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: Blasket Islands

Blasket Donkeys and the Current State of Presentation Convent, Listowel and Kissane Clan Gathering

Gymnasts in The Square


Athea Mural Update

Do you remember I told you that the figure that the artist, Jim Dunn had added to his mural was a well known local man. The stethoscope protruding from his pocket now gives the game away, it’s Athea’s very popular  G.P.


Blasket Donkeys

Chris Grayson took these interesting photos of Blasket Island Donkeys.

The very hairy one looks like a different breed. Or is he just very old and no longer losing his winter coat?

I read somewhere that the island people used to only keep female donkeys. If they had both sexes the males would get frisky and might fall off the cliffs and into the sea so they had to bring the mares to the mainland for the mating pourposes.


Snapped in Listowel

I ran into Tralee people, Seán Lyons and his lovely daughter. Maeve, recently.


Update on the Convent

Whenever I’m in the vicinity, I take the opportunity to document the slow decline into ruin of Presentation Convent, Listowel.

I took these photos on August 1 2017. They speak for themselves.


Kissane Clan Gathering

You’ve seen the photos, now help them celebrate family.

The planned gathering will open with a gala banquet on Friday evening August 18 2017.

Tickets (€50) are available at Listowel Arms Hotel reception. All Kissane of Kilcox descendants won’t want to miss this one. Anyone with an interest in this family is welcome to the banquet.

On Saturday August 19th, proceedings move to The Thatch in Lisselton for the launch of “Descendants of John the Elder”, a hard back book including over 90 photographs. This promises to be a great night of family history and reminiscence. The launch will be followed by a night of music and craic with family, friends and neighbours.

A highlight of the weekend will be the Walk and Talk with Eily Walsh. I’m reproducing here Eily’s guidelines for those Kissanes planning to attend the walk. This is one for the descendants.

On Saturday Afternoon
19th at 3.p.m. and, again on Sunday Morning 20th August  at 12.30 p.m. The Thatch will also be the
Gathering Point for the “Walk and Talk” to be held in Kilcox throughout the
weekend. (Weather permitting) We expect tickets for these walks to sell very
quickly. There are only 25 places MAX for each walk.  Your name will be held on a Booking list and
your ticket may be collected at the Thatch Bar a half hour before the walk
starts. The Thatch will be the Gathering Point for the Walk, and we will drive
in convoy to the two adjoining Kilcox Farms (Scralom Entrance) where the “Walk
and Talk” will start. There will be ample parking for up to 20 cars. Tickets
are 10 euro each. The walk is very easy and will last approx. 75 minutes.
Suitable footwear or flat shoes are advisable. Please bring a jacket as you
will be on exposed ground  – whether the
sun shines or not. The walk itself is flat and easy, and suitable for all ages
with only a slight incline at the end. There are wonderful panoramic views so be
sure and bring the camera! 

Sunday August 20th will see the gathered Kissane clan in Coolahan’s of Tarbert at 2.30p.m. for an afternoon of music and “sheer joy”.

Family gathered for the gathering weekend will be anxious to visit the Kissane tombs in Killeheny. The two tombs will be marked with an identifying marker for the weekend. Ballybunion church will also be open to visitors.


We are Family

The Kissane family of Kilcox in North Kerry has spread far and wide. There are branches of the family in the U.S. and Australia and representatives of all of this scattered clan are coming home to Kerry this weekend for this great celebration of family.

I was privileged to be in St. John’s on Saturday Aug 11 2017 as the exhibition of family photographs to accompany the Kissane Gathering was launched by Eamon OMurchú. Eamon is justly proud of his Kissane ancestors. As a photographer, he knows the importance of family photographs and their role in family history. If you are in Listowel, call in to St. John’s to see this important collection of Kissane family history and memorabilia.

The collection was curated by Eily Walsh (here on left of Eamon ÓMurchú). Eily has invested hours and hours of time and effort into collecting the photographs and researching the family history. This weekend gathering and book are all due to her tireless work.

Keelin Kissane of Kerry and Dublin with Barbara Kissane of New York. The ladies are standing in front of a photograph of Barbara’s parents on their wedding day.

Barbara’s dad, Pats Kissane, was the first president of the New York Kerryman’s Association. Keelin is the current chairperson of the Dublin Kerryman’s Association.


Our Very Own Disney Princess

I met this lovely Rose in The Kingdom Greyhound Stadium last night. She is Elizabeth Marine, the Florida Rose.

She is mighty proud of her Listowel connection. She feels that her presence here is in honour of her grandfather, Tom O’Donoghue of Tannavalla who left Listowel for Pittsburg with a heart full of hope and a head full of dreams. He made a success of his life in the land of the brave and the home of the free. He never forgot his Kerry roots and he steeped his family in Irish traditions and Irish culture. He loved Irish music, song and dance and above all he was passionate about Gaelic football. He, himself was a handy footballer with the Six Crosses team.

Elizabeth, his granddaughter, is a singer and dancer. I don’t know about the Gaelic football. Her cousins look after that tradition. She is in Tralee with her mother and her sister. Her dad had to stay behind in Florida to look after her severely disabled brother.

If you run into The Roses this week, be sure to single out the Florida Rose. Tell her you are from Listowel and she will be delighted to meet you.

Tom O’Connell, builder, E.J. Stack’s then and now, and a story of a Blasket connection

Picture of a hard working man

This is Tom O’Connell hard at work this week. It’s not all work and no play for Tom though, I took the below picture when I met him out walking his dog in Listowel Town Park in 2009.


Then and Now

E. J. Stack;  The Arcade

(photo: Damien Stack)



Listowel connection with the Blasket Islands

A story from this week’s Kerry’s Eye

This is one of the photographs on display in Saint John’s as part  of the exhibition of photos depicting life on the islands. Below is an account of the Listowel connection.


Flowerbed on Convent St.

65,000 Irish Horses, Blasket exhibition and another postbox

Ballybunion…a fisherman’s view

(Mike Enright)


War Horses

This beautiful horse is my niece’s eventing horse. He is a far cry from the horses we heard about in a brilliant documentary on Radio 1 on Sunday night, August 17 2014.  I’d advise anyone with even a passing interest in horses to listen back.

At the outbreak of The Great War in 1914, there was a pressing need for lots and lots of horses in double quick time. They were used for bringing munitions to the front, for bringing supplies to the troops, for pulling ambulance carts and, of course, in the heat of combat when they were expected to ride into the thick of battle where so many of them lost their lives.

We must remember that Ireland then was a 32 county island under British rule so it was only to be expected that the men tasked with finding these horses would look to our equine stock.

These poor horses were ill prepared for the ordeal ahead. The conditions they endured and their terrible fate is graphically described in the radio documentary.


Some photos from Sunday in Tralee Town Park

Garda Helicopter
Richie Kavanagh
Kerry School of Music


Elizabethan Post Box in Killarney

This box was made by W. and T. Allen and Co. of London.


Exhibition of photographs of Blasket Island people

This exhibition of extraordinary photos of islanders is currently on show in St. John’s. The photos show a way of life that was at once romantic and cruelly spartan. Blasket islanders were fairly self sufficient. They were ruled by their own king, they spoke their own language, had their own distinctive style of dress and lived life close to Nature, dragging a subsistence living from the sea and the rocky landscape.

Liadh Ní Riada officially opened the exhibition and she and the MC for the night, Gabriel Fitzmaurice spoke eloquently in both Irish and English of their love for the islands and the body of literature that emerged from writers born on The Blaskets.

Below are a few photographs from the official opening

Liadh Ní Riada M.E.P.
Micheál ÓMórdha of Ionad Oidhreachta an Blascaoid presenting copies of the book of photos to Liadh, Gabriel and Joe Murphy


Good News for North Kerry Genealogists

A wonderful record of longevity was celebrated in Tarbert on Sunday last,
when the congregation and a large gathering commemorated the bi-centenary of
Kilnaughtin 1814-2014.   To mark this event, the Tarbert Historical
and Heritage Society launched an impressive book ‘200 Years of
Change’.    For anyone interested in the history/genealogy of
the North Kerry area, the book is a must.

The contributors to the book were able to draw from the Vestry Minutes Book
1778 – 1834, valuable primary sources.  There are 254 pages of local
history, including stories of bygone farming practices, and excerpts from the
1938 Schools Folklore Essays, submitted at that time by pupils of Kilnaughtin
National School.

For myself, the fascination of reading the entire Register of Baptisms
1793-1914, clearly printed,  no scowling through  a magnifying glass
trying to decipher long faded entries, was a revelation.  The lists
include the date of Baptism, Christian Names, Parents Names and Place of Abode.

This is the first paragraph of a great article on Kilnaughtin Parish records from Kay Caball’s Find my Kerry Ancestors.  Read the rest of the article at

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