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

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Mary O’Halloran R.I.P.

Recycling Centre, Nolan’s Carpark in February 2024

My St. Brigid’s Weekend

I spent St. Brigid’s weekend with a Brigid, known as Breeda.

Here I am in The Vintage with some of my Kanturk friends, Breeda, Lil and Margaret.

The Vintage is a lovely bar and restaurant beloved by Kerry people passing through Kanturk on their way to or from the Munster capital.

Our next stop was The Glen Theatre in Banteer. Breeda had given me a ticket to Seán Keane for Christmas.

He sang all the old favourites. He was suffering from some lurgy but he was determined to power through. We helped him out. It was a great night in a lovely intimate venue among my own people.

An Spideog

David Kissane’s story of running and musing continued…

Cork poet Seán Ó Ríordáin declared in on of his inimitable works “Ba mhaith liom breith ar eirbeall spideoige”…that he wanted to catch a robin’s tail, a metaphor for attaining spiritual insight.

The robin worked for me today and before long, somebody was putting a medal around my neck and a small bottle of milk was in my hand in the district of Lios an Phúca (the fort of the ghost) which is the Irish for Beaufort. 

But that’s another story!

                                                            Leaving Torun

Which brings me back to the day I was leaving Poland last March after the World Masters Indoor Championships. 

On the taxi across the Wisla (the river I had crossed many times during the days in Torun) we passed the statue of Pope John Paul 2nd. For some strange reason, as I looked more closely at the statue, the peace and knowingness captured by the sculptor on the face of the last most popular pope reminded me of a painting we have on our hall wall in Ardfert. Bought in Blackrock Market in Dublin some twenty years ago. It is an oil painting by an unknown artist called Gunney.

It depicts an apparently retired man, painted from behind him, sitting in a wicker chair with legs crossed in a neatly kept garden. He is well dressed in a pale blue suit and wearing a straw hat in the heat of a summer day. He is calmly reading a book and his body-language suggests a life well-lived and all battles won. His garden gate is open, suggesting a freedom to come and go as you please. In the near distance there is a blue lake with a green island rising into a azure sky. 

When I first saw the painting in the art and crafts section of Blackrock market coming up to my own retirement as a teacher in Tarbert Comprehensive, I wished that man could be myself a few years after retiring. Reading a book in the afternoon sun. Beside a blue sea. Spirit-free. But here I was thirteen years after retiring, and well, yes I have a reasonable garden and I do live reasonably near the sea, and yes, I see islands under a blue sky not far away, and I do have loads of books to read…but I cannot recall too many days sitting down on a wicker chair or any other type of chair reading a book in the heat of the afternoon. I’d prefer to go for a run! In fact, as my friendly Polish taxi driver pulled up beside the stadium, there was no place on earth I’d rather be on the anything-but-mundane-Monday in March 2023 than where I was. Ready to compete in the world masters indoor championships.

In fact, I had a crazy imagino-insight on the way into the stadium: that after the man in the painting had sat for the artist for a few hours, and the painting was complete, that he whipped off his pale blue suit and threw his straw hat into the blue water and slung his book and let out a barbarous roar and ran naked through the garden, jumped the well-kept hedge and headed off to the island and wasn’t seen till supper.

Way to go, man. Motion is lotion. Rest is rust.

Another Gem from the old Yearbook

Aine Dillon on Paddy Drury

  • +Mary O’Halloran R.I.P. +

Lovely, elegant, sylish, gentle, energetic Mary O’Halloran passed away peacefully on February 3 2024.

When Mary set up her Facebook page she called it Mary’s Classic Style. That was Mary, clasically stylish yet down-to earth and practical.

I got to know Mary through meeting her with my old neighbour Anne Leneghan  and her Listowel friends every year on The Island. I photographed her many times, the last time with her beautiful daughter, Louise.

Mary had all the style and confidence of a successful city businesswoman but she never forgot her Kerry roots.

She loved every racecourse she visited and she loved all their Ladies Days but I think Listowel held a special place in her heart.

Mary’s warm nature won her many friends among the ladies of the Best Dressed circuit. She stayed apart from any of the cattiness that inevitably ensues when you put people in competitiion with one another. She was supportive of her fellow contestants and, in the true spirit of competition, she loved taking part.

Mary was dealt the cruellest of blows with the diagnosis of MND. She was the epitome of resilience as she got up, dressed up and showed up for as long as humanly possible.  Mary had just retired and had launched into a great third age doing the things she loved with the people she loved when the dreadful news broke. I’m glad she got to travel and enjoy a few items on her bucket list.

In the courageous way she dealt with her illness, Mary evoked admiration in everyone who knew her.

Mary will be missed by her grieving family,  by her many many friends and by all of us who came within her stylish orbit on the racecourses of Ireland.

Guím leaba i measc na naomh is na naingeal duit, a Mhary dhíl.

A Fact

Ireland has 30,000 castles.


Stylish Things and Stylish People

Wildflower Meadow in Childers’ Park in Sept. 2023


Memories, Memories

The hand of a master craftsman at work

Martin Chute’s mural is on my way to town so I stopped by often to document progress. One day as I observed Martin putting the finishing touches to his masterpiece, the lovely Anne Marie ORiordan passed by. She stopped to admire the artwork and she kindly posed for a photo with Martin. Anne Marie had fond memories of that back lane in the days before Listowel murals when she and her friends were caffling and having fun. She remembers the odd stolen kiss in the nearby carpark too.

Martin’s work will evoke memories for many.


Mystery Solved

Joe Cahill did the research for us;

M.J. Reidy was a writer known as Mossien Tommy Reidy from Cordal. He passed away on 1988.

Joe found him on a site called Find a Grave where people are invited to share memories of the dead loved one.

Here is what a relative wrote about our poet.

From “The Claddagh” a family newsletter for the O’Flaherty Reunion in Fort Valley, VA, in May 2000.
Maurice J. Reidy, Poet and non-fiction storywriter.
Known as “Mossien Tommie” Reidy, this was a term of endearment to those around Castleisland, Co. Kerry, Ireland, where he grew up. He was a local sports hero while in the secondary school system and later his work was used in the school curriculum. He grew up near Cordal where both sets of his grandparents had lived. He was the son of Helen Flaherty Reidy and the grandson of Maurice Flaherty, the youngest brother of my great-grandfather, Daniel.
Declan Horgan, a retired school teacher from Tralee, some 25 miles away to the west, said that his writings were very good but his antics were just as meaningful to locals. He related two stories about “Moss” that we would find of interest. It seems when Mossien developed an interest in horse racing and began to trade and build his stables he had no “colours” for his jockey. Since this was more or less a “Landed Gentry” sport he was probably ridiculed. Since our cousin was a great athlete in his own right he had a friend on the All-Kerry Football (soccer) team. This friend loaned him the green and gold jersey and this allowed him to meet the “Rules of the sport”. Don’t believe Mr. Horgan said whether he won or lost that day but he won over 200 races in his shortened life.
Another story was: It seems in the medical system in Ireland, like England and Canada, one has to wait their turn for care, unless it is life threatening. It happened our cousin needed a hernia operation and while on a trip to Dublin, feigned a collapse on a downtown street where he was taken to the local hospital and they fixed his problem on the spot. Doesn’t that sound a great deal like Uncle D.C.? Later I ask his brother John if this was all true and he said, “It tis.”, as a big smile spread across his face.
M. J. Reidy was the author of the followingworks: Borders of Hope (1978), Borders of Joy (1975), First collection of stories (1978),
Mirror of Truth (1980), Rays of Cheer (1978),
(1979), Pleasant Holidays (1983), Shades of
Fancy, with Jacinta O’Manoney, (1981), The
Kerry Piper (1974).

From Mirror of Truth we include a small sample:
Ode to Poetry

Oh, you, the one true art from high
To mortal ever given,
Such sweet fond music from the sky
With jewelry of Heaven.
Your sacred light,
Keep blazing true,
When injured here below.
You tended, this life’s hospital,
With care, for pain and woe,
Your oil and wine will polish mind,
And brightly cheer alway.
And only refuge each one find,
To help all night and day.
Thy blush, one fond, true friend can find,
To speak the color of your mind.

I was fortunate to have read most of his work at the Trinity College Library while my wife, sister and niece were out shopping all day. It left me feeling a small portion of the loss his family must have felt in his passing. His sisters, Julia and Kitty, along with a brother, John, still live in the old Reidy homestead at “High Trees”, Glenlaran, Cordal, Castleisland, Co. Kerry. He left a son, Dan, and a daughter, Helen, as well as, six grandchildren. May he have eternal peace with our Lord and Savior.


Last few Races photos

Clíona met up with Mary Ellen and Aisling

Anne met Bridget and Carmel

In John Kelliher’s photo are Imelda, Joan, Julie, Helena and liz, just some of the local Tidy Town people who organise what was always my favourite event of Race Week. These people have no part in the judging. That is done by fashion experts and a representative from An Taisce.

I didn’t go on Saturday this year because the weather forecast was for very bad weather. I stayed home, child minding. I depended on Clíona, Breda and of course, John Kelliher, for news of the day.

Playing This little Piggy with Aoife

This event is all about reusing, up cycling and making fashion sustainable. Vintage has now become mainstream so it was no surprise to me that a professional upcycler took the prize.

These are some of the finalists. Cathy Troth, second from right, came first.

The very stylish John and Viveca both won prizes, John was the best dressed man and Viveca came second in the ladies’ section.

Here I must give a shout out to local girl, Maria Stack. Maria is a dedicated upcycler and reuser. She is a great supporter of this competiion. She has entered it every year since it first began. She not only wears the vintage outfit but she sources gloves, bag and other accessories. This year she wore a beautiful tara brooch which was a prize won by her mother. She always has the provenance of her attire and she has the best stories. Every year she makes the final but she just can’t win.

Another stylish lady who just can’t win is my friend, Anne Leneghan. This year she was too late to be considered.


A Fact

Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.



Football, Racing and Playwriting

Statue of Bryan MacMahon at Kerry Writers’ Museum


Master at Work

Martin Chute is, sign by sign, leaving his mark on Listowel. His work is an invaluable asset to our heritage town. I snapped him painting Finesse Bridalwear sign. Note he is writing in the traditional way with maul stick and brush.


Sam Maguire in Town

There was a huge crowd in town to see the cup. I was amused to see the event described as a homecoming.

I wasn’t in The Square. I took the following photos on Upper Church Street.

Three lovely Hannon ladies


Tom Coffey R.I.P. Playwright and Teacher

A lady was one day Googling her ancestors and she came upon the above headline in Listowel Connection

Tom, pictured at the back right between Mick Relihan and Pat Mc Elligott is remembered. I asked Marie Shaw if she remembered him and this is what she wrote:

“I can’t claim to know him personally Mary, I didn’t even remember his first name until you mentioned it, but I did take a commercial course with him at the Tech. What I remember vividly is his “Movie Star” good looks. There wasn’t a teenager in the town of Listowel at the time who wasn’t madly in love with him. Makes me smile just thinking of him. He was probably teaching at the Tech for two years. I left Ireland in 1958 and I would guess that he was in Listowel in 1956 and 1957.”

(I hope his family Google him and find out this forgotten corner of Tom’s life)

The lady who was doing the Googling was Tom’s granddaughter and she wrote

Hi there,

I found your posts about Tom Coffey—he was my grandfather. (I’m his son, Brian’s daughter.) I found the photo and sent it to my dad and grandmother. Thank you so much for posting about him; we all miss him very much, and it’s lovely to read about the other lives he touched. (I saw you hoped his family found the article, so I wanted to mention that, yes, we did.)

Thanks again,

Katie Coffey

The backstory: Junior Griffin gave me the photo and he told me that Mr. Coffey taught him Irish in the Tech. now Coláiste na Ríochta. Here is what Junior wrote in 2014

Having a look at this week’s Kerryman  I see an obituary on page 20 for the late Tom Coffey, very sorry to read about his recent death. You will see him in the back row of your recent photo.

They write about his time In Kerry but no mention of the time he spent here in Listowel. Now I started work in McKenna’s in Sept. 1953 and as  time went by struck up a friendship with 2 work colleagues, Willie Barrett and Pat Somers. Indeed, Pat who lived in Billerough, just before the Six Crosses, used to call for me in the morning and give me a bar up on his bicycle, a fine strong lad he was.

It must have been the following year that we decided to do an Irish evening class in the old tech and our teacher was none other than Tom Coffey. Irish dancing was another one of his subjects and those ladies in the front of your photo were also involved.

The Kerryman obituary mentions his first play called Luiochan, Irish for Ambush, and it seems it won an Oireachtas award.

In actual fact, it was a group of us that put on that play first. We did it in Moyvane, Ballybunion and Listowel, hence our presence in that photo. He decided to enter it for the Limerick Drama festival and we were highly commended by the judge, who happened to be a brother of Gay Byrne but we did not receive a prize due to the fact that we were the only Irish play taking part that year and we were not in competition with anyone. 

I honestly believe he was here in Listowel for 2 years, maybe the school terms of 1954 and 55. The obituary says he was in Dingle in 1955 so, if correct that could be starting the school term of ’55.

I did learn a good bit of Irish dancing from him but I most certainly did learn that I had 2 left feet.

He was a lovely man, I never met him after he left Listowel.

May he Rest in Peace


More Sustainable Fashion

This great event on the Saturday of Race Week was a first for Listowel Tidy Towns and is greatly admired by other festivals.

Wardrobes and attics are raided and charity and vintage shops scoured in an effort to win the coveted title of best dressed lady in sustainable wear.

The competition was judged by international model, Sydney Sargent and Elaine Doyle of An Taisce. It’s great to see so many local people supporting this great initiative

Some of the Tidy Town Ladies who organised the event

I have known Anne Leneghan since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. She is a great supporter of Listowel Races. Her outfit started life as a maxi dress and coat. Her bag she sourced in the charity shop and the hat was given to her as a present, all old and pre loved.

Lovely local lady, Nell Reidy, like myself, loves Listowel Vincent de Paul shop. She sourced her complete ensemble there over the years.

Maria Stack comes from a family who are both crafty, talented and dedicated to style, Maria always makes great effort in support of this event. Her beautiful tweed skirt she adapted from an A line one. It is one of many beautiful classic pieces she inherited from her aunt. Her coat was her mother’s but she had to reduce it a few sizes. She made her hat herself from material she bought from a man who was going out of the millinery business. Maria told us that she spent her spare time during Covid working on her sewing, crafting and hat making. It helped her de stress from her hectic job as a nurse in an acute respiratory ward.

Another local finalist was Deirdre Kissane. She found her classic red and black ensemble in her wardrobe. Deirdre looks after her clothes and buys pieces that will last.

When your mother is the very stylish Marian Relihan, then all you have to do to look this good is raid her wardrobe.

(more tomorrow)


Just a Thought

If you missed me on Radio Kerry last week, and you would like to hear my reflections, here is the link

Just a Thought


Woodford Pottery, Listowel Races 2019, Progress on The Greenway and North Kerry success at The Ploughing

Hands of a Master Craftsman

 Pat Murphy throwing a pot at his Woodford Pottery Studio in Sept 2019


Saturday at The Races

Saturday September 14th 2019 was a gloriously sunny day on the island. The big screens were in place to show the All Ireland Football replay between Kerry and Dublin and the Tidy Towns inspired fashion event was taking place.

 The judges were out and about mingling with the racegoers in vintage gear. In my photo the judge is in white and the lady on the far left was chosen as the winner. The rules said that your outfit had to be genuinely vintage and to have been upcycled by you. You had to wear a headpiece. This elegant lady fulfilled all these requirements.

The lovely ladies from Oonagh Hartnett’s were offering us sweets, some timely advice on sun protection, a squirt of perfume and entry into a raffle.

Another judge checking out the vintage of this lady’s garments.

 My lovely former neighbour, Anne Leneghan, came second in this smashing suit which someone else had worn to a son’s wedding. Anne had up-styled it with pearls from a broken pearl necklace and she had pinned down the lapels with a pair of pearl earrings. She was wearing her 90 year old mother’s going away hat and her lace gloves.

The always stylish Betty Stack with her daughter Maria and their friend, Anne Leneghan.

 Noelle and her friends were studying form when I interrupted them.

Gemma and Mairead Regan gave me a tip they got “from some fellow on the way in”. It won.

 Rose Wall was accompanied by her handsome son.


Good News on the Greenway

This is the report from the council meeting:

A dedicated team in Kerry County Council is to be appointed to progress two greenway projects to completion.

The status of the North Kerry Greenway was discussed at the monthly meeting of the Listowel Municipal District.

Councillor Mike Kennelly called for all resources to be put in place to get the multi-million-euro greenway from Listowel to the Limerick border over the line.

The Fine Gael councillor pointed to bureaucracy with Government departments with such projects.

Listowel MD Manager, Joan McCarthy told Cllr Kennelly that nobody is dragging their heels on the project adding that it is protection of public funds and not bureaucracy.

Kerry County Council says a senior engineer has been appointed to oversee both the North Kerry Greenway and the Tralee to Fenit Greenway; a team will be appointed shortly to progress both projects.

Work on the north Kerry project is expected to begin later this year and will take 18 months to complete.


Michael Guerin, Listowel


Upcoming Events


The Ploughing

Photo: Radio Kerry

Daniel Burke from Causeway and Derek O’Driscoll from Ballyheigue, who both claimed an All-Ireland title at this year’s Ploughing Championships

I’ve never been to “The Ploughing” but I’m told it’s possible to spend days there without seeing a plough or a ploughman. It’s a place for shopping, socialising, entertainment and education. I was delighted to see that these young men have got back to what it’s all about, celebrating the skill and art of ploughing.

Classy’s Bus, Repurposing in 2015 and Main Street Listowel in Sept 2019

Ta Dah! Isn’t it gorgeous ?

Classy’s Bus

On the Friday of Raceweek, Ladies Day there is a complimentary bus service from the Square to The Island. It is customary for ladies who are entering the Best Dressed Lady Competition to wear footwear that is totally unsuitable for walking to the course or for walking any distance anywhere. So the directors of Listowel Races lay on a shuttle bus for the afternoon.

In homage to this, Lynch’s coffee shop set up this window display.


Upcycle recycle in 2015

Today’s Races story is from Listowel Tidy Towns alternative fashion event in 2015. 

This is how I told the story on my blog in September 2015

This fashionista, Anne Leneghan from Cork is looking fabulous in green. Anne and I are old friends and I took the below photos of her on the racecourse before the event.

Anne was wearing a vintage dress in a beautiful green brocade. She had accessorized it with vintage gloves and handbag, both worn originally by Anne’s mother. But the piece de resistance was Anne’s hat which was made for her by her friend, milliner, Maria Stack. The base is a piece cut from the dress when the girls decided to shorten it. The next bit was made from an old handbag and the “feathers” are not feathers at all but some things they sourced from an artificial flower display. Anne’s beautiful vintage earrings are connemara marble and marcasite.

Maria Stack, whose family were so successful at this event in 2014 had suffered a family bereavement. So Maria was here on her own to support her friend, Anne. Maria is always beautifully turned out and a great supporter of Ladies Day and Vintage Fashion Day.

Anne is on stage describing her up cycling and restyling story to Orlagh Winters.

The judges loved her too but she didn’t win. She’ll be back again this year with another fetching outfit and another story.


Lower William Street and The Small Square

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