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: Bibiana Foran

Listowel Castle, Baltimore Talk, Bibiana Foran and Listowel Celtic Oskars

Cathleen Mulvihill shared this unusual picture of Listowel Castle on the Glin Historical Society page


The Oskars

Lent in the old days was a time for plays and drama. Dances were forbidden and people entertained themselves as best they could at card games and plays.

Well, Listowel is going to get a taste of the good old days on February 29 2020.

Filming has been taking place with local people reenacting such classic plays/films as The Field, The Snapper, Sister Act, Grease and Father Ted and prizes will be awarded on the night to the best film etc. It promises to be a night to remember.

Joanne O’Riordan shared this photo of filming of The Field at The Thatch in Lisselton.

This great picture of some of the cast of Sister Act comes from Kevin Rowe Events who did the filming.


Bibiana Foran

This plaque is on a commemorative bench in Listowel’s town park.

I wrote here about this lady before. Vincent Carmody is a great man for keeping the memory of Listowel’s old stock alive. He told me all about this lady with the unusual name. Her grandniece saw the post and here, in case you missed it,  is the comment she posted.

Bibiana Foran was my grand aunt. The OS most probably stands for her initials of her maiden name…she was O’Sullivan. Her home was in Lacca, Ballyhahill. Her brother Patrick was my grandfather. She was an amazingly capable lady….had a huge impact on the lives of many of the underprivileged in Listowel. She befriended many of the political prisoners during the trouble times. She with Lady Aberdeen, established the first sanatorium in Peamount, Dublin. A letter to her from prison from Thomas Ashe is in Tralee library. I gave it to her grand daughter, Grace, ( now sadly deceased) who had it presented to Tralee library. My aunt , Nora O’Sullivan, had that letter among her possessions, as she inherited Auntie Bibbie’s property in Ballybunion. I felt her grand daughter should have it. She & husband Jeremiah, also owned the Horseshoe Bar in Listowel & Cahirdown house in Listowel . Would be happy to give further info if needed. Irene Hynes 



Field Names in Bromore

One of the fields I know is called The Well field. In olden times it was said that it was a very holy well but no people visit it now. Two people who were nearly blind had their sight restored to them after a visit to it. One of these was Johanna Collins and she died only a short time ago and she was 90 years. The people near at hand are now using the water out of it for the household use. This well is in land of Patrick Collins. The well is called Tobar na geárdáin.

Martin Leahy v

Bromore 22 – 6 1938

Information from my Uncle

Edmond Leahy, smith ; aged 72

He got the story from his grandfather.


Baltimore Followers

Here is a date for the diary for anyone who is near here.

( Photo and text from Mark Holan’s Irish American Blog)

This is the Irish Railroad Workers Museum and it is here that Mark Holan will give this talk on March 7

Ruth Russell Talk is March 7 in Baltimore

I’m giving a talk about American journalist Ruth Russell’s 1919 reporting trip to revolutionary Ireland on Saturday, March 7, at the Irish Railroad Workers Museum in Baltimore.

The talk is based on my five-part monograph about Russell’s life. I presented this research at the 2019 annual conferences of the American Journalism Historians Association, in Dallas, and the Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland, in Belfast.

Register for the free event, which begins at 11 a.m. The museum is located at 918 Lemon St., near downtown Baltimore. Here’s my earlier post about the museum, which is worth visiting anytime.

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.”

Bike as Ornament, Paradise Place in Cork and Christmas in 1909 Listowel and Jimmy Moloney Snr. R.I.P.

Bike at Yummy, Tralee


A Corner of Cork

The Catholic Young Men’s Society Hall is located at Paradise Place. It is no longer in use as a hall but is the location of several shops and services.

This is the inscription on the red and white utilities box at this corner. Terence MacSwiney was a Lord Mayor of Cork during the War of Independence. He was arrested and imprisoned in Brixton. His death in a British jail after a long hunger strike and unsuccessful attempts at force feeding, gained world wide attention for the cause. He had a huge funeral in Cork where he was regarded as a martyr.


Christmas Party in Listowel Workhouse 1909

Jer. Kennelly has done a bit of research for us on Bibiana Foran and he found this account in The Kerry Sentinel of 1909.

Christmas 1909 Kerry Sentinel

X Mas Tree in Listowel Workhouse, presented by Mrs B Foran, P.L.G. UDC, she invited a large number of ladies and gentlemen to a party held at the workhouse. Toys, oranges, sweets and cakes were in abundance. Only one girl was sad her doll had a leg and a half, it was soon remedied by giving her another one. 

Mrs Foran assisted by Mrs Daly, also Misses O Shaughnessy, misses Lyons, Miss Lillie Cotter, Miss McElligott, Messrs Richard O Shaughnessy who took several photographs of Father Christmas Dan Aherne and the children of the institution, P O Shaughnessy and others also there.

Several songs and recitations followed with music by Michael Carmody labour master, on the violin, the temperance band could not come due to member being absent. Singers included, Misses Mandie Collins, The Misses Daly, Miss Lillie Hannon, Miss Katie Dillon, Miss Katie Buckley and Miss May Kathleen O Sullivan. Also present, Mr and Miss Cleary and Master and Miss Cleary of Provincial Bank. Mr Wilson and Master Boysie and Freddy and Miss Wilson of National Bank. Mrs O Halloran, Master and Miss O Halloran of Killocrim. Mrs Master and Miss Pierce. Mr T O Connor RDC, Tarbert Island. Mr Wm. And Mrs T Twomey of Church Street. P B Cronin PLG. Mrs Barry Billerough; Mrs Dillon and Miss Scanlon; Mrs T Collins and Miss Collins. Mrs Enright, Misses Buckley, Main Street. The Misses Buckley, The Square. Mr R and Mrs Walsh; The Misses D Browne Church Street. Messrs Tom and James Walsh. Mr John and Master Hannon, Mrs Callon, Mrs Fitzmaurice, Miss Cantillon. Mr Ned Healy, Miss Moore.

Child Ellie Doner aged 3 and a half sang Guardian Angel. Lizzie Power recited, Hole in my Pocket. Jack Enright , known as Jack the cot, an invalid, recited and sang in a most creditable manner. Entertainment continued with a splendid dance, just like a marriage ball. Mr T M O Connor, proposed a vote of thanks to Mrs Foran, bringing the nights pleasures to a conclusion.

 ( Isn’t it beyond sad that a little lad known as Jack the cot, and we can guess why since he is described as “an invalid” sang and recited for the great and the good of the town?)


The Late Jimmy Moloney

Jimmy Moloney passed away as he had lived, quietly, On May 28th last. May his gentle soul rest in peace.

Here is an obituary sent to us by his daughter, Maeve

Obituary for Jimmy Moloney, Snr

Jimmy Moloney, Snr, passed away unexpectedly at home on May 28th 2019, at the age of 75, 8 months after the death his beloved wife of 54 years, Anne (nee Scully). 

Jimmy was born in Listowel on April 2nd1944, the youngest of three children of Dan (D.J.) Moloney (Lyreacrompane) and Margaret Moloney (née O Connor, of Springmount, Duagh). His earliest years were spent in the Bridge Road, Listowel. In 1948, his parents bought and restored Gurtenard House in which he grew up, brought up his own family and lived until 2006. 

As the younger brother, it was often said his more outgoing older sisters, Kay and Marie, overshadowed him. Quite the contrary; clever and reserved, Jimmy simply watched, observed, and quietly got his point across in his own gentle way. 

He was educated in the Boys’ School and St. Michael’s College, Listowel and Newbridge College, Co.Kildare later studying commerce at University College Cork and engineering at Bolton St. College, Dublin.  

At the age of 16, he spent a summer in Ventry to advance his Irish language skills at the first Irish college of its kind in the Corca Dhuibhne Gaeltacht. It is questionable whether his Irish improved, however it was there that he met Anne Scully (also 16, daughter of Dr. Paddy Scully, Dingle). His courting strategies included cycling his bicycle along the round topped stone wall opposite Paidi OSé’s family home and “borrowing” cars from Moloney’s Garage to meet Anne in Tralee for dances at the Brandon Hotel.

Anne and Jimmy had a Christmas wedding at Muckross Church, Killarney on 29thDecember 1965, both aged just 21.They honeymooned in London and the south of Spain, where they would return many times. They lived at Gurtenard House and Jimmy successfully ran Moloney’s Garage in Market Street and William Street, Listowel until the mid-1980s. 

Moloney’s Garage, a Main Ford Dealership, had been founded in 1945 by his father, D.J., and was a thriving business and employer in the town for many decades. At a time when opportunities for school leavers in North Kerry would have been few, scores of young trainees arrived at Moloney’s Garage as apprentice mechanics, pump attendants, panel beaters, accountants and secretaries and learned their craft in their own hometown. The regard in which Jimmy and D.J. were held was deeply felt by the Moloney family at Jimmy’s funeral where dozens of former employees and colleagues from years gone by paid their respects and told stories of a wonderful workplace and how they “got their start” at Moloney’s. 

Not surprisingly, he was an avid fan of motor sports in all its forms. A founder member of Kerry Motor Club and its secretary for much of the 1970s, Jimmy was an accomplished rally driver in his own right, competing in rallies all over Ireland and the UK. He was a talented mechanic and restored numerous vintage and veteran cars as well as being an early and enthusiastic member of the Kingdom Veteran and Vintage Car club founded in 1979. The club, which celebrates its 40thAnniversary this year, organised veteran and vintage car runs throughout the county and beyond, most notably the Annual Ring of Kerry run. There are many accounts from those times of blown gaskets, runaway cars, golf clubhouses being mistaken for hotels and many other (mis) adventures. In 2010 he was awarded the Automobile Association’s commemorative centenary award as Kerry’s longest serving member as well as having led numerous emergency rescues to car crash sites and breakdowns throughout the county for the association.

Anne and Jimmy successfully ran Gurtenard House as a Bed and Breakfast for over 20 years from the 1980s until their retirement to Cherry Tree Drive in 2006. Like Gurtenard House, the door in Cherry Tree Drive was always open and friends and family alike were welcomed for a chat and the inevitable glass (or more) of wine. 

Jimmy could fix anything and was as comfortable up a ladder as under the bonnet of a car. One of his many hobbies was woodturning, reflected in his numerous intricate sculptures and woodcarvings. An innovative problem solver, his many inventions included some unusual security and surveillance systems as well as a number of quite peculiar washing machines, ironing contraptions and pest deterrents.    

Widely read and widely travelled, Jimmy had been planning a tour of Holland, Germany, France and Switzerland at the time of his death, one of the highlights of which was to be a high-speed drive on the German autobahns with his son-in-law, Frank. 

On the Sunday evening before his passing, he had attended the count of the recent County Council elections and proudly saw his youngest son, Jimmy re-elected to Kerry County Council to represent Listowel and Fianna Fáil.

Jimmy Snr died as he had lived, quietly and without fuss. He will be sadly missed by his sisters Kay and Marie, sons Dan, Conor and Jimmy, daughter Maeve, grandsons Isaac, Oscar, Max and Tom, daughter-in-law Una, son-in-law Frank and his wide network of relatives and friends. 


At the Conservation Seminar

At last week’s conservation seminar in Kerry Writers’ Museum, we looked at how we are doing so far with the work of maximising our existing heritage assets and how we can improve on things in the future.

We identified Childers’ Park as one of our greatest amenities. It is the only green flag municipal park in Ireland.

Work is continuing on accessing the lios (ring fort) after which the town is named.

The suggestion to erect a tourist information kiosk in the Square was not proceeded with and “Tourisn Ambassadors” were appointed instead. Since Kerry Writers’ Museum is already  a tourist information centre, it was decided to erect better signage to direct people there.

We have 400 free car parking spaces. These should be more than adequate for visitors and shoppers.

The work of the Tidy Town committee was widely praised and the Listowel Business and Community Alliance has already got stuck in and its new website, will be launched in the very near future. A website with up to date information on what is going  on in town is a necessity.

The success of the recent Revival music festival was mentioned and all of the town’s many festivals were noted a major assets to the touristm offering in Listowel.

Pauline Dennigan sent me the below photos

Kerry County Council staff and consultants with the mayor of Listowel Municipal District, Michael Kennelly and Julie Gleeson and Mary Hanlon of Listowel Tidy Towns Committee.

I met Martin Chute, master painter and sign writer at the seminar

The Owens of Ballyhorgan, Bibiana Foran and A Wireless Museum

Victorian Post box

This victorian post box in beautiful condition is in the railway station in Thurles. Isn’t it so much nicer than our modern rusting functional boxes?


Harriet Owen …A History

This is Harriet Owen who has family roots in Lixnaw with Paul Kennelly at a recent family reunion and celebration in Sheahan’s Cottage in Finuge.

Here in a nutshell is Harriet’s family connection to North Kerry

Harriet Owen

In 1750 William Owen (Miller) came from Wales to Rathdowney with his wife, Rebecca and three children. These were Rowland who married Isabella Scissons, They had no children, Robert married Sarah Hely and they had 8 children and Rebecca Owen.

The 7thchild of Robert and Sarah was John Hely Owen (1793-1870). He married Frances Smith in 1827. They had 6 children.

Henry Amyrald Smith Owe, son of John and Frances married Maria Frances gentleman in 1874. They lived in Ballyhorgan, Lixnaw. In 1860 Maria’s father  was instrumental in bringing the first bank to Listowel, The National Bank. Until then the nearest bank was in Limerick. Henry and Maria had 2 sons, John Hely Owen and Henry George Owen.

John Hely Owen (1877- 1952) married Lurline Ellis (known as Kitty) of Glenashone near Abbeyfeale. Her father, Richard Whateley Ellis was singer with  Carl Rosa Opera Company. The Ellis’ can trace their lineage back to Thomas Ellis of Co. Monaghan in the time of James the second. John Hely and Kitty lived at Ballyhorgan in the house known as The Cottage which had been built by old Goodman Gentleman as a dower house. They later moved to Glenashrone, formerly an Ellis house. When this house was burned during the civil war in 1922, the family moved back to Ballyhorgan. They had 5 children. The eldest, Henry Robert Owen sold the house and farm at Ballyhorgan in 1952.

Henry George Owen (1879-1955) married Olive Margaret Jane Eva Eager in 1910. When he married he moved to Aghatrohis, Bedford near Listowel. His wife Olive was the daughter of Major Oliver Stokes Eager, an army surgeon who served in the Ashanti War of 1873/74. The Eagwers were an old Kerry family The first Irish Eager , Robert was granted land in Queen’s County in the reign of Charles the First. His son, Alexander sold it and settled at Ballymalis, Co Kerry in 1667. The Stokes family had also lived in Kerry for many generations, being descended from The Knights of Kerry.

John Hely Owen and Frances Smith Owen’s granddaughter Frances Ayres married Sir Thomas Myles in 1888. He was a distinguished Dublin surgeon. As surgeon on duty, he attended Lord Cavendish and Mr. Burke in the Phoenix Park. He was an active supporter of Charles Steward Parnell’s Protestant Home Rule party. He owned a yacht, Cholah. In 1914 he was recruited along with Erskine Childers and Conor O’Brien to help in the importation of guns for the Irish Volunteers. Childers landed his part of the consignment from The Asgard at Howth on July 26 1914. A week later Myes’s cargo which consisted of 600 Mauser and 20,000 rounds of ammunition was landed by the Cholah in Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow. From 1900 to 1902 he was President of The Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and was knighted on completion of his term of office. He was honorary surgeon in Ireland to King George V and during World War 1 he was consulting surgeon to HM Forces in Ireland. For this he was made a C.B.


Who was this lady?

I’m only a little bit wiser as to who this lady was and I have found no-one yet to tell me what the os in her name is all about. Could it be Oide Scoile? Was she a teacher?

Bibiana was a member of the Board of Guardians. They were originally in charge of the workhouse but their roles expanded to include all issues relating to Health and Welfare and it is here that this lady came into her own.

Bibiana from Ballyahill was the wife of a local well -to -do merchant, Jeremiah Foran. She was a friend of Lady Aberdeen and she was very supportive of this lady’s Health Train initiative. This was like a travelling clinic that went round the country advising on women’s health.

Bibiana also initiated school meals and she backed the purchase of a field close to the town for the purpose of putting up a sanatorium.


Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum

Eddie Moylan, collector, restorer, curator, owner and guide at Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum is a Corkman. He has made his home in Listowel and he fits right in with this town’s great respect for artefacts from a bygone era. No town deserves Heritage Town status more than Listowel.

In his privately owned museum, Eddie has collected a mind blowing array of wireless, gramaphone and broadcasting memorabilia. Eddie is often visited by radio enthusiasts and people with a love for the old sounds and the old voices. He very kindly gave my visitors a tour recently and they were mightily impressed.

Breeda used to work in the post office and she remembered well the old radio licence.

Church St, Conditions for Listowel Children in 1915 and juvenile tennis players

Then and Now

Lower Church Street


Mrs Bibiana Foran of Listowel

Mrs. Foran was a kind of Lady Bountiful whose name comes up often in accounts of charitable acts in Listowel.

In 1915 she wrote this letter to The Kerryman

Dear Sir.—The present time of stirring events has, perhaps, been needed to bring home to us the importance of guarding the lives and preserving the vitality of our children. To those whom fortune has favoured in the way of wealth, there is no need to speak. The well-being of their children is taken as a matter of course; but the children of the poor—the future working assets of our nation, are those which must engage the thinking members of our population. We see around us every day, thousands of little lives dropping out, or children who go through life with maimed, deformed bodies, without considering why it should be so, or if it could be prevented. 

See what they are doing in other countries, spending thousands of pounds to have even proper playgrounds while here we seem to be centuries behind time in everything considering child welfare. In England the State provides, free meals, medical examination of schools, dental clinics, free books, grants for baby clubs, and maternity centres, where the expectant poor mother has received advice for months before her baby is born.

 A Child Welfare Committee has been formed in Dublin, of which the Solicitor-General is chairman, the views of which has secured the sympathy and support of Irish, Liberal, and Unionist Members of the House which guides our destinies, and it only remains now for you, sir, to arouse public opinion on the subject to strengthen their hands and obtain for the children of this country the same privileges as prevail in the Sister Isle. 

You already know what the Id. dinners have done for the poor children in Tralee, and our small experience here has shown us what the lunch given at our school has done for the little boys who have been receiving it for the past few years. £10 donation towards the Samaritan Funds of the W. N. H. A. enabled us to begin the lunch one cold, raw winter’s day to about 35 children. Since then, the number has been raised to 80 and all honour to the generous people of our town and district, we have never since been in want of funds for carrying it on. 

Our Queen’s Jubilee Nurse attend; three days every week during the lunch hours and any little boy showing signs of delicacy has been attended to quietly at her own cottage. And I venture to say the 80 odd little men were, in consequence, so much improved mentally and physically, within one year, a not to be known as the same. A little experience is worth volumes of writing and why not this be carried out in every school in Ireland by the State? We know that the present grant is absolutely inadequate and it only extends to urban districts, while the poor – children in country schools are labouring under the same, if not worse, conditions. Even one good, nourishing meal a day, medical inspection of schools where ailing children will be attended to in time; Dental Clinics, free books and a public playground in every town and city where children would be free to have that play so necessary for them, would change the whole aspect of those little ones in five years. While Baby Clubs and Maternity Centres would give them a chance -a fighting chance—for their lives with all the other nations of the earth.

It is only the Nuns and the Teachers who have been so nobly trying to battle with those drawbacks that could tell what it is costing us—and them—and surely leaving sentiment entirely out of the question is it not money well spent to preserve and fashion to its best the children of our race—THE FUTURE ASSETS OF OUR NATION. 

The child makes the man. How can you expect a man to emerge with brain, bone and sinew whose veins were starved in childhood on bread and tea, what fills our jails, workhouses and asylums, and places such burdens on the rates? Perhaps the answer is here

 Yours faithfully.



Tennis Club Championship Finalists in the 1980s

 Photo : Danny Gordon


Early Floral Display, January 2019

This lovely raised bed is on Market Street outside the old mart wall.


Juvenile Tennis Players Named

Photo; Danny Gordon.

Names with a little help from Elaine

Back L to R; Dympna Galvin, Paul O’Neill, J.J. Walsh, Laura O’Neill

Front: Shane O’Connor, Elaine Kinsella, Sinead Finnegan and Dan Browne

Apologies if I have misidentified anyone. The year was 1987.


Dance hall Devils

Hi, Mary, your dance-hall article reminds me of what Dan Paddy Andy ‘said’ (in J. B. Keane’s book) of such a ‘devil’ who was feared would arrive in his dance-hall. The devil was supposed to have been  a clerical student.  He was blamed for the ruination of so many young dance-hall women that he was christened, not the Lamb, but  ‘The Ram of God.’ Dan Paddy Andy proclaimed that if the ‘Ram of God’ ever came to his hall at Renagown, he would go home a wether! As you know, if that happened, he would be (harmlessly) leading a different sort of flock!!

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