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: Personal Page 1 of 19

The Frances and Sonny Show

Áras an Phiarsaigh in April 2024

Great Show in The Glen

Friday, April 12 2024 was a special day for our own Frances Kennedy. She and I were back on our home turf of North Cork in The Glen Theatre, Banteer. Frances was performing and I was in the audience.

The show was a Frances Kennedy and Sonny Egan special. Frances looked ever so glamorous and Sonny was his usual understated self.

Didn’t I capture him well on a borrowed phone from my seat in the second row?

It was a big night for Frances. She was celebrating a roundy birthday. And it was forty years to the day since she met Patsy. Frances and Patsy met on her first day in Listowel, which was also her twentieth birthday. Meeting Patsy put paid to her plans to emigrate to the U.S., she told us. Thank you, Patsy.

Sonny and Frances sang, danced, played and told stories to the delight of the appreciative audience. The highlight of the night was a rare duet from Patsy and Frances.

It was a great night’s entertainment from two very versatile, talented performers.

Maureen Sweeney

I told you last week that An Post was commemorating Maureen Flavin Sweeney with a postmark.

Eleanor Belcher sent us this obituary from The London Times.

From Pres Yearbook 04/05


Luckily horses love mud, almost as much as pigs do. Fields are saturated these times but these two boyos were delighted to be allowed to play outdoors for the first time without their coats.

As he frolicked around the field, kicking up mud in all directions, it was hard to believe that Henry is 24 years old.

These best buds love a bit of mutual grooming.

A Fact

In 1914 in Brussels the first non direct blood transfusion was performed by Dr. Albert Hustin.


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.


Local, Personal and World News

Sunny day in The Garden of Europe in April 2024

Danny Hannon’s Bookshop

I posted this last week. Danny Hannon R.I.P. had a newsagents and book shop in Main Street where Glamourous is today.

Then in a piece of synchronicity, Aisling Neville sent me this bookmark that she found in an old book.

“Books on your doorstep by land, sea and air. All titles, all authors. The easy way.”

Danny was a great man for the grand gesture and the flowing phrase. He was ahead of his time. Listowel is the poorer for his passing.

My Niece, the World Champion

Adult Irish step dancing is increasing in popularity. If you have danced competitively as a youngster, you may miss the camaraderie of it all in adulthood. Christine has gone back to her childhood pastime with not a little success.

Christine and her two friends won gold in the World Championships for their three hand reel. The competition was held in Scotland.

Dancers and their teacher.

Jer’s Bits of News from the Archives

April 19 1930 New York NY Irish American Advocate

Whilst crossing a Meld in Drumcunnig, Abbeydorney, a few days ago, Maurice Hayes, a youth, was attacked by five greyhounds and a Kerry Blue. It is stated that though young Hayes sustained injuries to both his legs sad arms, still they are not of a serious nature.


The heaviest snow-fall for thirty-years was recorded in Cashel Saturday,


An anniversary Mass for the repose of the soul of the late Father J  Heffernan, a native of Killarney, was celebrated at All Souls’ Church in San Francisco.


The death in Chicago of Mrs. Ellen Cregan Wallace, a native of Glin, who emigrated about 40 years ago, is deeply regretted by her numerous relatives and friends.


James Duggan, N. T., Glin, member of Glin football team, was the lucky winner of first prize at Adare whist drive a valuable motor car.

( A car as a prize for a whist drive in 1930!!!!!! Something amiss here, I’d say)

A Poem

One for the Diary

A Fact

Paper recycling was first recorded in 1031. Yes, you read that correctly, 1031!!!!!! Shops in Japan sold repulped paper.

Source of this extraordinary fact: my fact a day calendar


Easter Traditions

Schiller in The Garden of Europe at Easter 2024

Celebrating Easter

On Good Friday a huge crowd turned up for the annual Hospice fundraising walk.

Some old stalwarts still helping out

Meanwhile in Athea they were praying an outdoor Way of the Cross

Meeting an Old Friend

I met Dolores O’Connor and a young friend on one of the finer days .

Glory Days!

Finches in Kanturk

In my homeplace the focus has shifted temporarily from horses to finches. These little birdies are attracted to the new bespoke finch feeder filled with their favourite nibble. It wasn’t mealtime when I visited and a big bully of a bullfinch was scaring off all the lovely little goldfinches.

The feeder is positioned outside a big glass door so hours are spent observing the antics of these lovely feathered friends. The record so far is 40 birds either feeding or waiting on the fence for their turn at the table.

A Fact

Chocolate eggs at Easter first appeared in the court of Louis XIV. Before that, and in some countries the tradition is still carried on, real eggs were painted red and displayed to signify the blood of Christ.


Catching up with Aoife

St. Patrick’s Day 2024


Not only does he write evocatively, David Kissane can run and race walk with the best. Here is his caption for this picture last week…

Still only sinking in now that we won the European Masters 5K race walking team gold medal here in Poland this morning! With just 29 seconds separating us from the highly-rated German team, and a talented French team in 3rd, the two Kerry athletes, Michael O’Connor (FFMV AC) and myself from St Brendan’s AC along with Sean McMullin ((Mullingar AC) are honoured to have taken the gold for Ireland in the M70+ category. Great moment on the podium with Amhrán na bhFiann playing. Never to be forgotten and we learned a lot to pass on to the juveniles and adult race walkers in our clubs.

Star of the Silent Screen with Kerry Roots

Story from “Anyone from Ballyduff…” on Facebook

Each summer, Ballyduff welcomes celebrities, some more well-known than others. In the summer of 1955, one such celebrity was Mary Pickford, the revered “America’s sweetheart” of the silent screen and one of the first film stars. She and her husband, Buddy Rodgers, visited Boyles old house at Knopogue, which had been the ancestral home of her Grand-parents, Charles, and Mary Pickford. On their visit to Rattoo cemetery, they found a Pickford headstone, a testament to Mary’s origins. Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 9, 1892, Mary Pickford became a picture actress, and at the peak of her career she was one of the wealthiest and most famous women in the United States. 

Died: May 29, 1979, Santa Monica, California, U.S. (aged 87)

Founder: United Artists Corporation

Awards And Honors: Academy Award (1976) Academy Award (1930) 

Academy Award (1930): Actress in a Leading Role.  Honorary Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1976)

A Love Poem

translated from Irish by Gabriel Fitzmaurice

Catching up with Aoife

Aoife is my youngest grandchild. Spending time in her company is always a treat.

Feeding her Peppa family

Checking in with Daddy

A bedtime story with Mammy

A Fact

In a group of just 23 people, there is a 50% chance that at least two people will have the same birthday.


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