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: Schools Page 2 of 17

Celtic Crosses and children

Listowel Town Square in March 2023


Dough Mama

When I was writing about the origins of our knitting group, I mentioned that our first home was in Off The Square café. Someone asked me where on earth was that. Well, here it is. It has had several changes of business. Probably the longest was Paul Slemon’s shoe shop. It has also been Oscar Wildes’ and Lizzie’s Little Kitchen before it’s present tenant, a piazza shop.


Brian Donnelly, former US Representative and Ambassador, dies at 76.

 (March 2, 1946 – February 28, 2023)

A descendant of Irish immigrants, Mr. Donnelly was the man behind the famous “Donnelly Visa” which in the late 1980s and 1990s liberated thousands of undocumented Irish in the US from the fear of arrest and deportation. 

Brian Donnelly, as a congressman from Massachusetts, shepherded the visa scheme bearing his name that delivered 26,000 visas to the Irish at a time when Ireland could not provide many of its young people with jobs.

The US Congress reauthorized the program in 1990. 

It is now known as the Diversity Visa programme and authorizes 55,000 visas annually worldwide.

Go raibh míle maith agat, Brian

( Source: Irish Outreach Centre, San Diego)


A Listowel Ambassador in the New York Parade

Listowel’s Paul O’Sullivan leading out a bevy of beautiful Roses in the U.S.’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York in March 2023


Celtic Crosses

A Celtic Cross headstone in St. Michael’s graveyard, Listowel.

You may remember I told you that the cross with the circle was a merger of pagan and Christian symbolism dating back to the coming of Christianity to Ireland in the ninth century A.D.

That is a widely held explanation for the cross. However it would appear that the symbolism may go back to even earlier times.

Mike King, an expert on things Celtic, posted on Facebook that in a Minneapolis museum there is an Egyptian textile dating back to the fifth century decorated with a cross surrounded by a wreath. The interpretation of this is victory over death, the wreath symbolising victory and the cross death.

This is the Kildalton Cross on the island of Islay in Scotland. It was carved in the 8th century and is considered the finest existing example of a celtic cross in Scotland.


More photos from St. Patrick’s Day in Listowel


A Fact

Elephants are the only animals that can’t jump.


Road Signs and Civil War Disruption

St Patrick’s Day 2023

Canon Declan O’Connor and his neighbours enjoying the 2023 St. Patrick’s Day parade in Listowel Town Square


Another String to his Bow

Dave O’Sullivan found us this in The Kerryman archive from 1961. These beautiful signs were designed by the great Michael O’Connor.

Would anyone know of the whereabouts of one of these or does anyone have a better photograph of one?


The Civil War and the Lartigue

Story from Mark Holan’s Irish American Blog

Civil War Toll on The Lartigue

Mark Holan

Anti-government forces in the Irish Civil War attacked the Listowel and Ballybunion Railway several times in early 1923. Damage to the rolling stock and stations of the 9-mile monorail between the two Kerry towns, and the impracticalities of operating such a unique line in the newly consolidated Irish rail system, forced its permanent closure in October 1924.

Passengers and mail on the LBR had been targeted by Irish republican forces during the Irish War of Independence, 1919-1921. In January 1923, during the civil war, armed men forced the Ballybunion stationmaster to open the line’s office, goods store, and waiting room, which they doused with petrol and paraffin oil and set on fire. Within an hour a similar attack occurred at the Lisselton station, about halfway between the two terminuses.

Such destruction is generally attributed to the IRA forces opposed to the Irish Free State. These “irregulars” also cut down about 1,700 yards of telegraph wire and six poles between Listowel and Ballybunion, matching attacks along other Irish rail routes.

Nicknamed the Lartigue after inventor Charles Lartigue, the monorail was “suspended indefinitely” in early February 1923 due to the sabotage. Nearly 40 employees lost their jobs, impacting about 100 family members and ancillary businesses.

With the train out of service, a char-a-banc and motor car service began operating between the two towns, but it also came under attack in March.Once the civil war ended later that spring, the Lartigue was repaired in time for the busy summer season at Ballybunion, a seaside resort. By mid-July, the Freeman’s Journal reported the Lartigue “has already, particularly on Sundays, been taxed to almost its fullest capacity in the conveyance of visitors.”

Like the Lartigue, however, the national newspaper also would have its run ended in 1924.


Then and Now

2007 and 2023


Friends Reunited

Mary Sheehy met this lady twenty years ago on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. They met last week by chance in The Flying Saucer café, Listowel.


A Poignant Poem of Family Love

The Week After St Patrick’s

John McGrath

The week after St Patrick’s, my mother

pressed his suit and packed his case,

drove him to the station for the early train

from Ballyhaunis to the crowded boat,

then on to Manchester and solitude

until All Souls came slowly round again.

I don’t remember ever saying Goodbye.

At seventeen I took the train myself

and saw first-hand my father’s box-room life,

the Woodbines by his shabby single bed.

I don’t remember ever saying Hello,

just sat beside this stranger in the gloom

and talked of home and life, and all the while

I wanted to be gone, get on with mine.

Westerns and The Western kept him sane,

newspapers from home until the time

to take the train came slowly round once more.

Lost in Louis L’Amour, he seldom heard

the toilet’s ugly flush, the gurgling bath

next door. Zane Grey dulled the traffic’s

angry roar outside his grimy window.

Back home the year before he died we spoke

at last as equals, smoked our cigarettes,

his a Woodbine still, and mine a tipped.

My mother would have killed us if she’d known.

The phone call came as winter turned to spring.

I stood beside him, touched his face of ice

and knew our last Hello had been Goodbye.


Back in the Classroom

Spring 2023 in Listowel Town Square


I was Back in the Classroom

There I am in the midst of the lovely 6th class girls in Presentation Primary School, Listowel on World Book Day 2023. The girls were dressed as their favourite characters. I came as myself.

I was a VIP guest as part of their Creative Schools’ Cluster project.

I was welcomed to the school by my friend Mrs. Anne Brosnan and the class I spoke to is now being taught by someone I taught back in the day, Miss Julieanne Galvin.

Behind us on the interactive whiteboard is our good friend, Jimmy Hickey. I told the girls about Jimmy’s exploits in The National Concert Hall. They don’t read Listowel Connection so it was news to them. Jimmy is their dancing teacher.


Alice Curtayne

It’s not all male writers in Kerry Writers’ Museum. This female Kerry writer is there too. She is a little known but very learned journalist and writer, deserving of a wider audience.


A Little bit of the USA in Cork

When I’m on foot I notice things that were there all the time but I never spotted before.

This happened to me lately when I was walking on Western Road in Cork and I came upon this sign.

Maybe it is my imagination but doesn’t that white car look a bit American as well.


Something to Look Forward To


Sadness in the midst of Joy

Snow – Killarney – 17-01-2023 Photo: Kathleen Griffin


That 1947 All Ireland Final

Yesterday I shared with you Kathleen Reynolds’ great uncle’s first hand account of a spectator at that match.

Photo from the internet

Here is an extract from Kathy’s email;

The game was attended by 34,500 including my father’s uncle, Mike Fitzmaurice, who had left Moybella South, Lisselton around 1910 for Waterbury, Connecticut.

Notes (Irish Independent & Wikipedia)

The Artane Boys’ Band also travelled to New York to play before the match.

Michael O’Hehir broadcast a radio commentary from New York. O’Hehir noticed that broadcasting delays would bring the radio link down five minutes before the final had ended. He later recalled his plea:'”If there’s anybody along the way there listening in,  just give us five minutes more, and I kept begging for five minutes more” The link stayed open.

Kerry — D O’Keeffe; D Lyne (capt), J Keohane, P Brosnan; J Lyne, W Casey, E Walsh; E Dowling, E O’Connor; E O’Sullivan, D Kavanagh, B Garvey; F O’Keeffe, T O’Connor, O Kennedy.

Subs: W O’Donnell for Dowling, M Finucane for Walsh, T Brosnan for O’Donnell, G Teehan for Kennedy

Score 2-11 to 2-7


There was a North Kerry man on the team.

The last surviving member of that Kerry team, Ballydonoghue man , Mick Finucane passed away in 2016;

Here is a fine tribute to Mick by his friend, Brendan Hegarty, published in 2016 at the time of his death.

Brendan Hegarty 2016

Tribute to Mick Finucane

To not have engaged with Mick is to not have lived and anyone he touched is the better for it. Non-drinker and non-smoker but socialiser extraordinaire. I was having a chat of an evening with him and one of the nuggets I picked up was that from 16 years of age, his weight never budged from 12 stone. Now I don’t know a lot about boxing but he could pack some punch and they say he was also gifted of a sturdy lowish centre of gravity, canvassing a good few laddos in his day, though never raised a hand outside the ring nor never had the bad word.

A few of his comrades in London would have recalled in later years how he brightened up many a dark day in hard times and his role as a public relations man was no accident as he was the type that nobody could refuse. He even had Tony O’Reilly arranging taxis for him from the airport on arrival. I’d often say that North Kerry were talkers and South Kerry more grafters, so John Murphy chose wisely with Mick as his front man and boy could he tell yarns of those rather interesting times.

I also recall a fella disputing an umpiring decision Mick once made, well about 40 years ago to be more precise, he told Mick “he’d hit him only he was an old man” and to which those in the know might have commented that it was a wise decision, a lucky escape if there was ever one for the would be assailant and he didn’t even have to run away. As a friend of his my own father, Jackie got fierce mileage out of this one as Mick used affectionately refer to him as “Auld Hegarty”. I could tell hundreds of more good wans from Lisselton Cross and Urlee. The one thing that always puzzles me is how the Barra Road didn’t throw up more silverware, even in later years there was so many football houses, individual families where you have a handful of top class footballers, maybe soccer was part of it but I recall evenings that you’d have maybe 30 or 40 lads chasing a football. Finucane’s yard was littered with balls and you’d see Mick and the boys taking a kick in between chores, soloing in from milking the cows or a carefully gauged point between a telegraph pole and a shed, between feeding calves.

The stories he would tell himself would be the basis of many a subsequent literary work and I myself penned “What they think of Mick Finucane in Donegal’. It was after that chat with him that I went to the local and my smile had em asking what it was all about. When I told em I had just been chatting to the oldest holder of an AI medal they started on their mobiles, checking out the story, etc, doubting Thomses! Anyway we storied ’till the not so small hours after that as a few more congregated and we regaled his life and times.

By the way the ’47 final was played in The Polo Grounds because Croker was a building site. He would say after that an admirer commented that “she couldn’t understand a word he said but she loved the sound of his voice” so everything about him inspired of scope, more of scope that contradiction.

So all we can say is thanks for the music Mick, RIP.


People I met in Town

I met Paud Pelican and Mary Hanlon at Listowel Credit Union


A School in Mourning

I visited Scoil Réalta na Maidine to photograph their beautiful piece of Paddy Fitzgibbon’s artwork.

I was jolted back to harsh reality by the lovely shrine underneath.

On the week that Paddy Fitzgibbon passed away, the boy’s school lost someone dear, a beloved member of the school community, pupil,

Pádraig Beasley.

Padraig Beasley R.I.P. with his school principal Kieran Quirke and Padraig’s mother Maeve

Padraig’s family have strong links with the school. His mother, Maeve is a teacher there and his grandfather, Cathal is a past principal.

Padraig passed away on Jan 6 2023. Go dtuga Dia suaimhneas síoraí dó.




Upper william Street in January 2023


All Ireland Football Final 1947

The All Ireland Final of 1947 was famously played in The Polo Grounds in New York. Kerry played Cavan and Kerry lost.

Why am I venturing into a realm I know nothing about?

Kathy Reynolds has been in touch and she sent us this letter from her great uncle who actually attended the match.

” The game was attended by 34,500 including my father’s uncle, Mike Fitzmaurice, who had left Moybella South, Lisselton around 1910 for Waterbury, Connecticut. This is his account of the day, written on 6th October 1947 to his brother, Paddy, in Ballybunion.”

Isn’t it great to have a hoarder in the family?

What beautiful writing?

Back to the match;

In 1947 the All Ireland Senior Football Final between Cavan and Kerry was played outside Ireland at the Polo Grounds in New York to mark the centenary of the Great Famine and to acknowledge the large Irish American community.

Pádraig Ó Caoimh (Paddy O’Keeffe) General Secretary of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) oversaw the staging of the unique event and of the radio broadcast back to Ireland. Radio Éireann commentator Michael O’Hehir went to provide commentary for listeners back home in Ireland. For the broadcast, a landline from the Polo Grounds connected to a transatlantic cable which then fed through to transmitters in Dublin, Athlone and Cork.

The lines had to be paid for in New York in advance and were booked up to 5 pm on the day of the game. This would give enough time for the match to be concluded and 30 mins for wrapping up after the match had finished. (Source RTE Archive)

To cut a long story short the match ran over time because RTE forgot to factor in the time spent introducing dignatories and other fal dals before the match. Terrified that he would be cut off before the end of the game, Michael O Hehir appealed on air to be allowed an extra 5 minutes He was given the extra time.


Celtic Artwork in Scoil Realta na Maidine

This is the beautiful piece of artwork donated by Paddy Fitzgibbon to Scoil Realta na Maidine.

The piece here is hung lower so more accessible than the one in the Credit Union. I took a close up of a few letters so that you can see this absolute gem of Celtic artwork.

This work is executed with copper wire and pins. I am totally in awe.



Usually in this weather I don’t venture too far from home.

Certain trips have to be made though.

I travelled to Cork via Tralee and Killarney. My usual route, through my home territory of Rockchapel and Newmarket is a bit more challenging in frosty weather.

The new Macroom bypass is great. We won’t know ourselves when it is completed.

On this road I love to make a pit stop in Glenflesk.



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