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: Bernard O’Connell

Glentenassig, Writers’ Week 2012 and O’Connell Tailors

Photo; Martin Moore


Handball Alley in the Old Days

Junior Griffin has given me the history as best he knows it of Listowel’s ball alley. I’ll be serialising it for you over the next week before the planned Brightening Air performance on June 18th

This is Junior Griffin at his home earlier this week, giving an interview to Caoimhe from Coiscéim. I’ll fill you in on more of this next week.

Máire Logue, Artistic Director of St. John’s, who is organising the Coiscéin event locally, Charlie Nolan, former handball and Caoimhe Coburn Grey of Coiscéim reliving memories in the handball alley on Tuesday June 1 2021


Oh, what a Night it was!

Listowel Writers’ Week opening night 2012. Michael D Higgins is accompanied by chairman Seán Lyons made his way toward The Listowel Arms flanked by a guard of honour of boys and girls in school uniform.

Seán Lyons, chair Writers’ Week 2012, Noelle Campbell-Sharpe, Mike O’Donnell and Joanna O’Flynn

Margaret Broderick R.I.P., Aisling Wren and Jerry McDaniel

Members of Listowel Writers’ Week Children’s committee 2012


John O’Connell, Tailor

Bernard O’Connell, formerly of Upper William Street and now of Brampton Ontario posted the following account of his family on Facebook. Vincent Carmody is the usual source of such precious local social history

John O’Connell and John O’Flahery , clerical, civil and livery tailors of Upper William St. Listowel

When John O Connell of Irremore married Mary Walsh of Tullamore Ballydonoghue, in February 1877, their first home, was one of the thatched cottages in Upper William Street. Soon after, John converted this cottage into a double dormer slated house, which remains to this day, with the O’Connell family. He also built No’s 30 and 32 at the opposite side of the road.

John and Mary O’Connell and their son Edmund

In an ironic twist, John O Connell, was the only one of his family to remain in Ireland. He had already been apprenticed to the tailoring trade, when his father died. His mother emigrated with her family to America, leaving John behind. Among John’s and Mary’s large family were Edmund (pictured below, with his parents and with his own family in Chicago, to where he also emigrated). John (Jackie) became a master tailor and carried on the family business in the family home..

Edmund O’Connell and family in Chicago

They also had two daughters who remained in Listowel, Julia, married Denis Quill from Church Street and they set up home at No. 32,

Denis and Julia Quille

Julia’s older sister, Nellie, never married and lived with the Quill family throughout her life. Jackie Connell, apart from his tailoring trade, was a leading member or the local dramatic society. He married Catherine Griffin from Castle-island.

Their eldest son, Benny became the father figure to their large family following his father’s, Jackie’s death, at a young age. Benny married Noreen O Connell from Ballyhorgan, Lixnaw

Benny and Noree O’Connell

They had a family of four boys and one girl, John (Jackie) Paul (RIP) Tommy, Kathleen and Bernard.

Kathleen and Bernard O’Connell

A Useless but jawdropping Fact

(From a website called Bustle which I wandered into by accident so I cant 100% vouch for it. It sounds plausible to me.)

…Along with the addition of the lake, the Daily Mail reported that the Beckham’s are also looking to expand the underground space below their garage. Hello said they’ve upscaled their designs to create a 117.5sqm room to hold around 7,000 bottles of wine. You’ll never be short on a glass of red at the Beckham’s house, that’s for sure.


Duagh Parish Live Crib 2017 and an aerial view of Listowel in the 1950s

Sheep at The Gap of Dunloe

Photo: Chris Grayson


Duagh’s Live Crib

The best of all the Christmas cribs is the one in Duagh. It gets better every year . This year my visit was tinged with much sadness as we missed Fr. Pat Moore from a place he loved so well.

Here is a link to Fr. Pat in 2015, when he was on a break from his treatment, introducing the crib;

Duagh Parish Crib, Christmas 2015

A large photo of Fr. Pat greets you as you enter the crib and his presence is everywhere in this lovely place. I hope that the local people, who are still grieving his loss, continue the tradition of the live crib for years and years. It was a project of which he was very proud and he was so so proud of his friends who worked so hard on this project, year in year out.

My boys posed for me with this lovely window in the background. I taught them about the candle and the welcome and we felt the welcome and the hospitality on our trip to Duagh.

There is lots to learn in Duagh. A visit to this crib is a time to linger and ponder the story of Christmas while we revel in community, family and remembrance.

The entrance is through a magical leafy path  which creates the atmosphere of a cave.

The first stable was a kind of cave.

Inside it’s dark and intimate with the crowing of the cock and the smells of the animals bringing the story to life.

The crib tableau was a gift from the cathedral in Killarney. It forms the centrepiece of this lovely scene.

After our visit to the live crib we went into the church. It too was in all  its festive dress.


Poles Apart

Bernard O’Connell follows this blog from Brampton, Ontario in Canada.

Julie Evans follows from down under in Sydney, Australia


Listowel in the 1950s

Ned O’Sullivan posted these photos of Listowel in the 1950s on Facebook

Ballybunion, Damien Dempsey and a William St. emigrant.

Jason at Ballybunion Prints is a brilliant photographer. Every day, often several times a day, he shares splendid shots of  Ballybunion with us all. I think the unusual angle from which he took this one might have something to do with his other job as a chimney cleaner.


Mike the Pies

Aiden O’Connor with Damien Dempsey behind the bar in Mike the Pies   (photo; Denis Carroll)

This venue is now the best spot in North Kerry to catch a live gig. Last week they has another huge name on stage, Damien Dempsey.


Bernard O’Connell opens the family album


This is Bernard’s paternal grandfather’s brother, Edmund who grew up at 31 Upper William St. Listowel in the same house where Bernard, himself was reared. Edmund moved to the USA in the early 20th Century. He lived in Chicago, married a girl from Roscommon and had two girls. He was a Professor at Loyola University. He died tragically in an automobile accident in 1926. 

This photo was taken in the mid 1920’s.

When Bernard was in Chicago last year he went to visit his grave.

One of Edmund’s daughters married a Mr. Carp from Cleveland and he received a Bronze star for his heroic deeds of bravery in the D-Day Landings in Normandy. Bernard met the man over 10 years ago before he passed and found him to be an amazing man, very humble and did not mention a lot about the war.



Elizabeth Brosnan took her camera to Athea Horse Fair recently


A Callout from Junior to Former Badminton Club Members


The Listowel Badminton Club wish to advise you all that they will be holding their Christmas night out at John B.Keane’s on Friday night December 11th.

This will again be in the shape of the Table Quiz which has been most enjoyable for the past number of years.


As a member of the Club last season, or possibly in former seasons, we take this opportunity to invite you to attend. We would really love if you would take time to join us .


We will again hold our Kris Kringle this year, again bring something not more than €5 value, some thing seasonable or something comical, the choice is yours.

If you do bring something for the Kris Kringle do check it into me and make sure that it is numbered, don’t just lay it with the others and say nothing.


Unfortunately, I have deleted many of my last seasons contacts so do pass the word around to anyone you feel that might be interested in attending. There will be the normal fixed charge of €3 for the night and as usual, finger food will be provided, so for number purposes do let me know by Tuesday if you will be attending plus any other person whom you may make contact with.


Do try and be present for 8.10 pm as the draw and tables for the quiz must be sorted out by our quiz master Mark Loughnane and that takes time and is no easy job so your co-operation would be much appreciated.

Hope to see you all present on that Friday night, but why not join us also on Thursday night, Dec. 3rd for our Christmas Badminton competition, again let me know by Tuesday December 1st if you wish to take part in this Christmas fun tournament.






New Website


St. Mary’s Listowel has a great new parish website HERE

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