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: Listowel Writers Week

Arts Festival, Michael O’Connor, Illuminator, and a Kerry link to High Office in the U.S.

Above is an example of the work of Michael O’Connor, formerly of 24 The Square Listowel.

Totally unrelated to yesterday’s post I had a phonecalll from a man called Stephen Rynne who is in possession of much of the work of the late O’Connor.

Michael O’Connor worked in Dublin as a draughtsman in The Department of Industry and Commerce. In his spare time he made these marvellous illustrated artworks in the style of The Book of Kells.

This is a family photograph of Michael looking at The Book of Kells from which he took inspiration.

Stephen has many of these works, many of them gold leaf on vellum and he also has correspondence relating to the works from a collaborator of O’Connors, Maurice Fridberg , a famous Dublin art dealer. This Fridberg considered O’Connor to be the best artist doing this kind of work.

A former Uachtarán na hEireann, Cearbhall ÓDálaigh was presented with some of O’Connor’s work by Fridberg on the occasion of his inauguration.

Since O’Connor lived in Listowel in the house that is now Kerry Writers Museum, Stephen would like the artwork, some of it unfinished, to return to the his native place.

There is much work to be done to bring this about but it looks like a valuable and historic find for Listowel.

Another example of the detailed artwork and colourwork in one of Michael O’Connor’s pieces.


What Kathy Did

Kathy Hochul is to be the first female Mayor of New York. Kathy’s maternal grandparents hail from Kerry and she is proud of her Irish roots.

Kay Caball of Find My Kerry Ancestors had traced Kathy’s maternal ancestors to a remote West Kerry parish.


Ballybunion Arts Festival

Something to look forward to in September.


Local Fleadh Committee 1970

Frances Kennedy kept this cutting and posted it on Facebook. Maybe someone will name them all.


My Friend has become a Beekeeper

and I have learned something. Native Irish bees are black!!!!!


A Bit of Housekeeping

Some of you will know that this year I changed platforms from Blogger to WordPress. I am still having teething problems. One such problem has only come to light recently. The way a web post displays on a tablet or phone is different to how it appears on my laptop.

People reading this on a tablet or phone don’t see the side bar at the right hand side. This is where the search box and the subscribe box are located.I dont know if I can fix this but I hope so. In the meantime if you are reading this and you would like your name added to the mailing list please sent me your email address and I’ll do it for you.

Handball and Brightening Air, William Street and Newtownsandes Creamery and Some Writers’ Week Windows

Listowel Town Square, May 2021


Another on on the Move


Listowel Handball Alley June 1 2021


Brightening Air

Ten Days of incredible arts experience in surprising locations June 11 to 21 2021.

Listowel’s turn is on June 18 and our surprising location is the handball alley. We are part of In the Magic Hour series of dance and interview events in handball alleys around the country. Only a limited number will be able to attend the free event because of Covid restrictions but we can all see it online on June 19.

In tandem with these arts in the alleys events Coiscéim sent a project manager around the country collecting the story of handball in Ireland. My appeal encouraged a few people to talk to her and share their stories and over the next days you will be seeing lots on Listowel Connection about handball and handballsers.

Junior Griffin has compiled a history of hand balling in Listowel and most of the information that follows if from Junior.

It would appear that the site for the alley was given by Lord Listowel and the alley built in the early years of the twentieth century. The front wall of the alley is part of the big bridge. Wire netting was placed on top of this wall to prevent the ball going out on to the road above. The side walls had a railing on top. This railing was part of rail track of the `Lartigue. The Lartigue closed in 1924 so we can assume that the ball alley was built shortly after.

In a message written for the match programme to celebrate the opening of Frank Sheehy Park on May15th 1960, Seamus Wilmot, Registrar of the National University of Ireland, wrote ” When I recall the Listowel I knew before the First World War, two places come immediately to my mind, The Ball Alley and The Sportsfield….

They were the only two places where we enjoyed freedom, unrestricted in the case of the Alley, conditional as to the Sportsfield….”

This newspaper story tells us that the court was upgraded in 1954.


Newtownsandes Creamery staff

Old Newtownsandes creamery staff


Some Writers’ Week Windows

The theme of the children’s festival was Out of This World

Matt Mooney’s poetic tribute to the late John Lynch beautifully illustrated in Lynch’s Coffee Shop window.


I was Forest Bathing

It was great to be part of a live event at Listowel Writers Week 2021. Forest bathing was badly named on this occasion because we weren’t in a forest and we weren’t bathing ins the usual sense of the word.

We were in Listowel’s Garden of Europe and we were bathing in the feast for the senses in this beautiful spot.

We were “high on our own supply”, mindfully concentration on our 5 senses and letting nature heal us. This was a guided experience and most enjoyable and renewing even if I was well outside my comfort zone.

Saturday June 5 2021 Guided Forest Bathing in Garden of Europe as part of Listowel Writers’ Week 2021.

Feeling Creative after my treat for the senses I wrote this little poem

A Sense of Place

I am in Kerry, a carpet of green and gold before me.

I am in Europe, Schiller and all that is best in Europe to my right.

The Holocaust and all that is worst in Europe to me left

All around me is all that is most beautiful in Nature

Forty shades of green to see,

Birdsong to listen to

Scents of flowers

A taste of summer all around

Here I can touch all that is beautiful in Creation.


Exciting Times in Pres. Primary School, Listowel

Girls from the Presentation Primary School were delighted to be invited by the office of the Minister for Education, Ms Norma Foley to be involved in the launch of the BLAST initiative for schools. This took place on Friday June 4th in Listowel.The girls had a lovely experience and enjoyed their chat, while remaining socially distanced, with the minister. It certainly looks like an exciting programme for schools, one which the Presentation Primary Listowel will certainly be participating in.


Listowel Connection First with the News!

Straight from the horse’s mouth

I met Lizzy slaving away to be ready in time for the grand opening. She really really really hopes to open in Church Street on June 15 2021. The extra good news is that she will have outdoor seating for 40 patrons in her new place. Lots of food related news from Church Street lately, all good.


Glentenassig, Writers’ Week 2012 and O’Connell Tailors

Photo; Martin Moore


Handball Alley in the Old Days

Junior Griffin has given me the history as best he knows it of Listowel’s ball alley. I’ll be serialising it for you over the next week before the planned Brightening Air performance on June 18th

This is Junior Griffin at his home earlier this week, giving an interview to Caoimhe from Coiscéim. I’ll fill you in on more of this next week.

Máire Logue, Artistic Director of St. John’s, who is organising the Coiscéin event locally, Charlie Nolan, former handball and Caoimhe Coburn Grey of Coiscéim reliving memories in the handball alley on Tuesday June 1 2021


Oh, what a Night it was!

Listowel Writers’ Week opening night 2012. Michael D Higgins is accompanied by chairman Seán Lyons made his way toward The Listowel Arms flanked by a guard of honour of boys and girls in school uniform.

Seán Lyons, chair Writers’ Week 2012, Noelle Campbell-Sharpe, Mike O’Donnell and Joanna O’Flynn

Margaret Broderick R.I.P., Aisling Wren and Jerry McDaniel

Members of Listowel Writers’ Week Children’s committee 2012


John O’Connell, Tailor

Bernard O’Connell, formerly of Upper William Street and now of Brampton Ontario posted the following account of his family on Facebook. Vincent Carmody is the usual source of such precious local social history

John O’Connell and John O’Flahery , clerical, civil and livery tailors of Upper William St. Listowel

When John O Connell of Irremore married Mary Walsh of Tullamore Ballydonoghue, in February 1877, their first home, was one of the thatched cottages in Upper William Street. Soon after, John converted this cottage into a double dormer slated house, which remains to this day, with the O’Connell family. He also built No’s 30 and 32 at the opposite side of the road.

John and Mary O’Connell and their son Edmund

In an ironic twist, John O Connell, was the only one of his family to remain in Ireland. He had already been apprenticed to the tailoring trade, when his father died. His mother emigrated with her family to America, leaving John behind. Among John’s and Mary’s large family were Edmund (pictured below, with his parents and with his own family in Chicago, to where he also emigrated). John (Jackie) became a master tailor and carried on the family business in the family home..

Edmund O’Connell and family in Chicago

They also had two daughters who remained in Listowel, Julia, married Denis Quill from Church Street and they set up home at No. 32,

Denis and Julia Quille

Julia’s older sister, Nellie, never married and lived with the Quill family throughout her life. Jackie Connell, apart from his tailoring trade, was a leading member or the local dramatic society. He married Catherine Griffin from Castle-island.

Their eldest son, Benny became the father figure to their large family following his father’s, Jackie’s death, at a young age. Benny married Noreen O Connell from Ballyhorgan, Lixnaw

Benny and Noree O’Connell

They had a family of four boys and one girl, John (Jackie) Paul (RIP) Tommy, Kathleen and Bernard.

Kathleen and Bernard O’Connell

A Useless but jawdropping Fact

(From a website called Bustle which I wandered into by accident so I cant 100% vouch for it. It sounds plausible to me.)

…Along with the addition of the lake, the Daily Mail reported that the Beckham’s are also looking to expand the underground space below their garage. Hello said they’ve upscaled their designs to create a 117.5sqm room to hold around 7,000 bottles of wine. You’ll never be short on a glass of red at the Beckham’s house, that’s for sure.


Ballybunion Oasis, A Frog on TV, Ancestors, Writers’ Week 2019 and Bridal Dress Hire in 2021

Road from Athea in Springtime 2021

Photo: Athea Tidy Towns


A Lovely Corner in Ballybunion

This lovely little spot by the playground is set out with tables and benches complete with chess or draughts grid. It is a godsend in these times of outdoor living.


Headstone on my maternal ancestors grave in Knawhill in North Cork.

The author of the poem is unknown but it speaks to anyone who dabbles in genealogy

BTW I asked Kay Caball about the symbol over the names on the stone and here is the meaning of it.

The Christogram IHS is a monogram symbolizing Jesus Christ. From Greek it is an abbreviation of the name ΙΗΣΟΥΣ (Jesus). In Eastern Orthodox Church the Christogram is composed with letters X, P, I and X arranged into the cross. They are the first letters of one from two words in Greek language: Christ and Jesus Christ


Listowel Writers Week 2019

Back when we could do things in a gang, this crowd of us congregated on the steps of Kerry Literary Museum to show off some award LWW had won. I’ll credit Maire Logue with the photo simply because she is not in it and I can’t imagine who else would have taken it.

This year’s programme is here;


The Champion Frog…a sequel

In response to enquiries, here is David Kissane’s account of what happened to Mossie Walsh and the famous leaping frog when they got to RTE.

Off went Mossie, wife Nodie, a number of friends and relations, and the champion frog in a biscuit tin with holes and a leaves, to Limerick by cars to catch the train to Dublin. Introduced to Gay Byrne and then lights, camera, action. The frog jumped higher and further than ever and became the first and only frog to jump on the Late Late Show. Fame forever for Guhard Man and Mossie.After that, the frog retired from jumping to a river hole in Guhard and Mossie retired from frog-coaching with a European title in his CV.


North Kerry’s Sarah Fitzgerald’s New Business Featured in Saturday’s Irish Independent

What a surprise to open the newspaper and see an account of a brave new business in these parts.

The photoshoot for the launch took place in the Listowel Arms Photo: Rubistyle

If a preowned vintage dress is your dream wedding attire, be sure to check out Sarah’s rent and return option at


When I was a Muse

Very briefly on a happy morning last week I felt like a muse.

Cyril Kelly, formerly of this parish, wrote Listowel Connection (me) a little stanza of greeting on my return to blogging.


’twas like waiting for swallows and swifts in April,

’twas like waiting  for Brent geese in September, 

’twas like  the fisherman waiting for  Mayfly,

’twas like the gardener waiting for the January snowdrop,

’twas like woodlands waiting for the call of the cuckoo in April,

’twas like the children waiting on the conker-plop in September,

natives in distant domiciles waiting on listowelonnection’s return.



Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén