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 31

Kilmorna House

1916 commemorative garden in Childers Park in February 2024

From Pres. Secondary School Yearbook 1988

The story of Kilmorna House

A Poem

Turf Cutting

Talk of turf cutting prompted an email and a grainy old image;

Hi Mary,
Thanks for Listowel Connection ,

I really remember now from reading Jerry Twomey explaining.

 So below is a photo from 8mm film  taken from my brother Thomas back then.

Tullamore Bog Photo: is not great in focus.

I am cutting,my father is spreading to Jay ,that he spreading sods further.
It also reminds my age ,when we only wore short pants .
“John-Anthony Hegarty,Thomas Christopher Hegarty ,James Joseph Hegarty “ was taken from Tullamore bog road by Thomas Hegarty.
John-Anthony Hegarty.

A Fact

In 1886 The Times of London published the the world’s first classified advertisement.


An Extension, a Medal and a Demolition

First daffodils in Gurtenard Wood

A Poem for that Special Morning

Peg Prendeville

A Previous Pres. Secondary School Extension

Margaret McGrath, Sr. Gemma’s niece, sent us this one.

L to R. Sr. Gemma, Martin Mulvihill, Sr. Anthony and Gerard Lynch at the launch of the fundraising campaign.

A Cork Artefact

This is Brendan O’Sullivan’s temperance medal. The medal was the idea of Fr.Theobald Mathew who founded the Irish Temperance Movement in Cork in 1838. Fr. Mathew was known as The Apostle of Temperance. He was hugely influential, particularly in Cork, influencing people, particularly men, to abstain from alcohol. It was important to show that you belonged to this movement and to this day a few people wear a pioneer pin.

At one time it was estimated that around 3 million people (half the population) belonged to the temperance movement. Brendan told us that there were several different iterations of the medal. The front usually had a man and woman on either side of an altar with Catholic symbols like a lamb and an IHS , angels and sheafs of corn. The obverse had the pledge to abstain from alcohol for life.

The medals were made in Birmingham. They were made of pewter and were of poor quality. Many of them have not survived.


Elm Hill was a beautiful old house you will be familiar with if you drive to Limerick via Ardagh.

It had fallen in to disrepair of late and apparently was too far gone to restore. It was flattened a few weeks ago. Another piece of architectural history gone.

A Fact

In AD 600 Pope Gregory decreed that saying “God bless you” is the correct response to a sneeze.


Tales Old and New, Far and Near

Friday in The Square in February 2024

A Poem

Memories of Childhood.

We had neighbours one time,
That lived under the hill.
In my prayers I remember, 
And think of them still.
And sometimes I think, it was just yesterday. 
But it fact it is really, 
A lifetime away. 

Two brothers, two sisters, 
A dog and a cat, 
There was Katherine and Celia,
And Tomas and Pat.
All single, unmarried, 
Their name is long gone. 
And its sad there was no one, 
To carry it on. 

The sisters kept house, 
It was neat as a pin. 
And a welcome was there,
For whoever went in. 
The brothers they worked, 
On the farm every day. 
And at nightime together, 
They knelt down to pray.
While auld Ringo the dog,
By the fire lay quiet. 
Where himself and the cat, 
Settled in for the night.

Now Pat could play music, 
And Tomas could sing.
At parties in old times
Great joy they did bring.
Celia sang also, and Kate
In her chair, 
Read stories for children, 
From Kitty the Hare.

Old customs, old fashioned, 
Indeed this was true.
And the ways of today’s world,
These folk never knew.
No modern components, back then
In the day,
Their work was all done in the old fashioned way.
And I can remember when nightime would fall,
Their light it then came, from a lamp
On the wall.

With the turf from the bog on an
open hearth fire,
All the cooking was done, that your
heart would desire. 
And a fine soda cake, it was baked as a rule,
And left on the window sill, outside to cool.

To see this house now, it would make
Your heart sore,
For the weeds and the briars grow up
through the floor.
No windows or doors, and the roof has
Caved in,
Never more to be lived in, in this life again. 
A fine happy home, one time back in the day.
Taken over by time, as the years passed away.

God be good to them now, 
There all gone to their rest, 
To the place that the good lord
Reserves for the best.
But my memories of childhood, sometimes 
let me see,
The old ways of life, that one time used to be.
And sometimes I think back, 
And remember them still, 
Our auld neighbours one time, 
That lived under the hill. 

Martin O’Hara   © 12/9/2022

Elizabeth Stack and Mary O’Rourke

News from New York

“On Saturday , at a reading of JB Keane’s hilarious and sometimes poignant  Letters of a Matchmaker, are  Elizabeth Stack PhD  William street Listowel ,  and Mary ORourke  R.N.C  of  Church Street Listowel at the Irish Historical Society NY.

Elizabeth is the new appointed Executive director of the IHS and hosted a wonderful gathering.”

Interesting Artefacts

While visiting family in Ballincollig I attended a great night tripping down memory lane. Ten members of the society each brought an artefact and they got 5 minutes each to tell us about the item they brought.

A good crowd gathered for the meeting, mostly people of my own vintage but I did meet Niamh who had just done her Pre Junior Cert.

First up was Rod McConnell. Even though he is Scottish his family artefact was from Northern Ireland. It was a Repeal card. It dates back to Daniel O’Connell and the move to repeal the Act of Union in 1831.

Rod’s great great grandfather, James Gallagher, worked in a mill owned by the Leslie family. He said they were the same Leslies as the Ballincollig Leslies who lived in Wilton in an estate later owned by the SMA and now Wilton Shopping Centre. I wonder if they are the same Leslies as the Tarbert family of the same name.

Rod’s card had a map of Ireland on one side and some facts about Ireland on the other side.

Ireland had a population of 8.5 million people. It now has about 5.1 million so I don’t think we are “full” .

Ireland had 2.5 million acres of bog according to this 1844 artefact.

A Marian Grotto

Marian grottos are dotted all over the countryside in Ireland. This one is in the carpark of the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork.

A Fact

The population of Ireland is around 5 million. There are 80 million people around the world with Irish passports or Irish roots.


A Runner, a Baker and a Poem

Lower William Street in February 2024

Jerry Kiernan to be Honoured

Image and text from Tralee Marathon on Facebook

This year’s Tralee 10K (14th Sept) will honour the great Jerry Kiernan, every participant will receive a commemorative Jerry Kiernan medal. Jerry was born in Listowel. At the 1984 LA Olympics Jerry finished 9th in the Marathon he also won the Dublin Marathon in 1982 and 1992.

A Family Milestone

I have no sister and only one sister-in-law, so Breeda is an important part of the Ahern Cogan family. Here are the Cogan cousins at Breeda’s big birthday recently.

Me and my children on our night out

A Poem to Ponder

If you didn’t get the roses, the chocolates, the champagne or even a card yesterday, listen to this from U A Fanthorpe.


There is a kind of love called maintenance
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it;

Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;

Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes; which deals with dentists

And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds

The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living, which is Atlas.

And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dryrotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.

Dating a Postbox

I photographed this postbox in Ballincollig and my Ballincollig based daughter found the era of this particular logo on the An Post website

A Fact

Last month’s statistics to assure you that you are in good company


Early Lartigue Project

Listowel Library in January 2024

Christmas 1988

A Greeting card for Christmas 1983

The Touch of a Master’s hand

Another old poem so beloved of listeners to Mo Cheol Thú on far off Sunday mornings.

Well it was battered and scarred,

And the auctioneer felt it was hardly worth his while,

To waste much time on the old violin but he held it up with a smile,

Well it sure ain’t much but its all we got left I guess we aught to sell it,

Oh, now who’ll start the bid on this old violin?

Just one more and we’ll be through.

And then he cried, “one give me one dollar?,

Who’ll make it two?

only two dollars who’ll make it three,

Three dollars twice now that’s a good price,

Now who’s gonna bid for me?

Raise up your hand now don’t wait any longer the auctions about to end,

Who’s got four ?

Just one dollar more to bid on this old violin?

Well the air was hot and the people stood around as the sun was setting low,

From the back of the crowd a gray haired man,

Came forward and picked up the bow,

He wiped the dust from the old violin then he tightened up the strings,

Then he played out a melody pure and sweet, sweeter than the Angels sing,

And then the music stopped and the auctioneer,

With a voice that was quiet and low he said, Now what am I bid,

For this old violin and he held it up with a bow.

And then he cried out one give me one thousand,

Who’ll make it two?

only two thousand who’ll make it three,

Three thousand twice you know that’s a good price,

Come on who’s gonna bid for me?

And the people cried out what made the change we don’t understand,

Then the auctioneer stopped and he said with a smile,

It was the touch of the Master’s hand.

You know there’s many a man with his life out of tune,

Battered and scarred with sin and he’s auctioned cheap,

To a thankless world much like that old violin,

Oh, but then the Master comes,

And that old foolish crowd they never understand,

The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought,

Just by one touch of the Masters hand.

And then he cried out, any one give me one thousand,

Who’ll make it two?

only two thousand who’ll make it three,

Three thousand twice you know that’s a good price,

Common who’s gonna bid for me?

And the people cried out what made the change we don’t understand,

Then the auctioneer stopped and he said with a smile,

It was the touch, that’s all it was; it was the touch of the Master’s hand,

It was the touch of the Master’s hand; oh, it was the touch of the Master’s hand

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: John Kramp

An Old Flagon

Photo: Dan Hartnett

Shine’s was where the Maid of Erin is now

Preparing for St. Brigid’s Day

My Kildare family sent me a photo of Kildare Town’s lovely new mural

Nearer to home they are celebrating in Athea.

The Story’s the Thing

If you missed Rich Moran at Listowel Writers’ Week 2023, here is an article from The Irish Echo online with his important message for business.

WORDS MATTER: Great leaders don’t say “whatever” says author Rich Moran. He is pictured at his home in Tiburon, CA with the San Francisco skyline in the background.

Meet Rich Moran, the Californian tech leader who won’t ever take “whatever” as an answer

News January 27, 2024 by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir author of an acclaimed new book on leadership says Irish start-ups seeking funding in the U.S. need to “tell a story”. 

“That’s what resonates and if you can tell a story, then funders understand your business and respond accordingly,” says Rich Moran, author of ‘Never Say, Whatever: How Small Decisions Make a Big Difference’.

A resident of Tiburon in the Bay Area of California, Moran has scored success with a series of start-ups and owns the Moran Manor winery in Napa. But his love of tech and business mentoring is rivalled only by his love for the land of his forebears.Indeed, he relishes the opportunity to engage with Irish start-ups aiming to hit it big in Silicon Valley and enjoys visiting the Emerald Isle – last year, he hit the jackpot for any lover of Irish literature when he was appointed writer-in-residence at the Listowel Writers Week.

The connection between entrepreneurship and literature – spinning a good yarn is a cornerstone of both worlds.

“A great origin sets a company apart,” explains Moran. “For example, I am working with a start-up treating gum disease. The treatment emerged from a doctor who was worried about the bad breath of his dogs.  He injected a drug into the gums of his dogs to combat the bad breath and found the side effect was that it protected their gums. That’s a memorable story which people can relate to – and he’s just raised $70m in funding to roll out the drug to the market.”In short, words and how we use them are important. Indeed, one word: “Whatever” is a bugbear for Moran – indeed so fed up was he with hearing the term used by so-called leaders that it moved him to pen his new opus. 

“We make 30,000 decisions a day, everything from whether to put cream in your coffee to slowing down when you see a red light,” he says. “But there are probably 20 big decisions which shape your entire life: who you marry; whether to have children; where to live and so on. However, no matter whether the issue is big or small, whatever does not count as a decision. So my new book is about decision-making – something which the Irish tend not to be good at.”A blogger and speaker at business conferences and seminars, Moran says his new work has struck a chord with corporate leaders. “No one wants to be involved with a ‘whatever’ organization,” he says, “Could you imagine what the head of the Federal Aviation Administration would think if one of his air traffic controllers was to respond to a request from an approaching pilot about where to land with a ‘whatever?’

Weaving in interviews with C-Suite executives, entrepreneurs and “everyday people” who are good at making decisions, ‘Never Say Whatever’ analyses why staff members get to the position where they just don’t care — and “whatever” becomes the default response.

“It indicates a sense of helplessness in some cases but in others it’s someone trying to avoid making a decision so a co-worker can be blamed when things go wrong,” says Moran. 

“The reality is that effective leaders don’t say ‘whatever’. Busy people never say ‘whatever’. And if you want to make an impact with what you do, then you too should never give ‘whatever’ as an answer when a decision has to be made.”

A veteran author, Moran invented the ‘bullet-point business book’. His latest tome, however, will surely burnish his reputation as one of Irish America’s most eminent strategists and tech leaders. As chair of early-stage Canadian AI company and the owner of Moran Ranch winery, he finds himself in demand for his tech investment nous. However, keeping his connection to Ireland fresh and vibrant is a priority for him — though he’s understandably sore about the fact that he is not entitled to Irish citizenship because he doesn’t have a grandparent born on Irish soil.

“When I did the 23andMe DNA test, they sent me a letter from the head guy saying that I was a rarity in being fully 100 per cent Irish,” he says. “My grandparents were an O’Brien, a Hanley, a Brennan and a Moran. All were born in the US to immigrant parents – but sadly that’s not enough to earn me citizenship.”

And while there is access to an Irish passport via “Irish descent or association” at the discretion of the Irish Justice Minister, Moran, like many others, has found that process opaque and impenetrable.

If you didn’t know better, you would think that the folks at the passport office, faced with making a decision on Moran’s citizenship, have responded with a “whatever”!

A Fact

In 1506 the first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrived at The Vatican.


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