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 Races Page 1 of 8

Stylish Things and Stylish People

Wildflower Meadow in Childers’ Park in Sept. 2023


Memories, Memories

The hand of a master craftsman at work

Martin Chute’s mural is on my way to town so I stopped by often to document progress. One day as I observed Martin putting the finishing touches to his masterpiece, the lovely Anne Marie ORiordan passed by. She stopped to admire the artwork and she kindly posed for a photo with Martin. Anne Marie had fond memories of that back lane in the days before Listowel murals when she and her friends were caffling and having fun. She remembers the odd stolen kiss in the nearby carpark too.

Martin’s work will evoke memories for many.


Mystery Solved

Joe Cahill did the research for us;

M.J. Reidy was a writer known as Mossien Tommy Reidy from Cordal. He passed away on 1988.

Joe found him on a site called Find a Grave where people are invited to share memories of the dead loved one.

Here is what a relative wrote about our poet.

From “The Claddagh” a family newsletter for the O’Flaherty Reunion in Fort Valley, VA, in May 2000.
Maurice J. Reidy, Poet and non-fiction storywriter.
Known as “Mossien Tommie” Reidy, this was a term of endearment to those around Castleisland, Co. Kerry, Ireland, where he grew up. He was a local sports hero while in the secondary school system and later his work was used in the school curriculum. He grew up near Cordal where both sets of his grandparents had lived. He was the son of Helen Flaherty Reidy and the grandson of Maurice Flaherty, the youngest brother of my great-grandfather, Daniel.
Declan Horgan, a retired school teacher from Tralee, some 25 miles away to the west, said that his writings were very good but his antics were just as meaningful to locals. He related two stories about “Moss” that we would find of interest. It seems when Mossien developed an interest in horse racing and began to trade and build his stables he had no “colours” for his jockey. Since this was more or less a “Landed Gentry” sport he was probably ridiculed. Since our cousin was a great athlete in his own right he had a friend on the All-Kerry Football (soccer) team. This friend loaned him the green and gold jersey and this allowed him to meet the “Rules of the sport”. Don’t believe Mr. Horgan said whether he won or lost that day but he won over 200 races in his shortened life.
Another story was: It seems in the medical system in Ireland, like England and Canada, one has to wait their turn for care, unless it is life threatening. It happened our cousin needed a hernia operation and while on a trip to Dublin, feigned a collapse on a downtown street where he was taken to the local hospital and they fixed his problem on the spot. Doesn’t that sound a great deal like Uncle D.C.? Later I ask his brother John if this was all true and he said, “It tis.”, as a big smile spread across his face.
M. J. Reidy was the author of the followingworks: Borders of Hope (1978), Borders of Joy (1975), First collection of stories (1978),
Mirror of Truth (1980), Rays of Cheer (1978),
(1979), Pleasant Holidays (1983), Shades of
Fancy, with Jacinta O’Manoney, (1981), The
Kerry Piper (1974).

From Mirror of Truth we include a small sample:
Ode to Poetry

Oh, you, the one true art from high
To mortal ever given,
Such sweet fond music from the sky
With jewelry of Heaven.
Your sacred light,
Keep blazing true,
When injured here below.
You tended, this life’s hospital,
With care, for pain and woe,
Your oil and wine will polish mind,
And brightly cheer alway.
And only refuge each one find,
To help all night and day.
Thy blush, one fond, true friend can find,
To speak the color of your mind.

I was fortunate to have read most of his work at the Trinity College Library while my wife, sister and niece were out shopping all day. It left me feeling a small portion of the loss his family must have felt in his passing. His sisters, Julia and Kitty, along with a brother, John, still live in the old Reidy homestead at “High Trees”, Glenlaran, Cordal, Castleisland, Co. Kerry. He left a son, Dan, and a daughter, Helen, as well as, six grandchildren. May he have eternal peace with our Lord and Savior.


Last few Races photos

Clíona met up with Mary Ellen and Aisling

Anne met Bridget and Carmel

In John Kelliher’s photo are Imelda, Joan, Julie, Helena and liz, just some of the local Tidy Town people who organise what was always my favourite event of Race Week. These people have no part in the judging. That is done by fashion experts and a representative from An Taisce.

I didn’t go on Saturday this year because the weather forecast was for very bad weather. I stayed home, child minding. I depended on Clíona, Breda and of course, John Kelliher, for news of the day.

Playing This little Piggy with Aoife

This event is all about reusing, up cycling and making fashion sustainable. Vintage has now become mainstream so it was no surprise to me that a professional upcycler took the prize.

These are some of the finalists. Cathy Troth, second from right, came first.

The very stylish John and Viveca both won prizes, John was the best dressed man and Viveca came second in the ladies’ section.

Here I must give a shout out to local girl, Maria Stack. Maria is a dedicated upcycler and reuser. She is a great supporter of this competiion. She has entered it every year since it first began. She not only wears the vintage outfit but she sources gloves, bag and other accessories. This year she wore a beautiful tara brooch which was a prize won by her mother. She always has the provenance of her attire and she has the best stories. Every year she makes the final but she just can’t win.

Another stylish lady who just can’t win is my friend, Anne Leneghan. This year she was too late to be considered.


A Fact

Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.



My Favourite Mural

Childers Park Wildflower Meadow, September 2023


Contrasting Murals

Creative Walls is a marvellous project by Listowel Community and Business Alliance.

Here is what they have to say about the latest Listowel mural

~ Listowel Characters ~
The latest Listowel Characters mural has been commissioned by the Listowel Business & Community Alliance. With support from Kerry Co Arts and Creative Ireland.

The artist selected for the new typographic mural is the talented Master Signwriter – Martin Chute. As with our previous walls, the artist gets to choose an inspiring quote from a selection of Writers, Poets, Songwriters, and more.  Martin was keen to create a mural featuring John B. Keane.

“Where’er I go I’ll love you sweet Listowel and doff my distant cap each day to you” 
– Sweet Listowel. 

Martin lived and worked in the United States for many years. Now his exquisite lettering enriches the fascias of his native Listowel. The Chute family’s sign writing and artistic painting work are a prominent feature on Listowel’s shopfronts.

Since his return from America, Martin’s unique, handcrafted signs and shopfront designs have transformed the streetscape in Listowel. His work offers an identity and a sense of place that has contributed to the preservation of the town’s character.

Thank you Martin and all involved for this exquisite piece which has attracted massive attention and admiration already. An asset to the town of Listowel. A special thanks to Pat Nolan from Pat Nolan’s Furniture & Carpet Centre for kindly donating this wall space for this project.💙

#listowel #wherestoriesbegin #soundtown #followthegreenway #kingdomofkerrygreenways #discoverthekingdom #listowel4all 

Listowel Business and Community Alliance
Kerry County Arts 
Creative Ireland
John B. Keane’s Pub, Listowel, Co. Kerry

This is the other Charles Street mural. The contrast in styles is striking. Listowel Community and Business Alliance is catering for all tastes.

I particularly love the quotation Martin chose. Listowel is often described as lovely. Sweet is somehow to me more emotive, more tender, The colours, the shape and the timbre of Chute’s mural is reminiscent of an old sweet wrapper, a taste of childhood.

The doffing of the cap suggests to me respect and reverence, an acknowledgement of all that Listowel has given. It’s a gesture of gratitude and loyalty.

My blog has brought me into contact with many Listowel emigrants. This mural speaks to them and for them. I find among the Listowel diaspora, a massive loyalty to the town. I haven’t met a Listowel person yet who was not proud of where he came from.



Kilbrin is a very small village in North Cork. It has no shop and no pub now. It has a primary school and preschool and a thriving GAA club.

My family are buried in Kilbrin.

Over the graveyard wall a flock of sheep were investigating a mound of earth. Kilbrin is in the heart of the countryside.

Kilbrin is a very very old burial ground, still in use today . A wonderful restoration job has been done here by the local graveyard committee. All of the graves’ inscriptions which can be read are also online;

Kilbrin Graveyard inscriptions


My Family

For the first time in years we were all together for race week.

We took walks and they discovered new things about the place where they grew up.



Death of an Irishwoman

(Michael Hartnett wrote this about his grandmother who was a link to another era in Irish social history.)

Ignorant, in the sense she ate monotonous food 

and thought the world was flat, and pagan, 

in the sense she knew the things that moved at night 

were neither dogs nor cats 

but púcas and darkfaced men 

she nevertheless had fierce pride.

But sentenced in the end to eat thin diminishing porridge 

in a stone-cold kitchen 

she clinched her brittle hands around a world 

she could not understand.

I loved her from the day she died.

She was a summer dance at the crossroads.

She was a cardgame where a nose was broken.

She was a song that nobody sings.

She was a house ransacked by soldiers.

She was a language seldom spoken.

She was a child’s purse, full of useless things.


Great Idea… but you must book


A Fact

Be warned: You can overdose on coffee!!!

Ten grammes of coffee or about 100 cups over 4 hours can kill the average human being


Ballybunion and Other Places

Greenway mural Sept 2023


Iconic Ballybunion

Certain images say Ballybunion to us all; the castle, Virgin Rock, Nine Daughters Hole for instance. Uptown there are some unique local identifiers too.

trompe d’oeil cottage

Joyce’s, the post office

Mary Young statue seated outside St. John’s


Listowel Races 2023

I only went to The Island on one day and it was Ladies Day. This year, the celebrity designer judge, Don O’Neill, brought a New York frisson to the occasion.

Some of the style on show

Danny Russell put his millinery skills to work. He made this magnificent hat to match Norella’s silver pants suit.

My old friend and a faithful Listowel Races attendee, Mary O’Halloran was there with her daughter, Louise, both looking very stylish.

Photo: John Kelliher

The very popular winner of the top prize was local lady, Kathleen Flaherty, in a classic blue crochet suit. The judges recognised timeless style when they saw it.


I Remember, I Remember

This is my mother’s family home. It is no longer in the family but I paid it a visit on a recent trip home. If those walls could speak they’d tell the story of my beloved Uncle Bernie and Aunty Eily. Eily planted those flowers.

This tree was planted by my grandfather. He lives on in it and the memories it evokes.



I never knew, until someone shared this online, that Kerry schools once had their own approved catechism. Does the line “a general catechism for the kingdom” actually refer to Kerry or The Kingdom of Heaven?


A Fact

The phrase “rule of thumb” comes from an old English law which forbade a husband to beat his wife with anything wider then his thumb.


After the Races

Courthouse Road Sept 2023


The Kerry Piper

My friend, Margaret came across this when she was looking for something else. Has anyone any idea who this Kerry Piper is?


Listowel Races 2023

The weather was not the best for this year’s race week and I’m afraid I’m a fair weather race goer. I only made it to The Island on one day, Friday, Ladies Day.

My three children, Clíona, Anne and Bobby at Friday’s Races.

All of my grandchildren had school, except Aoife who is only 2. She was enjoying her first Harvest Festival of racing.

Clíona and Aoife posed for me outside the box where Clíona sold racecards many moons ago.


Murals, New and Old

My visitors beside the newest mural and the oldest


A Sobering Fact

The period 1347 to 1351 was a dreadful time in Europe. The pandemic known as The Black Death killed one third of the population. Physicians at the time had no clue what caused the pandemic but they recognised that it was highly contagious. To protect themselves against the disease they wore an elaborate beaked headpiece. This protective mask had a large beaklike container which sat between their mouths and their noses. The “beak” was filled with vinegar, sweet oils and other strong smelling compounds. It’s purpose was to counteract the stench of putrid flesh from the dead and dying plague victims, whom they were helpless to cure.

Folklore has it that this is the origin of the title quack as applied to a doctor.


Harvest Festival Queens

William Street


On Church Street Upper


Listowel Harvest Festival Queens

During the week of the Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing, a local committee has always looked after entertainment away from the racecourse. The highlight of this entertainment is the All Ireland Wren Boys competition, traditionally held on the Friday night of race week.

Another highlight for many years was the selection of the Harvest Festival Queen. Betty Stack was part of the organising committee and she sent us a few photos.

Bernadette Sheehan, the 1994 Queen on the specially made float

Anna Enright, the 1991 Queen with the late Michael Dowling. Michael and Danny Hannon shared M. C. ing duties.

Dáithí OSé took over as M.C. for the last few years. The winner then went on to represent Listowel Harvest Festival in the Kerry Rose of Tralee selection.

Kathleen O’Sullivan 1993

Betty gave us a full list of all of the Queens

Harvest Festival Queens Through the Years

(With thanks to Betty Stack)

Rita Groarke, Moyvane 1989

Norma Carmody,  Listowel 1990

Anna Enright, Moyvane 1991

Bridget Tydings, Listowel 1992

Kathleen O’Sullivan, Coilbee 1993

Bernadette Sheehan, Moyvane 1994

Ursula Carmody, Listowel 1995

Collette Carmody/Culhane 1996

Deirdre O’Connell, Clounmacon 1997

Elaine O’Connor, Ballygologue 1998

Sarah Griffin, Greenville 1999

Helena O’Carroll, Duagh 2000

Claire Naughton, Listowel 2001

Katie McNamara, Lisselton 2002

Olivia Dineen, Causeway 2003

Katie Shanahan, Causeway 2004

Ashling O’Donovan, Duagh 2005



We’re a bit behind the actual work but I’m reporting to you in the order in which I photographed the creation of this latest mural. This is Sept 8 2023.

The next generation…Martin’s son, Jack, helped him out a bit on this very big project. Jack doesn’t want to be a signwriter and he was reluctant to pose for a photograph too.


Mike the Pies has no Pies

Jumbo’s has no Elephants

When I came to Listowel first I was fascinated by some of the shop names. I was used to shops named after the proprietor. Listowel had shops with fascinating names like The Fancy Warehouse and The Cloth Hall and pubs with names like The Bees’ Knees and Journey’s End. There was a Serendipity, an Infidel and appropriately enough, an Enigma.

I hope this intriguing little Listowel quirk of giving a business a name which gives no clue as to what it might sell continues and leaves the curious visitor with a question to ask that many local people can’t answer.

Can you remember where Jumbo’s got it’s name?


A Fact

Sean’s Bar in Athlone is the oldest pub in Ireland. It is operating as a bar since AD 900. The building is actually older. Google it. It’s fascinating.


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