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 Page 1 of 4

Prince Monolulu

Tim Doody; Mallow Camera Club


A Corner of The Square in 2022

The green area is the designated car parking spaces for electric cars while they are on charge.



Our Lidl store is going to get an upgrade. The shiny new store will be on the site of the old one so we’ll have to do without for a while.

Lidl have purchased the nearby derelict Dowd’s cottage. This will be demolished and that site will become part of the new superstore.


Prince? Monolulu

Alice Walsh shared this great old photo recently on Facebook. It was taken at Raceweek 1961 at the opening of Walsh’s Super Ballroom.

In the centre of the image surrounded by Mick Delahunty band members is a beloved visitor to Listowel Races, an eccentric tipster known as Prince Monolulu.

He wasn’t a prince and his name wasn’t Monolulu and he wasn’t an African chief as he claimed.

In Listowel in the 1950s and 60s a black man was a rare enough sight. A very tall black man dressed like an Ethiopian chief with a monstrous ostrich plume on his head and a lion’s tooth around his neck was bound to attract attention.

He was a regular on racetracks in Britain. When not at the races he was a “Lion tamer, fire eater, street dentist, preacher, tribal chief, boxer, prisoner of war, and entertainer.”

“He was married six times.”

When Spion Kop won the 1920 Derby at odds of 100-6 (about 16-1) Monolulu won a reputed £8,000 (worth around £400,000 in today’s money). 

This was all part of the myth that surrounded this man. But like most “facts’ about this character we have to take everything with a pinch of salt.

Monolulu was American. He came to England and soon discovered that a life as a showman could be quite a good living in the early 20th century.

He plied his trade on racecourses until his death in 1965 on Valentine’s Day. The story goes that he choked on a strawberry cream from a box of Black Magic. Like everything else about him, this too sounds a tad implausible.

On his trips to Listowel he would visit The Island armed with a handful of sealed envelopes. “I got a horse to beat the favourite.,” was his cry. He sold you the tip sealed in an envelope and urged you not to share it so as not to upset the odds.

He must have been successful as he came back year after year. He was part of the colour that was Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing.

Another of Alice Walsh’s photos shows Monolulu on the stage.


Writers’ Week Committee 2012

Listowel Writers’ Week Festival Committee 2012

Doesn’t feel like 10 years.

Catherine Moylan, Simone Langemann, Liz Dunn and Jim Dunn

I took this photo of some of today’s Writers’ Week people at the launch of the Amateur Drama Exhibition in Kerry Writers’ Museum on May 7 2022.



Photo credit; Tom Quish, Mallow Camera Club


A Postbox

The post box at the corner of Church Street was still out of service last time I was in that part of town.

Mike Hannon shared this old picture of Bryan MacMahon with the very same postbox.


Listowel Cinemas

Tom McElligott and his committee are working hard to save the Classic Movieplex. They have set up a Go Fund Me page.

Save Our Cinema

To realise the dream they need 100,000 euros

Mike Hannon’s picture of the cinema when it was The Astor

Tom sent me this old poster that was sent to him by a great grandson of Michael J. Tighe.

It is from 1925.

Once upon a time there were at least 4 cinema in Listowel. I dont know which one was The Stella.

There was a cinema in the Plaza, one where Quill’s North County is now, one in Tae Lane and one where the Classic was.


Won’t be Long Now

Catherine Moylan, Chair of Listowel Writers’ Week, is looking forward to standing at the podium in person to open this year’s festival.

The 2022 festival will be officially opened by Dominic West.

Writers’ Week 2022 will run from June 1 to June 5


From the Pres. Yearbook 2002/03

Little Known Fact

If Holly (Ilex aquifolium) finds its leaves are being nibbled by deer, it switches genes on to make them spiky when they regrow. So on taller Holly trees, the upper leaves (which are out of reach) have smooth edges, while the lower leaves are prickly


Listowel and Ballybunion

Vincent Higgins, Mallow Camera Club. He captioned it Take no Notice


Old Listowel

This very old image of the Square was shared on line by Dave Curran.


Stained Glass and Moya

All roads led to Ballybunion on the weekend of May 31 to June 2.

I was in St. John’s for this.

Fr. Hannafin introduced us to 5 of the windows in St. John’s that are rarely seen.

This is the view from the gallery. Behind me as I took this photo are the windows which were the subject of our talk.

The gallery is reached by a narrow dark spiral staircase which has to be used going up and going down. I can see why it is not open to the public.

The saints depicted on the windows all have a connection with Munster in general and North Kerry in particular. They are St. Brendan, St. Ita, St. John the Evangelist, St. Senan and St. Brigid.

The windows are absolutely beautiful. It’s a pity they are hidden away up there.


A Star Attraction

I’ve got my ticket for Donie and Malachy at Listowel Writers’ Week 2022 but they are selling fast. Wouldn’t it be great if something important turned up and John King, CNN’s chief national correspondent, had to talk to Donie while he is in Listowel.


Road Works

Listowel Credit Union were in a prime location to take this picture of the recent roadworks on their doorstep.

It looks like Roadworks are a constant in Listowel as this picture from 1986 shared on Facebook by Mike Hannon proves.


On Saturday May 7 2022 in Kerry Writers’ Museum, Minister Norma Foley launched a exhibition of memorabilia of Kerry’s Amateur Dramatic history.


Writers and Lambs

This is Lisa Egan’s photograph. Lisa is a member of Mallow Camera Club and this lovely capture is one of the photos the club donated to Kanturk Community Hospital.


Easter 2022, God and Mammon

St. Mary’s church window

Some Listowel shop windows


Look who’s Coming to Writers’ Week

Two Irish journalists making names for themselves in the U.S. are coming to town. They will tell us about what they know best, disinformation, fake news and the role of the media.

Both men are to the forefront of reporting on the 2020 U.S. presidential election and the assault on the Capitol which followed.

Donie works for CNN and Malachy for The New York Times.


Olivia Buckley’s Reminiscence of a Big Event in her Life

Fom an article in Pres. Secondary School Yearbook 2003


Valais Blacknose Sheep

These are the sweetest, most photogenic sheep. They are very rare. These two boys are Jimmy and Joey and they have just arrived to Kennedy’s Pet Farm. They may be the only two in The Kingdom. I can’t wait to see them.


Shirley Valentine

On my recent birthday celebration trip to Dublin, I was taken to The Gaiety to see Shirley Valentine.

Look where I joined the queue. I felt at home.

This Shirley Valentine was from Cork but she was just as entertaining as her Liverpudlian counterpart.

There is a touch of old world luxury about The Gaiety. It was lovely to be back there again.


Where to go in Summer 2022

Photo by Jillian Harris

This photograph by Jillian, a member of Mallow Camera Club is part of a collaboration between the club and Kanturk Community Hospital in 2017.



When I stopped in Glenflesk recently I called to their lovely church to say a prayer.


Visit a Heritage Site on the first Wednesday

On the first Wednesday of each month, many OPW Heritage Sites offer Free Admission to independent/individual visitors and families. A list of participating sites appears on the OPW website, and details of each can be found at the relevant link.

Tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served basis and online booking will not be available. Normal conditions of admission apply.
Visitors may experience delays at some of our busier sites and are advised to arrive early. If allocated a time, visitors are asked to arrive promptly. There is no guarantee that visitors who miss their allocated time-slot can be accommodated later. Children must be supervised at all times.

Access to some sites is by guided tour only. Car-parking may be limited at some sites and patrons are requested to respect the facilities and other car park users.

The full list of sites is at the following link

Heritage Ireland


Post Boxes

A few subjects crop up here regularly. One of them is post boxes. I’m terrified that these pieces of street furniture are doomed. If they are underused, and they are, cost cutting measures at An Post will surely see them condemned.

Whatever about the newer ones that are ugly, I’d hate see the old ones that have been there since we were a colony removed from our streets.

When I was in Dublin recently I took this photo near Stephen’s Green.


Sitting on two Chairs at once

“We are delighted to announce that Catherine Moylan was voted in as the new Chair of the Board after David Brown stepped down from his position. Catherine Moylan is also Chair of the Festival for Listowel Writers’ Week. “

This recent statement from Listowel Writers’ Week may have confused you. “Surely she was already the chair,” you may have thought.

Up to now the chair of the Board of Directors of Writers’ Week and the chair of the festival have been two separate honorary roles. With the election of Catherine to the chair of the Board, these two posts have come closer in that they are now held by one person. 

I wish Catherine the best of luck in her new role. I can’t wait for the first live festival in 2 years and seeing all our old friends back in town.


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