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

Christmasses Past

Happy Days!

Knitwits in Scribes in 2016

Namir always held a great party for his Craftshop na Méar and knitting group friends at Christmas time. My picture is from 2016.

May the light of heaven shine on those gone before us.

Kerry Candlelight

Part of Listowel Connection Christmas  ritual is the inclusion of this song at this time of year. Master MacMahon used to teach it to his Fourth Class boys in Scoil Realta na Maidine.

The Kerry Candlelight


I am standing here in Euston, and my heart is light and gay,
For ‘tis soon I’ll see the moonlight all a-dance on Dingle Bay.
So behind me, then, is London, with the magic of its night,
And before me is a window filled with Kerry Candlelight.


‘Tis the lovely light of glory that came down from heav’n on high,
And whenever I recall it, there’s a teardrop in my eye.
By the mountainside at twilight, in a cottage gleaming white,
There my true love sits a-dreaming, in the Kerry Candlelight.


She’ll be waiting by the turf fire; soon our arms will be entwined,
And the loneliness of exile will be lost or cast behind,
As we hear the Christmas greetings of the neighbours in the night,
Then our hearts will beat together in the blessed Candlelight.


Now the train is moving westward, so God speed its racing wheels,
And God speed its whistle ringing o’er the sleeping English fields,
For I’m dreaming of an altar where, beside my Breda bright,
I will whisper vows of true love in the Kerry Candlelight.

Bryan MacMahon

The Wren

The Wren is part and parcel of Kerry Christmases since time immemorial. Stories of reparations for the Wren, going on the Wren and the Wren Dance with the proceeds, are found in much of Kerry literature. I am going to serialise this one from Shannonside Annuals.

North Kerry Wren Boys

by Wm. Molyneaux in Shannonside Annuals

With Tambourines and Wren boys

I was questioned one time by the BBC one night behind at Cantillons. 
They sent me word “Can you come to Cantillons the same night to give them any information I had
about the Wren.  I promised I would.  

I went back and they came.  There are just three of them come-one of them was a publican inside in the town of Listowel, John Keane.  But I didn’t know the headman at all of the BBC.  And that was the man that was
questioning me.  The way he questioned me
was-he asked me what I knew about the Wren. 
He asked me how long I was going with the Wren boys.  I answered him and I told him “I’m going, sir,” says I, “from boyhood to manhood”.  “What were you doing,” says he,
“in the Wren?”  

“I used to tip, Sir,” says-“I was a drummer.”  He asked me what class of a drum-“was it a big drum or a tambourine?”  I told him I drummed either one or the other of them. 
He asked me had I got a tambourine. 
“No sir,” says I “I’m out of them” “well, we’ll get you one,” says he they went and they searched the same night and they got a tambourine for me as any case and the BBC man asked me what would I drum.  I told him I’d drum reels, jigs, marches, or hornpipes.  He asked me what special tune used we play going with the Wren.  I answered him and told him it was the Wrens hornpipe.  He asked me could I hum it.  “I will,sir,” says I. There was no music there but the tambourine.  I drummed the hornpipe and it was taken down. 

 He (The Man from the BBC) asked me then what way we used to dress in the Wren boys. I told him we used dress in green and gold or any colour. I told him we had a Wren Cross (which we had in them days) and we had the Wren Cross painted in green and gold and we often took out two wrens in the morning and brought them back alive and restored them to liberty. I told him when we go in to a farmer’s house that we’d say those words to the farmer-the farmer’s houses where we’d expect to get a good reach the captain of the Wrenboys would address the man of the house by saying these words:

The man of the house is a very good man

And it was to him we brought the wran,

Wishing you a happy Christmas and a merry New Year

If you give us the price of a gallon of beer,

We’d continue on until we’d go to the next house-which was the landlady’s house. The captain addressed the landlady in these words

The wran, the wran, the king of all birds-

St Stephen’s Day she was caught in the furze;

although she be little, her family being great,

Rise up, landlady, and give us a trate;

Up with the kittle and down with the pan

We’ll thank your subscription to bury the Wren!

That’s the way the captain would address if he went into a big farmer’s house or into a landlady’s house…..

(More tomorrow)

Don’t Forget

Remember These?

Found On Facebook

Kingdon Hunt in Ballyduff Yesterday

A Fact

Today’s fact is from a newspaper published in 1894;

“A movement seems to be on foot to get Lord Listowel to take steps towards establishing a bacon curing establishment in Listowel. The amount required would be about £20,000, but with the assistance of his Lordship, and the principal businessmen of the town, it is stated that there would not be any great difficulty in procuring this sum

By a recent decision of the Listowel magistrates it seems that there is nothing legally wrong in putting earrings on pigs.”



Drama in Kilcullen


Christmas in Cork


  1. Miriam O'Grady

    Not opening when I press ‘read more’. Anyone else having that problem?

  2. Happy Christmas, Mary and keep up the good work in 2024.

  3. Liz Gillen

    Happy Christmas, Mary. I don’t know how you manage to have such a flow of fabulous stories! And thanks to those you inspire to share stories!

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