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. Ita

Ballybunion Golf Course January 16 2022; Photo; Catherine Moylan


I don’t know much about this photo except that Bryan MacMahon and John B. Keane and others are on the back of Stuart Stack’s truck. Any help with identifying the others and telling us when where and why this photo was taken would be great.


Local Lore and Legend

Newmarket man, Raymond O’Sullivan is a great man for local lore. Here is his Facebook post about St. Ita.

St. Ita, the patron saint of Killeedy and Co. Limerick, is also called ‘The Foster Mother of the Saints of Ireland’. Among her many illustrious foster children was none other than St. Brendan, the Navigator, who was brought to Killeedy when he was one year old and stayed until he was six.Her çult remains strong in the hill country along the Cork, Kerry, Limerick borderlands. One unusual feature of the cult is letting the Christmas decorations up until after her feastday on the 15th of January. Not sure if it is out of laziness or devotion to her that I continue to observe this custom. Probably a bit of both. We got married on her feastday, and, when unsure of the anniversary date over the years, a discreet inquiry about St. Ita’s ‘pattern’ got me out of many a potentially perilous situation.

Shrine to St Ita in Killeedy, Co. Limerick

Stained glass window of St. Ita in The Oratory in Gougane Barra


Your Help Sought

I am trying to trace any (relatives) or people that may know of/ be related to my Grandfather, John Sylvester Horan.

My hubby is doing my family tree My mum, ( who died in 1990) was orphaned when she was 9 yrs. She told me that she was led to believe her father was a bigamist but, I have found through ancestry that he was in fact a widower when he left for Liverpool. I only know that his 1st wife was called Sarah.

John was born in 1886 in Listowel. I know this is a massive long shot, but maybe someone may know something.

Thank you so much, Patricia Jones…South Wales x


Telling Stories

This little piggy….

Aoife and I had great old chats on her recent visit. I can’t wait to share all the family secrets with her.


The one who came back to say thanks

John O’Leary contacted Listowel Connection to thank his former teacher in Rossmacowen Primary School, Miss Enright of Bridge Road. He remembered her with gratitude. We tracked down the Sheila Enright in question and John’s gratitude and kind words will be conveyed to her.

This is from John’s latest letter;

Hi Mary,

I can not  thank you enough for all your time and effort in tracing my primary school teacher, Sheila. I moved into the fourth class as Sheila arrived at our school. Sheila was kind and always showed interest in your progress, caring, taking time to explain the subject, never telling you off. It was a time of learning. The classroom was always welcoming with displays and all the flowers on the window board and on her desk. There was the open fire with all the bottles of drinks for lunch time, as from Oct to March we all brought a sod of turf for the fire and at lunch time we went up through the fields to collect wood for the fire. My last years in primary school were so memorable. Thanks to Sheila or, as we would say, Miss Enright.



Cinema Closure

Portmarnock by Éamon ÓMurchú


My girleens are all grown up now. It was lovely to spend Christmas with them.


St. Stephen’s Day 2021 in Youghal


The Last Picture Show

Message of thanks from all at the Classic.

The final programme

Listowel’s ‘Classic’ Cinema has been in operation for almost 70 years, first as The Astor from 1949 to 1985 and then with the Gleeson family from October 1987 to January 2022.

Our lovely cinema closed its doors for the final time on Thursday January 6 2022.


A Poem about Land and Legacy

John McGrath’s anthology, After Closing, is full of lovely poems to dip into. Here is one I like.

Foley’s Field

Dan Foley dug his field but not for gold,

Though long ago his father showed him how.

Plant trees! he said, The ground’s too poor to plough.

But sons don’t always do as they are told.

Dry summers gave a glimpse of buried store

And so Dan dug where mighty trees had grown,

Where cows had grazed and summer crops were sown

And men had thrived two thousand years before.

Great golden roots of long-dead deal he found.

Dan raised them one by one from acid ground,

And as he filled their void with fertile soil,

He knew the field would soon repay his toil,

For land is like a poem, it draws men back

To write another line and leave their track.


William Street, Listowel and Kenmare Street, New York

Listowel Town Square on December 9 2021. Christmas tree re erected and debris from Storm Barra cleared. Listowel is open for business.


William Street, Listowel in Winter 2021


Two Stylish Christmas Displays

Sunny’s Hair and Beauty
Elizabelle Interiors


A Little Known Kerry Man

How a New York street got an Irish name

(from Irish Central online)

Tim Sullivan went from a poor Five Points Great Hunger immigrant to Tammany Hall politician, but he never forgot his humble roots.Kenmare Street, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, just above Little Italy, was named after an Irish immigrant’s mother.

The story of Kenmare Street is one of famine, enforced emigration, New York tenements, politics, and how a kid from the slums of the ‘Five Points’ got to name a street in Manhattan after his mother’s home town of Kenmare.

In 1849 the population of Ireland was suffering the horrors of Ireland’s Great Hunger. Poverty, disease and hunger were rife.William Trench, the agent of Lord Lansdowne landlord of the Kenmare Estate in Kerry, took a census of the local population and realized the situation was untenable.

Trench recommended the estate could cut costs if they sent a portion of the destitute population to the United States and Canada. The cost of the trip would cost less than food and lodgings for one year in a Kenmare workhouse. The cost of passage to North America was £5.

Despite the harsh weather of a winter passage and no appropriate clothing, thousands took them up on the offer. Many survived and landed in New York where they settled in the notorious neighborhood “Five Points.”

The area (Baxter Street, Orange Street and Worth Street, in what is Chinatown and Little Italy today) strained under the massive influx of immigrants at the time and living conditions were famously awful. However, many Irish found some work in tanneries, taverns and selling food on the streets.

One of the residents, Tim Sullivan, was the son of Kenmare immigrants Daniel O’Sullivan and Catherine Connelly. Sullivan started off shining shoes and doing paper rounds. He soon began running the newspaper distribution, before developing bars, and theaters and ending up in politics.Known as Big Tim or Big Feller, he was one of the city’s most powerful politicians in the first decade of the 20th century.

Richard F. Welch, a New York historian, who wrote “King of the Bowery: Big Tim Sullivan, Tammany Hall, and New York City From the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era” describes his legacy.

“Profoundly Irish by birth, heritage and experience, the new district leader held little in the way of ethno-religious prejudices and took people as he found them.

“Brought up in abject poverty himself his worldview was refracted through a prism of class-consciousness that owed nothing to theory or ideology and everything to experience and practicality.”

“Sullivan was a master of mass politics in an age when personal contact was everything,” he writes.

“The loyalty he engendered in the multiethnic population below 14th Street was based on his big-hearted solicitude for his constituents.”Sullivan founded Kenmare Street in 1911, in memory of the town his mother emigrated from.

He died at the age of 51 when he was killed on August 31, 1913, by a train near Pelham Parkway in the Bronx.


From Russia with Love

(Phone photographs by John Tangney)

I have a family member who has recently relocated to Russia. I asked him to send us a few photos just so we could escape for a minute to a place a world away from lovely Listowel.

Pigeon house in Mostrentgen

The dog is called Kuzya, which is, apparently, the Russian equivalent of Fido or Rover. He is a hairless breed so he has to wrap up well when he is outdoors.

No, they didn’t choose a hairless breed deliberately. He is a rescue dog.

A typical apartment block from the Soviet era

Moon over Mostrentgen, a suburb of Moscow.

Graffiti through a fork of a tree


Listowel, December 2021

Upper William Street, Listowel in 2021


Then and Now on Market Street


A Listowel Fact about Leahy’s Corner

These two houses were the first slated houses in Listowel. They were built by a man called O’Callaghan with money he brought back from the Napoleonic wars.

The blocked up windows were a later renovation. At various times in our history a tax known as a window tax was imposed. The more windows you had in your house the more tax you paid. This is thought to have given rise to the phrase ‘daylight robbery”.


From Shannonside Annual 1958


Three Generations

I decided to reprise my photo with my daughter and granddaughter on their recent visit.

Aoife was a bit reluctant to add her hand to the mix.

The final take was a lovely one.


At The Races, Ballylongford a New Library Experience

Howth by Éamon ÓMurchú


A Poem from a Week of Poetry in Poetry Town

From the 10 to 18 September 2021 Listowel was one of Ireland’s Poetry Towns. Here is another of the poems that were available to collect all over town.

Great idea! I hope we get to do it again.


Ladies Day at Listowel Races 2021

A few more of Bridget O’Connor’s photos

The winner of Race Three; Game Catch

Patsy Dowling and John O’Connor

Christy O’Connor and his grandaughter

Margaret Kearney, Ballyduff

Maria Stack and Anne Leneghan


Blacksmithing Festival, Ballylongford Sept. 25 2021

The festival was part of the fundraising effort to revive and restore the old mill.

I parked in the church carpark and walked to the venue for the festival. At the bridge I came upon this group being given a guided tour of the architecture of Ballylongford by Dr. Declan Downey. Had I known that was on I’d have taken part in that too.

Declan Downey is a thorough researcher and an excellent guide.

At the corner I met these three heroes. I think they may be from Asdee. After a bit of good natured caffling they pointed me in the right direction.

I obeyed the sign and found my way to the displays.

There was a nice little crowd gathered around the exhibitions.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about what I saw of the fun of the fair.


The Public Library is Changing

I hadn’t visited the library in person in ages until a few weeks ago. I have been listening to audio books on Borrowbox and I have been reducing my “to be read” pile slowly.

I made my return with my granddaughter in Ballincollig.

Cora showed me how the system operates now.

It’s a DIY job now. You put your library card and then your book, whether you’re returning or borrowing, under a barcode scanner and all the information is digitised and recorded on a computer. No need for any interaction with a librarian any more.


Kerry Thanks

A full page ad in Irish Examiner, Monday September 27 2021


Just a Thought

My reflections, broadcast last week on Radio Kerry are at the link below;

Just a Thought


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