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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St. Bartholomew Could Save summer 2024

St. John’s on a July morning 2024

Very Disappointed Doggie here

We deserved a draw!

Just because…..

Our darling Aoife

A Scrap of Hope


If it rains on July 15 St. Swithin’s Day, ( and it did), many of you will have grown up with this folklore regarding the date ie if it rains on that day, it will rain for forty more days.

Swithin (or Swithun to give him his proper name) was a 9th century Anglo-Saxon bishop and his folklore has survived right across England, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Ireland since. You even find it in Newfoundland or where people from these countries settled.

To be fair, it pissed down in Ireland last year on this day and didn’t really let up all year. However, I did hear it said that the bowld Saint Bartholomew’s Day on the 24th of August could cancel Swithin’s curse as apparently once St. Bartholomew’s Day comes, he’ll wipe all the rain and tears away.

That verse goes like this “Of all the tears that St. Swithin does cry, St. Bartholomew will wipe them dry”.

And speaking of tears, I’d say there was a lot of water flowing in England last night and you can blame the Spainish for that!

Text: Michael Fortune

Remember This?

This picture was on a British Legacy group site. It could have been any kitchen in Ireland in the 1950s and 60s.

We are back in the day before built- in kitchens. This dresser was the height of sophistication.

A Definition

From The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

bigot n. a person who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.

A Fact

The population of India has more people than the entire western hemisphere.


A Fashion Photoshoot

In Listowel Town Square in July 2024

My Summer Visitors

Early morning walk with Reggie

In Praise of a Modest Repast

The Tomato Sandwich

by Mick O’Callaghan

                                     This veggie discovered in the fifteen hundredths

Growing wild in the Andes Mountains

Brought to Mexico by the Spaniards

Then the early explorers brought seeds to Italy

And so, this ancient berry, fruit or vegetable

Has spread throughout the world

Today its 10000 plus varieties are globally grown

With varieties such as beef, cherry ,vine ,piccolo

As ornamental plants, for roasting and toasting

Widely used in salads or just plain slices on bread

For myself I just adore

lettuce, cheese, cucumber, scallion and tomato sandwiches

Made on fresh brown or white sliced bread

I Just love the sensation, the salivating

As I reach into the bread box for the fresh bread

Placing two slices on the breadboard

Spreading the soft butter on them

Gently adding the lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and cucumber

With a drizzle of finely chopped fresh garden scallions

Evenly spread across the top

Shaking a little salt for seasoning and flavour

Liberally spooning and spreading mayo

And placing my covering slice on top

Sprinkling some chopped parsley around for added colour

My sandwich making mission is now complete

And so, I place this attractive creation on my plate

Holding knife overhead and gently slice it in quarters

For easier handling and consuming my tantalising treat

I place it on the table to view my creation

I am happy that it is now ready to eat

Next, I pour a mug of tea and place it alongside my treat

Get my napkin, pour some milk into tea to cool the warm brew down

And then I sit down at table to enjoy my feast

Oh, it so yummy and succulent

As I sink my teeth into bread, tomatoe and cheese

The cucumber,scallions and mayo give it a mighty lift

Mayo softly squelching out the sides

Gently plopping on the plate

Napkin in in place to wipe around my mouth

And avoid any nasty spillage on clothes

As I ravenously devour my home-made sandwich special.

Washed down with real Barry’s brewed teapot drink.

I am satisfied, stuffed, happy, and contented

My appetite is sated

I am ready and energised for the rest of the day.

A Photo Shoot

This was the scene on William Street on Wednesday morning, July 10 2024.

An eagle eyed friend who was passing alerted me to the scoop.

The umbrellas were necessary to block out the sun which had been in hiding all summer but chose that morning to appear and ruin the winter fun.

If you enlarge this one, you’ll see that there is a man on a ladder at the right of the picture with a machine snowing fake snow on to the subjects. You will notice the “snow’ is about 3 inches deep at the pub door.

These two are the main players in this scene.

I made enquiries on your behalf. It was a Christmas photo shoot for a high end German fashion brand or so the man wearing some kind of recording equipment told me.

She is Painting us

This is the charming Jean Cauthen who is a regular visitor to Listowel. Jean is a plein air artist. Look out for her, painting scenes around town.

A Fact

Three of Fidel Castro’s sons, Alexis, Alexander and Alejandro were named after Alexander, The Great.


Summer 2024

The Square July 2024

No. 10 Downing Street….The Listowel Connection

Helen and James Kenny of this parish pictured with Keir Starmer a few years ago.

I got the story from the horse’s mouth. (James Kenny, himself)

This photo was taken at the time of a family wedding when Helen’s niece married Chris Ward. Chris was then a member of Starmer’s backroom team. Since July 4 2024 the same Chris is an M.P.

Casement Train Station

Did you know that Tralee train station is called Casement Station?

With the John B. Statue

Every visitor to Listowel has to be photographed with this statue. Thank you very much to the kind man who took this one of Phil and me. He did a great job.

A Bit of History from the Newspaper Archives

April 19 1930

New York NY Irish American Advocate 1930-1931

The returns of the Registrar-General for the year 1929, show that Kerry had the lowest death-rate in the Irish Free State during that period.

From the Devil’s Dictionary

by Ambrose Bierce

belladonna, n. In Italian a beautiful lady; in English, a deadly poison. A striking example of the identity of the two tongues.

A Fact

The acronym BFF (best friends forever) was first used by the character Phoebe Buffay in the TV show Friends.


What’s in a Name?

Listowel Pitch and Putt Course

An Oldie and a Goodie

Carol Broderick shared this newspaper photo of some Listowel greats.


I remember when I encountered names in book which I had never met in reality, I just made up my own pronunciation of them. We dont have to do that now as there are so many aids to help us pronounce unfamiliar names correctly.

You don’t want to hear how I used to mangle Yvonne and Penelope.

Here is the first half of Sean Carlson’s essay on the subject of Irish names in The Boston Globe

“What word has the biggest disconnect between spelling and pronunciation?”

The Merriam-Webster account on X, known for snappier and snarkier posts than are usually associated with dictionary publishers, recently managed to provoke some ire from the Irish by answering its own question with “Asking for our friend, Siobhan.”

Ah, Siobhán, a feminine equivalent of my own name, Seán. In the case of Siobhán (pronounced shiv-AWN), the obvious failure with the attempted zinger is that the name is conspicuously absent from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, since it is a proper name in the Irish language, not English.

Evan O’Connell, communications director for the French nonprofit Paris Peace Forum, countered Merriam-Webster with a volley of English surnames: “You had Featherstonehaugh, Cholmondeley and Gloucestershire right there.”

Caoilfhionn Gallagher, a lawyer with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, posted, “Once more for the people at the back: Irish names *are* pronounced the way that they are spelled. In *Irish.*”

Siobhán O’Grady, the chief Ukraine correspondent for The Washington Post, agreed, pointing out that the accent mark known as a “fada” is used to elongate the “a,” in Siobhán (and in Seán, for that matter).

To be fair, most Americans are unfamiliar with the nuances of the Irish language. “Cillian Murphy pronunciation” is a top search request, and “Cillian Murphy speaking Irish” isn’t too far behind. In 2016, Stephen Colbert welcomed Saorise Ronan to the “Late Show” and held up flash cards of Irish first names — Tadhg, Niamh, Oisin, and Caoimhe — for her to read aloud. When they came to Siobhán, Colbert laughinglycalled it “ridiculous.”….

Greenway Milestones

These signs have appeared to help those going or coming on The Greenway.

Proof Reading

Reggie helping Bobby to check if I got his good side.

A Definition

from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

Appeal; In law, to put the dice back into the box for another throw.

A Fact

The world’s oldest creature, a mollusc, was 507 years old when scientists killed it by accident.


A Friday Miscellany

Courthouse Road

The Horseshoe

Looks like this eatery is about to have something added to its facade.

Paddy Glavin Remembers The Feale

Moments of Reflection

Listowel printing Works at Tannavalla

Paul Shannon printing up another iteration of my book…exciting times.

Moments with Aoife

Aoife and her Nana on Charles Street

Happy days with a bubble wand

Little Known Kerry Writers from The Newspaper Archives

New York NY Irish American Advocate 1916-1918

Mr. James J. O’Neill, Librarian of National University of Ireland, in a series of monthly lectures at the Carnegie Library, Listowel, Co. Kerry, read an interested paper on some distinguished Kerrymen.”

Mr. O’Neill after a rapid survey of Ireland’s ancient scholars, and their merits said that Kerry had Just cause to be proud of its place in its countries roll of fame —————–

Kerryman prominent among the writers of that literature. Hugh Kelly, the Kerry dramatist was born in Killarney in 1739. At an early age he removed to Dublin closed his career, and he died in 1777 at the early age of 38.

——– Richard Cantillon, the political economist, sprang from a Kerry family He was born at Ballyheigue about the beginning of the 17th century .

Among the writers in English we have the names of Bartholomew Dowling, Mrs. Mary Downing and Maurice O’Connell.

Mrs. Mary Downing was the daughter of Daniel MacCarthy of Kilfadimore, near Kenmare. She contributed many pieces of prose and poetry to the columns of the Cork Southern Reporter under the pseudonym of Christabel.

The O’Donoghue of the Glens, a leading figure in Irish politics from 1858 to 1868, was another distinguished Kerryman.

Lest we forget, Thomas Moore’s father was a Kerryman. Dr. Douglas Hyde, the great father of the Gaelic League, also has ‘Kerry blood in his  veins. To Irishmen the name of O’Connell is synonymous with their redemption.

Harman Blennerhasset the talented, but unfortunate son of Conway Blennerhasset of Castle Conway, Killorglin. He sailed toAmerica in 1726, and settled down to the life of a country gentleman, with his bride, the beautiful and accomplished Miss Margaret Agnew. After a few years he had the misfortune to meet the notorious Aaron Burr.

Mr. James Franklin Fuller, of Gasnacree, is another artist of whom Kerry may feel proud.

A Fact

In 1830 Sarah Josepha Hale wrote the well known nursery rhyme, Mary had a Little Lamb. She based it on an experience of her own when she was teaching in Newport, New Hampshire in the U.S. A pet lamb followed one of Hale’s students to school and refused to leave. The lamb waited until it was reunited with “Mary” at close of classes.


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