Listowel Connection

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

Christmas Crafts

St. John’s, Listowel Nov 2022


Crafting Revival

I love to see enterprising young people practicing old crafts. Ballylongford was the place to be on Sunday November 20 2022. The Community Centre was jammed with beautiful things and lovely crafters.

My daughter in law, Carine, was delighted with her purchases from the Mulvihill family stall. She is holding the unique willow wreath which she plans to put on her door. She also loves the flower picture she got for her kitchen.

This engaging young lady was rocking an equine theme with lightweight horseshoe ornaments for every occasion.

I remember a time when every bride carried a horseshoe as well as her bouquet.

This is what the internet says about the horseshoe as a symbol of luck;

Although the origins are not exactly known, it is believed that the horseshoe became the symbol of luck when the eighth century Chaldeans thought its crescent shape represented various moon goddesses thus protecting against the curse of the evil eye.


Remembering Childhood Christmases in Listowel

Margaret Dillon kindly answered my call. Here is her account of childhood Christmases in pre digital days.

These days Christmas is heralded by a marathon of Festive adverts which start earlier each year. Back in the 40’s and 50’s we didn’t have Television so we weren’t subjected to that constant bombardment. Nevertheless we had full and plenty of all the Christmas essentials. Listowel was a busy bustling town back then, the shops were full of all sorts of goodies. Of couse as children we were only interested in the Toy shops particulary Fitzgibbon’s and Walsh’s corner shop. Walsh’s window had a nodding Santa  which was a great attraction.  We couldn’t contain ourselves on Christmas morning as we opened our presents. Santa was a wonder then and he still is to all children. 

On the home front , the  decorations were put up  across the ceiling from corner to corner. The Holly was put behind the pictures and most important of all the crib was put on the sideboard or windowsill. The cake and plum pudding were already made. While Mam was making the cake we made our wishes as we stirred the mixture. A few days beforehand a goose ( for the New Year celebrations) and a flitch of hairy bacon to go wth the turkey arrived from our Clare relations.  My mother and the neighbours Mrs Hickey and Mrs Brennan bought  the live turkeys in the market,  Mrs Brennan did the killing and we plucked our own, making sure to keep the wings. They served as dusters around the range and grate for the rest of the year.

The big shop was done shortly before the big day in John Joe’s and the  reward  for our business during the year was the Christmas box. This was like a mini hamper containing tea, a pot of jam and maybe an Oxford Lunch cake. The drinks order of minerals, bottles of Guinness and a bottle of Sherry  arrived from John R’s in a large timber box.  

Of course Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the Christmas hymns “Away in a Manger” or “Angels we have heard on High” Or the Christmas songs “Jingle Bells” , “Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer” and Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”  Adeste Fidelis was sung at  Mass on Christmas Day After Mass we stayed back to visit and welcome Baby Jesus in the crib. During the holidays we paid regular visit to the cribs in the parish church and the convent chapel.


Boyeens to Men

My lovely boyeens spent a lot of time in Listowel as children. They always surprise me with their recall of things we did together on their Kerry holidays.

Killian on the Greenway in Nov 2022


Folklore in The Library

Tom Dillon was his usual entertaining and informative self in Listowel Library last week when he filled us in on the origins of place names.

Placenames are in danger of being lost as we move to Eircodes.

Tom told us that the fishermen had names for various parts of the Feale. Now that fishing is no more these names are in danger of being lost.

I did not know this until Tom told us but wags in Tralee have invented a new place name. They call the Corrib Oil station the Mini Barack Obama.


Christmas Market 2022


Christmas 2022 on the Way

November 2022


New Phone Repair Shop on Main Street


“Our Own Little Saint”

Sr. Consolata may be small in stature but she has the presence of a giant in Listowel parish. I know she would not want to be called a saint but that is how Shane O’Donoghue ( Chair of Listowel Parish Council) described her on Sunday Nov 20 2022 .

The occasion was the presentation by Bishop Ray Brown of the pope’s bene merenti medal to Sr. Consolata Bracken.

This prestigious medal is presented to people who have been acknowledged by their parish to have given exceptional service.

Sr. Consolata with three of her old friends from her days in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel. Geraldine O’Connor, Bridget O’Connor and Lisa Whelan.

Sunday’s mass and ceremony was attended by past pupils, former colleagues from Pres., friends from St. Vincent de Paul, members and past members of the parish choir, neighbours, friends and many more whose lives she touched in quiet ways.

It was fitting that the ceremony took place on the Sunday nearest to Presentation Day. The vision and ideals of Nano Nagle are ever close to Sr. Consolata’s heart.

We in Listowel are blessed to have known her and I am honoured beyond measure to call her friend.


Candles at Christmas Recalled


Plum Pudding

from Raymond O’Sullivan on Facebook

A timely reminder that next Sunday, 20th November, last before Advent, the end of the Liturgical year and five weeks from Christmas, is the traditional day for mixing the Christmas (Plum) Pudding. Remember it should have thirteen ingredients, representing Christ and the twelve apostles. Each member of the family takes a turn in stirring the mixture and everyone is allowed to make a wish. It should be mixed with a wooden spoon representing the manger, and in an East/West direction in memory of the ‘Three Wise Men’. The sprig of holly on top of the pudding is a reminder of the crown of thorns. Happy steaming, and take the opportunity to have a little festive dram yourself. So it begins!

I’m a bit late but I’d say you are not too late to make one this week.


Lovely Listowel Memories

Listowel Town Square in November 2022


Round the Block

A Poem by John Fitzgerald

Let us go then, you and I

Round the Block, beneath the sky

Like two prisoners on a street

Back in time when young boys meet

Past busy lanes, bustling shops

Penny sweets and summer shots

Munched in silence when alone

Thinking of those friends now gone.

Up William Street, left and right

Pubs, clothes shops will catch the eye

Smell of commerce everywhere

Traffic vying to get you there

Coffee shops and restaurants

Fancy names when hunger taunts

“Hot dinners” there once in vogue

Pizzas, burgers now to choose.

At the Sheriff’s, Charles Street

Corner boys a vantage keep

Swapping tales and street reviews

Up to date with daily news

Live the painters, the wood grainers

Eagle eyes, true colour changers

Cut stone houses there to see

I know you and you know me.

Leaving Charles Street for Forge Lane

Halfway Round the Block we’ve come

Blacksmiths two and cobblers one

Artists each and everyone 

Short the street but great the craft

Lineage of a class apart

As we head down to Church Street

Last leg of the Block we reach.

Linking Church Street to the Square

Young and old pass everywhere

Shopfronts of an older day

Proudly boast an ancient way

Harp and Lion in God we trust

“Spes in Deo” is put first

Latin, French and Irish mix

In bold relief, in plaster rich.

As we walk we talk a lot

Writers, stories priming thought

Bryan, the Master and John B.

Raise the bar for all to see

Characters, an endless list

Can lift mood at a twist

Each time ventured Round the Block

Transformed but no memory lost.

Threaded beads of incident

To be found in every sense

Raise your head, they put you down

That’s what happens in my town

Lower it and they raise you up

That is what is called support

As the bell strikes in the Square

Our walk is timed to finish there.


Hollywood Memories

Charles McCarthy spotted this in the Towers Hotel


Traditional Holly and Ivy Decorations


Well Deserved Honour for Duagh Broadcaster


Christmas is Coming

Christmas is coming

And the goose is getting fat.

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.

If you haven’t got a penny a ha’penny will do.

If you haven’t got a ha’penny

God bless you.

November 16 2022


Politics and Sport

Childers’ Park Listowel


Club is Family

12-11-2022: Man of the Match Football SuperStar David Clifford and his brother Paudie (captain) celebratesafter their team Fossa won the Kerry Junior Premier County Final when they defeated Listry in Killarney on Saturday. Photo: Don MacMonagle

“If he was a soccer player he would be worth €20m, but becuase he is a GAA man he is priceless.”


An Old Card

I found this in a book on my shelf.


Christmas Customs


deValera and an Unlikely Friendship

The truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. This was my first reaction on hearing this story.

After The Rising of 1916, Eamon de Valera who was one of the leaders was taken into custody after he surrendered. The soldier to whom he surrendered was a man named Hitzen. The soldier confiscated de Valera’s belongings, one of which was a pair of “field glasses’, binoculars to you and me. The soldier kept them.

“Eamon de Valera escorted to Ballsbridge Barracks after his surrender to Captain EJ Hitzen. De Valera is the figure on the far left of a group of three marching behind the flagbearer. Captain Hitzen is on the far right of the group carrying a flag under his arm (29 April 1916).”

Years later in 1938 when the Prime Minister of Britain, Neville Chamberlain, was coming to Ireland to effect the handover of the Treaty Ports, Hitzen contacted him and said he would like to return the field glasses.

The Prime Minister did just that.

Dev contacted Hitzen to thank him and a friendship developed between the two men. Such was Dev’s regard for Hitzen that he persuaded his old IRA brigade to make Hitzen and Honorary member and he got Michael O’Connor to draw up a scroll celebrating that fact.

This extraordinary story was sent to us by Stephen Rynne who tracked down the letter and the certificate. It was in The Isle of Man with a grand niece of Hitzen’s.

Truth stranger that fiction, surely.


Booking Essential

Friday December 9 2022


Looking Back and Forward

Childers Park 2022


A Different Kind of Covid Poem


In Listowel we Remembered

November is the time set aside for remembering our war dead. In Listowel we have a dedicated band of volunteers who make sure we never forget.

Flags at the altar rails in St. Mary’s Listowel on Saturday November 12 2022

Prayers of the Faithful were read by retired and serving members of the Irish Army reserve.

These last 2 screen grabs are of refugees from the war in Ukraine who prayed with us in English and Ukrainian.

The mass was celebrated by Canon Declan O’Connor, himself a former soldier of the FCA, and by Fr. Martin Hegarty.


Christmas as it Used to be

In this great little book, Stephen Newman has curated a collection of Christmas reminiscences from the National Archives.

I’d love if Listowel people would send us some of their own stories of Christmases past.

I remember a kind of novena we had. It was called “A crib for Baby Jesus” and there was a set number of prayers for each element of the crib and these had to be said every day during Advent.


Shall we Dance


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