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 2 of 4

A Church, a Social and a Rookery

Photo; Chris Grayson at St. Mary of the Angels, Beaufort


Church of the Immaculate Conception, Castletownroche

Wedding in Church of the Immaculate Conception, Castletownroche

While I was in Castletownroche for my family wedding last week, I took a few photos of their lovely windows.

This window is behind the main altar and is unusual in that, apart from the central image, the side panels are repetitive and rather uninteresting.

The Mother of Sorrows window, like the others has no acknowledgement of a donation so it looks like the parish had to foot the bill.

This Sacred Heart window matches in design the Madonna one. Both are very pretty and colourful.


North Kerry Pioneer Total Abstinance Social 1962

I had this email from Kathy Reynolds

Hi Mary

My name is Kathy Reynolds (nee Fitzmaurice) now living in England’s smallest county Rutland but originally from Lisselton
My family are pleased to hold Tony Fitzmaurice’s (Sandhill Rd, Ballybunion) large collection of photographs in particular the early photographs from the 1950’s & 60’s that capture so well the town of Ballybunion and the people of North Kerry. A video showing photographs taken at the what I thought was  1962 Ballylongford Pioneers Social can be seen at However I was told today that although held in Ballylongford it was a North Kerry event and people from across North Kerry including Listowel are shown.
It would be wonderful if the people could be identified and the photographs reconnected with those people or their families, what recollections might be brought to life. Are there any photographic or historical groups in the Listowel area that might be able to help me reconnect the photographs with the families, indeed a link to it in your own wonderful blog would connect with so many. If you can offer suggestions I would love to hear from you.
A future project for Tony’s archive is more directly linked with Listowel as it is about 150+ images of children sitting on Santa’s lap at McKennas in 1959. I expect many Listowel children will have been captured but there will be children from across North Kerry
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind Regards,

Kathy Reynolds

( Please follow the link and let me know if you recognise anyone. We’ll have a better chance with the Santa ones when Kathy puts them up.)


Look Up

They say that crows are a very intelligent species. They were quick to spot an opportunity on the scaffolding at St. John’s.


Mother Gertrude came from a Very Holy Family

New Zealand Tablet 26 October 1899

Death of a Venerable Nun.— The death of Sister Mary Gertrude O’Connor (known for upwards of a generation as Mother Gertrude), of the Presentation Convent, Listowel, is an event deserving of more than local or ordinary notice (says the Daily Nation.) For nearly 51 years this truly excellent lady occupied a prominent and honoured place in the religious life of her native county. Entering the Listowel Convent on the 15th of August, 1849, her religious life may be said to have synchronised with the life of that distinguished branch of the great Presentation Community, and the remarkable growth of that Convent, both in usefulness as a educational institution and in size, is in no small measure due to her influence and labours. Mother Gertrude was born in Tralee about 76 years ago. Her father held a commission in the British Army, served with distinction under Moore and Wellington, and the hero of Corunna is said to have died in his arms. The Very Rev. John O’Connor. D.D., who, for many years occupied a prominent place in the clerical life of his native diocese, and was one of the organisers of that brave band of Irishmen who went to the assistance of Pope Pius the Ninth in the early stage of his struggle with the infidel makers of modern Italy, and who, led by his fiery missionary zeal went abroad while yet a young curate, where he died some years ago, was a brother of Mother Gertrude. Another distinguished brother was Dr. Morgan O’Connor who died universally respected and regretted a few years ago in Wagga, New South Wales. 


Fort Shannon, a Fleadh and a wedding

Listowel Castle Sept 2021


Fort Shannon, Ballylongford

Jim Halpin has been in touch. He is undertaking a project to research Fort Shannon, Ballylongford. Jim is particularly interested in the families and friends of the soldiers. He would appreciate if anyone has stories to share of how the soldiers integrated with the local community, marrying local girls and taking part in local clubs and sports. Jim is concentrating on the valuable contribution to local life in Ballylongford made by the soldiers at the fort. If you have photos or stories send them to me and I’ll make sure Jim gets them.


Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Listowel

There are a few familiar faces in the crowd in this old newspaper cutting


A Klondyke Millionaire with a Listowel connection

New Zealand Tablet, 11 February 1898

Mr Patrick Galvin, one of Klondyke’s millionaires, has arrived in Listowel, whence he emigrated over twenty years ago to America, and where he experienced varying fortunes until he struck for Klondyke, where he became immensely rich. He refused £200,000 for some land he owns there and sold one of his claims for £20,000 before starting for Ireland. His account of the journey from the new gold country is most interesting. Mr Galvin, who was accompanied by his wife, travelled by the Dalton trail and had to tramp 374 miles, and Mrs Galvin had to walk 150 miles during the journey. When starting from Klondyke they had eleven pack horses, and at the journey’s end they had but four. The provisions too, ran scarce, and they had to subsist on flour and water for a considerable time. 


I was at a Wedding

My niece, Christine and her new husband held their wedding reception in Blackwater Castle.

This is me with my lovely niece on her big day.

This is a highlight of my Kanturk family weddings, Jerome Ryan singing Kanturk, my Home Town and whoever of the Kanturk crowd are nearby “helping” him out with the chorus.



A blog follower found this in an old NZ newspaper and I shared it with you.

Bartholomew Dowling, the writer of “Life’s Wreck,” was born at Listowel. County Kerry, about the year 1822. While still a child his parents emigrated to Canada, where his father died. Later the mother and children returned and settled in County Limerick, He wrote several poems for the Nation after its foundation. In 1848 he proceeded to California, where, after spending some time as a miner, he lived on a farm at Crucita Valley. In 1858 he was appointed editor of the San Francisco Monitor. In 1863 he met with an accident while driving, and soon afterwards died from its effects in St. Mary’s Hospital, San Francisco. Dowling’s best, and best known poem is probably “The Irish brigade at Fontenoy.” 

I mentioned that I couldn’t find the poem and then ….

Another blog follower found it. Here it is in all its blood curdling war mongering glory;


by: Bartholomew Dowling (1823-1863)

our camp-fires rose a murmur

At the dawning of the day,

And the tread of many footsteps

Spoke the advent of the fray;

And as we took our places,

Few and stern were our words,

While some were tightening horse-girths,

And some were girding swords.

The trumpet-blast has sounded

Our footmen to array–

The willing steed has bounded,

Impatient for the fray–

The green flag is unfolded,

While rose the cry of joy–

“Heaven speed dear Ireland’s banner

To-day at Fontenoy!”

We looked upon that banner,

And the memory arose

Of our homes and perish’d kindred

Where the Lee or Shannon flows;

We look’d upon that banner,

And we swore to God on high,

To smite to-day the Saxon’s might–

To conquer or to die.

Loud swells the charging trumpet–

‘Tis a voice from our own land–

God of battles! God of vengeance!

Guide to-day the patriot’s brand;

There are stains to wash away,

There are memories to destroy,

In the best blood of the Briton

To-day at Fontenoy.

Plunge deep the fiery rowels

In a thousand reeking flanks–

Down, chivalry of Ireland,

Down on the British ranks!

Now shall their serried columns

Beneath our sabres reel–

Through the ranks, then, with the war-horse–

Through their bosoms with the steel.

With one shout for good King Louis,

And the fair land of the vine,

Like the wrathful Alpine tempest,

We swept upon their line–

Then rang along the battle-field

Triumphant our hurrah,

And we smote them down, still cheering,

“Erin, shanthagal go bragh.”

As prized as is the blessing

From an aged father’s lip–

As welcome as the haven

To the tempest-driven ship–

As dear as to the lover

The smile of gentle maid–

Is this day of long-sought vengeance

To the swords of the Brigade.

See their shatter’d forces flying,

A broken, routed line–

See, England, what brave laurels

For your brow to-day we twine.

Oh, thrice bless’d the hour that witness’d

The Briton turn to flee

From the chivalry of Erin

And France’s “fleur de lis.”

As we lay beside our camp-fires,

When the sun had pass’d away,

And thought upon our brethren

Who had perished in the fray,

We prayed to God to grant us,

And then we’d die with joy,

One day upon our own dear land

Like this of Fontenoy.

“Battle of Fontenoy” is reprinted from Historic Poems and Ballads. Ed. Rupert S. Holland. Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs & Co., 1912.


Kildare, Some Socks and a Soccer Match Fact

An image from summer 2021 with St. John’s surrounded by scaffolding.


My Trip to Kildare

Kildare Town Square in August 2021. Lots of accommodation for outdoor dining in the spacious town centre area.

It was Heritage Week so reminders of Kildare’s heritage were everywhere; St. Bridget, horses and horse racing. There were a few sheep too from the nearby Curragh.

The bunting outside the turf accountants was jockeys’ silks.

How appropriate.


A Wedding and some US Visitors

My niece got married. Covid made much of the planning a nightmare but it was all “alright on the night”.

I was wondering what token to buy for the U.S. branch of the family who were travelling for the occasion. I wanted something small, light, useful and easy to pack but something also that says Ireland. What better than Listowel native Anna Guerin’s Sock Coop’s beautiful socks. I bought them online and they were delivered in 2 days.

They were a big hit!


I know this for a fact

In October 1963, 90 men who worked in Dunlops in Cork were suspended. They took time off without permission to watch a soccer match on TV.

The match that nearly cost them their jobs was England versus The Rest of the World. (Source The Irish Examiner)


A Casualty of Covid and Lack of Funds

(Story from Mark Holan’s Irish American Blog)

Museum Closure

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum in Connecticut, closed for over a year due to COVID-19, will not reopen, owner Quinnipiac University says. The museum is said to hold the world’s largest collection of historic and contemporary Irish famine-related art works. The pandemic has further eroded the museum’s poor financial footing, which surfaced in 2019.

“The university is in active conversations with potential partners with the goal of placing the collection on display at an organization that will increase access to national and international audiences,” Associate Vice President for Public Relations John Morgan wrote in an early August statement.

The museum opened in 2012. The 175th anniversary of “Black ’47”, the worst year of the famine, is next year.

Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, founded and directed by history professor Christine Kinealy, remains open, as does the special collection of famine-related books, journals, and documents at the Arnold Bernhard Library on the Mount Carmel Campus, Morgan said.

I visited the library and museum in March 2013. I hope this impressive collection finds a good home.


Gresham Menu 1972

This old Gresham Menu has gone viral on Facebook. In 1972 eating in a restaurant was a big treat, not an everyday thing. I don’t know why I believed that it was horrendously expensive!


A Problem, A Bookmark and a Landmark

Outdoor dining in Thwe Square


Two Beautiful Bookmarks

Eamon ÓMurchú has sent us photographs of two beautiful bookmarks, the work of Bryan MacMahon, poet and Michael O’Connor, artist.


A Problem Solved

(with the help of a good teacher)

Do you remember a while back I complained that my blogposts were showing up minus the sidebar and footers in tablets and phones. I blamed WordPress.

A bad tradesman blames his tools.

Jim Ryan, formerly of this parish and follower of Listowel Connection, came to my aid and gave me the Ladybird version of how to solve my problem. In solving that problem Jim has also solved another issue that has been bugging me (and probably my followers, although they don’t complain). When I post a “memory” on Facebook, the link takes you, not to the post in question, but to the most recent post. This “problem” has been with me for the whole ten years of my blogging life. Now, thanks to Jim, I’ve solved it.


Sean Walsh of Killelton Ballylongford with Noel Doyle at Carrigafoyle


St. Batt’s Well

I visited the holy well in Coolard on Sunday last. It is a haven of peace and quiet and birdsong.

This is the well. While it is dedicated to St. Batt. Much of the symbolism and the devotional rounds are more reminiscent of a marian shrine.

It is traditional to leave tokens attached to the bushes to symbolise the petitions being prayed for at the well.

It is significant that this year along with rosary beads, flowers, holy pictures and statues there are face masks hanging from the branches.


When You’re Born into a Book loving Family

Aoife’s first book!


Roses by the Feale, Grandchildren and a Famine Potato experiment in North Cork

On the banks of the Feale


My Boyeens are all Grown Up

That was then.

This is now.

Blink and they’ve grown.


Jam on it

God be with the days. Once upon a time you could buy jam in one pound and 2 pound pots.



All over town there is upgrade work going on on shops and roofs and facades.


The Lumper; The Famine Potato

Raymond O’Sullivan decided to do a little experiment this year and he has kept us, his Facebook friends, posted.

He planted a crop of Lumper potatoes. This variety is no longer popular as it has little or no resistance to blight.

Here is Raymond’s August update.

My experiment with Lumpers, the Famine potato, is progressing. Planted at the beginning of May (cuckoo spuds), they flowered in June, a month earlier than I expected, and, though I sprayed them twice with Burgundy Mix the haulms began to die back at the end of July, only three months from the planting date. I pulled a few stalks today and above is the result. A good crop, the eyes are deep, not as big or as ‘lumpy’ as one might think, with a couple of exceptions, but they are probably premature.

This is only mid-August, and they were still in the ground when the blight first appeared at the end of September in 1845.

If the result confirms the hypotheses, you’ve made a discovery. If the result is contrary to the hypotheses, you’ve made a discovery

{Burgundy Mix is a Bluestone and Washing soda mix discovered in 1860 as a protection against Blight. They had no spray in Famine Times.}


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