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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Ballybunion, Old Dalkey, Festivals of Yesteryear and Sign Wars in Canada

Ballybunion’s Cliff Walk at Sunset

Photo: Bridget O’Connor


This is Dalkey, Co. Dublin, but it could be any town in Ireland one time.


I Miss the Buzz of Festivals and Big Days in Town

I loved when festivals brought the thrill of unexpectedly meeting an old acquaintance. 

R.I.P. Jessica.

Once, Jim Dunn, the celebrated Athea muralist, brought his magic to the town square.

Jumbo’s Damien brought the Coca Cola truck and gave us all a memorable Christmas.

When The Rás came through town, didn’t I discover that I knew one of the cyclist’s grandmothers.

Once, Mark Loughnane encouraged me to be part of the entertainment on a St. Patrick’s Day

I miss the thrill of Writers’ Week opening nights and the delight of discovering that I know one of the winners.

I loved meeting people like Stefanie Preissner in real life at Listowel Young Adult Book Fest

And then there was pig racing in Market Street. Memories, memories!

Maybe next year!


Meanwhile in Listowel, Ontario, They’re having fun

Gillian McElligott and Noreen Holyoake alerted me to this one. Maybe Listowel, Co. Kerry could get into the act . It would cheer us all up.

The full story is here on the BBC website;  Listowel Sign War

Basically all the businesses in the town have entered into a faux war of words via jokey advertising signs.

Circus, A Stone Wall and Listowel helping the war effort

Ballybunion Sunset

Photo: Bridget O’Connor


I miss the circus. Don’t you?

Circus elephants in Market Street….Photo by the late John Hannon

John Duffy, the Circus

by John Fitzgerald
Out from the pastures in early Spring
On trucks and on trailers, the loading begins 
The tents and the tigers, the bright colored ring 
John Duffy, the circus is callin’
Travellin’ the highways and tourin’ the towns
 Ringmaster, jugglers, the cats and the clowns 
The posters are printed so word gets around 
John Duffy, the circus is callin’
They drive the long nights without any sleep 
Wire walkers, tight ropers, all hands to the wheel
 Each dawn a’peggin’ the circle of steel
John Duffy, the circus is callin’
They ring round our market, wagons galore 
Tractors and trailers, the canvas and more 
With riggin’ and cages, ropes by the score 
John Duffy, the circus is callin’
Four beats to a bar, the sledges ring
Four men of iron their music to sing
The canvas is spread,” the heave-ho” begins 
John Duffy, the circus is callin’

Its haul down the ropes, and let the tent rise 
Like clockwork they know, each cog to prise 
They heave and they haul ‘til the tent is full size 
John Duffy, the circus is callin’
The brass band of old is pipe music new 
Monkeys are scarce and the elephants few
The trapeze has nets and the safe rope has too 
John Duffy, the circus is callin’
The circus, alas, is not that of old
The magic, the music, the laughs and the roars 
See a child’s face when the sparkle’s gone cold 
John Duffy will soon not be callin’


Listowel People Helped Soldiers at the front during World War 1

I found the following account on the internet. I presume it comes from a newspaper of the time.






The Committee of the Listowel Fund for the soldiers’ comforts met in the billiard room of the Listowel Arms Hotel on Tuesday evening, when Madame Dei Janasz, the very popular and energetic President, gave an account of the good work done, by the committee, and Mr. B. Johnston, the Hon. Secretary and Treasurer, put the financial aspect of the undertaking before the meeting in the shape of a statement of accounts which was highly satisfactory.


The Rev. Canon Pattison, M.A., presided, and the other members present were Madame de Janasz, Mrs. Johnston, Mrs McElligott, Mrs. Foran, Mrs. Armstrong, Mrs. Little, Mrs Naylor, Mrs. Jones, Miss Horgan, Miss Breen, Miss Pattison, Miss May Pattison, Miss Johnston, Miss Milligan, Miss Harnett, Messrs D de Janasz, M. O’Connell, Clerk of Union; B. Johnston, W. McElligott. C.P.S.


Madame do Janasz read her report as follows:—On the 6th October a meeting was called at Listowel at the instigation of Mrs de Janasz for the purpose of organising a collection of various articles, socks, shirts, mufflers, belts, etc., for sending to the soldiers at the front, in order in some  way to lessen the terrible privations and hardships they are exposed to during the winter campaign. The response to the appeal was very hearty, and the meeting, at which Canon Pattison presided, was attended by a considerable number of those who were invited to it. The meeting decided that the gifts should be sent to the Munster Fusiliers serving at the front, and chose the following committee for the purpose of carrying out the work: Mrs de Janasz, President; Mrs. Johnston, Mrs Jack McElligott, Mrs Little, Mrs. Foran, Miss Horgan, Miss Breen, Mr McKenna, Mr McAulay,  Mr de Janasz, Canon Pattison, Mr. Johnston, Hon, Sec. and Treas. Donations both in money and gifts were accepted, a good many being given and promised at the meeting. A list of monetary subscriptions up to date are set forth in detail in the balance sheet to be submitted by the Hon. Treasurer.  Subscriptions not appearing in balance sheet, £13 10s d  given by Mrs. de Janasz for wool and flannel for shirts and belts. Then followed a long list of those who sent donations of shirts, socks, belts, etc., including socks, knitted by the following from Kilmorna and the neighbourhood  gratuitously  from wool supplied Mrs  Wall, Mrs Murphy, Mrs. Lane, Mrs. Gould, Mrs Stack, Mrs Moore, Mrs. Carroll, Mrs. Midigan , Miss Lizzie Stack , Miss, Nell Kelliher, Miss Bridget Enright, Miss O’Connor , Mrs. Gaire, Kate Kelihan , Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. Leahy, Mrs. Sullivan, Hannah McElligott, Mrs. Sheehy, Johanna Dillon, Margaret McMahon, Bill Finucane, Mary Leahy, Mrs. Bowden, Miss Sheahan, Mrs. Ned Mulvihill and Mrs Norah Keane. Belts from—Mr and Mrs Little. Scarves—Mrs. Johnston, Mrs. Armstrong; Wristlets—Miss Clifford, Mrs Little, Mrs J McElligott. Cigarettes—Mrs. Little. Tobacco-Dr . O’Connor. Matches—Miss Horgan, Mrs de Janasz. Pipes—Mr. Johnston, Mr. Armstrong; Vaseline—Mr. and Mrs Leane, Mrs. Darling- Mrs. Knight-Pedlar, Mrs. Pierce.


THE First consignment, consisting of 127 shirts, 370 pairs of socks, 157 belts, 99 scarves, 10 pair of wristlets, 1 box, cigarettes , 1 vest, a piece of soap or box of Vaseline in each sock , and a pair of boot laces, was despatched the 3rd November to the Munster Fusiliers at the front, and the Committee  got acknowledgment and expressions of thanks from the Commanding Officer and men of the 2nd Battalion. The second consignment, consisting of 24 shirts, 125 pairs of socks, 125 flannel belts, 25 scarf helmets, 4 pair wristlets, 24 magazines, 141bs tobacco, 88 pipes, 12 doz. Matches, 24 1bs sweets, 200 lead pencils, 200 postcards, 8 sets of playing cards, was sent off on December 12th to the Munster Fusiliers at the front- so that  altogether up to date 151 shirts, 495 pairs of socks, 282 belts, 184 serves, 14 wristlets, 14lb. tobacco, 88 pipes, 24 1bs. sweets, 200 lead pencils, 200 postcards , 8 sets of playing  cards, 24 magazines,  have been sent, and the committee presenting this short report to the general meeting cannot help expressing, their high appreciation of the hearty and generous spirit with which they were met by the donors and workers, and venture to express a hope that the work which has been so successful will not be brought to an end but continue while there is need for it. It is a most gratifying feeling which the, Committee has no doubt is shared by everyone  present, that Listowel and its neighbourhood have taken their parts in lightening the burden of the Irish soldiers at the front. (Applause)


 Mr. Johnston, Hon Sec., then produced his balance sheet , from which appeared that the total sum subscribed was £84 4s 7d., including £22 I8s ld., collected by the ladies at the races, and there was a credit balance of £4 19s 8d., which was considered very satisfactory. The Chairman said he did not know if there was any necessity for the appointment of an Auditor.  Mr. Johnston—It would be  more satisfactory to me to have the accounts audited. Mr. McElligott consented to act as  Auditor


(Break, Note Mr Foran remarked that Mrs de Janasz was sister of George Gun Mahony and she has filled the void left by him, she was the main instigator of the meeting which sponsored and promoted subscriptions for the soldiers) 


An Old Shed wall

This beautiful stone wall is the back wall of a shed in a lane behind Charles Street. They dont build them like that any more.


Out and About with Camera


 It’s such a treat to get to the park again and to see old friends. I’m enjoying my vaccine freedom.

The Big Fair and News of Urban Renewal

Evening in Ballybunion

Photo: Bridget O’Connor


Fair Days

Some pictures of previous fairs and some people who attended them

 I miss the Big Fair. Don’t you?

The Big Fair of Listowel

Tom Mulvihill

Now Marco Polo went to China 

But I swear upon my soul

He should have come the other way 

To The Big Fair in Listowel.

There he’d see what he didn’t see

At the court of Kubla Khan,

The greatest convocation ever

Since God created man.

There were bullocks in from Mortra

And cows from Carrig Island

Sheep and gosts from Graffa 

And pigs from Tullahinel.

There were men with hats and caps

Of every shape and size on,

And women in brown shawls and black,

A sight to feast your eyes on.

The finest fare was to be had

In all the eating places.

A sea of soup and big meat pies,

Some left over from the Races.

Floury spuds and hairy bacon

Asleep on beds of cabbage,

To satisfy a gentleman

A cannibal or savage.

And here and there among the throng

‘tis easy spot the jobbers

Jack O’Dea from County Clare

And Owen McGrath from Nobber.

There was Ryan from Tipperary

And McGinley from Tyrone.

Since ‘twas only Kerry cattle

Could walk that distance home.

And trotting up and down the street

Were frisky mares and stallions,

While here and there in little groups

Drinking porter by the gallons

Were all the travelling people,

The Carthys and the Connors,

The Maughans and the Coffeys-

Gentle folk with gentle manners.

And there you’d see old fashioned men

With moustaches like yard brushes

And more of them with beards that big

You’d take them for sloe bushes.

Up there outside the market gate

A matron old and wrinkled

Was selling salty seagrass

And little bags of winkles.

Inside the gate were country men,

Selling spuds and mangolds

While swarthy men from Egypt

Sold necklaces and bangles

And there you’ll find the laying ducks

Or broody hens for hatching,

Creels of turf and wheaten straw,

With scallops for the thatching.

Dealers down from Dublin

Did there set up their stands,

Selling boots and pinstripe suits

Both new and second hand.

Cups and saucers you could buy

Both singly or in lots,

And for your convenience late at night,

White enamel chamber pots.

If you had an ear for music

You could buy a finch or linnet,

And to bring your winter turf home

A Spanish ass or jennet.

And across at Walshe’s Corner

Stood a ballad singing fellow

Selling sheets- a penny each

Red and white and blue and yellow.

He was an old sean nós man

If you ne’er had music in you

He’s stop you in your stride, man

And you’d not begrudge the penny.

For he’d bring you back to Vinegar Hill

And to Kelly from Killane

Or you’d stand again in Thomas Street

And you’d see the darling man.

But woe alas for the singing man

The Dublin dealer and the drover,

The days of catch whatever you can

Are dead and gone and over.

Now we have fleadhs and Writers’ Weeks

And a plethora of rigmarole

But who remembers as I remember

The big fair in Listowel.


Lovely Old Stamp

Stamps were once generic and now they are generic again. In the intervening time we had some really lovely pictorial stamps, often commemorating a historic person or event but always telling us the price of postage.


Someone is Painting

Lovely to see painters at work on Lynch’s this week

Teampall Bán, Calf Sale and the Burning of Ballylongford remembered

Moonlit Ballybunion

Photo; Bridget O’Connor


 Listowel’s Tribute to the Memory of our Pauper Ancestors


Tuesdays were Calf Market Days


Lovely Old Photo

Nonie Flaherty aged 100


A Hundred Years on from The Burning of Ballylongford

(from North Kerry blog)

100 YEARS ago Ballylongford; Michael Moore, Quay Street, who was an American citizen, and who gave an eye-witness account in a letter which was published in the Manchester Guardian newspaper; ‘The shop of Jeremiah McCabe, a baker, (Bridge Street) was set on fire and the children had to be roused from the bed and flung out a back window. Several people had to rush from their houses in scanty attire.

Several houses not burnt were looted and wrecked. The house of John Kelly was one, the house of John Moran was set on fire and his wife has since died, the result of shock. Several efforts were made to set fire to the shop and public house of Mrs. Kennelly (Quay Street), but this brave woman defied their efforts, quenching the fire each time with brine from the salting tubs.’ The Ballylongford girls school attendance book reported; 23rd February 1921, attendance 0 out of 83.  24th February 1921, attendance 5 out of 83; 25th February 1921, attendance 6 out of 83 – policeman shot – town burned – children afraid to come to school. On the 19th of March, the “Kerry People” reported: The Dublin White Cross Society have forwarded a sum of £50 towards the relief of the poor recently

Scaraveen, Beale, Ballybunion and an old ICA photo and Sean O’Sullivan, Tailor

Dawn in Beale

Photo; Ita Hannon


Entrance to The Garden of Europe, Listowel



(from a Facebook page called Biddy’s Day)


The Scaraveen has commenced. From the Irish, ‘garbh shíon na gcuach’ (the rough month of the cuckoo), it is the period between Apr 15 and May 15 when weather patterns are often changeable and cold snaps common. In folklore it is said the Scaraveen is natures revenge on the newly arrived cuckoo for it’s appalling habit of supplanting its eggs in other birds nests.


Whit weekend 2016



Looking forward to a Great Summer

In this glorious weather there is nowhere else to be.


An ICA Drama

I’m hoping someone will help me with the names.


The Man’s Shop

Last week I published a black and white postcard of Market Street looking towards William Street. 

It prompted Ned O’Sullivan to remember this;

Moloney’s Garage was owned by FF TD Dan Moloney. The shop in the centre of the photo was owned by Paddy Finucane, Independent TD. 

My late father Sean bought it from Paddy and opened the Mans Shop in 1963.

Ned’s contribution prompted Marie Shaw to remember this;

Hi Mary,

In reference to Ned O’Sullivan’s memories of his father’s shop. I clearly remember Sean from when he had his business on Market St. and then on William St. He made a suit for my husband during a trip to Listowel in 1968. It came with a vest and two pairs of pants and cost £60. I honestly believe that someone somewhere is still wearing that suit, he just couldn’t wear it out. He eventually outgrew it and passed it on to a friend who wore it for years. Joe Shaw’s Irish made suit was the talk of the Brooklyn neighbourhood where we lived at the time

and as you can gather from this, my husband still remembers how much he paid for it.



The old sign still over the shop


Good News in The Kerryman

The Kerryman can reveal that a division of the Remcoll Group has bought the old site of the Listowel Livestock Mart – once slated for a development that was to have transformed the economic fortunes of the town in the boom. The Remcoll Group, which owns and operates a number of Direct Provision centres in the State, is not looking to locate a Direct Provision-style premises in Listowel, Remcoll CEO Paul Collins insisted this week.

Instead, the company envisages a complex focusing on the delivery of social homes – for the elderly in the main – based on what he said was the demographic needs of the North Kerry area.

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