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 28

May Day

Wild garlic in Gurtinard in April 2024

Today is May 1 2024

Mayday, according to tradition is a day when the fairies are up to mischief. They might steal dairy produce or even children at this time so it was a time for vigilance.

May day was also the day for the hiring fair. Extra labour would be needed for saving the hay and cutting the turf so men in search of work came into town to meet up with potential employers.

“Im’ spailpín fánach fágadh mise

Ag seasamh ar mo shláinte…”

May was a time for the young and the strong. May poles, bonfires, May queens are symbols of this time of year.

In Ireland we have turned the tables and Bealtaine is a time for celebrating age and maturity.

Thomas F. O’Sullivan

Who was Thomas F. O’Sullivan who trolled John J Foley in the pages of the Kerry newspapers for a short time in 1901?

In my opinion he is a man who should have known better. He let himself down badly in continuing to torment a popular local entertainer.

If you have ever taken one of Vincent Carmody’s informative walking tours you will have heard of this man. He was a very well respected journalist, so highly regarded that there was a suggestion that he deserved a memorial erected in his memory. His best known work is his history of the GAA

Here is what David O’Sullivan found about him.

O’Sullivan was born in Listowel in 1874. He developed an early interest in the GAA and in 1893 at the age of nineteen became secretary of the newly formed Listowel Temperance Football Team. In 1899 he became secretary of the Listowel GAA. He was appointed county secretary after the Kerry board was reformed in 1900. In 1903 he was appointed president of the Munster GAA council. He continued as secretary of the Kerry board until he moved to Dublin to write for the Freeman’s Journal in 1907. O’Sullivan held a number of positions for that newspaper, including a spell as parliamentary correspondent in London from 1916, until its demise in 1924. His Story of the GAA (1916) was the first ever history of the association.

O’Sullivan wrote several books and was a frequent contributor to The Kerryman.

John J. Foley passed away in 1941

Our thanks are due to Christan Bush, whose email sparked our interest in this local spat.

Commemorative Seats in Town

Listowel, like many Irish towns has come up with ways of remembering local people who we loved and lost. One of these ways is the placing of seats in memory of the loved one in the park or by the river.

Here are a few I see regularly on my walk.

Along the banks of the Feale are these two;

My picture of the tree is dark and shadowed even though the day was sunny.

A Favourite Poem

Mossbawn or Gneeveguilla, poet or storyteller, we all mine our childhood experiences for inspiration.

A Fact

Pluto takes 248 years to orbit the sun.


In Dublin

Easter 2024 altar in St. Mary’s Church

It all Happened Again, and Again and Again

From Pres. Secondary School yearbook 2004/05

Knocknagoshel Phoenix 2006

The Big Smoke

I took the train from Farranfore with my friend, Peggy, on a mission to see our old friends who usually travel in the other direction to meet us.

This sign is at the entrance to the station. Take a half a look at the translation of Live train/ platform information.

Did no one check it before it went up?

Who signed off on it?

We visited The National Gallery. It’s a beautiful place, so much more worthwhile than the shops.

The only shopping we did was in the National Gallery. There I spotted a Listowel connection, two displays of Anna Guerin’s Sock Co op souvenir socks.

More Flowers

We have a Champion

Schools 5- a -side soccer is like World Cup when you are 11.

Cora and her Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin team are Cork champions and Cora got the award for “Player of the Tournament”. On now to Munster in May.

A Fact

The most difficult tongue twister in the world is

“The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.”


Garden and Garden Centre

In the Garden of Europe in April 2024

Listowel Garden Centre

Covid 19 wasn’t all bad. I was the recipient of much kindness during the pandemic lockdown. One of the kind gestures made to me was the gift of this plant from the kind people at Listowel Garden Centre. In the four years since, it was continued to thrive and give me pleasure every time I see it. Thank you, Nick and Co.

On their website the garden centre gang shared this Kerry’s Eye photo of the official opening 40 years ago.

Here’s to the next 40!

A Poem

Vincent Doyle sent us this email

I wanted to share this with you: An Old Woman of the Roads by Padraic Colum.

I remember learning this poem in Dromerin school and feeling sorry for this poor woman.

An Old Woman of the Roads

O, to have a little house! 

To own the hearth and stool and all! 

The heaped up sods against the fire, 

The pile of turf against the wall!


To have a clock with weights and chains 

And pendulum swinging up and down! 

A dresser filled with shining delph, 

Speckled and white and blue and brown! 

I could be busy all the day 

Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor, 

And fixing on their shelf again 

My white and blue and speckled store! 

I could be quiet there at night 

Beside the fire and by myself, 

Sure of a bed and loth to leave 

The ticking clock and the shining delph! 

Och! but I’m weary of mist and dark, 

And roads where there’s never a house nor bush, 

And tired I am of bog and road, 

And the crying wind and the lonesome hush! 

And I am praying to God on high, 

And I am praying Him night and day, 

For a little house – a house of my own 

Out of the wind’s and the rain’s way.

This old poem has a new resonance today in our world of millions of homeless and displaced people.

A Listowel Lady Making a Name for Herself in the U.S.

Photo and text from the Providence College website

Dr. Elizabeth Stack Executive Director American Irish Historical Society 991 5th Ave., NYC February 2, 2024 Photo: James Higgins

(Providence, RI) – American Irish Historical Society Executive Director Dr. Elizabeth Stack will be the featured speaker at Providence College’s Third Annual Murphy/Healy Lecture in Irish Culture. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Friday, March 1 at 6:00 p.m. in ’64 Hall on the Providence College campus. Free parking is available in the College’s Wardlaw Ave. lot, adjacent to Slavin Center, where ’64 Hall is located. 

Dr. Stack’s topic will be “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears: Ireland’s Immigration Story.” In this lecture, Dr. Stack will trace the changing patterns of emigration and how the diaspora has adapted to life in America. She will also look at how Ireland has coped with the exodus of her people, and how for the first time in her history, Ireland has recently received more people than have left. 

Dr. Stack was previously the executive director of the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, NY and before that she taught Irish and Irish American History and was an Associate Director at Fordham University’s Institute of Irish Studies. She completed her Ph.D. at Fordham, writing about Irish and German immigrants in New York at the turn of the twentieth century, as they grappled with the immigration restriction movements of that time. She has a master’s degree in Anglo-Irish Relations in the 20th Century from University College Dublin in Ireland.  

Originally from Listowel, in Co. Kerry, Dr. Stack sees a huge connection between her own experience as an immigrant, and the important mission of the Society to preserve and share Irish contributions to American history. 

The Murphy/Healy Lecture in Irish Culture series was founded in 2020 with an endowment gift from John M. Murphy, Sr. ’19. The lecture aims to bring together students, faculty, staff, and the broader Rhode Island community in a greater understanding of Irish history. 

Founded in 1917, Providence College is the only college or university in the United States administered by the Dominican Friars. The Catholic, liberal arts college has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 4,100 students and offers degrees in 56 academic majors.  Since 1997, Providence College consistently has been ranked among the top five regional universities in the North according to U.S. News & World Report’s“America’s Best Colleges.” 

A Fact

Japan experiences approximately 1,500 earthquakes every year.


New Shop in Town

Robin …Photo; Chris Grayson

Spotted at the old Iceland store during the week

I peeped in and the interior has had all the fridges taken out and Mr. Price type shelving installed.

In Listowel now I count 4 shops selling helium inflated balloons. We must be doing some celebrating.

Another Honour for Mike the Pies

Mike the Pies is a huge Listowel success story. It is now one of Ireland’s topmost music and comedy venues.

The latest accolade is for Hot Press Live Music Venue of the Year.

An Old One from Irelands Own

From Pres Yearbook 1988

Artwork on the back cover

Denise, one of the many talented artists in the school then .

All Grown Up

On the left is my granddaughter, Aisling. She was in Dublin at the weekend with her cousin, Charlotte. Aisling is dressed formally for her first gig as a gymnastics judge.

A Fact

The winter of 1740 was so cold that rivers and lakes froze. People, unaccustomed to these new playing surfaces, held dances and carnivals on the ice. A hurling match took place on The Shannon and a Fair on the Lee.


Some Old Things

Daffodils on Market Street in February 2024


Muskerry Local History Society meeting in February 2024

This artefact was brought by an American Irish man, Michael Loehr. It is a prison ring. It was made from a nail by his ancestor, a republican prisoner. Prison jewellery and ornaments are prized within families. This ring was taken to the US and now brought back home by a descendant.

Another republican artefact was brought by Bert Ahern. This flag draped the coffin of his ancestor. The name and details were embroidered on to the flag after his burial by 2 neighbours of Jeremiah. The flag is kept in the family and is put on coffins of Ahern descendants to this day. This was in keeping with a request by a sister of the dead man. She was anxious that he would never be forgotten and his senseless death at the hands of men who had fought by his side a few short years earlier would not be in vain.

Early Days of the Folk Group

You hear them at mass on Saturday evenings. Well, this is where it started. Matt Mooney (fourth from left in the back row) sent us this treasure.

Research is underway on putting names to faces. Check back here soon. I hope to have all the names.

New Kerry Logo

We’ll be seeing more of this

Looking Forward to This

Fake News

My Eurovision “fact” was not, in fact, true. Sweden has also won seven Eurovision competitions. Wikipedia needs to update its facts and I need to fact check better,

A kind blog follower gently corrected my misinformation. Thank you.

Photo; Irish Mirror

If Bambi wins we’ll regain our record.

A Fact

Every tweet the American people send is archived in The Library of Congress.


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