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

Success on the Double

Top of The Avenue looking towards Slua Hall.


Doesn’t this beat Banagher?

Last week I published this photo…

I put the caption, Success story with a Listowel Connection, on it. Then I got this email…

Hi Mary,

I saw the photo of the Irish team for the Chemistry Olympiad in Zurich 
in yesterday’s blog.

It is a pleasant thing to see the young people being acknowledged and 
all congratulations to Richard Sheahan, Nora Sheahan’s grandson, on the 
bronze medal.  I believe this is the first time that Ireland figured in 
the awards.

I would bring it to your attention that the young girl standing beside 
Richard in the photo is Isobel McSweeney, my brother Ted’s Grandaughter. 
She also received ‘An Honourable Mention’ in the awards and is delighted 
with herself. That’s two awards for Listowel. Isobel lives in Bray, Co 
Wicklow, with her parents Donal and Rachael.

No coincidence.

Kind Regards

Billy McSweeney

Almost unbelievably (or maybe not!) this successful Irish international team has two members with a Listowel Connection.


Another Square Story

I was looking back to find a photo of Billy McSweeney and I came across one of his great stories in an old blog post.

Billy with his old friend and neighbour, Pierce Walsh in John R’s a few years ago.

And here’s the story….

When I was a boy it was normal for the children of the town to wander throughout not only the countryside but also the town. I was an 
inveterate wanderer. Listowel was a very safe place to grow up – safe 
that is from everything but climbing and falling out of trees, falling 
into the river Feale when fishing or being poisoned by the things we dug 
up or picked from the hedgerows to eat. We also had to beware of the 
bull in Foley’s field along the banks of the river when heading for the 
‘Diving Board’, the ‘Rocks’ or the ‘Falls’ to enjoy the swimming. We 
accepted that if we did something wrong we were punished by a ‘clip 
around the ear’ from the nearest adult and this was accepted as right 
and proper by all other parents of the area. You learned never to 
complain at home because if you did another ‘clip’ was administered 
immediately by your parents. You thus learned right from wrong.   A real 
Huckleberry Finn existence!

We would ‘attach’ ourselves to adults when they were doing interesting 
things. In particular I remember Jack Leahy who lived at the corner of 
the ‘Big Square’. Jack had a horse and cart that he used to collect 
gravel from the banks of the Feale for local builders. He had to ford 
the river with the horse and cart to access the bends in the river where 
the gravel collected. I used jump up next to Jack and go with him on 
these adventures and he always had a spare shovel on board so that I 
could give a hand. What fascinated me in the evenings is that he would 
unhitch the horse from the cart in front of his shop and lead the horse 
through the front door at the side of the shop, through the hallway, 
into the stable at the back. I remember Jack as a caring and gentle man. 
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.


A Retirement

His long time friend and colleague, John Kelliher, took these great photos of Paul O’Sullivan on the occasion of his retirement as Fire Chief. Paul is pictured with his beautiful trophy and with his colleagues.


A Bit of Nonsense



Somethings Change and Somethings Stay the Same




  1. Eleanor Belcher

    I loved Billy McSweeney’s story of Jack Leahy and his horse . I have no recollection of that but I know that when my parents moved to the Square from William Street that I wandered out the front door aged about 2 and walked across the Square . Fortunately Mrs Leahy brought me back?

    Is Billy McSweeney (whom I don”t recognise but I suspect about the same vintage as my self) anything to Mrs McSweeney who was the formidable librarian at the Carnegie Library? I shall send you more reminiscences in which she will feature.

    • listowelconnection

      Hi Eleanor,

      Billy is indeed the son of the former librarian, Maisie. I’m sure he and the rest of his family will enjoy your reminiscences. Let the memories flow! M.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén