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

Tag: A Minute of Your Time Page 1 of 5

A Minute of Your Time, Listowel Courthouse Plaza and Turf Cutting

Walking in The Regional Park, Ballincollig in January 2020


St. Bridget, Muire na nGael

These are actually Wren boys but in the same tradition of mumming Biddie boys traditionally came round at the feast of St. Bridget on February 1 bringing with them a Biddy or effigy of St. Bridget.

Her cross woven from rushes was thought to protect against fire.

There was an old proverb that predicted good weather until St. Patrick’s Day

Gach re lá breá ó mo lást amach


The Courthouse Plaza in January 2020

Listowel Courthouse

New seating in front of the courthouse

Arás an Phiarsaigh with new planting in the foreground

Listowel Public Library

New planting and seats outside the library


Another Kerry Winner in Dublin this Weekend


More Photos from my Book Launch

From Dunmanway, a friend from my schooldays, Elizabeth McCarthy

We three; with Geraldine O’Connor and Bridget O’Connor

Jerry and Annette

Hannah Mulvihill

Helen Lane McPhillips

The best neighbour and friend any one could have, Helen Moylan

Helena Halpin and  Sheila Horan

Jimmy Deenihan

Jimmy Hickey

Joan Kenny

Joe Murphy

John and Tina Kinsella


Definitely not Lyre

Remember this poor man cutting turf. I posted this photo last week and I didn’t know on what bog it was taken.  I got this response from Joe and Kay in Lyreacrompane.

Great photo Mary but not Lyreacrompane. Bord na Mona cut only machine turf in Lyreacrompane and also the horizontal style of sleán cutting was never used in Lyre.  The Lyre style is displayed by Kate Ahearn from California in this photo. Kate and her father Bob had discovered their roots in Lyreacrompane and while on a visit, a few years ago, joined our annual Dan Paddy Andy Bog Walk which always includes a chance to try out cutting turf in the old style.

Joe and Kay in Lyreacrompane

Sextons, A Minute of Your Time and a Writers’ Week memory

Kerry County Library, Listowel Branch


Changes at Sextons

This well known William Street facade is changing. The overhanging canopy is gone.


More Photos from St. John’s at the launch of A minute of Your Time

A lovely former pupil and now teacher herself, Julieaane Galvin.

Support from the North Cork contingent, Breeda, Margaret and Gael

Kay Landy

Keelin Kissane, former pupil and chair of the Dublin Kerry association

Anne Darby and her nephew, Killian Cogan

Lily Nolan

From Kanturk, a stalwart of Kanturk Arts Festival and friend, Lisa Egan

Lisa Whelan

Liz Dunne

Madeleine O’Sullivan

Máire Logue

Margaret O’Connell

From Galway, my old friend, Margaret O’Sullivan

From Kildare and Castlelyons,  a loyal friend, Margo Spillane

Doreen came from Ballyduff to buy a book for her sister in England

Marie Lucid

Mary Catherine Sheahan

Mary Dillon

Mary Fagan

Mary and Mairead meeting Cora

Another old friend and former colleague, Mary O’Connor

Clíona’s Kildare family who now regard Listowel as their second home, Tony and Mary McKenna


A Writers’ Week Memory

I’m still welcoming memories or photos of Listowel Writers’ Weeks past. Here his a lovely memory all the way from sunny South Carolina

I’m Robert Koch, the husband of Maeve Moloney of Skehenerin. We are retired and live in Columbia, South Carolina. I read your Listowel Connection regularly, as does Maeve, and she explains to me all the details about people and places in her beloved Listowel. 

I want to relate to you my fondest recollection of Writers Week. We attended Writers Week events in the 1970s and 1980s during our visits with our two sons to Maeve’s parents from our home in Washington D.C.  My fondest recollection relates to a conversation Maeve and I and the children had with the well-known, now deceased, Offaly-born, professor and literary critic, Vivian Mercier. 

During the 1960s in NewYork I had met and studied under Professor Mercier, but I had not seen him again until his appearance at Writers Week circa 1980. The moderator who introduced him mentioned that Dr. Mercier had retired from his professorial position with the University of California at Santa Barbara and that he and his wife, the well-known Irish novelist and author of children’s books, Eilis Dillon, were living in London and Dublin.

 At the conclusion of his presentation, I reintroduced myself to him and introduced him to Maeve and our sons.  Much to my surprise and pleasure, he actually remembered me! We talked for several minutes about our lives, and he was very much the friendly down-to-earth conversationalist with Maeve and the children. 

I then remarked how the climate in Santa Barbara was so lovely-warm and sunny- that I wondered how he could have possibly abandoned living there. At that point his demeanor changed. He became very professorial, pointing at me with his index finger, and he said what I have never forgotten and have been ever heedful of since: “Yes, but what about the intellectual climate.” “Enough said”, remarked Maeve, and we all smiled, talked for a few minutes more, and then parted.

Ballybunion, Launch of a minute of Your Time and a Mad Shoemaker

Sanctuary, St. Mary’s, Listowel


Ballybunion’s old toilet building is Demolished

Photo: Danny McDonnell


What a Night!

If you’re getting a bit tired of photographs from the launch of A Minute of Your Time, you’ll have to help me out. I knew that material for this blog would eventually wear thin and that time has come. I’m struggling to find something to share with you every day so if you have any material that would be of interest to people with a Listowel connection, do help me out please.

Meanwhile here are some more of Breda Ferris’ photos from October 19 2019

Liz Dunne

My lovely neighbour, Michael Salmon

Mike Moriarty

Miriam Kiely OGrady

Some more lovely neighbours and former neighbours, Alice, Eileen and Eddie Moylan

Namir, Kay and Roza Karim


Noreen O’Connell

From Ballyduff and New York, John, Bridget and Pádraig O’Connor

A great supporter of Just a Thought, Pam Brown

Pat Murphy and Vincent Carmody

Pat Galvin

Pat Given

My only brother, Pat Ahern


A Wintry Walk

Nothing beats Ballybunion on a clear day.


Only a Few Weeks left

This photo of Namir Karim and Michael Dillane was taken in Flavins just before Christmas. Sadly all that stock is now sold off and there remains but a few last bits and pieces before Joan locks up for the last time, closing the door on an important chapter in Listowel’s history.


Shoemaking In Listowel Long Ago

From Dúchas, the Schools’ Folklore Collection

About fifty years ago in Listowel in addition to men making boots there was also men who used to make cheap brogues or low shoes. Every time there would be a fair in Abbeyfeale they would take an ass load of these brogues to the fair and sell them in the fair just as people sell second hand clothes now. The best known one of those was called Johnny the bottoner (O Connor) a brother to famous Patsy. Patsy used work hard making brogues up to the time of the fair. On that night he would be mad drunk. Most of the houses at the top of church street at this time were thatched houses. Patsy would roll home about midnight and break most of the windows up on his end of the street. He would take the road the following morning and would not come back again till things were forgotten again. These brogues were stitched by the hand but at that time the shoemakers used work by “lamplight” and often worked well after midnight.

W. Keane
Listowel, Co. Kerry
Mrs M. Keane
Listowel, Co. Kerry

Hilser Brothers, Jewellers, The Oil Lamp and a Knockane story

I know a dog who loves Ballybunion.



Photo; Chris Grayson

This photo fascinated me because it tells of Cork’s long multicultural history that continues to this day.

On the ground floor of this Patrick Street premises is a Turkish barber shop. The upper floors still have the branding of the last tenant, Hilser Brothers Jewellers who sold rings and other pieces of jewellery to Cork clients for generations.

Hilsers have now relocated to Bandon . I found this account of their family history on the page of Miriam Hilser Foley who now runs the business

Miriam’s great-great-grandfather from Germany, Richard Hilser, was sent to Belfast to further his study in clock making (which was the original Hilser business). 

“Richard returned to the Black Forest region in Germany and fell for a local clockmaker’s daughter but in an attempt to secure the father’s blessing, he was instead directed to a different daughter. We then became the first family to introduce grandfather clocks to Ireland. They also had a son, Henry, who was six or seven when Richard died.” 

While his mother Josephina held fort, a young Henry took trips to the Black Forest region to follow in the line of his father’s profession. 

While there he made a pen pal of another clockmaker’s daughter and over time they became close. In the 1860s they settled in Cork. 

Thankfully, Henry’s mother Josephina rented the Grand Parade property for Henry and the Bandon shop for Henry’s brother, Frank, creating the Hilser Bros. Jewellers name. Frank then moved to England leaving both shops to Henry. This began a decline in the Hilser name. 

Henry had five daughters, who of course, took their husbands’ surnames, ending the Hilser family name’s lineage. With a gap nearing a century, Miriam has bridged both names: “Before she died, my grandaunt Ursula Hilser asked me to continue the name. In her and my family’s honour I took the double barrel name, Miriam Hilser Foley.”


Reality for Dublin Commuters

This picture was posted on Twitter by Eye On Dublin. This is the daily reality for so many in January 2020. It’s 835 a.m in Heuston. The person taking the picture is on the Luas that just went past, full. The next Luas will be along in 11 minutes but it is also likely to be full.

Thank your lucky stars if you live in Kerry.


The Light of Other Days

Junior Griffin who worked for years at McKenna’s Hardware told us a bit about this lamp the last time I posted this picture. I mistakenly called it a ’tilly lamp and Junior set me right.

To me it looks like an ordinary oil lamp. The oil lamp would be lit by a wick and raised and lowered by hand. Both the Tilley and Aladdin (which I have one of) were later versions but were lit by a mantle and were worked by a pump. 

 Thinking back, I would have repaired  hundreds of those, with my mentor, the late Mikey O’Connor, in my days at McKenna’s before the rural electrification. Fitting a washer in the pump and fitting a new mantle, which were as tender as a cobweb, after they were lit were the main repairs to be done. “


Some More Photos from the Launch of A Minute of Your Time

Friends from my college days, Peggy and Assumpta

Robert Pierse

My grandsons, Killian and Sean

Kildare friends, writer, Sinead O’Neill and her husband, Andrew

My old boss and good friend, Sr. Consolata

Sr. Margaret

Teresa Culhane

Tim O’Leary

Vincent Carmody

Former Pupil and now Radio Kerry presenter and writer, Elaine Kinsella


An Cnochán

Noreen O’Connell sent an email when she read about Knockane in the School’s Folklore piece last week. Her husband told her what was a true cock and bull story relating to that place.

Mary, reading Bernie Holyoakes story of the “Cnocán “, John tells me he knows the place so well, having hunted it with his greyhounds and where you always got a good hunt off the “Cnocán. There was a quarry there, surrounded by bogland. Its on Driscolls farm. A story he always heard was that one of the Driscolls had a dream that there was gold buried there. So one night a few of the family went there, carrying a lantern and cock with them. They began to dig a hole but were chased away by a bull. The cock died that night. There is a hole of 4 or 5 feet deep there. I suppose because the cock is a symbol of bravery and alertness is why they took him with them. 

Duagh, Listowel Primary Care Centre and two Facts

Changes at William Street

Carroll’s of William Street, one of the old Listowel businesses has been closed for some time. Maybe 2020 will see a new name over the door.


Duagh Remembers

In the grounds of Duagh church they now have a Memory Room with photographs and memorials to local people.


Listowel Primary Care Centre

This is the primary care centre as seen from the grounds of the nearby Listowel district hospital.

This the relatively new HSE treatment centre where speech and language and physiotherapy treatment are now carried out.


Is that a Fact?

People know how much I love quirky facts  and interesting anecdotes. My Christmas gifts reflected that interest. I’ll be sharing with you a few of these from my “1339 Facts to Make Your Jaw drop”;

The word “infant” comes from the Latin meaning unable to speak.

During Hitler’s years in power Mein Kampf was given away free to every newly wed couple.


Just a Thought

My last week’s sets of Reflections as broadcast on Radio Kerry are at the following link

Just a Thought

Some of these are also in my book, A Minute of Your Time, which is available from me or in Woulfe’s, Eason or Flavin’s Listowel, O’Mahoney’s in Tralee, Philip’s Bookshop in Mallow, Presents of Mind or Kanturk Bookshop in Kanturk.


Operation Transformation

The Listowel 5k walk takes place in Childers’ Park on Saturday next at 11.00

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