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: Poem Page 1 of 19

Pitching In

Main Street Listowel March 17 2023

Liam Brennan as St. Patrick leads the parade down Church Street in sunny Listowel on St. Patrick’s Day 2023.


Listowel Pitch and Putt Club

Tom O’Halloran took a few photos of drainage works under way in the days when everybody pitched in and got dirty.


Man’s Friend ; The Robin

Photo; Bertie, the robin by Chris Grayson

Robin by Dick Carmody


            …….companion for a reluctant gardener.

Reluctantly I kneel to tend my garden, derived of some pride, devoid of great pleasure

Painstakingly I toil to keep apace of mother nature, as weeds compete with work rate

Then I am suddenly less aware on my ownliness, a companion ever present at my side

The Robin makes his predictable welcome appearance to distract from my discomfort.

Red-breasted, he sits proud upon the boundary wall to watch my laboured movement

Takes pride in that he fanned the fire in Bethlehem’s stable to keep the Baby warm

And how the flames had burned his then colourless breast to testify his zealousness

Or was it when he pulled the thorn from Jesus’ brow on his way to cross on Calvary

And now carries his blood-stained feathers as if to show his favoured ranking.

At arms length he follows my every move, often playing hide and seek with me    

Standing tall or sometimes with head erect, motionless he stares me eye to eye

I could believe him God-sent, no other bird in sight in hedgerow or on leafless tree

Or is it just that he sees me as his meal-ticket, as I gather and discard the
fallen leaves

Exposing tasty morsels in the unfrozen ground to help him cope with winter’s worst.

I move along, hunched on bended knee, he follows cautiously close behind, beside

Sometimes out of sight, I seek him out again and know I will not be disappointed

For sure enough he’s back again here, there and everywhere, not taken for granted

Now gardening is less of a chore as I’m gifted a companion, my new forever friend.

Dick Carmody                                           


Celtic Art Postage Stamps

These recent stamps are based on The Book of Kells.

This is what An Post says about them.

Over half a million visitors view the Book of Kells at Trinity College, Dublin, each year but, on February 23, you will have the opportunity to lay your hands on two stamps that feature beautiful illustrations from this masterpiece.

The Book of Kells is widely credited as being the most renowned of all medieval illuminated manuscripts for its intricacy, detail and, particularly, the majesty of the illustrations. Measuring 330 x 255mm, the book is an illuminated manuscript of the four gospels of the Christian New Testament. It was reputedly created by Columban monks c800 AD.

The two stamp designs feature details of the profile of a lion’s head, a symbol of Christ and his resurrection. The FDC image represents a cat apprehending a rodent in possession of a communion host. The illustrations on some pages highlight how, in medieval monasteries, cats were seen to preserve the supply of food for body (and soul – chasing mice breaking into stores of Communion hosts.)

The images in the Book of Kells are called miniatures and were painted by artists who were known as miniaturists and later as illuminators. Abstract decoration and images of plant, animal and human ornament punctuate the text with the aim of glorifying Jesus’ life and message.


Your help is Needed

Good morning.  My Name is Allen O’Callaghan and I live in Omaha, Nebraska, USA.  I’ve been pursuing my families history in Ireland, and particularly in the towns of Listowel and Ballybunion.  My G—G grandfather owned properties in both towns, as well as agricultural properties south of Listowel.  His name was Gerard J. O’Callaghan (1808-1888) and apparently prominent as he was in the local newspapers quite often.  He had a daughter named Mary Jane O’Callaghan (1845-1923), who professed with the sisters-of-mercy as Sr. M M Louis.  According to census records she was Mother Superior of a convent in Ballybunion.  I’m having problems reconciling modern day locations with the family lore and actual known records.  At one point I was told that a family home called Sea View Lodge was given to the Catholic Church.  If you have any knowledge of any of these old locations and/or can recommend any available histories I can review, I’d be very much appreciative.  


Allen O’Callaghan

If you can help Allen will you contact me on and I’ll put you in touch with Allen.


Celtic Crosses

Fitzpatricks, Church Street Listowel February 2023


Must be Thursday


Celtic Crosses

Ever wondered where the circle around the arms of the cross came from?

Wonder no more. My friend, Catherine Moylan, learned why at a course in West Kerry.

When evangelists came to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity, they observed that we were very attached to our pagan gods. These were gods of Nature and the solar system. They reckoned they wouldn’t stand a chance of converting us unless they included element of pre-Christian symbolism and belief.

They put a sun into the cross to marry symbols of the sun god and the Christian god…Result a Celtic Cross.


The Navigator

When I was in St. Mary’s photographing the mosaic saints I missed St. Brendan because the spotlight on him was too strong. Helen turned off the spotlight and ta da…here he is with his bishop’s crook and his boat.


A Poem to Ponder


Looking Forward to St. Patrick’s Day 2023


“Old forgotten far off things and battles long ago….”

Welcome sign outside the Girls Secondary School


Fr. Anthony Gaughan among the greats

Fr. Anthony Gaughan and Gabriel Fitzmaurice at Listowel Writers’ Week 2022

Mark Holan writes a really interesting blog

Mark Holan’s Irish American blog

Recently he sent me this email;

Hello Mary. Happy New Year. I hope you are well. 

My wife received a Neiman Fellowship last spring for a year of study at Harvard. We’ve been in Cambridge, Mass. (Boston) since August and will return to Washington in June. I am semi-retired and taking some Irish Studies classes at Boston College and working on a book about how American journalists covered the Irish revolution.

I’ve enjoyed access to Harvard’s many libraries through my wife. The other day I was wandering the stacks of the flagship Widener Library (It’s more fun than online searches!) and came across ‘Listowel and its vicinty’ by Gaughan.

I thought you might enjoy the attached photo for Listowel Connection. I enjoy your blog. My own blog reached its 10th anniversary last July. I’m still having fun!

With best wishes,



Tae Lane

Tae Lane, February 2023

John Fitzgerald remembers Tae Lane in a different era.

Places like The Casbah and The New Road will be familiar only to Listowel natives of a certain age.

I enjoyed this epic poem of deeds of yore.

The Battle of Tae Lane

John Fitzgerald

There’s a one eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,

there’s a cavalcade of cavalry lost in Death Valley too.

there’s the pharaohs in their pyramids and the Eiffel on the Seine,

but who of you remembers the famous Battle of Tae Lane.

Napoleon planned his sorties from a galleon out at sea,

and Hannibal crossed the Great Alps on an elephant you see,

Bush set his sites on Bagdad as  mighty Caesar did on Spain

and the Casbah planned new boundaries to encompass  sweet  Tae Lane.

‘Twas in the year of fifty nine, at the back of Sandy’s shed,

 long since Hitler went to Poland and Paddy to Hollyhead,

and of all the wars you’ll mention, there is none will hold a flame

to the fight fought by the Gravel Crushers defending their Tae Lane.

For weeks before the New Road was a tranquil place by day

as the boys played round the grotto and the old ones knelt to pray,

but at night behind the Astor, they gathered one and all

to plan their deadly battle and The Gravel Crushers fall.

The sally and the hazel were long stripped before the fall.

Nature played no part in this of that I well recall.

‘Twas the hand of Tarzan Murphy paring sticks both thick and tall

as he swung through trees and branches letting bows and arrows fall.

The signs were all apparent if only eyes would see.

Paddles Browne went round the town on an errand of mystery.

From Moss Scanlon’s up to Shortpants he gathered off cuts by the score,

leather pouches for the making of the deadly slings of war.

Bomber Behan scoured the backways, picked up bits from forge to forge.

Each scrap of steel, the point he’d feel, an arrow tip or sword.

‘Til at the back of Charles Street, as the last forge he did pass

he felt the boot of Jackie Moore go halfway up his ass.

His shouts and bawls off  backway walls went half way round the town

Mutts Connor and Gigs Nolan thought ‘twas the Bandsroom falling down.

But the ear of Tommie Allen, sharp as any corner boy

Heard the beans were spilt , they’d all be kilt , and he began to cry .

“The game is up”, he shouted from Scully’s Corner’s vantage point

“Poor Bomber he’s been captured as he was struggling to find

live ammo for the battle in the cold and p p pissing rain

Pat Joe Griffin must be warned to strike early on Tae Lane.”

Brave Victor of the Broderick clan defied the daring raid,

He called his troops together and ‘twas then this plan he made.

“We’ll meet them at the bottleneck” that went by the shithouse name

under Dan Moloney’s garage in the heart of sweet Tae Lane.

He marshalled troops to left and right, of the gushing sewer outfall.

No silver from these waters flowed of that I well recall.

 Half were placed on the market cliff and half on Dagger’s dump

and there they’d wait in soldier’s gait ‘til Victor shouted jump.

The Gravel Crushers ammo was got ready for the drop,

gattling guns and  gadgets from Fitzgibbon’s  well armed shop,

no trees they’d cut, no face they’d soot, yes, they’d face no blame or shame

those gallant lads from William Street who defended their Tae Lane

The butcher boys, the Shaughnessys were such an awesome sight.

Young Mickey climbed the saddle of the King’s Tree on the right

Titch  and Teddy ever ready,  pointed bamboos on the bank

As P.J. stood next to Victor, his brothers he outranked.

While Back The Bank they gathered just below the Convent Cross,

where Mickeen Carey taught us all the game of  pitch and toss.

John Guerin took no notice, no thoughts for God or man

only the rushing of those waters where the silver salmon ran.

Pat Joe was the leader of the Casbah’s fearsome band,

with the Nolans, Long John and Spats, he’d backup at his hand.

There were the  Reidys and the Roches, the Cantys and the Keanes

and they all set off together to capture sweet Tae Lane.

‘Twas a battle worth recalling, there were heroes more than few,

as the sky above grew darker when the stones and arrows flew, 

and in the close encounters , it then was man to man

one a Gravel Crusher and one a Casbarian.

With blood flowing towards the river, it all came down to two,

the leaders of those fighting hordes, Victor Broderick and Pat Joe.

They wrestled in the nettles, in the rubbish they did fight

among stickybacks and dockleafs and Mary B’s pigshite.

The duel it was well balanced as they struggled on the grass,

a rabbit punch, an elbow  a kick in shin or arse.

No mercy would be given, sure the day would end in pain

such was the price one had to pay for lovely sweet Tae Lane.

The bold Mickey took a horsehoe  which he’d pinched from Tarrant’s forge.

No more in vain he could watch in pain his brother  poor Pat Joe.

The glistening shoe of steel he threw, it caught Pat Joe’s left grip.

“The odds have changed”, Eric Browne exclaimed “we’re on a sinking ship”.

Just then the sky above  them changed, the sun  shone through instead

as round  by Potter Galvin’s came the flash of Ollie’s head.

Mounted on a milk white stallion from Patrick Street he came

thundering to the brother’s rescue as he lay wounded in  Tae Lane.

There are mixed views of what happened next, but I was surely there.

No classic from the Astor or the Plaza could compare.

Mac Master or Mc Fadden could never stage the play.

Who won? Who lost?  What matter, all were Gleann Boys on that day.

That battle royal still lingers in the confines of my mind.

No time nor tide dare loose it as long as I’m alive.

‘Twas the battle of all battles  that held no blame or shame

fought fiercely by those boys of yore for the right to rule Tae Lane.


Yellow Dresses for Cailíní

I spotted these in Dunnes Stores. Is it just me or do these have a cailín chiúin vibe?


Old Father Time

I happened to be in the Bon Secours hospital in Cork on January 24 2023. The hospital was celebrating its anniversary.

Over the years The Bons has been good to me. An anniversary is a time for reflection. Not all my visits there were happy ones!


The Clock of Life is Wound but Once

The song My Grandfather’s Clock dates back to 1876. It tells the story from a child’s perspective of a clock bought for his grandfather on the day of his birth. Mysteriously it stopped working on the day he died. Maybe it was only a mystery to the child. I am old enough to remember the custom of manually stopping the clocks when someone in the house died.

My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopp’d short — never to go again —
When the old man died.

Ninety years without slumbering 
(tick, tick, tick, tick),

His life seconds numbering,
(tick, tick, tick, tick),I

It stopp’d short — never to go again —

When the old man died.

This grandfather clock has stood in The Bons in Cork for as long as I can remember.


They’re Teasing Us

Some of the people coming to this year’s Writers’ Week. Put the dates in your diary. It looks like a good one.


Movie of the Moment

Banshees of Inisheerin phot from the internet

It’s all about the movies these days as the Irish film industry is having a moment.

When I think of films I think of the late Kieran Gleeson. He would be in his element just now, lapping up all the movie news.

I am printing here an old post from 2016. It is Billy Keane’s tribute to Kieran, our man of cinema, published in the Irish Independent after Kieran’s untimely death.

Billy Keane’s Tribute to Kieran Gleeson Irish Independent Jan 25 2016

Kieran Gleeson’s eyes lit up as he explained the background to the film he was showing, and you could see he was excited – excited about sharing all he knew with his audience there in his three-screen cinema in a small country town.

There was always an introduction before his cinema club films on a Thursday night. This was his night, the night when he got to choose the films he loved. Kieran spoke as all the knowledgeable do – in simple, easy-to-understand language.

Kieran has been in love with the cinema ever since he stood up
on the piled-high metal boxes that were used for storing magic reels. There, he was the spellbound kid looking out through the porthole in the projectionist’s room with his dad and grandad in their country cinema in Cappamore, County Limerick. Afterwards, he would be full of excitement and full of talk.

Kieran ‘the man’ is still ‘the boy’ in the projection room.
Often, we would be kept on after the crowd had gone home for a discussion about the movie he was showing. He knew his stuff, did Kieran. There was no showing off, just teaching and sharing. The soft, gentle but passionate voice, hoarse from too much talk, is gone for good now.

Kieran’s life is a silent movie. He breathes with the help of a
machine. Our small town hero’s chest rises and falls with every breath. It’s as
if he’s a marathon runner at the end of a gruelling race. Kieran Gleeson who
rescued, owns and loves our local cinema here in Listowel – has advanced Motor Neurone Disease.

But he’s still communicating. Kieran writes a little, but only with great effort. He sends text messages, nods in agreement or moves his eyes
towards something he wants you to read.

Kieran writes ’29’ on a sheet of paper and hands it to his wife,
Teresa. Did you ever notice it when two people feel and read each other’s
thoughts? They seem to instinctively know what the other person is thinking.
The bond has to be strong, but there’s more than just tuning in. The two must share the dream.

The 29 refers to January 29, 1987 – the day the cinema in
Listowel reopened under Kieran’s management.

The cinema had been closed for two years. Kieran was driving by
one day with his mother and he noticed a ‘For Sale’ sign up over The Astor
Cinema. There and then, he made up his mind to buy the rat-infested wreck. A local businessman told Kieran he was “absolutely mad” – and maybe he
was. Small town cinemas were going the way of small shops. There are only a few independent cinemas left in Ireland. The prophesy of failure made Kieran all the more determined to succeed. He worked day and night and, bit by bit, the cinema began to pay for itself. His mother helped out every Sunday when the cinema was at it’s busiest.

Kieran opened three screens and he had the best of films showing
at the same time as the big cities. He was one of the first to embrace
digitalisation and encouraged Jimmy Deenihan, the then Arts Minister, to
provide grant assistance to a number of cinemas.

Hard-up parents were given deals. Kids who didn’t have enough
money were never refused. Kieran often declined the big money-making movies if he felt they were bad. He never overcharged for tickets, sweets or popcorn. Director Ger Barrett – who is now about to release his third movie, ‘Brain on Fire’, later this year – was allowed in for free. Ger premiered his last movie, ‘Glassland’, in Listowel – and the night was turned into a tribute to his mentor and friend. Actor Jack Reynor came along and Kieran was so buzzed up that the illness was put into remission for a night. It was like the football coach who sees the player he trained as a kid step o collect an All-Ireland medal.

I was only three, but I remember being brought to The Astor for
‘Summer Holiday’ by Bernie Buckley – who was babysitting me then, and still does. Dad and I cried when Davy Crockett died at the Alamo. It was here I had the first lip-kiss in the back seat.

Sometimes, when our kids were young, we’d be there at the
pictures and, out of the corner of my eye, I could see Kieran standing in the
aisle at the back, taking it all in. He was enjoying the kids enjoying the
picture show. The light flickered over his smiling face and, if ever there was
man who was happy at work, well, it was him. There and then, and always. After all, he gave up his studies in accountancy to help run the family cinema in Cappaghmore when his dad died suddenly from a heart attack.

There have been tough times and, last year, thousands of euro
were stolen from the safe by heartless thieves. Teresa is trying to get to
grips with the details of running a cinema, but she’s learning fast. Best of
all, she and Kieran are determined to keep the cinema going. “Our staff
have been so good to us,” she says.

Kieran had been checking out the possibility of live streaming
concerts and sporting events. He had big plans.

The kids come in from school and Kieran gets a smile out.
Teresa, I know, struggles to come to terms with how it is that such a decent
man suffers so much. She is loyal to him as a full-time carer on a break from
her job in the civil service, and loyal to his vision for the family-run
cinema. Such is the practicality of true love and mutual respect.

Teresa sent me a link to a Radio Kerry interview with John
Herlihy, where Kieran speaks of his love of the sounds of the old cinema
projection room with the 35mm reels. “We treasure that now,” she
says. “It’s all we have of his voice.”

He shuffles in his wheelchair to attract my attention. He shows
me the screen on his phone. This week, Kieran is showing ‘The Revenant’ and ‘Creed’, as well as kids’ movies. Still promoting his cinema as he fights for every movement. There is such a powerful, undefeated will within him. As I leave, I kiss my friend gently on the head and thank him for all he has done for all of us.

Irish Independent

Kieran was a lovely kind man. His screen 3 was the only one which was wheelchair accessible. Kieran offered to show any film which normally was showing in One or Two  in Screen 3 on a Monday night, just to suit Jim Cogan. All we had to do was ask.

It was an offer we never took him up on but we greatly appreciated the kind gesture.


Age Reversal

by Mattie Lennon

Luke O’ Neill (‘though twas not his intention)

Has, nevertheless, caused me tension.

For I know age-reversal

Is not just a rehearsal.

I’m afraid that I might lose the  Pension


If Music be the Food of Love, Play on

Snow – Killarney – 18-01-2023 Photo: Kathleen Griffin


Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí 2023

Photo: The Kerryman

The Kerry Comhaltas committee organising the forthcoming County Fleadh. Back, from left, Sean Dee, safety officer, Karen Trench, assistant secretary Kerry County Board, Finola Fogarty, Fleadh Vice Chair, Martina O’Connor, Branch Secretary, Marie Houlihan, Fleadh PRO, Ann O’Donnell, DLP, Robert Stack, Ballybunion CCÉ.

Front from left, Catrina Heffernan, Secretary Kerry County Board, Aoife Mulvihill, Fleadh Secretary, PJ Mulvihill, Fleadh Chairman, Betty Joyce, Fleadh Treasurer, and John Lucid Treasurer Kerry County Board.

Two great weekends of traditional music, singing and dancing await us in Ballybunion in June. The County Fleadh will be held over two weekends, June 10 and 11, dancing competitions and the following weekend June 17 and 18 the singing and music competitions take place. These competitions are qualifying competitions of the Munster Fleadh.

As well as competitive music in venues around the town , busking competitions are planned for the streets and gigs in the pubs.


Listowel Marching Band

Charlie Nolan took this photo in 1987. Two years earlier, in 1985, he filmed the band practicing before their performance in Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann.

Here is the link;

Listowel Marching Band 1985

The music and marching were top class. Well done all.

Dave O’Sullivan sourced a few newspaper clippings for us.

I know these will have brought back great memories for many. Thank you, Dave.

Many of the leading figures in conceiving and maintaining the band are no longer with us.

Music training, drilling at marching, making costumes, rehearsals, ferrying to Fleadhanna Cheoil was all done by a dedicated band of volunteers. They provided a great service to the young people of the town in the 1980s and 90s.

If anyone from that era would like to send us their memories, I’d love to get a first hand account.


Caring for the Carer

Priscilla is home in Listowel after 20 years. She is looking after her lovely mam, Theresa. I met them on Church Street as they caught up with Carmel.


Frozen Out

Sad to see this store closing and all the friendly staff being laid off.



Page 1 of 19

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén