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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Cahirciveen with Family, Boston Listowel Talk, Writers in Town and Diarmuuid and Gráinne


I recently spend a lovely weekend in Cahirciveen with my whole family. Here we are in Kells Bay Gardens on a wet and windy Saturday.

We all did the rope bridge crossing.


Listowel Comes to Boston

If you live anywhere near Boston this will interest you.

If you need to know a bit more about Vincent, here is a recent video from

Vincent Carmody


Writers at Writers’ Week

Movers and shakers of the Irish book world at Listowel Writers’ Week 2019;  Rick O’Shea, Colm Tóibín, John Boyne and Joseph O’Connor.

This year the festival runs from May 27 to May 31.


Obituary to a Priest from a Family of Priests in Australia

Catholic Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW)- Thu 29 Jun 1939

One of the oldest and best known Priests in the Archdiocese of Melbourne Rev. John Joseph Gallivan, died at Northcote early on Friday week in the eighty-third year of his age. On the previous Tuesday morning he attended the Jubilee Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Joseph’s Home, Northcote, and was one of the assistant deacons to his Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne. 

The announcement of his death caused deep regret throughout the Archdiocese, and especially at Northcote and Sunbury, where he had laboured untiringly for many years in the priesthood.

 Born in Listowel. County Kerry, Ireland, on February 8 1856. Father Gallivan entered All Hallows College, Dublin, and was ordained on June 24, 1880.   Had he lived another fortnight he would have celebrated his 59th year as a priest. He arrived In Melbourne on November 1 of the same year, and his first appointment was that of curate at Old Kilmore to Rev. M Farrelly. In May. 1886, he was appointed parish priest at Gisborne. twenty-five years later, Sunbury, with Bula attached, was made a separate parish, with Father Gallivan in charge and he remained there until 1923 completing forty-three years’ service in the Kilmore, Gisborne and Sunbury districts —six years as curate and thirty-seven years as Parish Priest There was great regret in Sunbury when Father Gallivan left there to take charge of St Joseph a Parish, Northcote. This was in April, 1923. 

In 1906 he revisited his native land after an absence of twenty six years. In June, 1930, he celebrated his sacerdotal golden jubilee, and his fellow-priests tendered him a dinner and

presented him with an address. A jubilee concert was held in the Northcote, Town Hall, and  celebrations were also in Sunbury and  Gisborne, where the jubilarian was most enthusiastically


The obsequies of the deceased priest took place at St. Joseph’s Church, Northcote, his Grace Archbishop Mannix presiding and preaching the panegvric.

Among the priests who attended were Rev. P. Galvin. P.P of Katoomba, N.S.W.  Rev D. Galvin, P.P. of Springwood, N.S.W. and Rev M Calvin, P.P.. of Footscray, nephews.


The Fianna in Beale

Local Historical Landmark

In a place near the cliffs three fields from our school there is a mound of earth which is locally called “Darby’s Bed” Leaba Diarmada. It is said that Fionn expected Grania’s hand in marriage but instead of she marrying Fionn she married Dermot. Dermot and Grania had to fly from the wrath of Fionn. They travelled round the cliffs from Ballybunion and they crossed a chasm on a pig’s back. This place is called Léim na Muice. On their travels they rested on a place only three fields from this school and ever since this lump of earth is locally called “Darby’s Bed”. We find on the Sopers’ and Miners’ maps that the right name for this place is “Diarmuid and Grania’s bed”. This place is in the townland of Kilconly.

Michael Lynch, VII, Doon, Ballybunion

June 27 1938

Information from people at home.

Duagh, The Imeldist, Listowel Friday Market and Australian Wildfires

Ballybunion in late December 2019


Nollaig na mBan

Today is Jan 6th, the feast of the Epiphany, when the three wise men made it to the stable in Bethlehem. Its the day when we put the last three figures into the crib only to take it all down shortly afterwards as we pack Christmas away for another year. This year I did a bit of a tour of the local cribs. I’ll bring a few photos later on although I think most people are ready to leave the festive season behind by now.


Fr. Pat Moore R.I.P.

Duagh people remembered their good friend and beloved parish priest at Christmas time 2019


Do You Remember This?

The Imeldist was a little booklet published by the Dominicans and sold in schools around

the country. It was filled with little moral stories and poems.  If anyone kept one please share it with us.


Listowel Friday Market

I subscribe to en email service from Google called Google Alerts. Every so often I get an email alerting me to something that is happening in town. Sometimes it’s news, sometimes it’s not. Last week this was what it sent to me. 

Listowel Farmers’ Market is a the longest-running food market in Kerry with tens years under its belt. It is a hubbub of activity every Friday and brings vibrant life to the town square. You can’t miss it!

Address: The Square, Listowel 

Date/Time: Fridays 9am-2pm 

Contact: Anita Bodenham 

Phone: (087) 3936698 

E mail;

Maybe someone is making a New Year’s resolution to take a stand at the market. Maybe someone reading this has a great business idea and this might just be the impetus he needs to take his business to the Square on a Friday. Despite its title, I dont think there are too many farmers there these days.


Pray for Australia

This reflection comes from the Redemptorists in Australia

Inexhaustible fire!

The climate is changing. The oceans are warming and drying lands have become frighteningly fire prone. Global warming bears down on humanity and indeed all of nature. Seasonally on red horizons and under black skies the world witnesses more frequent and ferocious bush fires, wild fires, forest and grassland fires.

Most people marvel at the interrelated systems that make up the universe and which have birthed the living earth, our home. Humans gazing into nature’s mirror see themselves as part of earth’s systems and know now it is time for systemic change. For such change to take root we have become urgently aware that humanity has a part to play.

Not only are humans the children of the earth, we are its stewards. Today people know that partisan responses to a warming earth are at least passé and at most irresponsibly destructive. They know that unless nations, vested interests, political parties and people on the street get beyond partisanship the earth will continue to burn as humanity flounders in a vale of tears.

Speaking of fire, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-73) mused: “Of all the fires, love is the only inexhaustible one.” It seems therefore that only love and its derivatives – respect, listening, cooperation and commitment will guide humanity to the new heaven and new earth of divine promise and human hope.

God of the universe, move our hearts, clear our minds and lead all peoples to bless the earth with a love for all that is good, all that is generous and holy, all that has been given us. Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Amen.

Listowel girls, Australia, Craftshop na Méar and Evelyn O’Rourke: surviver

Brenda Donovan,  Mary,Quill,  Noreen Kelliher, Marie Sullivan,  Mary Kenelly  and Patricia Tatten 

Patricia Tatten sent me this lovely photo of a group of Listowel girls, all of whom did their Leaving Cert. in Pres. in 1971. This photo was taken a few years earlier.


A long way from Lovely Listowel!

My friend, Mary Sobieralski is back from a trip to Australia with her son, Mark. Here are a few photos she took on her travels of a very different lifestyle to ours here.

They saw all the sights and even got up close and personal with a joey.


This is a photograph from the internet of the new Kansas City Library.  Cool or what?


This photo from the RTE archives was taken in Limerick in 1968


News from Craftshop na Méar

This lovely lady is Eibhlín Ní Ghliosáin of Tigh Polly Couture Dolls’ Clothes

On Saturday last she gave us a demonstration on how to make and envelope bag.

Some of the attentive class
choosing a button
putting finishing touches
Eibhlín top sewing
the bag
The lovely Sharyn draws the winning ticket
Yipee, I won……Happy Days!


The lady on the far right in the below photo is Evelyn O’Rourke of RTE. She is pictured with myself and Kay Caball in The Seanchaí during recording of the Tar Abhaile programme we made  for TG4.
Why is Evelyn in the news?
You might have seen her on The Late Late Show promoting her recent autobiographical book, Dear Ross, where she recounts her extraordinary tale of finding herself pregnant while still on maternity leave and then discovering that she has breast cancer while still in the first trimester of her pregnancy and with a 6 month old baby at home.
When we met the lovely cheerful ever smiling Evelyn, we had no idea that she had behind her a tale of pain and suffering as traumatic as any we were about to tell her.


Dates for the diary…….promising to be a great weekend.

Let it snow…. 1943 /45 photos, St. Michael’s young scientists

Snow is forecast for parts of Ireland this week. Surely better than what they are experiencing in Australia. How will our young people who have emigrated from our temperate climate tolerate this?

From The Sydney Morning Herald

Red alert for freak weather

Date: January 11, 2013

Peter Hannam

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begin in 1 seconds.

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It is the heatwave that laps east and
west and seems hard to dislodge. Even tropical cyclone Narelle, wandering off
the north-west coast of Western Australia, has so far failed to budge the giant
heat cell over the continent.

“The system is holding its
shape,” said the manager of climate monitoring at the weather bureau, Karl
Braganza. “You are still getting the hot core over the inland.”

But the core is stretching eastward again, sending the mercury higher for
populated regions ranging from Victoria to Queensland. Brisbane had its hottest
night in seven years, with the temperature dropping to 25.8 degrees but the
city “was very humid so it felt more than that”, said Weatherzone
meteorologist Melissa MacKellar.

Sea breezes are forecast to keep the temperatures in Sydney around the harbour
to peaks of 30 and 34 degrees on Friday and Saturday, according to the latest
forecasts. But move only about 25 kilometres west to Bankstown, and days of 41
and 39 await.

Melbourne can expect 37 on Friday before a cool change arrives and keeps
temperatures down for a week. Most other parts of Australia won’t get much

“Our models are showing the high
pressure system dominating weather over southern and south-eastern regions of
Australia for the next week,” said Ms MacKellar.

The first eight days of 2013 made it
into the top 20 hottest days for Australia in more than a century in terms of
the average maximum temperature. The mean temperatures – averaging maximums and
minimums – smashed the previous record on Monday and then again on Tuesday.

The mean of 32.32 degrees on Tuesday
was almost half a degree higher than the record that had stood for more than 40
years until this week.


This is a long story but an interesting one. Once upon a time in the 20th century Listowel had many photographers. One of these, when he was folding up his business, gave a box of “contact sheets” to Bryan MacMahon. Contact sheets were pages of tiny little previews of the actual pictures. Bryan kept these safely all his life and, no doubt, he knew the people in the photographs. 

Maurice MacMahon, when he was dealing with his father’s papers found only one of these sheets left. We will presume that Bryan had given the others to someone and not got them back. Anyway Maurice realized that these photos would be of enormous interest to Listowel people but he had no names for any of the people who were the subjects of the photos. 

Then followed the long story, involving Jimmy Deenihan, James Kenny, John Lynch, Dylan Boyer and ended with me. Everyone told me that the best person for recognizing people in photos is Margaret Dillon and they were right. Margaret has been assiduous in her tracking down of these people and now there are another cohort of people involved in identifying these Listowel people from the 1940s. Margaret has established that many of the people in the pictures were employees of McKenna’s and the photographs were taken beside Walshe’s drapery shop which later became part of McKenna’s.

Here is the first tranche of these photos with the information that Margaret has managed to glean about them.

The man on the left is John Michael Murphy who still lives in Church St. Margaret called to him to see if he could identify his companion. He couldn’t but thinks that he may have come from Ballylongford.

This stylish lady is the late Tess Murphy of Greenville. In one of these ironic twists she is actually Margaret’s god mother. She passed away a few years ago.

This man about town is Jack Ashe, uncle of Mary and Haulie who still live in Listowel. Jack lived at Convent Cross with his sister, Nora who ran a sweet shop.

(more to follow)


I kid you not!!!!!!!!

Yes, it is what you think it is… the latest gadget to keep your toddler happy while he sits on the throne. Words fail me!


From last week’s Kerryman…young scientists in 1983


Did you watch this fellow and his road trip from Listowel to Tralee?

It has been pointed out to me that while the clip was published on Nov 6 2012, the video must have been taken much earlier because there are no roadworks and the road is in the old layout. Well spotted!

Emigration once again

This is the link to the minutes of Listowel Town Council’s December meeting. The councillors addressed issues like dog-fouling, which is particularly bad on the footpaths in town, parking and the septic tank controversy. I am glad to see the imminent reforming of a traders association.

Thank you, Jimmy Moloney, for keeping us up to date on the issues exercising our town councillors. Jimmy has opened the doors of the council chamber to us all.


From The Kerryman a story of success for a horse with a Listowel connection

Wednesday January 04 2012

FORMER Listowel natives Patricia and Maurice Regan, proprietors of the Newtown Anner Stud Farm at Clonmel, commenced the new year in the best possible style at Fakenham on Sunday where their hurdler, Joan Darc, trained at Newmarket by Bill Quinlan and ridden for the first time by Matt Crawley, won the 2ml 4f selling hurdle impressively by seven lengths from the favourite Group Leader.

The winner was challenging the leader when making a serious blunder at the third last as her rider went out the side door, but he somehow managed to cling on and get back into the saddle, before going to the front two out, and being heavily eased on the flat to race home a most impressive winner.


Jimmy Halpin and his doorman provide passers by on Church St. with an amusing commentary on the economic state of the country.

Santa has returned to the North Pole and now Rico has taken up his post at the shop door.

Jim introduces Rico to some curious little girls.

Rico’s grim warning.

Speaking of the parlous state of our dear country’s economy, emigration has become a fact of life for rural communities like ours. I want to take this opportunity to wish Bon Voyage to a dear friend, Mairead, who, next week, is heading out on her great Australian adventure. My photo shows her bidding farewell to her friend, Jim.

Mairead is going to join a young North Kerry diaspora who have relocated to the Perth area down under. Like so many others, she is “only going for a year”. But, like so many others, will she fall in love with the lifestyle and find a better future far away from our shores?

In the days before the internet, mobile phones, Skype and easy air travel we knew the phenomenon of the American wake. In the 1930s, 40s and 50s the neighbours gathered in the house of the soon -to -depart emigrants and held a hooley of singing, storytelling and dancing. The atmosphere had the air of the traditional wake,  great sorrow mixed with reminiscence. The family and neighbours knew that it would be a very long time before they saw these young people again. The ageing parents were often afraid that they would never again see their children this side of the grave. 

Partings nowadays are just as sad. The hooley is usually in the local pub. The departing young people are looking forward to a new sunny and prosperous life. Australia and Canada have replaced the U.S. as the preferred destinations and young people tell me that you are as likely to meet a Listowel person on the street in any big city in Australia as you are to meet them in Dublin or Cork.

Bon Voyage, Mairead! May you realise your dreams and come back safely to us. You will be missed.

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