears flowing,

Down their little cheeks.

She had one big job to sort.

She did it through the year.

It was she who got the elves their gifts,

Brought them their Christmas cheer.

She made several trips down south.

There was a great service from The Pole

But her favorite place to go,

Was a place called Listowel.

It was so tidy and clean,

So pretty, down by the park

And even more beautiful at night,

With with all those blue lights in the dark.

She’d buy all their gifts,

Hats, scarves and gloves for the elves.

She’d pack them in huge cases,

Leaving a bit of space for a few bits for themselves.

She loved Christmas Eve,

Santa gone, the elves in bed.

She’d open up her cases,

Deliver gifts as she’d quietly tread,

Up and down, between the beds,

One hundred in each dorm,

Over and back until the cases were empty,

Finishing up near dawn.

They all get a Christmas bonus,

50 Euros and of course, some sweets,

After all it was Christmas

And you’d have to give them treats.

She’d only just be gone tombed,

When Santa would land in, FROZEN..

She’d leave out coke and cake,

Waiting for him, dozing.

‘How was it Santa?’ she’d ask,

‘Everything go all right with the reindeer?’

“Absolutely perfect Mrs Claus,

Thanks to you. Merry Christmas, my dear.”

A Fact

From Schools’ Folklore collection

Garret Stack went to confession Christmas Eve and he was to go to communion Christmas morning and the clock stopped during the night and he got up and went away thinking it was very late and when he was near Newtown he met a priest and he knew him and that priest was dead and he came down the road and went into Mc. Cabe’s and it was only one o’clock and he stayed there until morning.

Written by Con Shine, Kilbaha, told by his father John Shine.


Food Fair, Book Launch and a Mystery Solved

St. John’s photographed from St. Mary’s

Listowel Food Fair Food Trail 2023

Stop number 3 was at Daisy Boo Barista.

Another Listowel success story here. Daisy has her own business at age 20. She served coffee, tea, herbal tea and hot chocolate to the by now fairly full trailers.

On to stop number 4.

Stop the lights! the two Mags served us up a full meal of chicken in a romana sauce with rice and salad, They had a full array of desserts including chocolate biscuit cake.

Helen Godfrey has been with Mags and Mags nearly since the beginning.

The celebrity chef was happy to pose with the real chefs of the day. He reminisced about calling to the deli when he was a garsún in to town from Duagh. John Relihan loved their food then and more so now. He particularly loved Mags’ Deli romana sauce.

Mags joked that she wasn’t going to share her recipe with a man who sells sauces.

This deli is a Listowel institution. It is now 25 years since John O’Connor moved out and the two ladies took over. They deserve all the support they get.

From William Street Upper to Pennsylvania Avenue, Kathy Buckley’s life story makes for great reading.

Her cousin, Vincent Carmody, tells her story well, embellished with photos, recipes, menus etc. …a great read.

I took a few photos at the launch.

Anne and Elaine Sheahan with Helen Moylan

Rose Molyneaux, Judy MacMahon and Kay Caball

Jed Chute and Liam Grimes

The book was launched by Katie Hannon and lauded by Dr. Miriam Nyhan Gray, a historian specialising in the Irish diaspora. She was fascinated by the fact that Kathy came back to William Street to end her days. Irish emigrants to the US have a very low rate of return by comparison with people from other countries.

From Duagh to the bright lights of Dublin, Katie Hannon is a lady who has blazed her own successful trail. She recalled Vincent, then her postman, delivering her CAO offer letter and waiting for her to share the contents. She recalls him being underwhelmed at her choice of career. He has been proven wrong, hasn’t he?

Máire MacMahon and Anne and Elaine Sheahan

Vincent had signed all the books in advance….this was not his first rodeo. People felt that you can’t leave a book launch without a signing so Katie had to take out the trusty Bic and sign for us.

Mary O’Connell was there

Kieran Lyons caught up with his old teacher, Mick Mulcaire.

Katie and Helen Moylan

Mystery Solved

Our lovely boyeen at Listowel Mart in 1985 has been identified as Maurice O’Connor.

Date for the Diary

A Fact

The Spanish Inquisition once condemned the entire Netherlands to death for heresy.


History and Food

Harp and Lion Antiques, Church Street

In Listowel Garden Centre Christmas Shop

If you haven’t been there yet, do drop into the Christmas shop and be a child for a while.

Stairs are no obstacle to this explorer.

Aren’t these Victorian carol singers only gorgeous?

My first time in a ski lift.

In Kanturk Library

I made my first visit to the beautiful new library in my hometown. This is the children’s corner.

There I ran into my cousin, Donal Desmond. Donal is profoundly deaf. He was joined in the library by Eric Johnson, a fairly recent resident of Kanturk. Eric was a teacher of the deaf in Canada for 27 years. Eric signed for Donal so we didn’t have to do all the usual writing to communicate.

I was back in the library later that day for the launch of Seanchas Duhalla. Here I am with Noreen O’Sullivan of the Duhallow Heritage Society.

Denis Twohig is the chairman.

I met my old friend, Mary Lynch, chatting to Noreen Meaney

I met Mary Corbett for the first time in years.

Catching up was great.

The magazine committee have published the story of my Uncle Bernie and the combine harvester which you read first here on Listowel Connection.

There are lots of great stories in the book. i can’t wait to read them.

A gem from Facebook

Listowel Food Fair Food Trail 2023

Stop number 2 on our trail was in John.R.’s

Jimmy, Pierce and the wine expert.

They certainly believe here that we eat with our eyes. Feast your peepers on this spread.

John Relihan with John Mangan of the organising committee

John and Thalita with our host, Pierce Walsh.

The people who brought us this wonderful feast….John R’s lovely workers.

Having gorged ourselves here we moved on to Daisy Boo.

A Fact

Every known dog, except the chow, has a pink tongue. The chow’s tongue is black.


November in Church

Trant’s Pharmacy, Market Street


November 2023 in St. Mary’s

Seats and kneelers at the front of the church have now been upholstered. Tried one out and I must report that they are very comfortable indeed.


Irish Traditions

by Kathleen Jo Ryan and Bernard Share

Below is an extract from an essay by Bryan MacMahon on the Irish people he knew.

Book Launch

We had a great time in St. John’s on Saturday, November 11. Vincent’s latest book is probably his best and most important book yet.

Kathy Buckley, a humble Listowel girl, daughter of Lar, the local cooper, ran the White House kitchen under three US presidents. Vincent has done a marvellous job of research on this one and the beautifully presented book is full of information, photographs and interesting stories from behind the scenes.

Finbar and Cathy Mare were in charge of sales.

Some of Vincents old Listowel friends gathered for the launch

John Cahill, Anne Crowley, Owen MacMahon, Elizabeth Moriarty and Kay Moloney Caball.

Katie Hannon launched the book for her childhood postman. She caught up too with Canon Declan O’Connor, a fellow Duagh native.

Photo; Tidy Town

Just some of the Tidy Town stalwarts at the presentation of local prizes last week.

Fact of the Day

With delight I bring you today’s fact, sent to us by Vincent Doyle


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.


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