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: Abbeyfeale Page 1 of 3

Elephants in Town, Abbeyfeale Altar, Duffy’s Circus and Moyvane

Photo; Bridget O’Connor


Altar in Abbeyfeale Church on April 20 2020

A parishioner grabbed this photo of his local church from the church’s webcam. It looks to me like they have tried to get as much a they can into the webcam shot. It means a lot to people who never missed Holy Week or Easter ceremonies.


Circus Elephants in Market Street

Photo; John Hannon

I found this old photo to accompany this great poem from John Fitzgerald. Here is his email

Hi Mary,

It’s a long while since I made a submission, so I’m not sure if this is the way to reconnect.

Although I’ve lived in Dublin for the last 55 years, the circus lives forever in my mind. 

Our house in William Street backed onto the market and my dad used provide hay and water for the animals so as well as the performance I got to spend time watching the big top go up and be taken down.

Kind regards,

John Fitzgerald.

John Duffy, the Circus

Out from the pastures in early Spring
On trucks and on trailers, the loading begins 

The tents and the tigers, the bright colored ring 

John Duffy, the circus is callin’

Travellin’ the highways and tourin’ the towns

 Ringmaster, jugglers, the cats and the clowns 

The posters are printed so word gets around 

John Duffy, the circus is callin’

They drive the long nights without any sleep 

Wire walkers, tight ropers, all hands to the wheel

 Each dawn a’peggin’ the circle of steel
John Duffy, the circus is callin’

They ring round our market, wagons galore 

Tractors and trailers, the canvas and more 

With riggin’ and cages, ropes by the score 

John Duffy, the circus is callin’

Four beats to a bar, the sledges ring
Four men of iron their music to sing
The canvas is spread,” the heave-ho” begins 

John Duffy, the circus is callin’

Its haul down the ropes, and let the tent rise 

Like clockwork they know, each cog to prise 

They heave and they haul ‘til the tent is full size 

John Duffy, the circus is callin’

The brass band of old is pipe music new 

Monkeys are scarce and the elephants few
The trapeze has nets and the safe rope has too 

John Duffy, the circus is callin’

The circus, alas, is not that of old
The magic, the music, the laughs and the roars 

See a child’s face when the sparkle’s gone cold 

John Duffy will soon not be callin’



Murhur, Newtownsandes, Moyvane

The parish was originally called Murhur. The name Moyvane was adopted by the village when a plebiscite was held by the Parish Priest, Father Dan O’Sullivan. Moyvane is the name of a townland about two miles south-west of the village, and the official name of the place is still Newtownsandes. The Roman Catholic Parish was formed in 1829, in the immediate aftermath of the Catholic Emancipation. The first parish church was built in 1837, and a date stone built into a wall in the village near the original entrance to the church and the school marks this date.

A new parish church, the Church of the Assumption, was built when Father O’Sullivan was still the parish priest. It replaced an older parish church built around 1833, and the new church was dedicated on 25 August 1956.

*old church and presbytery newtownsandes*

(info fromCathleen Mulvihill on Glin historical Society ‘s Facebook page)

Christmas Shop, More Photos from THE launch and Dublin Marathon 2019

Harvest Home

This lovely display is in Abbeyfeale church.


Christmas is Coming

Displays in Listowel Garden Centre Christmas Shop


Memories of the Launch of A Minute of Your Time

Mother and daughter Anne and Cora Darby on stage as Anne read a reflection which was prompted by an incident involving Cora.

My old friend, Assumpta O’Sullivan came from Dublin. She is originally from Killarney.

Barbara Walshe was there on the anniversary of her dear father’s death. Many of the reflections in my book are about grief and remembrance.

Brenda Enright was there.

I have known Bridie O’Rourke almost since the first day I came to Listowel.

Canon Declan read me from the altar and reminded the congregation that I was launching my book across the road from the church straight after mass.

Helena Carmody was one of many of my friends from the Vincent de Paul shop who came to enjoy the night with me.


Chris Grayson, Wild life Photographer and Runner

On the left is Chris Grayson whose  beautiful photographs I often feature on Listowel Connection. He and his friend, Fozzy Forrestal acted as pacers in yesterday’s marathon.

Saturday October 19 2019, A Holy Show, Book Promoting and Christmas in Listowel

Photo: Elizabeth Dunn

This is the scene on the stage at St. John’s on Saturday evening, October 19 2019 as we launched “A Minute of Your Time’,

Self praise is no praise but please indulge me for a minute while I wallow in the afterglow of a great night.

“A mighty night for a mighty woman” was one comment I loved.

“The best value I ever got for €20; a book, a concert and a party.”

People often say to me that I have no idea how important this blog is in the lives of some people. If I was in any doubt before, I know now.

Thank you Noelle for the lovely handwritten card and to Lisa for sending me an electronic message hand written with her new Apple pen, to Mary and Dave for the flowers from Texas and to Norah for the apple tarts and buns.

I have been snowed under with good messages and kind words and particularly with praise for the book.

Here is a link to last week’s Radio Kerry’s Just a Thought. I would do well to heed my own advice in Friday’s one…Walk easy when your jug is full.

Just a Thought


Apparition in Tralee?

This is the image everyone is talking about, and to be honest, I can see why. This is a display cabinet in a Tralee antique shop. It had been in the shop a while as it is used for display purposes and was not really on sale. Then a customer spotted the uncanny resemblance in the pattern of the grain of the wood to common images of the Blessed Virgin. The media got wind of it and suddenly it’s like Ballinspittle 2.


My Book Tour

A Minute of Your Time is on sale in all the Listowel bookshops and in Super Valu. They are all so so kind to me.

The big boys of the book selling world dont really want self published books and they make the battle to get on to their shelves very daunting and unwelcoming.

I am my own publisher and my own agent and now I am my own book distributor as well. I’m loving meeting all the lovely people in small shops.

 Here I am in Knocknagoshel with the welcoming friendly Kieran in his shop. Kieran plays Radio Kerry all day long in his lovely local shop and he knew my voice from the radio. While I was in town I took a wander around lovely Knocknagoshel and I’ll be bringing you lots more photos of that hillside paradise very soon

One of the highlights of my book tour was meeting the charming Ann and Mary in Ann Lyons beautiful shop in Abbeyfeale.

If you are ever in Abbeyfeale, call in to this lovely shop. You’d never know what you’d find there . It is a gem. It’s next door to The Ploughman


Christmas comes Early to Listowel

Here are some photos to get you in the Christmas mood. They are of some of the lovely displays in Listowel Garden Centre’s Christmas shop.

Lá ‘le Bríde, Harp and Lion, A Piseóg Hare, Crazy Prices and another Abbeyfeale Pub Closes

Lá Fhéile Bríde

Tradition has it that displaying the St. Brigid’s Cross in your home will bring blessings and protection, particularly against fire.

“St. Brigid’s Day (1st of February). People make a rush cross and put it outside the door and say special prayers. This rush cross is made in memory of Brigid. When teaching the pagans she made a rush cross to represent the cross Our Lord was crucified on. On St. Brigid’s eve people hang a piece of cloth in the air outside the window. This Brat Brighoe is supposed to contain a cure by touching the sick or sore.”  (from the National Folklore collection)

Collector- Kitty Lynch- Address, Tarbert, Co. Kerry- Informant Mrs Lynch- Age 78, Address, Tarbert, Co. Kerry


Now and Then




From Dúchas, the folklore collection

One morning William Collins was going to a fair in Listowel. He had a horse and rail and he had bonhams in the car. Behind at Mangan’s Cross a black hare jumped up on the shaft and he began to beat him with an ash plant.
He disappeared for a while. The horse would not stir beyond this place that night. This happened at Tarmons six years ago. He was not able to go to the fair that night. The horse was shying from Mangan’s Cross home.

Collector- William Holly, Address, Tarmon West, Co. Kerry
Informant- Mr William Collins, Age 40, Address, Ballygoghlan, Co. Limerick



Photo: Danny Gordon

Where was this shop?


Lament for a Beloved Local Pub

Another of Abbeyfeale’s bars has closed. A local poet, Liam Murphy, penned a poem and posted it on Facebook.

Market forces are bringing the curtain down on great nights in the pub.

Jack Ryan’s:

The end of an era in Abbeyfeale, a true landmark closes its doors.The time has come to say goodbye to a place that’s given us more.
More than mere nights out, a proper ‘local’ as long as I’ve known.
Jack Ryan’s has been my favourite haunt, no matter where I’ve roamed!

I remember going in there, for a first pint with some old friends.
A pub of many along the street – ‘Pat Macs’ we called it back then.
A pint of black, your only man, the best pint that you could get.
Then down to Little Nero’s, on Kebabs the change was spent!

Jack himself took over the bar, just over 20 years ago.
Many’s a night I spent down there with my dear old Uncle Joe.
Joe had his spot down by the bar, vacating only for a smoke.
A one-liner and a chat for all, he really was a charming bloke.

I remember Mag and the girls aiming to drink the top shelf dry.
Until a knock came to the door, you could hear the collective sigh.
But alas we stayed a little longer, leaving via the back door!
If my Nana could have seen me then, her jaw would hit the floor!

I was in there a month ago, a night for old time’s sake.
Met up with some great characters, the pints and craic were great.
It was good to see this place once more before they close forever.
And have a pint for old time sake, in my own small heaven.

And as I walked towards the door, for the final time,
I turned to see Joe stand once more, pint in hand with a big smile.
I nodded to a ghost and said goodbye to my old friend.
A place I’ll dearly miss and love until the bitter end!

Harp and Lion Restored, John B. Keane Road and Pat MacAulliffe’s work in Abbeyfeale

Photo; Christopher Grayson


The Harp that once…..

On my walk through town last week I saw a scaffolding outside the Harp and Lion and men at work, restoring this iconic Listowel stucco work to its former glory.

Day 2, the scaffolding down and all is revealed.

Lots done, lots more to do.


Grape and Grain repainted

This premises looks splendid with its new paintwork.


A Stroll along the John B. Keane Road

Listowel Fire Station is located on John B. Keane Road.

Planting along this road adds to the beauty of Lovely Listowel, Ireland’s Tidiest Town 2018.

The roundabout and the cinema in the background.

John B. Keane Grove beautifully replicates the look of the old railway buildings which stood here.


Pat McAulliffe’s Plasterwork in Abbeyfeale

(from Echoes of Abbeyfeale)

Pat McAuliffe was born in 1846 and before his death in 1921 he had left an extraordinary, exotic and fascinating legacy of exterior plasterwork. There are several superb examples of McAuliffe’s work in Abbeyfeale. Outstanding is the house once owned by the O Mara family egg and dart and a further design of circles penetrated by arrows. Some would say that McAuliffe’s work at its best can be seen at the shop on Main Street, presently owned by Paudie Fitzgerald and formerly owned by Patrick O Connor. Here McAuliffe uses a variety of scene and language, including a Biblical scene and words in Latin, French and Irish. It is doubtful 

if he was familiar with these languages. One inscription reads “Vita brevis. Ars Longa”
(Life is short. Art is forever). An Anglo –Saxon agricultural fertility charm has the following invocation:
“Hail to thee Earth, Mother of Man.
Be fruitful in God’s embrace,
Filled with food for the use of men”
Another scene, a Biblical one, depicts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. At one time people knew this O Connor house as “Angel House” as Pat McAuliffe had designed a plaster angel and placed it aloft on the outside of the building. Our rainy Irish climate, however, ensured that the Angel was frequently dripping water. In an effort to conserve the building
and diminish the constant drip, the Angel was removed from its perch. Thus also, one further example of McAuliffe’s work has vanished forever. Various other designs on the front walls of Abbeyfeale buildings can be seen on the houses presently owned by Damian Daly and Caroline 


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