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 Page 2 of 137

Summer 2024

Path in the park

Local People at The Kingdom County Fair

Jer Kennelly was there with his camera and he sent us these. Jer is the man with the garda, at the other side of the camera for once.

A Superpower Needed

I saw this man for the first time at last year’s Writers’ Week where he was collecting his prize on opening night. He was there on release from prison and he and his warder who accompanied him left me with a lasting memory of a great acceptance speech, one of my highlights of Listowel Writers’ Week 2023.

He is back, reading from his book, telling the story of his awful disease, gambling addiction, on Sunday June 2 at 1.00. I have read Sheedy’s book and it is a frightening account of the highs and lows and the terrible heartache of addiction. With alcoholism there is only so much a person can drink before passing out. With gambling, a gambler can lose everything in a matter of seconds. It is a frightening story and Pat Sheedy tells it very honestly.

BUT, at exactly the same time as Pat is in the Plaza, Cyril Kelly and friends are launching an anthology of their writing in Kerry Writers’ Museum.

If I were granted a super power for a day, it would have to be bilocation.

Poem I discovered in an old Ballyguiltenane Annual

Strong Tea

My fact about tea reminded Mattie Lennon that John B. Keane wrote a book called Strong Tea. Mattie treasures his copy

A Marvellous Concert

My friends in Listowel Schools Creative hub invited me to their concert in St. John’s on Monday last. It was an extraordinary showcase of the great young talent in North Kerry.

We saw Joan Mulvihill on screen and in the audience. Damien Stack was another of the local people the students interviewed for their project. His wife, Joan was there for the first concert.

Music, singing and dancing were a big part of the show. Their music and dance teachers, Katie McNamara and Jimmy Hickey were on hand to support and perform.

Katie Lucey, Katherina Broderick and Julieanne Galvin were on hand to keep the show on the road.

A fact

On this day, May 22 in 2015 Hollywood actor Dwayne Johnson set a Guinness World Record for the most selfies taken in three minutes. He took 105 selfies on the red carpet at the world premiere of his new film San Andreas.


Down Memory Lane

Daisies at the Dandy Lodge in No mow May 2024


Beautiful wisteria in blossom in Upper Church Street, Listowel.

Eamonn Dillon shared a wisteria story with us.

Every wisteria in Europe descended from this one on a brewery wall in West London.

This plant was given as a gift to a man called John Reeves by a Chinese man in whose garden he had admired it on a trip to China. Every wisteria you see can trace its DNA back to this one.

Happy Memories

I met the lovely smiling Nora Griffin, home from New York. It’s not today nor yesterday she sat in front of me in her brown uniform. She recognised me, even though clearly I have changed most. She is settled and happy in the U.S. now but she has never forgotten her roots or her old schoolfriends. She checks in with Listowel Connection too.

A Lost Skill

This beautiful piece of needlework is on display in the library in Charleville, Co Cork. It is the work of a lady called Bridget Clarkson and she stitched it in 1839. Bridget was a pupil at Mrs. O’Keeffe’s school for young ladies.

Imagine once upon a time, needlework was an essential skill for a young lady.

Beach Clean up

When you work for a large corporation it is now accepted that you will give at least one day back to the community every year.

This year, my daughter in law, Carine and her colleagues at Dell Renewal sales cleaned up Ballybranagan beach in Co. Cork.


A Fact

On May 20 1896, the chandelier of the Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris broke and its debris fell on a crowd? Several people were injured and there was one death.



Canon’s Height in Summer 2024

Aisling Shannon, Master classes

Con Curtin Music festival 28 29 30 June 2024

Our banjo tutor Aisling Neville. 

Aisling Neville is a multi-instrumentalist who hails from Listowel in Co. Kerry. Aisling has spent many years on session circuits all over Ireland at various festivals and fleadhs. She holds 7 All Ireland titles, winning the Senior Banjo in 2003. Due to this success, she was selected for the Comhaltas tours of Ireland, Britain, and North America. Aisling completed the BAMus in UCC and was the recipient of the Doc Gleeson Award for performance excellence while in attendance there. She was also a member of The Bedford Cross Céilí band in recent years. Aisling is  a primary school teacher in Co. Clare  with over 20 years of experience teaching in various settings. She has adjudicated extensively at county and provincial level also.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

This image has gone viral. The unfortunate motorist changed his mind when driving through the Conor Pass and attempted to turn back. The car was removed later but our photographer seems to have left by then. I looked for photos of the removal of the car but couldn’t find any.

Wouldn’t you die….?

Bibiana Foran

I brought you this photo last week.

Jer Kennelly found her mentioned in this newspaper clip

Killarney Echo and South Kerry Chronicle 1899-1920, Saturday, 22 April 1911

When an old age pensioner enters the Workhouse the pension is no longer paid. As the law is at present, such old persons entering the Workhouse cease to be pensioners. An effort is being made to change the law. ———–

Large numbers of the old people who became old age pensioners at the beginning of the year-have gone back to the Workhouses. The food, comforts, and accommodation of the Workhouse are something more than they can obtain for 5s. a week outside. Inmates of Workhouses, in Kerry and elsewhere receive better .treatment than they did in years gone by. Still, respectable old people do not like the Workhouse, and it’s  only right that homes should be established for them. 


The members of the Listowel branch of the Women’s National Health Association, met last week and, judging by the statements made at the meeting, it would seem that the movement against consumption and its causes has made much progress in that district. If any doubts were entertained regarding the assertions that the disease can be cured the statement made at the meeting in question, by Mrs. Foran P.L.G., should have the effect of removing them. She informed those present that some persons sent from the Listowel district to the sanatorium for treatment had returned quite restored to health. 

We Have a Winner

My granddaughter, Cora, plays soccer with her club, Lakewood, and with her school, Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin. The schools’ competition is a 5’s blitz. It is very hard on the nerves because if your team goes down a goal you have very little time to make it up. Last week Cora’s team, representing Cork, won the Munster Schools’ Final and are now into the All Ireland final.

Hopes are high for victory in her other discipline, Gaelic football. Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin is into the final of Sciath na Scol to be played later this week.

Cora with her proud parents

Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin team

A Rallying Cry

A Fact

In 1220 Henry 1 laid the foundation stone for Westminster Abbey in London.


Ballybunion, Listowel and Kanturk

Ballybunion in early summer 2024

A Friday Laugh

In Kanturk

This premises in Kanturk is now the home of Yumm café but when I was growing up it was the home of Sarah and John O’Connor. This couple were the salt of the earth, Sarah, in particular, was involved in everything in town. She was in the Legion of Mary, Comhaltas, every play and show in the Edel Quinn Hall, the youth club, the bible study group and more.

Importantly, in the days before internet, emails and Zoom, Sarah typed up a twice yearly newsletter that was eagerly anticipated and much appreciated by Kanturk people who lived far from home. England was far in the days before cheap air travel. Sarah gathered all the news of births, marriages and deaths and anything else of interest . She was journalist, typist and post woman.

Whenever I met Sarah away from Kanturk she was always good for the “stand”, a selfless generous saint of a woman. May she rest in peace.

By the way the 1900 over the building signifies that it was a national school, the first in Kanturk.

From 2007

The Farmers Market was busy on Fridays in 2007

Dillon Boyer R.I.P, Pat and the late Mrs Walsh met up with Junior Griffin.

Nettle Soup

Yesterday I told you that it is recommended we eat nettle soup twice a day in May. Yesterday too I met up with my friend, Liz Dunn, and she had a story for us about nettle soup.

Liz and Jim watch Clarkson’s Farm. This TV programme which they watch on Amazon Prime follows Jeremy Clarkson’s adventures on his farm.

One of the workers on Jeremy’s farm is Lucca Allen, son of Rachel Allen. Lucca, one day, made nettle soup for Jeremy and it is now a staple on the menu on Clarkson’s Farm.

A Fact

The San people of southern Africa use a set of tools that dates back 44,000 years.


In Ballybunion

One of the lovely welcoming park benches in Childers Park Listowel

Church of St. John, Ballybunion

St. John’s in Ballybunion is one of the most magnificent churches in the Kerry Diocese.

Mary Young, whose seated statue is placed facing the church was one of the main benefactors.

Mary has left us all a spectacular legacy.

This beautiful window is above the main altar.

Water Safety

I don’;t fully understand it either, but it sounds nice.

Nettle Soup

Pic and text from

Here is something that many of you will have heard already – eating nettles in May. My grandmother would always have one feed of them cooked up with the bacon and cabbage. I’ve heard others who say that you were meant to have three feeds of them. Good for the blood apparently – full of iron. I make nettle soup with them and you’d never know they were in it once mixed with other vegetables. 

Text: Michael Fortune

A Fact

Nelson Mandele’s name at birth wasRolihlahla which means troublemaker.


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