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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New Year, Changed Town

North Kerry sunrise photographed in January 2022 by Ita Hannon


A Poem sent to us by Éamon ÓMurchú

John O’Donohue
A Blessing For The New Year

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The gray window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colors
Indigo, red, green 
and azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight

When the canvas frays
In the curragh of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.



John Kelliher took this marvellous picture of Listowel Town Square in December 2021

Here in North Kerry 2022 is opening with businesses closing, shops having to shut temporarily due to staff absences due to Covid and our streets at times eerily quiet as we are advised to limit social mixing. Our resilience is being tested but we will survive.

I’m back after a longer Christmas holiday than usual. Thank you to all the followers who were worried I had contracted Covid. Thankfully I have managed to avoid it so far even though it is all around me. so hopefully Listowel Connection will continue in some form for a while yet.


John Stack, Dancing Teacher

My friend and former colleague at Presentation Secondary School, Listowel posted a sad message on Facebook in January 2022. He accompanied the message with this photo;

Hi All

I have informed the Ballydonoghue Cce branch of Comhaltas that It is with regret that I will not be returning as Set Dancing teacher in Ballydonoghue after 43 years. I have put alot of thought into my decision over the Christmas and due to a number of reasons including Covid-19 and the effect it has had on everything and still not knowing when we can return if at all this year.

I started classes in Ballydonoghue in 1978 and during my time I have had some very memorable ventures.

Our first All Ireland medal was in 1996 when our U8 set brought home medals in the U15 set competition in Listowel. We also won All Ireland medals in Ballycastle Co Antrim Castlewellan CountyDown Tullamore, Co. Offaly, IrelandPeter StackBallina Co MayoEnniscorthy Co. Wexford and Drogheda, Ireland

Winning our first All Ireland winners medal in Ballycastle County Antrim in 1999. We also have had much success at County, Munster, as well as other competitions all over the country.

We also travelled to take part in Sean Dempsey International competition in Manchester on several occasions having much success.

In 2008. 23members from the branch did a branch exchange with the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann – O’Neill Malcom Branch CCE in Washington DC. This was a very rare experience and we enjoyed visits to Capitol Hill, reception at the European union offices, also at the Irish Embassy, visiting Baltimore, Virginia, Maryland and seeing places we could only dream off. Finishing our trip with a performance on the Millennium stage In the Washington Dc Kennedy Centre where we were told we would have 200 to 250 attending and ending with over 1300 people watching us for an hour long concert.

Our trips to the RTE Studios for our performances on TG4 was a highlight for all our dancers.

I have to acknowledge the input Liz McNamara had on both Dolly and myself and the dancing class. She was a great support to us and always showed her support to every child regardless whether they won or not as she was always very proud that they had represented the branch.

Again many thanks to everyone in the branch for their support over the last 43 years and we would like to wish the branch much success in the future.

To Ballydonoghue GAA for the use of their clubrooms down through the years and of late their fabulous new building I would like to say thanks to all the officers past and present. Also to Jackie Hegarty and Tom in Tomasinis ye were always willing to help in any way ye could and put yer building at our disposal.

To the parents who have supported Dolly and myself and the class down through the years I want to thank you.

Last but not least to you our dancers wherever you may be. Passing through the doors of Ballydonoghue GAA clubrooms on a Satuday morning and Tuesday evening of late, I thank you all for the pleasure and joy you brought to us. We have made some great memories together and hope you will always remember your dancing days in Ballydonoghue.



It’s for the Children

Our lovely 2021 baby has had her first Christmas, her first Christmas tree, her first visit to a crib and Santa was good to her.

Aoife has brought “hope with her and forward looking thoughts.”


Kanturk, A Champion Frog and A Plea from Ard Chúram

Listowel Pitch and Putt Course


An Accident in Kanturk

This is the ancient inscription on the Bridge over the River Dallow in my native Kanturk. My Latin is very rusty but as far as I can make out the bridge was erected by the worthies of North Cork in the 18th century. Clearly it was never intended for today’s heavy traffic.

On Friday, May 14 2021, a lorry carrying a load of pouring concrete, broke through the parapet and ended up in the river. Miraculously no one was seriously injured. The County Council and emergency services had restored the road to a functional condition when I visited on the Saturday after the excitement.


A Cairn in Lixnaw

(From The Schools’ Folklore Collection)

In Gurthenare also in the farm of Mr. Quilter there are still to be seen the remains of a monastery called Kilcara, built by St. Carthage. One of the monks (Franciscans) belonging to that monastery was murdered by Cromwell’s soldiers and tradition has it that he was buried in “Mickey’s Field” in the farm of Wm. Dowling of Kiltomey bounding Gurthenare and Kilcara. A pile of stones was raised over the grave and up to forty years ago everyone, old and young, threw a stone on the pile when passing so strong was the tradition then. Three people, two of whom are still living heard stones rattling there late one night as they were going home from a friend’s house. The noise was such as would be made when emptying a load of stones out of a car.

Told by Michael O’Connell, aged 65


Ard Churam Needs Your Help


Guhard Man and Frog

David Kissane has penned a lovely essay about a living legendary Guhard man, Mossie Walsh and his exploits. He posted the essay on Facebook. Here is an extract.

…But Mossie became nationally famous as a coach also. He coached a frog to European championship glory in 1970. Where did this happen? Well, it happened in Listowel where anything creative can happen! At the Listowel Harvest Festival of that year, Noel Driscoll from Milltown Malbay in Clare brought a European champion jumping frog to challenge all-comers. Just picture this. Market Street in Listowel during race week. Around 9pm on the second night of the Festival and the street thronged with men, women and children. The ancient autumnal celebratory atmosphere and the smell of chips, crubeens and porter (lots of porter) circulating. Music and steam rising from the amusements in the marketplace nearby and that “heaven-is-here” feeling in the hearts of all. A big Kerryness all round. A big stage and a throaty announcement “And now, ladies and gentlemen, we invite all comers to challenge the European champion frog jumper…Who can produce a frog that will jump higher or longer than this fabulous creature from Clare?” and the announcer pointed to the green gungy throbbing muscular amphibian proudly sitting in the arms of Noel Driscoll from the Banner. Big cheeeeeeeer!

Mossie was among the crowd and watched five or six people appear with various sizes of frogs. Five or six shades of green. Some with wide froggy eyes and wondering what all the excitement was about. As the excitement grew, a friend came up to Mossie with a box and said shyly “Mossie, I have a good frog here but I have a sore leg and can’t climb up and I was wondering if you would go on stage and let him jump in the challenge?”Mossie looked at the frog. The frog looked at Mossie. Mossie saw the potential in his geáits. He was tidy and dark green in colour. The frog looked at Mossie and smelled the porter from him. His aura was good.

Man and frog went up onstage, the new coach giving the frog a short rub on the way and a whisper in his ear. Up lined seven frogs. European title at stake. Nobody queried the facts or figures or records of the Clare jumper. The procedure was that the frogs were put on a line drawn on a sheet of plywood. The coaches stamped the board behind the frogs and the frogs jumped. One, two, three. Stamp. Huge roars from the crowd and frogs jump. Which they did. Except the European champion from Clare. His frogginess departed him in the Listowel headiness. Stage fright. The more his coach stamped, the less he jumped. Wild cheers as Mossie’s adopted frog leaped like Bob Beamon to the winning line. The Ballydonoghue Hare had coached a winning frog! Listowel went wild. Mossie had the winning touch. The stamp of a winning coach.

A bit of commotion as the frog jumped off the stage and hid under a woman’s skirt and a do-gooder got a left uppercut from the same woman as he tried to retrieve the frog! “What’s the new champion’s name?” John B Keane asked from the centre of the crowd?”“Guhard Man!” Mossie answered with the confidence of a Dubbie Holt, as he was presented with a prize by the winner of “The Darling Girl from Clare”.

And further glory was to follow. One evening a few weeks later, a posh car drove in to Mossie’s yard. Out came a posh-looking man. “My name is Oliver Donohoe from RTE” he said. “We would like your European champion frog to jump on the Late Late Show on Saturday night!”


The Convent Bel, Preparing for the Races, l and Ballydonoghue WW1 Event

The King of all Birds

Photo: Chris Grayson


It’s That Time of Year

It’s THAT time of year.

The Kerry flags are out for the All Ireland Final. The children are back in school and Moriarty’s are putting up the lights for the Harvest Festival. And it’s still only August.

The Convent Bell

The old bell from The Presentation Convent has been installed at St. Mary’s Church.


“At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them”

We remembered them; soldiers of WW1 on Saturday August  24 2019 in Ballydonoghue, Co. Kerry.

In a moving ceremony organised by Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine Committee, their descendants and friends remembered the young men from the parish who soldiered in that “war to end all wars”.

Many of those who served in the British Army came home to a very changed North Kerry, where the upsurge in republican feelings meant that they dare not speak of their ordeals in the trenches and where their heroism and sacrifice were never celebrated.

When I arrived in Lisselton, preparations were in full swing. The National flag was at half mast and local people and participants in the pageant were arriving. Stevie Donegal was setting up the sound system, David Kissane was setting up his ladder in order to get a good vantage point to record the event for posterity, Noelle and Kate were preparing grub in the catering tent, Colette was making sure everyone had their lines.

Jim Halpin’s list of soldiers had pride of place. Many stopped to read the names and to talk about men they remembered. It was strangely reminiscent of pictures we are used to seeing of people in towns in England scanning the lists of the fallen that used to be displayed publicly after battles.

On Saturday August 24th 2019 children from local schools read out the names of the fallen and then, one by one descendants and relatives of some of the Ballydonoghue soldiers told us of their exploits in foreign fields. As well as the British Army, many fought in the US army or with the Australian army.

Some of the soldiers were remembered in great detail. Some memories were more sketchy as people struggled to remember relatives who rarely spoke about this part of their lives. We also remembered those who didn’t make it back to North Kerry and those who have no relatives left here to remember them. The day was spiced and made more poignant with songs and poems.

Then it was time to lower the flags  and play The Last Post.  Tom Dillon, our MC, told us that the Last Post is played at close of day to signal that the soldier’s work is over, he has done his duty.

A wreath was laid, the flags were lowered, we observed a minute’s silence, the piper played Reveille  the national flag was raised, we sang the national anthem and the colour party was led by the lone piper back down the lane from whence they came. It was a very moving ceremony and a credit to all the organisers and participants.

A Bike, Carriage Arches, “Consumption” in 1913 and Ballydonoghue grotto

Bike as advertising vehicle in Washington Street, Cork


Bibiana Foran, Women’s National Health Association

This article from The Kerry Sentinel of March 12 1913 describes some of Bibiana Foran’s work for the promotion of women’s health in her role as Lady Guardian.

Mrs B Foran, P.L.G, Listowel, and Hon Secretary of the Listowel branch of the Women’s National Health Association, and official lecturer under that association, continues the able lectures which she commenced some months ago with much ability and success. 

The lecturer who, perhaps, is one of the most popular and, at the same time, practical exponent of the ideas of noble Association with which she is and has been associated from its establishment, has met with hearty greetings wherever she visited in the perseverance of her noble work. The subjects with which she so easily and lucidly deals with, are the cause and the remedy of tuberculosis. 

Last week she visited districts within a few miles of Listowel, her headquarters, such as Coilbee, Lixnaw, Finuge and Irremore, where she lectured with very considerable effect, and where she was, as the Lady Guardian,’ very enthusiastically received by her rural admirers. In all cases and in all places the lectures were- highly appreciated, as enlightening the people how to successfully cope with the preventable, and, in many cases, curable disease of what is ordinarily known as consumption.

As a rule the eloquent lecturer starts off with : ” What is Consumption,” and ” How to Avoid the Contagion,” What to do with people so afflicted, and, as a member of the County Kerry Insurance Committee, she generally asks her audience to let her know whenever there is any suspicion of the disease apparent in any of their families in order that she might be prepared to be in a position to render her best assistance with a view to the prevention of the dread malady. But what the interesting lecturer lays special stress and emphasis on is the absolute necessity of people being sent for treatment the moment even the “suggestion of the disease evidences itself, for in cases where the evil had to any extent developed the chances of recovery were always against the patient. 

Everywhere the lecturer has appeared, it is needless to say, she has been received with a hospitality which is only considered consummate with the great and humane efforts which an able and philanthropic personage deserves at the hands of a grateful but stricken humanity.


Carriage Arches

Because of Listowel’s veritable warren of back lanes many of the old carriage arches have been left intact in order to allow access to the back ways.

The Square

This one is in Church Street. You can see what remains of the jostle stone at the right of your picture.

This carriage arch is in The Square next to Danny Hannon’s. Its two jostle stones are still intact.

Carriage arch with fanlight at Listowel Arms Hotel

This is beside the AIB bank. This tall narrow doorway allowed a horse to get to there stables at the back of this building.

In Church Street


Ballydonoghue Grotto


Listowel, The Town that Keeps on Winning 

One hundred towns in Ireland have  made the long list for the prestigious Retail Excellence Awards, seven are in Kerry and five of those are in Listowel.

Listowel Garden Centre, John R’s, Lizzy’s Little Kitchen, McKenna’s, and Coco Boutique, all from Listowel, have been listed in this year’s Top100 stores.

According to Radio Kerry   “The Top30 stores will be announced on September 22nd, and that will be whittled down to the Top 3 finalists and winners in sectoral categories.

An awards ceremony will then be held on November 9th in the Great Southern Hotel, Killarney.”

Ballydonoghue, A Doctor in Spite of Himself twice, Doran’s Then and Now

The Cross at Lisselton in glorious June sunshine in 2018

Photo; Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine


A Doctor in Spite of Himself X2

Remember I told you about this open air performance of Moliére’s play in Listowel Town Square during an early Writers’ Week. Mike Moriarty who is  in the white coat on the left of the stage remembered that they were all delighted when their performance made The Irish Times. David O’Sullivan did a bit of delving for us and here is what he found.

The above is an extract from the 1978 programme. What a feast of drama they had!

Two other performances aroused my interest. They are  The Life of O”Reilly with Brendan O’Reilly. Was this the late great high jumper and later sports commentator?

And what was The Ball on the Hop by Eamon Keane?

I’ll have to go back to the oracle.

 I hope you can enlarge this to read it. It reminds me of accounts of early performances of Shakespeare and miracle plays in courtyards of inns and town squares when people would drop by to see a play on their way home with the shopping and maybe shy a tomato or two at the villain.

Seems like the evergreen Mickey McConnell was the highlight of the ballad competition. No surprise there then.

This is the 1991 production. Mike Moriarty is on the right, playing the part he first played in 1978. Danny Hannon, who founded the Lartigue Players was also involved in the acquiring and refurbishing of St. John’s decided to reprise a successful play for the opening performance.

The “smallest theatre in Ireland and England” had been closed down for 9 years when the lease ran out. Gerard Lynch, who owned the building, had given the Lartigue the use of the theatre rent free for ten years.  Now drama had found a new home in St. John’s and the Lartigue company was just one of the many local drama groups who used it as their home for many years and some still do today.


Then and Now on a Corner of Church St.


Evening Stroll by The Feale

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