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: Big Maggie

Nature photos, BlazeAid, Big Maggie in 1969 and 2018 and Welcoming the rain in summer 2018

Nature Photography

Photo; Chris Grayson

Readers of this blog know that I love a good wildlife photograph and one of my favourite wildlife photographers is Chris Grayson. The above photo is one that he entered for an Irish Times biodiversity competition. He didn’t win but when you look at the others he was up against, you’ll agree that it was a huge achievement to be shortlisted.

Here is the link;  11the Annual Biodiversity Photographer of the Year Competition 2018

and here is what Chris said about his image;

Blue Tit by Chris Grayson: “I took this pic in my Garden in Glenbeigh, Co Kerry. This beautiful Blue Tit and partner are happily nesting in a tiny gap in the stonework of my house. I caught this shot as she/he headed very quickly into the nest. They’ve been a joy to watch daily collecting caterpillars to feed their nestlings. Beautiful to see every day.”


Bert Hickie and a Different kind of volunteering

Bert, who grew up in Duagh follows Listowel Connection from Melbourne

He wrote:

Hi Mary,

  I love your blog & your entry about Molly made me LOL as I used to breed Cocker Spaniels when I lived in Duagh as a gorsoon to make pocket money which was spent quickly & foolishly, in hindsight. 

I have lived in Melbourne Australia since 1971 but I’m still considered Irish because I never lost the “accent” so they tell me . I retired in 2014 & started travelling around Oz in a campervan, & I’m on my second trip to Western Australia at present , but I also volunteer with BlazeAid, an organisation that helps people affected by fire, cyclones, floods, & droughts.

 I’m currently at a blazeaid camp in Cobden SW Victori,  replacing fences destroyed in “the St Patrickis Day bushfires” .  Its the middle of Winter here & its very similar weather that we used to get in late Nov in Irl. Cold,wet mud everywhere, thunderstorms, hail & sleet & sometimes frost in the mornings, but its all in a good cause & we get well looked after.

Your blogs keeps me in touch with all the local happenings in Listowel & the surrounding districts & sometimes little snippets of information that take me back to my days at St Michaels when I shared the same class as Batt Hannon, Seamus Brown, Michael O Keeffe Jim Keane, Maurice McMahon ,”Martin Sheehy & David Shaughnessy & Teddy Halpin,”all three  of whom I believe are deceased, also in that class was Thomas O Connor, Eugene Doyle ,John Moran, but my memory fails me on the other names.

Unfortunately, I cant say my days at St Michaels were happy ones.


John B. Keane’s Big Maggie

Big Maggie was first seen in a professional production in The Olympia in 1969. In the audience was a Kildare impresario, Paddy Melia. He couldn’t wait to produce it with his amateur actors, The Kilcullen Players. An approach was made to John B. and, lo and behold, The Kicullen Players in Kildare produced the first amateur Big Maggie. They took it around to several drama festivals to much critical acclaim.

Dave O’Sullivan found the newspaper accounts for us.

My connection with the Kilcullen Players is to Johnny O’Neill who played Byrne. My daughter is married to his grandson.

Johnny’s daughter, Mary was only 10 when her dad played the part and she wasn’t allowed to see it.  So when the Corofin Dramatic Society  performed it In St. John’s, Listowel as part of of the Remembering John B. festival, Mary was delighted to finally get an opportunity to see the great play. Let’s say she understood why her parents deemed it unsuitable.

Mary (O’Neill) Mc Kenna and her husband Tony met Conor and Joanna at the festival.


Welcome rain

After weeks of drought It’s great to welcome a drop of rain.

Big Maggie in New York in 1983, Ballylongford, Revival and a Rose comes to town

Revival 2017 Remembered

On Saturday evening August 12 2017 Revival rocked The Square Listowel. Below is Denis Carroll’s great capture of the colour and atmosphere of the event.

I was in The Square with my young visitors to get a flavour of the great night.

The Blizzards were on stage.

The stage was erected by this firm.

I met friends, Mirian Ahern and Karen Kennelly in town for the big night. In fact I met so many past pupils that I felt I was back in the classroom.

A wedding was in full swing in The Listowel Arms. The happy couple came outside to sample the vibe.

Old friends, Maurice Kelliher and Dominick Scanlon were enjoying the concert.

Ballylongford, Shannonside Home of Poets and Artists

This photo of the annual graveyard mass at Lislaughtin Abbey was posted on Facebook by Ballylongford Snaps

That site also has these lovely pictures of artistic wrought iron work on gates on the road to Carrig Island

The artist is Mick Rea


John B. Keane’s Big Maggie in New York in 1983

I was delighted to get this email from Marie Neligan Shaw.

Hi Mary,

Was cleaning out some bookshelves today and came across a Play Bill for the NY production of John B. Keane’s play Big Maggie at the Douglas Fairbank’s  theatre in 1983. I was at the play and the after party with John B. and Mary. It contains a letter from the then mayor of NY Ed Koch welcoming John B. And his play to theatre row. Was wondering if this was something you might like to include in your blog. If interested just let me know and I will mail it to you.




Do you remember the O’Donoghues of Tanavalla?

If you remember them or if you would just like to meet the Florida Rose, there will be a meet and greet reception for Elizabeth and her family in The Listowel Arms on Wednesday evening next, August 23 2017.


Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann 2017

Musicians and singers of Listowel Folk Group performed Garry MacMahon’s Aifreann na Ríochta at the fleadh in Ennis on Sunday.

Vintage Best Dressed 2015; the men and Big Maggie at The Gaiety

Vintage Fashion Day at Listowel Races 2015

This is Joe Broderick telling the story of his outfit to Angela Wall of An Taisce who were co sponsoring the Recycle/Upcycle event at Listowel Races 2015. Joe actually had a new suit and a lovely bowler hat. But he had a vintage accessory. On his watch chain he had a North Kerry football medal. He was recycling and reusing his corsage as well. He claimed he swiped the flowers on his way in.

This man won this competition last year. He looked just as smart this year, when he replaced the red tie with a blue one but the competition was very keen this year and he failed to make the final cut.

Paudie Moriarty was sporting a tie given to him by his late father, Gene who worked on The Island for many years. It was a lovely yellow number decorated with racehorses. His jacket was a present from his brother. It was actually a hand me down, passed on when his older brother lost some weight but it looked perfect on Paudie.

When Joe Broderick stepped up for his interview, the paparazzi were on it in an instant. I videod a bit of his interview HERE. Joe was a big hit with the judges and the audience.

This Galway man was a kind of novelty item. He was wearing a hat made from Heineken cans. He bought it in The Phillipines for €2 and he has been wearing it to race meetings since. He was full of praise for the Tidy Town movement. He, himself has a Super Valu who are  sponsors of Tidy Towns.  In answer to the so frequently asked question; No, he didn’t drink all the beer. He is a teetotaler.

The final line up

The finalists made their way into the parade ring for the announcement of the winner.

The Races were going on as usual and Mick  Ó hUallacháin was interviewing jockeys.

There was a poignant presentation taking place. Mrs. McElligott was presenting the winning trainer’s trophy to Willie Mullins in memory of her husband who had a long association with Listowel Races and who passed away earlier this year.

The winners were announced and there were two Moriartys in the shake up. Nora won the Ladies category and her brother in law, Paudie was the runner up in the mens’.

No one was surprised when the charming Joe was declared the winner.

Joe is a man who knows how to celebrate a victory. His hand went immediately to his pocket and he ordered a bottle of champagne.

Mairead from TG4 interviewed both winners.

Oonagh Harnett of Broderick’s Pharmacy sponsored the Ladies competition and Con McCarthy of McCarthy Insurance sponsored the mens’.

Nora’s family were delighted with her win.

Joe and Nora toast their success.

Listowel Tidy Town members with the organizers and judges of the event. Well pleased with how everything went.

Back at the tent everyone lines up for a photo and the ebullient Owen MacMahon leads us all in Lovely Listowel, just to get us in the mood for the following day’s match.

“Twas more like Geneva than Lovely Listowel”


Looking Ahead to Drama in 2016

Some of the Keane family gathered in Dublin last month for the launch of Druid’s production of Big Maggie at The Gaiety which is due to take the stage  29 January 2016 – 20 February 2016 .

It was an emotional event for the family as it came just months after the passing of their mother,Mary, widow of the late playwright, John B. Keane. In February 2015 The family accompanied by Mary were in that same theatre for the premier of The Field.


+    R.I.P. Kevin (Geg) Sheehy    +

(Photo:Listowel Celtic on Facebook)

Our streets will be lonelier and less colorful with the sad and untimely passing of Giggs Sheehy. The above photo posted by his friends in Listowel Celtic captures Kevin’s fun loving  upbeat personality.

He is a huge irreplaceable loss to his family. Listowel too has lost a great character.

Listowel changes

One little corner of Listowel is badly hit by the downturn.

I only moved a few paces to take these three photos yesterday. Sad!


This was the scene in Cahirdown last week as a new pedestrian crossing was being put in place outside Topaz.

As you can see the crossing is between the entrance and the exit of the busy filling station.


This corner looks great now.

And this one.


Kay Caball of Find Your Kerry Ancestors has a great blogpost here:

Muiris OSuilleabháin was one of the famous Blasket writers. Kay tells us that his daughter was a friend of Anne Moloney’s. This is what she says:

Muiris’ s daughter Máire
Ní Shúilleabháin-UíChiobháin
, who is now a retired Nurse. living in
Galway.   My  sister-in-law, Anne Moloney (Scully) got this lovely
letter from Máire reminiscing about their schooldays  in Dingle.  

We left Connemara
in 1954, four years after my father, Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, had
drowned.   At this point his sister Eibhlín, nó Neilí Sheáin Lís, had
died in Springfield and also her brother Séan – both in their forties – of
heart disease or heartache and loneliness.   A mixture of all I would
say, as their sister Máire had returned to Ireland and married Pádraig Ó
Ciobháin, and settled in Carraig, Baile na nGall.  Máire was the eldest of
the three Súilleabháins who had lived in Springfield.  It was said that
Máire leaving to go home affected them greatly and thit an tóin as an sail and
cailleadh le huaigneas an bheirt.  Níor phos cheachtar acu.

   This left my father Muiris, who
was drowned in 1950 and Mike who was now a tailor in Dingle, married to Hannah
Philí Ni Chearna, with no family.  Mike had served his time in the
tailoring trade with the Lynch family in the Cottges in Dingle.   He
had died in 1951 of heart disease.

   Hannah was now alone in Goat St,
as was the custom in those dark days, she was ‘mad to have me stay with her for
a while’ for the company.   So in 1954, I landed in Dingle where I spent
three magical eccentric years, leaving an imprint on my soul forever more.

    The small house backed onto
the Convent wall where I went to school at the age of 10 and spent three happy
years.  The nuns were wonderful women, totally dedicated, be it in the
classroom, or in the large welcoming kitchen with the Aga and its warmth, where
I was brought on a few occasions.  I must mention Sr. Mary of the Sacred
Heart or Sr. Mary Tarrant, who arrived as a fresh-faced new teacher and
mothered and cared for me whilst I was there.   She certainly
influenced us all greatly and we never forgot all she taught us.

   Three years afterwards, I was to
attend a Catholic girls’ school in West Yorkshire, run by the Passionist
Sisters, and found that what I carried with me from Dingle, placed me in a


Don’t forget that special guest is turning on the lights in The Square tonight, Nov 22 2013


Did you see this one? 

From the Surrey police!


The Christmas lights go on tonight. Here is a pic from last year to get you in the festive spirit.


A Lidl Bit of Lidl Magic

Lidl, John B. Keane Road, Listowel on Weds. Nov 20 2013


I saw this in St. John’s last night.  Great play, great show…well done all. The 2 remaining shows are fully booked. There is an extra show on Monday night but book early.

(John Kelliher took the photos)

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