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

Mary O’Halloran R.I.P.

Recycling Centre, Nolan’s Carpark in February 2024

My St. Brigid’s Weekend

I spent St. Brigid’s weekend with a Brigid, known as Breeda.

Here I am in The Vintage with some of my Kanturk friends, Breeda, Lil and Margaret.

The Vintage is a lovely bar and restaurant beloved by Kerry people passing through Kanturk on their way to or from the Munster capital.

Our next stop was The Glen Theatre in Banteer. Breeda had given me a ticket to Seán Keane for Christmas.

He sang all the old favourites. He was suffering from some lurgy but he was determined to power through. We helped him out. It was a great night in a lovely intimate venue among my own people.

An Spideog

David Kissane’s story of running and musing continued…

Cork poet Seán Ó Ríordáin declared in on of his inimitable works “Ba mhaith liom breith ar eirbeall spideoige”…that he wanted to catch a robin’s tail, a metaphor for attaining spiritual insight.

The robin worked for me today and before long, somebody was putting a medal around my neck and a small bottle of milk was in my hand in the district of Lios an Phúca (the fort of the ghost) which is the Irish for Beaufort. 

But that’s another story!

                                                            Leaving Torun

Which brings me back to the day I was leaving Poland last March after the World Masters Indoor Championships. 

On the taxi across the Wisla (the river I had crossed many times during the days in Torun) we passed the statue of Pope John Paul 2nd. For some strange reason, as I looked more closely at the statue, the peace and knowingness captured by the sculptor on the face of the last most popular pope reminded me of a painting we have on our hall wall in Ardfert. Bought in Blackrock Market in Dublin some twenty years ago. It is an oil painting by an unknown artist called Gunney.

It depicts an apparently retired man, painted from behind him, sitting in a wicker chair with legs crossed in a neatly kept garden. He is well dressed in a pale blue suit and wearing a straw hat in the heat of a summer day. He is calmly reading a book and his body-language suggests a life well-lived and all battles won. His garden gate is open, suggesting a freedom to come and go as you please. In the near distance there is a blue lake with a green island rising into a azure sky. 

When I first saw the painting in the art and crafts section of Blackrock market coming up to my own retirement as a teacher in Tarbert Comprehensive, I wished that man could be myself a few years after retiring. Reading a book in the afternoon sun. Beside a blue sea. Spirit-free. But here I was thirteen years after retiring, and well, yes I have a reasonable garden and I do live reasonably near the sea, and yes, I see islands under a blue sky not far away, and I do have loads of books to read…but I cannot recall too many days sitting down on a wicker chair or any other type of chair reading a book in the heat of the afternoon. I’d prefer to go for a run! In fact, as my friendly Polish taxi driver pulled up beside the stadium, there was no place on earth I’d rather be on the anything-but-mundane-Monday in March 2023 than where I was. Ready to compete in the world masters indoor championships.

In fact, I had a crazy imagino-insight on the way into the stadium: that after the man in the painting had sat for the artist for a few hours, and the painting was complete, that he whipped off his pale blue suit and threw his straw hat into the blue water and slung his book and let out a barbarous roar and ran naked through the garden, jumped the well-kept hedge and headed off to the island and wasn’t seen till supper.

Way to go, man. Motion is lotion. Rest is rust.

Another Gem from the old Yearbook

Aine Dillon on Paddy Drury

  • +Mary O’Halloran R.I.P. +

Lovely, elegant, sylish, gentle, energetic Mary O’Halloran passed away peacefully on February 3 2024.

When Mary set up her Facebook page she called it Mary’s Classic Style. That was Mary, clasically stylish yet down-to earth and practical.

I got to know Mary through meeting her with my old neighbour Anne Leneghan  and her Listowel friends every year on The Island. I photographed her many times, the last time with her beautiful daughter, Louise.

Mary had all the style and confidence of a successful city businesswoman but she never forgot her Kerry roots.

She loved every racecourse she visited and she loved all their Ladies Days but I think Listowel held a special place in her heart.

Mary’s warm nature won her many friends among the ladies of the Best Dressed circuit. She stayed apart from any of the cattiness that inevitably ensues when you put people in competitiion with one another. She was supportive of her fellow contestants and, in the true spirit of competition, she loved taking part.

Mary was dealt the cruellest of blows with the diagnosis of MND. She was the epitome of resilience as she got up, dressed up and showed up for as long as humanly possible.  Mary had just retired and had launched into a great third age doing the things she loved with the people she loved when the dreadful news broke. I’m glad she got to travel and enjoy a few items on her bucket list.

In the courageous way she dealt with her illness, Mary evoked admiration in everyone who knew her.

Mary will be missed by her grieving family,  by her many many friends and by all of us who came within her stylish orbit on the racecourses of Ireland.

Guím leaba i measc na naomh is na naingeal duit, a Mhary dhíl.

A Fact

Ireland has 30,000 castles.



Of Cabbages and Kings


A Sunday in Kanturk


  1. Brigid O'Brien (Athea & San Francisco!)

    Oh sweet Knockanure may the heavens still bless you
    That dear little spot where the dead do resort
    You can stand in her Abbey on a bright Autumn morning
    And see the ships sailing to many a port
    You can see Co. Clare and the fair town of Ennis
    And the tide at Duneen as it do rise and fall
    Travel the wide world over for a burying plantation
    Knockanure Church you’re the pride of them all.

    My Grandfather< Jack Casey of Lower Athea taught me that as a kid!

  2. Glad you had such a great trip Mary. Love The Vintage& love Sean Keane
    So glad also you found the Bottle Bank in such good order. Its not always so tidy!!
    So sorry to hear about Mary Halloran May she Rest in Peace
    Always such a huge part of Listowel Race Week especially Ladies Day.

  3. Bridget O’Connor

    What a beautiful tribute to such a beautiful, inspirational, stylish legend, Mary O’Halloran.
    Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam uasal dílis.

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