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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Irish in Australia

FDC Group office in Church Street in March 2023


St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2023

Schools participating in Listowel’s St. Patrick’s Day parade 2023


Áras an Phiarsaigh March 2023


Convict Musicians in Australia


(Text and picture from internet site Australian Historical Dance)

Especially for St Patrick’s Day we compiled a list of Irish Convict Musicians who brought their culture to Australia.

Between 1791 and 1867 about 40,000 Irish convicts were sent to the eastern Australian colonies. Although these only accounted for 12% of the total number of convicts transported, their culture had a distinct influence on the Australian psyche. Irish convict musicians provided music for celebrations, weddings (which could last up to three days), wakes, and for everyday entertainment, especially in public houses.

The great majority of Irish convicts served their sentences free from trouble and went on to lead ordinary lives. It is almost impossible to trace their musical careers.  We’ve created a list of Irish convicts who gave stated they had a musical trade.  


Daffodil Day 2023

Friday March 24th 2023 is Daffodil Day. In advance of the day, I’m sharing this photo of two lovely Listowel ladies, Betty McGrath and Anne Moloney, lost to cancer.


151 Years in Business

Congratulation to Sheahan’s celebrating 151 years trading in Upper William Street.


The Big Busk

Photo; Marie Moriarty

This group of local musicians and many many more came together in Garvey’s Super Valu to form the Fealegood Band to participate in

Today fm’s Big Busk for Focus Ireland.

Photo Super Valu website

Members of the Fealegood Band, and management at the Super Valu centre with the cheque for €1,288.28 which the buskers raised for Focus Ireland.


A Little Known Fact

On Easter Monday 1916 as the Rising was taking place in Dublin, The Irish Grand National was taking place at Fairyhouse. The race was won by a horse called All Sorts. All Sorts connections had a rude awakening in store for them. All the trains were stopped due to The Rising and so they had to walk all the way home to The Bishopstown Stud in Streamstown, a distance of 60 miles.

It took them five days to get home.

( Information gleaned from Ireland’s Own)


Betty McGrath R.I.P. Farewell, Dancing Queen

The late Betty McGrath in one of her most stylish hats for Listowel Races Ladies Day.

Listowel is in mourning this race week for one of its most colourful, most vivacious, most hard working and most relentlessly cheerful business women.

Betty ran a very successful floristry business in Courthouse Road. She was tailor made for her job. Her creativity and innate sense of style knew no bounds.

Betty loved Christmas. She loved creating the window display, the table decorations and many festive flower arrangements and wreaths. She also loved Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Easter, birthdays and all high days and holidays.

In short, Betty loved life. She loved every day.

Betty with the late Anne Moloney

Meeting Betty in the morning meant you were set up for the day. No matter how busy she was she always made time for a chat.

I love this photo of Betty with my late husband, Jim. Betty was full of fun and she came into her own on occasions like Nunday or the Oskars.

Betty had a big coterie of loved girl friends. She was a loyal friend, supportive, kind and always fun to be with.

But at heart, Betty was a family lady. She loved Denis and adored her children, Grace and Denis. Throughout her life she remained close to her siblings and it was always a joy to meet her on The Island with her very stylish sisters.

Betty was a photographer’s dream. She loved to be photographed. She was always willing to pose and she was invariably appreciative.

To know Betty McGrath was to love her.

Betty had her shop repainted recently and these are two of the last photos I took of her front wall.

The flower that was Betty’s life was plucked far too soon. She has left behind many many loving memories and many friends whose lives are a little less colourful nowadays.

She will never be forgotten.

Listowel will miss her.


Raceweek, Duagh and Mallow

Photo; Chris Grayson at St. Mary of the Angels, Beaufort


St. Bridgid’s, Duagh

Beautifully detailed colourful window behind the high altar

The windows and stations of the cross were donated by local families and emigrants.


Betty McGrath’s, September 2021

Few people loved race week as much as Betty McGrath. She loved the style, the excitement but most of all the days out with her beloved family and friends. This year, 2021, Betty’s daughter Grace has pulled out all the stops to dress a window that Betty would be proud of.

Sadly, Betty passed away before Raceweek 2021.

May her kind soul rest in peace.


Clock Home, Mallow

Sept 2021


Snámhaí Sásta

Friday Sept 10 2021 was International Suicide Awareness Day and this lady, June Curtin, is working hard to raise awareness of the tragedy that is suicide. .

June joined the Ballybunion Dippers sea swimming group in an event to highlight the therapeutic benefits of sea swimming.

The very well supported event was a huge success.


Culture Weekend

Last weekend, Sept 17 to 19 2021 was a great weekend in town for it included an International Storytelling Festival, Poetry Town events and a free concert.

Oh and Listowel Races opened on Sunday too.

Friday evening was the opening night of the storytelling festival. Two very sketchy “nurses” were on hand to make sure Covid regulations were observed.

This storyteller is Colum Sandes and his story was graced with music and mimicry.

Maria Gillen was the bean an tí. She kept the show rolling, singing songs and telling stories.

Maria with Jimmy Deenihan who was dividing his time between the Poetry Town events and the storytelling.

Our own Frances Kennedy was one of the star turns. For me she also had the best line of the night. She said we were all so tired of Covid restrictions that “a straw would pull us out the door now”.

The audience loved Gabriel Fitzmaurice heart-warming anecdotes and poems.

On Sunday morning a crowd regrouped at Kerry Writers’ Museum for some very interesting story walks.


A Song, a Story and a Few Shops

Photo; Chris Grayson somewhere in Cork


From the Pres. Scrapbook

Winner of An Post writing competition


Colourful Listowel

Some Listowel traders have chosen really strong bright colours for their recently painted shopfronts.

This is Betty McGrath’s Listowel Florist on Courthouse Road

Lizzy’s Little Kitchen on Church Street

Sheahan’s Grocery on Upper William Street

Daisy Boo Barista on Church Street


One Hundred Years Ago

As it appears from Duagh School in the schools folklore collection:

The following is a version of a song composed by Timothy Mc Govern in the year 1922, lamenting our betrayal by Mulcahy, Griffith and Collins and also the murder of Jerry Leary and Johnny Linnane by the Black – and – Tans.

The Banks of the Feale


Through the green hills of Kerry my ballads are ringing,

Sinn Féin is my motto and my land “Gránuaile”

The lads and fair lassies my songs will be singing

When I’m laid down to rest on the banks of the Feale.


When I think of the tyrants

the landlords and grabbers

My heart it feels cold and my courage runs down.

Kerry stood first in the red gap of danger

While Murphy encamped on the banks of the Laune.


When Mulcahy and Griffith and Collins betrayed us 

And battered the four courts be 

sure ’twas no fun.

The sassenachs helped them with no one to aid us.

While sharp rang the crack of an Englishman’s gun.


Brave Jerry Leary and Linnane 

from North Kerry

And Buckley, that hero of fame and renown,

With bombs and grenades they were killed in a hurry

While Murphy encamped on the banks of the Laune.


Sad was my heart at the death  of brave Rory

And Buckley and Traynor and Foley likewise

With bombs and grenades we invaded their stronghold,

Our boys were victorious in country and town.


Though we laid down our arms we did not surrender

We’re ready to die for old Ireland again

The gallant Republic has men to defend it

Regardless of prison torture and pain.


Here’s to the man who stood first in the ambush

God bless those brave men whom

the traitors shot down

My curse to the traitors who fought for the strangers

While Murphy encamped on the banks of the Laune.


Éamonn Ó Corradáin


Éamonn Ó Corradáin




Ploughing the Cows Lawn

The man on the right of this picture is the Thomas J. Murphy, victualler who arrived home to Listowel 100 years ago, having spent none months in Ballykinlar Internment Camp. Thomas was known locally as The Colonel.

The picture was sent to us by Tomas’ grandson, Paul Murphy. Paul would love to know who the other men are or what was the occasion of the photograph. Can you help him?


Races 2019 and Cyril Kelly on Sunday Miscellany

Throw me Down Something

The heyday of this little money spinner for Listowel Traveller children seems to have passed.

The numbers in The Feale were well down. They seem to have taken to busking instead. I also missed the puppet man from the Small Square.


Ladies Day 2019

I hardly ever remember such a beautiful Ladies Day, weather wise. The ladies looked resplendent. The judges had a tough job.

A great design partnership of Aoife Hannon,  milliner, and Betty McGrath, model, won the prize for jazziest hat. Betty must have been in the running for the overall prize as well. She looked stunning .


Some More of the Style


A Minute of Your Time

Today I’m going to give you a sneak peek at my new book.

It’s still a work in progress but these are the front and back covers designed by Paul Shannon of Listowel Printing Works.

A Minute of Your Time is available to pre-order from me by contacting me at


The Past is a Different Country

Listowel in the rare auld times as remembered by Cyril Kelly

Sunday Miscellany

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