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

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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.


Remembering the Convent

McKenna’s Corner Aug 2023


Lixnaw Carnival Queen

Listowel’s own Betty Stack was once Lixnaw’s Carnival Queen


Presentation Convent, Listowel

Margaret McGrath was remembering her beloved sister, Betty and her dear aunt Sr. Gemma and she sent us these memories of the convent.

Some teachers from the secondary school who went to say goodbye to the sisters before the convent closed.


An Official Guide to Listowel

In the 1960s Listowel UDC brought out an official guide to the town. Wolfgang Mertens purchased a copy when he came to town to attend Writers’ Week 1969. He kept his copy and now shares it with us.

God and Mammon

Listowel was well served with churches and banks.


The Canvas is ready

The nearby Mill Lane mural


Listowel Men Reunited at Wilco

Enjoying the concert on Saturday night were David Reen, Seán O’Sullivan, Gavin Buckley and Bobby Cogan, all with a Listowel connection.


A Fact

Indonesia is the world’s largest island country. It has more than 13,000 islands.


A Heroine, A Horse and a Hen

Áras an Phiarsaigh


Dublin Kerry Honours

There I am at Women in Media in Ballybunion in 2019. On my right is Duagh native, Katie Hannon who is now being honoured by the Kerry association in Dublin. She is to be their Kerry Person on the Year 2023.

Photo: Radio Kerry

These two national treasures, Ambrose O’Donovan and Tim Moynihan, the voices that bring GAA matches to Kerry people all over the world, are also to be honoured. Their match day commentaries are the stuff of legend. They are to be dubbed Laochra Chiarraí (Kerry Heroes).


A Local Spat

in the letters page in 1901


Listowel, 27th March 1901.

Dear Sir,

In your last issue Mr John J Foley takes exception to the remarks made in my notice of the concert recently held in Listowel, in so far as his “comic” recitation “Thady Kelly’s Hen,” was concerned. It is only natural that Mr Foley should endeavour to prove that the item, so far from being objectionable, was entitled to the honour of a National anthem. If I were in his position it is more than probable I would also try to justify myself in the eyes of the public. Placed as I am, I am sure Mr Foley will have no objection to my defending my criticism, particularly as it was written in a spirit which commends itself to himself. Whether he does or not, I intend doing so, and if he regards my remarks in this and in future letters unpleasant he has no one to blame but himself.

I at once join issue! with Mr Foley on the question as to whether “Thady Kelly’s Hen” is an Irish poem of true racy humour, without any savour of the stage-Irishman or of the English music hall,” or a miserable, drivelling , idiotic caricature of the National character. It is a matter of indifference to me whether he rendered the item in Tralee or Timbuctoo without evoking hostile criticism. I am aware that there are some sterling Irishmen in Tralee, but at the same time I am not ignorant of the fact that it contains its due proportion of shoneens. The question at issue is not whether “Thady Kelly’s Hen’ was hall-marked in Tralee or elsewhere, but whether it should or should not be recited before a self-respecting Irish audience.

Now, let us see what the recitation was about. Thady Kelly, as impersonated by Mr Foley, was a besotted ignoramus who never drank porther until he was dhry.” ” While giving the recitation Mr Foley was continually scratching his head in the most silly fashion, under the delusion evidently that he was doing something particularly clever. This is the manner in which the Irishman is usually caricatured. He is represented as a drunken, improvident, “omadhaun,’ who is tolerated on account of the “bulls” he perpetrates. Mr Foley cut the most ridiculous figure he could assume as he murdered the English language in a style never heard in this country. I have no objection to the wholesale massacre of the English, language, but I have a decided objection to have my countrymen held up to ridicule. A sillier, more disgusting and humiliating performance, I never witnessed, than this so-called comic recitation, and Mr. Foley would be well advised if he never again attempted to perpetrate an atrocity which cannot fail to detract from his reputation.

Mr Foley tries to make a point out of my statement, that the people who applauded his recitation did not appear to grasp its insulting significance. I reiterate that statement, and the best proof that they did not grasp it is furnished by the fact that he was not hissed off the stage.

Mr Foley also makes some mild insinuation about “fanatics.” I do not think it is necessary to waste time dealing with the observation, particularly when I take into account the fact that Mr. Foley was not in the most amiable mood when his letter was being written, and that, under the circumstances an ebullition of feeling was only to be expected. Besides as a journalist, I am not over thin skinned, and I do not certainly expect Mr Foley to be over fastidious in his choice of epithets. I have some other observations to make, but will reserve them for my next letter. In the meantime let me express the hope that when Mr Foley comes to Listowel again, he will not be accompanied by “Thady Kelly’s Hen.”

I am, faithfully, YOUR CORRESPONDENT .

( I looked online but couldn’t find the “poem” anywhere)


When you Meet Someone Deep in Grief

“Slip off your shoes
and set them by the door

Enter barefoot,
this darkened chapel

hollowed by loss,
hallowed by sorrow.

its grey stone walls
and floor

You, congregation
of one

Are here to listen,
not to sing.

Kneel in the back pew,
make no sound

Let the candles

By Patricia Mckernon Runkle


Home is Where the Horses are

This fellow, affectionately known as Johnny, loves to come to the fence for a nuzzle.



Here is the answer to the horse related question you didn’t ask.

Why is a horse’s height measured in hands?

The term “hand” is traditionally used to measure the height of horses because it was originally the standard unit of measurement during the Middle Ages. One “hand” is equal to 4 inches, which is the approximate span between a human’s thumb and outstretched fingers.


Blue Moon

Portmarnock moon photo by Éamon ÓMurchú

Listowel moon by Mary Dowling


The Imeldist

We got an email from Trinidad and Tobago.

Hello there!

I am writing from Trinidad and Tobago. Fr. Finbar Ryan became our Archbishop in 1940. Upon doing some research, I learned that he wrote the little children’s magazine, The Imeldist.

While doing some digging, I came across your blog, asking if anyone had copies. I am also looking for copies! Did you ever come across any?

I’d love to know, God Bless!

Kindest regards,

Elizabeth de Verteuil

I’ve replied to Elizabeth to explain that he didn’t write it all. I presume he edited it or wrote some of the content.

Last time I posted this no one seemed to remember it. I’ve gained a few followers since then, maybe someone kept a copy.


An Amusing Sporting Memory


A Corner of a Kanturk Park


Our Next Mural

Our next mural for will be created by our very own signwriter, painter and muralist, Martin Chute.

I met him preparing his “canvas”, the gable end wall of Pat Nolan’s Furniture Shop. The quotation will be very local. I think we’ll all love it best. I’ll keep you posted.


A Fact

When Montenegro became independent from Yugoslavia, its internet domain went from .yu to .me


A Restaurant, A Captain, A Shoe shop, a Poem and a Horsey Fact

Nanjing Restaurant and Brosnan’s Bar Market Street in August 2023


We’re all behind you, Johnny

Photo shared online by Are Lingus


A Spelling Lesson

Photo from Facebook


O’Farrell’s Repainted

Beautiful vintage style sign by the master signwriter, Martin Chute


One to set you thinking

by Steven Willis


Another Horsey Fact

A horse can produce 10 gallons of saliva in a day.


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