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: History Page 2 of 15


The Mermaids, William Street, Listowel


John Kelliher posted this old dance ticket on Facebook.

I remembered that Violet Dalton Puttock had shared a photo of a Fireman’s ball with The Advertiser. Violet’s photo is from the ball a year or two earlier.

The men in the photo are;

Fireman’s Dance 1963-64.

 Back L-R: Buddy Dalton, Tommy Dalton, Benny O’Connell, Bunny Dalton, Jim Doyle, Michael Brennan, John Mahony and Joe Keogh. 

Front L-R: Pat Dowling, Roly Godfrey, Patsy Leahy, Ned Broderick, Tommy Lyons and Sean Curtin. 

Music on the night was by the late Bunny Dalton Showband, Listowel. 


Corpus Christi Procession 2011


St Senan’s Well

(Today, March 8 is the feast of St. Senan. Here is an account from the Schools’ Folklore Collection of the saint’s well near Listowel.)

There is a holy well, and close by a burial ground, in the townland of Kilsheanane or Kilsenan about 5 miles west of Listowel on the road to Tralee. Both are called after St. Senan who was Bishop and Abbot of Scattery Island on the Shannon in Co. Clare, in the VI Century. He built many churches and had a monastery on the Island. His feast day falls on the 8th March.

On that date in former times, people came long distances, even outside of Kerry, to pay rounds at the Blessed Well. It is said to be powerful in many complaints but especially in eye trouble, and running sores. At the present day people, principally locals within a five mile radius, come to pay rounds on St Senan’s Day 8th March. The path of the “round” follows a well beaten track around the well. The “Round” itself consists of 3 Rosaries, one to be said while walking round the well 3 times, therefore it takes 9 rounds of the well to complete the 3 Rosaries. The round is started by kneeling in front of the well and beginning the Rosary there and after some time stand up and walk round the orbit 3 times completing the round of the Beads in front of the well. Then start the second Rosary and walk round orbit 3 times and complete Beads at front of well. Do this the third time and your round at St Senan’s well is completed. You then take a drink of the well water from the well itself (a small mug is always there for the purpose).
Next you wash the afflicted part in the stream running out of the well. Also people usually take home with them a bottle of the well water for that purpose. Many white and black thorn trees grow adjacent to the well and strings of all kinds, tassels of shawls etc are left tied to the branches in token that the particular complaint is also to be got rid of. 

Sometimes Coppers and hairpins etc are left.

Within the last dozen or more years an elderly lady teacher Miss M O’Connell now deceased, got a cement slab altar-like construction built at the back of the well. In this there are three niches, one holding a statue of our Blessed Lady, another a statue of the Sacred Heart and the third a statue of St Bridget, each enclosed in a glass shade.
Miss Glavin a retired teacher of 66 years of age told me that she often heard her mother (R.I.P.) who lived about 4 miles from the townland of Kilsenane, tell a story of how a Protestant family residing near the well, took some water from the well home to their own house and put it in a pot or kettle to boil, but if it were left over the fire for ever it would not boil. The ancestors of this family were Roman Catholics but in the bad times they turned ‘Soupers.’
Those who came to pay rounds at the well, usually enter the burial ground by the stile and pray for the dead in general and their own deceased relations in particular. This is done on the way and from the well.


M. Shanahan


Miss Glavin

School:  Clandouglas, Lixnaw


Looking Forward to The Races


Just a Thought

Here is the link to my last week’s reflections on Radio Kerry;

Just a Thought


O’Connell’s Avenue

Kevin’s public house in William Street


An Enjoyable Fundraiser

This was the scene at a fundraiser for Bee for Battens. These days are now just a memory but they will come again.


O’Connell’s Avenue

Another fascinating post from Vincent Carmody’s 2016 Living History Miscellany.

Building of O’Connell’s Avenue. Listowel.

In the 10 years after our Civil War, very little was achieved, nationally, in the building of local authority housing. Around 1930, the members of, the Listowel U.D.C. were concerned with severe overcrowding in many properties and the use of many more with very poor sanitary conditions. Following a survey of the town’s housing stock, they presented their findings and a plan to the Department Of Local Government. In response they were informed that the Listowel Council had been granted funds for the building of 104 houses.

At this time, it was to be one of the largest local authority building contracts in the country. The contracting tender in 1932, was won by a local building contractor, M.J. Hannon. This in itself was a great bonus to the town, as it guaranteed a substantial number of years work, for the town’s tradesmen and laborers, with, of course, a great spin off for the town’s businesses.

Some years ago, I spoke at length, and took notes, from Mr Jim (Red) O’Sullivan of Charles Street. Jim, who had worked with the Hannon Builders since he left school, was officer manager at the time of the construction, (he is pictured in the second last row). Unfortunately, with the passage of time, the notes were misplaced. However, I can recall a number of the things which he told me. The council took soundings on a possible name, one of the early contenders, before they decided on O’Connell’s Avenue, was Eucharistic Avenue, this was on account of the Eucharistic Congress which was been held in Dublin, in the summer of that year. He also explained, that the the wage bill per week was, if I remember correctly, in the region of £400. At the time, this would have been an enormous sum of money. Jim would collect the money from the bank first thing each Saturday morning, after which, he would be escorted by an armed detective, back to the office. There, he would make out the pay packets, in readiness for paying each man, at the conclusion of the half-days work on Saturday.

All the blocks for the building work were manufactured on site. The land on which the houses were built had been purchased from Lord Listowel. Prior to it being built on, it had been used as meadowing by the O’Donnell family, family butchers in Listowel.

The main entrance to the houses was from Convent Street. Later, a roadway was built to connect up with Upper William Street. The building of this later facilitated the erection of St Brendan’s Terrace.

The man on the left of Seán T. O’Ceallaigh is Eamon Kissane, he was a F.F TD for North Kerry, the other man with the hat is Eddie Leahy and the third man is John McAuliffe.

The official opening was on Monday, June 17th 1935. It was presided over, by then Government Minister, Sean T. O Kelly. ( He, ten years later, in June 1945, became Ireland’s second President, replacing the outgoing Douglas Hyde).

The first residents had taken over their houses, prior to the official ceremony. In the main these were couples with young families. Today, a third generation of these families own many of these houses. Over the years, there has been mass emigration from the area. However, those who remained, have contributed greatly, to the, social, cultural and sporting history of the town.

This is a pamphlet which was distributed to the local businesses, asking that their employees, be allowed time off, to participate in the ceremony.


A Dan Keane Limerick


Egg Nog from an 1852 recipe

How did anyone ever drink this?


Listowel Writers’ Week Memory

Once upon a time during Listowel Writers’ Week PJ Lynch painted a portrait of Ryan Tubridy in the ballroom of The Listowel Arms Hotel.

This year, 2022 Writers Week will run from June 1 to June 5


Some Old Things

Catch of the Day, Main Street


Two St. Michael’s Colleagues, R.I.P

Two Corkmen, Jim Cogan and Michael Cody, many moons ago.


Medicinal Recipes from 1852


Good New for St. Michael’s

(text and image from St. Michael’s website)

Back: Mayor of Kerry, Jimmy Moloney, Johnny Mulvihill, Principal, St Michaels’, Minister for Education, Norma Foley, Mike Hassett, Deputy Principal. Tony Behan, Board of Management Front: Odhran Bucklety, Jack O’Connor, Ciaran O’Sullivan and Donagh Buckley

Statement from Norma Foley;

Multi-million Euro Extension for Listowel School!I am delighted to announce a multi-million euro extension project for St Michael’s College Listowel under the additional accommodation scheme.The state of-the-art building project includes provision for a special education teaching room, a multimedia room, a music room, an art room, two science labs and a project store room. Approval was also given for reconfiguration works to upgrade an existing art room, converting it into a mainstream classroom.It was wonderful to have the opportunity to visit St Michael’s College in Listowel this week and to personally deliver this good news.St Michael’s College is synonymous with the town and this extension is an endorsement of the excellence in education being provided by the entire school community.


Dan Keane’s Limericks

Dan Keane who passed away in 2012 was a man of varied and extraordinary talents. I encountered Dan first as as storyteller and I was enthralled by him. His story was about a football match, a subject on which Dan was an expert. I later learned that Dan was a ballad maker and poet of some merit.

Much later I learned that Dan, while including scholars and literary men among his ancestors, was , himself, completely self taught. His appetite for knowledge coupled with his interest in local history and lore made him a knowledgeable and popular raconteur and writer.

His last volume of verse was the above, A Kerryman’s limericks, and I’m going to bring you a few over the next few days.

The next is not one of Dan’s but he professed it was one of his favourites.


Great Old Photos

Tipperary Studies is a great website devoted to preserving and promoting the past.

They have a marvellous digital archive of old photos and videos. Among their collections is a collection of Photographs of Munster. These photos were taken by a professional photographer on glass plates in the 1930s.

While most of the images are of Tipperary there are some lovely photos of a few Listowel shops and their owners or workers.

Please respect Tipperary Studies copyright claim to these digitised images which may not be used for commercial purposes without permission.

This lovely photo was unidentified in the collection but an old neighbour has identified the late Mrs. Mona Dalton at the gate of her home in Bridge Road.


Meat and Veg.

Brendan Mahony, The Square


Gardening Time

Onion sets and certified seed potatoes are now in the shops. I took the phot in McKenna’s.

It’s important to buy certified seed potatoes. Memories of the Famine are ingrained in our DNA.

I remember cutting sciolláins long ago. We had too be careful to have an eye in every one.


Finding Santa Claus in June

Eamonn Dillon found this old one for us.

Kerry Sentinel, Wednesday, 28 July, 1915
Listowel Petty Sessions
CONCEALING A DESERTER. Mr James Kenny, and subsequently Mr H R Jones, R.M, presided and the other justices present were—Messrs P Healy, J C Harnett, Wm Collins, V.C, U.D.C, J MacAulay.
Mrs Mary Bunce and Mrs Kate Lee were charged by the King, at the prosecution of Sergeant Michael Costelloe, with concealing Wm Lee (better known as “Leo”), a deserter from the R.M.F. The first named defendant is the mother-in-law of Lee and the latter his wife. Mr H J Marshall, solr, appeared for the defendants.
Sergt Costelloe, in reply to Head constable Larkin (who represented the Crown in the absence of Mr M J Molloy, D.I) stated that on the morning of the 20th June, about a quarter to four, he went looking for Private Lee, who had deserted from the army. He went to the house where the defendants lived at Ballygologue, and after a search found Lee up the chimney (laughter). He charged the defendants with concealing him and they denied any knowledge of his being in the house. Lee was a soldier in the 3rd Batt. R.M.F.
Mr Marshall submitted that there was no case made out by the Crown, in as much as it was not legally proved that Lee was in the army at all.Head-constable Larkin—The witness said he was a soldier.
Mr Marshall said the magistrates should give the benefit of every technicality and doubt to the prisoner, as under the Army Act of 1881 the only punishment in such cases was imprisonment. It should be proved that he was a deserter, as be might have been absent with or without a just cause or excuse. If the man was absent for good and sufficient cause he was not a deserter and together the defendants should have been aware that he was a deserter when they sheltered or concealed him, and, of course, if he were on leave the most natural place for him to go was to his wife
Witness—But not up the chimney (laughter).
Mrs Lee—He was not up the chimney. That’s a lie.
Head-constable Larkin said it was at the present time regarded as a very serious thing to desert from the army, but as that was the first case of its kind in that district the Crown didn’t wish to be very severe. It was more of a warning to others than anything else that the prosecution had been brought. Chairman (Mr Kenny)—Of course such an offence at the present time is a very serious one, and it- would be well that the public should know that and that such cases can only be dealt with by imprisonment. On this occasion we dismiss the case, as we believe the defendants didn’t understand the seriousness of their act.


A Thought


We’ll be dancing again

What fun we had at Writers week once upon a time when we rubbed shoulders with the great and famous.

Richard Ford, Maire Logue, Liz Dunn and Colm Tóibín dancing on Opening Night W.W. 2018


Doomed Tree

This is one of the trees ear marked for the chop. If you are in any doubt that trees like this should be spared, look for a minute at the damage to the bole of this tree.



On Church Street



Recipes for “The Working Classes”

Here are a few more mouth watering, or maybe jaw dropping nuggets from this 1852 co0kery book.

If you are wondering about the instruction to “Send it to the bakers”

“Sharing in a community oven was common in Europe for centuries. It’s still widespread in the Middle East and North Africa, but died out in most of western Europe in the 20th century. You can share equally, maybe drawing lots for your turn in a village bakehouse, or pay a small fee to a professional baker to put your loaves into his oven. And you aren’t limited to bread. Greek bakehouses still cook Easter lamb dishes for villagers. This was once quite common in England and other countries too. Meat, pies, cakes, and other dishes for festivals and holy days used to be cooked in big bread ovens by families who normally cooked on the hearth, but could afford a few extra pennies for special meals.” (from an internet site called Old and Interesting)

As for the baked cod’s head, it doesn’t bear thinking about.


Listowel Writers’ Week 2022 in the Planning Stage

If this is the year you are going to write the book, or the song or the poem, check out these workshops. One of these may be just the ticket to get you started.


37 Trees to go

It’s not just for the greenway. Some of these trees were doomed already. They’re just felling the whole lot together.


New Sign Needed

You’d have to travel a fair bit to get to a golf club.


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