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: Festivals Page 1 of 17

Carrigaline Pottery

On the banks of The Feale in June 2024

A Listowel connection

Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh has a fan in Paul Durcan who heard him – mid commentary – send Greetings to our Friends in Brazil one summer Sunday. Here’s Paul’s poem from Poetry Ireland’s Everything to Play For anthology which Mícheál selected & read at our event at Listowel Writer’s Week 2015.

Did you have this tableware?

Carrigaline crockery graced every table I knew in my youth. While I am not a collector, I enjoy being part of a Facebook group given over to the celebration and preservation of this Irish treasure.

Here are a few pieces from that Facebook page.

Ard Churam Choir

On June 27 2024 I was in Ard Chúram day centre to hear a great performance by the Ard Churam Choir. I’d love to post a clip of the singing but I’m running out of space on my hosting platform and videos are very space hungry. Sorry. Take it from me, they were a treat.

Here are some of the lovely people I met there

This man entertained us while we were waiting for the choir to finish their performance in the Fuchsia Centre

Eleanor and Brenda

Aras Mhuire guests

Fact Check

I was a bit dubious about yesterday’s “fact”. It said that babies at birth can only see in black and white.

Jeremy Gould fact checked it for us and here in a nutshell is what he found on Snopes…

What’s True

Babies are born with a visual acuity that is below the threshold for legal blindness …

What’s False

… but it isn’t true that newborns can only see in black and white. Instead, they are able to perceive some colors, in an extremely muted way.

A Definition

from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

Architect, n. someone who drafts a plan of your house and plans a draft of your money

A Fact

The toothbrush was invented in China in 1498. The brush was made of boar bristles.

The First TV in Kerry

Looking into The Garden on Europe in June 2024

Remembering Paddy Fitzgibbon

Early Adoptors

(Pic and story from Facebook page Anyone from Ballyduff out there)

In the early days, Mr. and Mrs. Bridie and Liam Kearney embarked on their entrepreneurial journey, establishing their business in the quaint setting of Mrs. White’s old shop in Benmore. The very location that now houses Buds was once the hub where they offered an array of products, from new bicycles to battery-powered radios. On December 1, 1961, the Kearney’s achieved a significant milestone by receiving one of the first television signals in Kerry. Their innovative spirit also led them to introduce the first milking machines in the area and to install the pioneering oil-fired central heating systems in newly constructed houses. A captivating photo captures the moment when Liam and Bridie received the inaugural television picture in Kerry, marking a defining moment in the history of their business.

A Poem by John Fitzgerald

Death of a Legend

This photograph of the late Micheál ÓMuircheartaigh was posted by his nephew in 2018. In this snap Micheál is celebrating his 90th birthday by abseiling down Dún Síon.

Micheál was the ultimate professional commentator. His legendary witticisms and anecdotes were carefully crafted and memorised. He had a prodigious memory and capacity for instant recall.

He was a gentleman to his fingertips and loved by Kerrymen and Irishmen everywhere.

His will be the voice of commentary as Gaeilge forever.

Slán abhaile a Mhichíl

Go gcloise tú ceol binn na nAingeal go sioraí.

A Fact

This old man he played one
He played nick nack on my drum
With a nick nack paddy whack
Give a dog a bone
This old man came rolling home….

This rhyme is thought to have originated in the time of The Famine. Irishmen, fleeing the Famine, ended up on the streets of England begging for a living. These beggars were often badly treated. The rhyme suggests that even the dogs were thrown something but not the beggar who was given a “whack” and sent packing.


Canon Adderley of Listowel

Friday Morning walkers trecking through the Garden of Europe during Writers’ Week 2024

Window Displays

During Writers’ Week 2024, shopkeepers displayed books in their windows. Some people concentrated on books with a local connection.

I was chuffed to see my A Minute of Your Time among the pictures of calves on Horan’s window.


According to this week’s Ireland’s Own the Maloneys were a bright and holy bunch.

Canon Adderley

Jer. discovered this piece of Church of Ireland history for us.

Edward Adderley and his wife Mary Hale were ancestors of the Adderley family of Innishannon, Co Cork. Francis Adderley of Innishannon, Co Cork, and his wife Elizabeth (Fowkes) were the parents of Thomas Adderley (1713-1791), a politician, landowner, amateur architect, developer of the linen industry and MP.

Thomas Adderley was still a child when he inherited his father’s estate, and was educated at Trinity College Dublin. He built the town of Innishannon, Co Cork, brought 60 Huguenot families to Innishannon in 1747 to establish a linen manufactory, and built a charter school there in 1752.

Robert moved to Limerick in 1905 and was Curate of Saint Mary’s Cathedral (1905-1908) and Vicar Choral (1905-1918). During that time, he was the Precentor of Limerick for ten years (1908-1918). During World War I, he was also a chaplain to the forces in 1915-1919.

After the war, Canon Adderley spent almost 30 years as Rector of Listowel (1918-1946), which was amalgamated with Ballybunion in 1922, and Brosna and Abbeyfeale in 1928, all now part of the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes.

In the cathedral chapter, he was Prebendary of Croagh (1918-1924), Prebendary of Kilpeacon (1924-1940), Treasurer of Limerick (1940-1941), and then Dean of Ardfert (1941-1946). But the position of Dean of Ardfert was a sinecure or nominal appointment: the parish of Ardfert was amalgamated with Tralee in 1921, and the Church of Ireland parish church closed in 1945.

He died in hospital in Tralee, Co Kerry, on 12 October 1946.

Graveyard Masses 2024

Another Nursery Rhyme Fact

Goosey, Goosey, Gander is a nursery rhyme originating in the time of Cromwell. Cromwell’s soldiers persecuted Catholics. They sought them out everywhere, even in “the lady’s chamber”. When caught, the unfortunate Catholic was sometimes executed by tying a rope to his leg and flinging him down a flight of stairs.


Poetry, Drama and Memories

The Big Bridge in May 2024

+ Nóra Relihan R.I.P+

Photo credit: Paul O’Flynn

Nóra Relihan, who passed away on June 14th 2024, deserves a statue in her honour in her adopted town of Listowel, for Nóra was central to every significant cultural development in Listowel during her lifetime. She packed more into her life than many people do in many lifetimes.

Nóra was named Kerry Person of the Year 2023

(Photo and text from Kerry Association in Dublin)

Nóra had a varied career throughout her lifetime with solo tours, drama, TV, and film appearances, including “Fair City” and TG4 film “Limbo”.

Jimmy Deenihan, Chairperson of the Selection Committee, said “Nóra Relihan richly deserves this prestigious award in recognition of her immense contribution to the promotion of the Arts during her lifetime. One of her greatest achievements was the establishment of St. John’s Theatre and Arts Centre in Listowel which is regarded as the premier small arts centre in the country. She now joins the pantheon of renowned Kerry Artists who have received the award to date including Pauline Bewick, Brendan Kennelly, Fr Tony Gaughin and Fr Pat Aherne”.

In announcing the award, Mary Shanahan, Chairperson of the Kerry Association in Dublin said “Nóra has made a unique contribution to the promotion of the Arts in Kerry and nationally. She deservedly merits the accolade “Voice of the Kingdom” for her role as Director, entertainer, broadcaster and for her role in the various arts activities in North Kerry”.

In accepting the award Nóra Relihan said; “I am delighted and honoured to receive this award from the Kerry Association; it is a really lovely tribute to my interest and work in the arts over many decades”.

Photo from Kay Caball

Nóra (in sunglasses) with John B. Keane and the cast of Sive. On the right is Dan Moloney T.D. who entertained them in the Dáil after their big win in the All Ireland Drama Festival in 1959.

Here Nóra remembers her performance as Mena Glavin. Nóra, always glamorous and stylish, transformed into the shrewish, put- upon Mena was a triumph of acting.

Nóra was also an evocative writer.

Photo from Kay Caball …..Nóra, second from left with the cast of Drama at Inish in 1955.

Nóra loved the stage. Whether as a cast member in a big production, as a solo performer, performing on location, touring, or producing, the stage was Nóra’s home. It was fitting that her family returned her to St. John’s in Listowel to bring the curtain down on her long life.

Nóra is remembered in Kerry for her programmes on Radio Kerry, her Signposts to Kerry and Hospitals Requests. Her mellifluous voice was perfect for radio.

I took this photo with Phil in John B. Keane’s pub during one of Nóra’s final performances, a one woman show.

Nóra with her neighbours on Nunday in 2012.

Nóra at Writers Week in 2014 with Brenda Woulfe and Mike Lynch.

Nóra with her great friend and co founder of Listowel Writers’ Week, Noreen Buckley, was honoured at a commemorative meal in 2014.

With Joe Murphy in St. John’s

Nóra Relihan leaves behind a cultural legacy to her beloved Kerry. We will not see her likes again.

A great lady has exited the stage. We are lucky to have known her.

Monday, May 17 2024


Michael Guerin, Owen MacMahon and Mary McKenna on the Friday morning walk at Writers’ Week 2024.

Owen was an excellent Byrne in Listowel Drama Group’s recent production of John B. Keane’s Big Maggie. Mary was only 10 when her late father played the same role with Kilcullen Drama Group in the first ever amateur production of the play many moons ago.

The cast….Mary’s late dad was Johnny O’Neill. The play won many accolades at the festivals. Johnny won the award for Best supporting actor at the All Ireland final in Athlone.

The Sullivans

This is an extract from Ireland’s Own. It contradicts what I had always believed, i.e. that ÓSúilleabháin meant one eyed rather than dark eyed.

Another Fascinating Fact

The contrary Mary of the nursery rhyme was known as Bloody Mary, the Catholic daughter of Henry VIII. Queen Mary was a fanatical Catholic. She tortured and killed Protestants and buried them in her “garden”. Her ‘silver bells’ were thumbscrews and “cockle shells” were instruments of torture attached to male genitalia.


Buckfast Tonic Wine, British coins and a bit of Listowel too

Bicycle Stand on Market Street

At Opening Night Listowel Writers’ Week 2024

Local poets, Matt Mooney and Mary MacElligott

Local blogger, me, with writer, Pat Sheedy

Update to my Facts on British Coins

Kathy Reynolds sent us the full story.

Hi Mary

I hope you are well and enjoying better weather than we are in cold wet England. Your blog always gives me my early morning read alongside the Times. Although no expert on coinage and tap & pay is now nearly standard a few outlets still prefer “real money” so I feel I must add a little to today’s fact.

King Charles III became King in September 2022 immediately on his mother’s death but he was crowned on 6 May 2023. 

The first completely redesigned set of coins were issued December 2023 and the flora and fauna design took me back to the Irish coinage of my childhood, particularly the Atlantic salmon on the 50p reminding me of the florin. However a Memorial 50p entered circulation in December 2022, marking the transition from Queen Elizabeth II to King Charles III. Also a special 50p coin marking King Charles III’s coronation went into circulation on Thursday, 10th August. Notes entered circulation in June 2024.


Kathy Reynolds


I think they got the message. Breda and Margaret tell me that there has been no postering of litter bins since we highlighted the issue here.


An American wine connoisseur made the mistake of reviewing Buckfast… Here’s their tasting notes:

Buckfast Tonic Wine (No Vintage)

Screw cap, took it off about 30 minutes before to bring in some air. Apparently made by monks in England. Decided to try while cooking dinner. Poured into a glass, first glance has a very inky almost brownish color that you see in older wines. Very syrupy, liquid clings to the side of the glass when swirled. Almost 15% ABV.

Stuck my nose in and was hit with something I’ve never experienced before. Barnyardy funk (in a bad way) almost like a dead animal in a bird’s nest. A mix of flat Coca Cola and caramel with a whiff of gun metal.

On the palate, overwhelming sweetness and sugar. Cherry Cola mixed with Benadryl. Unlike anything I’ve tasted. I’m not sure what this liquid is but it is not wine, I’m actually not sure what it is but it tastes like something a doctor would prescribe. A chemical concoction of the highest degree. Can only compare it to a Four Loko.

Managed to make it through a couple small glasses but not much more. Has absolutely ruined the evening drinking-wise for me as I tried to drink a nice Bordeaux after but the iron-like metallic sweet aftertaste I just couldn’t get out of my mouth even after a few glasses of water. I don’t drink a lot of coffee regularly so I also have mild heart palpitations from the caffeine after just drinking a bit of this and feel a slight migraine.

An ungodly concoction made by seemingly godly men. I believe the Vatican needs to send an exorcist over to Buckfast Abbey as the devil’s works are cleary present there. After tasting this “wine,” the way I feel can only be described as akin to being under a bridge on one’s knees orally pleasing a vagrant while simultaneously drinking liquified meth through a dirty rag.

I’ve drank a lot of wines in my life and will never forget this one.

(I don’t think he liked it!)

Commemorative Seat

On our Friday walk at Writers’ Week we passed by Paddy Fitzgibbon’s memorial.

Fascinating Fact

The words of the nursery rhyme, Mary had a Little Lamb, were the first replayed words in human history through Edison’s playback on June 22 1878.


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