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Listowel’s Public Toilet, Listowel, A Printer’s Legacy U.S. launch and Old Friends meet up

Ballybunion Sunset, March 2019. Photo: Bridget O’Connor


A Listowel Lavatory Saga

Dave O’Sullivan was fascinated by Michael Guerin’s video account of the battle for the location of Listowel’s public toilet. So he did a bit of research on our behalf and he found that finding a spot for the convenience proved very inconvenient. Here are some old newspaper stories chronicling the story

 This takes us up to 1968. The saga continues tomorrow.


The Book Tour

Vincent Carmody combined a family holiday with the launch of his latest book, Listowel, A Printer’s Legacy in Chicago and New York recently.

Here are a few photos of the very enjoyable and successful trip.

A section of the attendance at the Chicago launch.

Vincent with members of his family in Chicago


Old Friends Share a Moment

In Listowel’s Vincent de Paul shop recently


Remembering Dad

I got the following email from Anne Lodge.

Hello, I was just looking up my Dads hometown and came across you.

My dad was (RIP) Peter Muldowney and he grew up with his 7 siblings on O’Connells st ? Before he left for London in the late 50’s. 

Would be lovely if you remembered them

Kind wishes

Anne x

Peter had left Listowel before I came to town but I know I have lots of readers from The Avenue. Any of you have any memories, stories or photos of Anne’s late dad?

Vincent Carmody in New York, Ballybunion in the 1920s and an anecdote about begging

Jim MacSweeney


St. Patrick’s Hall, Listowel on St. Patrick’s Weekend 2019


The Book Tour is Going Well 

Vincent Carmody’s Listowel      Gerry O’Shea

In the bar area of the Kerry Hall in Yonkers there are portraits displayed  of five well-known Kerry writers, and three of the five come from the town of Listowel or its hinterland:  Maurice Walsh from Ballybunion, author of The Quiet Man, John Moriarty, poet and philosopher from Moyvane and, of course, John B Keane from the town itself. 

The management of the bar would find it hard to explain why the marvelous Bryan McMahon is not on display or Brendan Kennelly from Ballylongford or George Fitzmaurice, a noted dramatist and short story writer in the 19th century or Fergal Keane of current BBC fame.

I have no idea why a small and – at first walk-through – an  unimposing town accounts for so much exuberant artistic talent. And now we have local historian, Vincent Carmody,  producing an excellent and intriguing communal history: Listowel: A Printer’s Legacy. The title is further explained in the cover as The Story of Printing in North Kerry 1870-1970.

If, like me, you associate the work of the town crier with Shakespeare and Elizabethan England, you will find out that the job was alive and well in Listowel in Queen Victoria’s time and indeed right through the Irish Independence War a hundred years ago.

Carmody displays a rather menacing photograph of Mick Lane, town crier supreme, complete with his bell. Apart from making community announcements, Lane saw his job as promoting the sale of various items of local interest. A literate man who liked verse, his best-known quatrain was:  

Go forth in haste with brush and paste,

Proclaim to all creation

That men are wise that advertise,

In every generation.

The author deals in detail with the Cuthberton family, owners of the main printing press in Listowel from 1880 until they closed shop in 1960. They were a prominent Church of Ireland family who included in their work posters and meeting notices ordered for various branches of the emerging nationalist movement  especially during the first two decades of the 20th century.

 The British authorities were very critical of a printing company, especially one with the Cuthberton religious pedigree, that was open to working for what they considered seditious organizations like Sinn Fein and the Gaelic league.

Mr. Carmody introduces readers to Sir Arthur Vicars who spent considerable time in Kilmorna House, an elegant Victorian building located a few miles from Listowel. Sir Arthur  was appointed custodian of the Irish Crown Jewels in 1893. In 1907 the jewels disappeared and have never been recovered. The Royal Commission that was set up to solve the mystery failed to come to any conclusion but recommended that Vicars should lose his title. 

In 1921, during the War of Independence, the IRA suspected that Sir Arthur was a British spy. They burned Kilmorna House and executed Mr. Vicars. There is still no conclusive report on the jewels or how they disappeared.

 An enterprising Hollywood producer could involve the indefatigable Mr. Carmody in untangling the intriguing  possibilities here. Vague rumors about a hidden vault at the north end of Kilmorna House might provide a good starting point!

The late Con Houlihan, a noted sportswriter and humanist, from  Castleisland, down the road from Listowel, wrote that all human life can be found among the people in a country village. Vincent Carmody confirms this observation in Listowel: APrinter’s Legacy which proclaims his love of place in every chapter.

 The photographs and posters with their stories entice the reader to flip  from page to page – auctions, North Kerry ballads, fairs and, of course, local productions of plays are all described in the language of the time. Special kudos to the book’s design and layout team, including the attractive cover.

 The Foreword to the book by retired teacher Cyril Kelly, another erudite Listowel writer, is exceptional, especially the four magnificent paragraphs describing the day-to-day work of Tadhg Brennan, a local blacksmith. I highly recommend Mr. Kelly’s contribution to aspiring writers and to old timers too who may recall visiting and playing with the bellows in their village forge fifty or more years ago. 

The book was launched in New York before a big crowd by Dr. Miriam Nyhan Grey of the Irish Studies Department in NYU in the Kerry Hall in Yonkers on Friday March 8th. It is available online at   


Holiday Snap from the 1920s


Happy a Butcher’s Dog


Beggars and Choosers

I got a very good reply to my post last week of a story from Mattie Lennon about his experience with the mendicant profession

Great piece about beggars and their targets. I’d say his willingness to give was the primary attraction! Many years ago, I was accosted by a well-dressed fellow who was drunk, and obviously seeking funds by which he could get drunker. At the time, I myself could not afford to drink, if I ever could! In answer to his slurred supplication I replied, as politely as I could, ‘No, thank you.’ He was genuinely taken aback and shouted: ‘I’m not effing giving you money, I am effing asking for it!’ 

1975 Cinderella, Spectators at the tennis and Listowel Writers Week Literary Evenings.

Robin in The National Park photographed by Chris Grayson


Listowel Tennis in the 1980s

Watching a tennis game are Denis O’Rourke (standing) and the late Paudie Finnegan (seated).

Miriam Croghan and Jacintha Egan

Photos; Danny Gordon


1975 Panto

This old newspaper clip of some of the cast of Cinderella in 1975 brought back many many happy memories.

One sad fact I was reminded of is that Mary Dooley who played Cinderella was tragically killed in a Road Traffic Accident a few years after this happy time leaving behind a young husband and family.

At the other end of the scale another blog follower told me that there is a video of this panto somewhere and the drag show at the intermission is hilarious.

If you have real photos or would like to pen a few memories, there is an audience out there hungry to relive those happy busy winter days in 1970s  Listowel.


Listowel Writers’ Week Literary Evenings

You are still in time to catch the last of these tonight. This partnership between Writers’ Week and The Rose Hotel Tralee has added a whole new dimension to the festival and brought in a whole new local audience.

Because these soirees were free it was an ideal opportunity to sample a literary event and maybe find that it wasn’t quite so literary after all but warm, welcoming and accessible. The interviewers and guests have all done an excellent job, the venue is intimate and elegant and all in all this is a super venture and must be repeated.

On Weds January 23rd I went to hear Deirdre Walsh interview Carmel Harrington and came away eager to read the book. It was a lovely evening.

Mark, on behalf of The Rose Hotel, did the welcoming.

The inimitable Seán Lyons, on behalf of Writers’ Week, did the introducing.

Deirdre Walsh did the interviewing.

Here is the best selling author of seven novels with some of her Kerry friends, Mark Sullivan, Máire Logue, Liz and Jin Dunn and Deirdre Walsh (seated)

Posing with our books are Seán Lyons, Mary Cogan, Joan O’Regan and Mairead Costelloe.

Just like at Writers’ Week people queued to have books signed.

Just for a night, Liz forgot about Marie Kondo and the pleasures of decluttering. Anyway, this one sparked joy.

I missed the next one which was the very popular Tomi Riechenthal.

Tonight it’s the last in the series, the spoken word poet, Stephen James Smith. Should be a good one.

This series has been a resounding success. Thanks are due to Seán Lyons and Mark Sullivan for dreaming it up and to Listowel Writers’ Week  for organising another great project.  I think I can safely predict that this venture will be repeated.


Big Night in Store for The Dublin Kerry Crowd

Everyone is welcome

Listowel, A Printer’s Legacy is launched and a few photos from Christmas in Killarney 2018

Christmassy Listowel 2018



Killarney on a quiet Sunday morning

This ice cream shop is next door to the cinema.

Killarney always looks clean and well kept. The road sweeper was out early on Sunday morning.

The Great Southern

The Friary

Christmas trees and wreaths for sale after mass


Work up an Appetite for the Turkey


Listowel, a Printer’s Legacy Launch

On December 9 2018 we launched Vincent Carmody’s latest book. Here are some of the people who were there.

Old friends, Paddy Keane, Liam Grimes and Jimmy OQuigley

Vincent and Kathleen Carmody

Carmodys and friends

Friends, Norah Canty and Mary Broderick at the launch

Arthur Caball met up with Eugene and Tadhgh Moriarty

At the top table, Seán Kelly, Kay Caball and Bryan MacMahon

Gabriel Fitzmaurice sang us a few ballads which were  written by Bryan MacMahon, printed by Bob Cuthbertson and sold on the streets for a penny or two. Many of the ballads are included in the book.

Scions of two great Listowel families, Bryan MacMahon and Billy Keane


Bishop Ray in Knockanure

Ray Browne, Bishop of Kerry paid a visit to Knockanure on Dec 16 2018 and he met a few local ladies.

Mary O’Carroll

Mary Fitzgerald

Boy at the Window, Killarney at Christmas and the Launch of Listowel, A Printer’s Legacy

Killarney, December 2018


A Winter Poem


Old Post Box in Killarney


Christmas in Killarney

I was lucky enough to spend a weekend in Killarney recently and they are pulling out all the stops to make it a Christmas destination.

The jaunting cars and horses were converted to sleighs and were filled with children singing carols.

The bollards were converted into tin soldiers.


Launch of Listowel, A Printer’s Legacy

We had a great night in The Listowel Arms on Dec. 9th for the launch of Vincent Carmody’s book.

Finbarr and Cathy Mawe were helping out with the selling of the books.

Mary and Joe Hanlon came early on their way to St. John’s for Mike O’Donnell’s Goddess of Lust.

John Pierse is adding another book to his library of Kerry history books.

Gerald Fitzgerald with his book

Declan Downey and Paddy Keane exchange a word .

Kay and Arthur Caball with John Pierse

Derry and Marie Reen with Kathleen Carmody

Tim O’Leary and Michael Guerin

Ruth O’Quigley buys her book from Kathy Mawe.

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