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 16

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.


In Kanturk, Cork and Listowel

An image for today, August 15 2023 , feast of The Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven. Photo taken in Teampall Bán in August 2023


Kanturk Arts Festival

This is the scene in the O’Brien Street Park in Kanturk in summer 2023

This is a lovely way to spend a bit of time. I photographed some of the poems for you so I’ll be sharing them here now for a while.


End of an Era

Last week I was at two funerals. Both deceased were nuns. Slowly I am witnessing the end of a way of life I thought would continue forever.

Sr. Mary Salmon was the sister of Listowel’s Michael. Her life was one of service to the communities in which she lived. She was a member of a very small order of sisters, The Little Sisters of the Assumption. They live among the people they serve and give witness to God’s love in a practical way.

Sr. Mary was a nurse and though a succession of roles, eventually a director of home care services in the north of Cork city. She had many friends in the neighbourhood and it was lovely to meet her friends from the rosary group she set up 40 years ago and her more recent friends from the active retired group all come to celebrate her life at her funeral mass.

Sr. Mary was active right up to her final few days. She loved her family, her community and her beloved Mayo. May she rest in peace.

Sr. Benedict O’Connor was my colleague in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel.

She passed away after a long life of service to education in Kerry and in the U.S. Sr. Benedict loved books, she loved reading and encouraging others to read. She kept abreast of what was happening in the world by reading the newspaper and she loved to do the crossword.

Many Pres. past pupils will remember her in the school library, where she was in her element. She loved to encourage girls to read the classics and she encouraged many a reluctant reader to take up a book .

In her final years she lived in a silent world, being profoundly deaf. She still attended mass in St. John’s nearby to where she lived in Pres. Tralee and she lived as full a life as she could. She accepted her cross and was resigned to death when it came suddenly at the end.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam uasal.


An Old Ad.

( shared by Liam OHainnín on Facebook)

Listowel’s first department store?


Just a Thought

My reflections which were broadcast last week on Radio Kerry are here;

Just a Thought


A (Mad) Fact

In the 19th century madness was an occupational hazard of hatmakers. Hence the phrase “as mad as a hatter”.

Mercury was an ingredient in the solution that was used to treat the felt that was used in the making of hats. Mercury poisoning attacked the central nervous system causing trembling, irrationality and confusion. People just thought that all hatters were mad.


Teampall Bán

Beautiful butterflies and moths photographed in Ardgillan by Éamon OMurchú.


Teampall Bán

Teampall Bán has been undergoing some changes so I was delighted to have an opportunity to visit with my houseguests. It is always an opportunity for a history lesson and a time for reflection on our many blessings in life today.

Killian and Cora are standing at the magnificent new gate sponsored by Beasley Engineering. As you can see the painting isn’t quite finished yet.

The Celtic Cross is beautifully repainted.

Last time I visited the gable wall mural was looking a bit shabby. This time it had been painted over. The mural with its dark sky and gaunt crosses added a sombre air to the place and was very much part of the experience for me. Maybe they will be able to get someone to redo it.

The tree of contemplation.

The “scores on the doors” are blood chilling.

The quiet little chapel is perfect for prayer and reflection.

It’s hard to call a place of such awful sorrow a visitor attraction. In the manner of war cemeteries and and holocaust museums it is a reminder to us all of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. I believe we should market it more. It’s a truly hauntingly beautiful place. Credit for its upkeep goes to Listowel Tidy Towns and friends.


Flocks of Birds

Thank you, Rose McGinty for sharing this


R.I.P. Sinead O’Connor

A verse of a traditional song in tribute to the sweetest singer of them all

I’ve seen the lark soar high at morn,
Heard his song up in the blue.
I have heard the blackbird pipe his note,
The thrush and the linnet too.
But there’s none of them can sing so sweet,
My singing bird, as you,
Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah, Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah
My singing bird, as you

Below is the poem Sinead’s brother, Joseph, said at her funeral ceremony. Sinead, in her internet rants, was wont to refer to her f…ing family. There is no doubt her family loved her dearly, if she could only have believed that.

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire

When I’m walking with my sons

Through the laneways 

Called ‘The Metals’

By the train-tracks. 

And he sings among the dandelions 

And bottle-tops and stones, 

Serenading purple ivy, 

Weary tree-trunks. 

And I have it in my head 

That I can recognise his song, 

Pick him out, 

I mean distinct 

From all his flock-mates.

Impossible, I know. 

Heard one blackbird, heard them all. 

But there are times 

He whistles up a recollection. 

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire – 

And I’m suddenly a kid, 

Asking where from here to Sandycove 

My youngest sister hid. 

I’m fourteen this Easter. 

My job to mind her. 

Good Friday on the pier – 

And I suddenly can’t find her. 

The sky like a bruise 

By the lighthouse wall. 

We were playing hide-and-seek. 

Is she lost? Did she fall? 

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire 

And the terror’s like a wave 

Breaking hard on a hull, 

And the peoples’ faces grave 

As Yeats on a banknote. 

Stern as the mansions 

Of Killiney in the distance, 

As the pier’s granite stanchions, 

And Howth is a drowned child 

Slumped in Dublin Bay, 

And my heart is a drum 

And the breakers gull-grey. 

The baths. It starts raining. 

The People’s Park. 

And my tears and the terns, 

And the dogs’ bitter bark. 

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire, 

And I pray to him, then, 

For God isn’t here, 

In a sobbed Amen. 

And she waves from the bandstand, 

Her hair in damp strings, 

And the blackbird arises 

With a clatter of wings 

From the shrubs by the teahouse,


Where old ladies dream 

Of sailors and Kingstown 

And Teddy’s ice-cream. 

And we don’t say a word 

But cling in the mizzle, 

And the whistle of the bird 

Getting lost in the drizzle. 

Mercy weaves her nest 

In the wildflowers and the leaves, 

There are stranger things in heaven 

Than a blackbird believes. 

– Joseph O’Connor, 2010 


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