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: books

Knock, a polka set and Nicola Dore

Changes at Knock

Recent pilgrims to Knock found the interior of the basilica much changed.


The joys of Reading

What am I reading?

Just finished The Children Act by Ian McEwan:  Brilliant….perfect for a rainy day


Listowel Polka Set

(newspaper cutting from Betty Stack)


 From Limerick Leader  by Anne Sheridan

NICOLA DORE has had cerebral palsy
since birth.

Now 27 and confined to a wheelchair,
the young woman is positively beaming about the opportunities that lie in store
for her – and she is literally grabbing one chance with both hands and all the
strength she can muster.

Already a seasoned competitor on the
track in Limerick, where she has won the wheelchair race of the women’s mini
marathon on several occasions, Nicola has now made the Irish para-powerlifting
team and has become the first Irish woman to do so.

“I want to be the first Irish woman
to make it to Rio [in this sport] in 2016,” she enthuses. “I have a lot of
confidence, don’t see any limitations in my life. I like challenges and I want
to prove it’s not just a sport for men.”

Nicola only started training in
earnest this February, when someone enquired if she would be interested in
trying it out.

She got on to the team “fairly
quickly”, which she is still thrilled by, and is now hoping to make the
European championships in Hungary this coming November.

She lifted 37.5kg in a bench-press on
her first night, and is on a programme to lift 55kg, but already has that feat
under her belt. In the early stages of her training, she managed to do two reps
of 50kg – now she is doing 24 reps in one session.

In addition to training in Limerick,
Cork and Dublin – particularly under RyanFlanaganand Arthur Lynch in the UL Arena – her own home is kitted out
with all the equipment she needs, allowing her to train at any given

Para-powerlifters lift weights while
lying on their backs and with their legs strapped down, she explained.

While Nicola enjoys all sports,
particularly basketball, para-powerlifting is now consuming all of her focus,
as she prepares for the European and potentially the Olympic Games in Rio de
Janeiro in 2016.

In the London Olympic Games in 2012, RoyGuerin, a former wheelchair track athlete,
became the first Irishman in over 50 years to compete in Paralympic
powerlifting. Could Nicola also enter the history books?


A Few More Old Ads

October, Mike the Pies, Lough Derg and I’ve seen the future and it’s digital

St. Michael’s Graveyard on a misty October morning, 2014


Mike the Pies

This iconic bar in Upper William St. takes its name from the famous meat pies which were traditionally served there during Raceweek. The photographs below appeared on the pub’s Facebook page

Mike the Pies

Local people put the date of the first photo at 1984 or 89. The second one shows the popular pub in more recent times.


Scouts in Market St. in the 1940s


Memories, Memories!

Michael Kennelly’s Lough Derg picture brought back many memories for my blog readers. Listowel people took many of these pilgrimages right up to the 1980s. with many people traveling to the penitential island year after year.

Names for these ladies are slow in coming forward but this might be helpful:

From that picture of the Lough Derg group on the boat I recognize two people: Eileen Bunyan, Convent Cross (in the dark suit at the back) and Margaret Brown, Convent St. (looking at the camera with coat over her shoulders.

One diligent historian has taken it upon himself to write to the record keeper in Lough Derg. Below is her reply:

Thank you so much for your email .  It is amazing to see the old photographs from the pilgrimage in 1954.

I can check our pilgrim ledgers to see if 1954 Season is there – not all years were preserved.  If it is there then it simply lists the pilgrims names, no address etc.  But perhaps I can identify Michael Kennelly’s name and see who is listed immediately before and after him.  Did the 2000 pilgrims travel over the course of the whole Season (1st June – 13th August). 34,039 pilgrims in total made the pilgrimage in 1954, the second highest number for any one season since pilgrims numbers have been recorded since 1861.  The highest number was 34,645 recorded in 1952.  I wonder what was the reason for such high numbers in the early 1950’s?

Leave this with me .  Our archives are on the Island and I am now back in our office in Pettigo Village for the winter months but I do plan to go across to the Island one day next week to tidy up a few bits and pieces and I will check the ledgers then.

Best regards

Maureen Boyle

PA Fr Owen J Mc Eneaney, Prior


Did you have one of these?

This is a photo from the 1970s of  little girl on her typewriter writing her first novel.

Fast forward to 2014. Today’s little girl who, in the parlance of the trade, is “a digital native” will write her novel on her tablet. It will never see paper. It will be downloaded by anyone who wants to read it and it will come with interactive graphics and lots of embedded content.

The long predicted demise of the book, as we know it, is upon us. Future generations will subscribe to a service like Netflix, pay a regular subscription and read whatever they want when they want on their tablet or smart phone.

Dedicated ebook devices like Kindle have had their day too. Future readers will merely flip their tablet into “book mode” and hey presto, they have all the benefits of back lighting, book marking etc.

Such is the onward march of progress!!!!


Nowhere to go In Ballybunion

Old ads, Fun cycle and Pres.girls of yesteryear

Today March 7 2013 is World Book Day, so grab a book, make yourself a cuppa and rediscover the joy of reading. I’m reading The Bookseller of Kabul at the moment and it’s brilliant. I would also highly recommend Jennifer Johnston’s The Illusionist which I have just finished.


Jer Kennelly went to Pallaskenry on March 1 2013 to see the relic of the founder of the Salesian order, Don Bosco. Here is the lovely video he made of his visit;


I found a school year book from twenty years ago. Among the many fascinating items in the magazine were the ads. I was amazed at how many of the businesses advertising in 1992 are no longer with us.

Here are a few to jog your memory of Listowel twenty years ago/.


Root out the old bike and oil it up. Get the helmet and bicycle clips ready. On St. Patrick’s a fun cycle will start at Listowel Community Centre at 10.00 a.m.and make its way to Abbeyfeale. There you can join up with the hundreds of walkers, cyclists and pram pushers who are going to take a ramble along the Great Southern Trail. 


This is a photo of a happy group of Pres. girls. Surely someone will remember when where  and why this photo was taken.


Martin Sheehy formerly of Main St. is enjoying Vincent’s book. He wrote:

Having received Vincent’s ” Listowel ” as a gift from brother Jerry in Listowel, it is a joy to read here in Phoenix, AZ. House by house, street by street he gives us a history of our town between 1850 to 1950.

Very nice, also, in the blog, to read John Fitzgerald’s memories of Tae Lane. ”


Saint Philomena

Sr. Nora Carmody, formerly of this parish identified the mystery lady for us.

She writes

 “A few years ago I read the life of St. John Vianney (Curé d’ Ars), and it was then I learnt about St. Philomena.    She was born in 291, died in 304, aged 13  but her remains were not discovered until 1802.  She was honoured 13th Jan. 1837, and after that devotion to her increased.  She is Patroness of babies, infants, children, and some more.  So in the early 1900’s Philomena became a popular name – My sister, Maura was christened  Mary Philomena. ” 

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