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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Remembering and Celebrating

Charles Street, April 6 2024

Forty Years of Gardening

Radio Kerry’s lovely new wagon was the first indication that today was a big day at Listowel Garden Centre.

Forty years in business for the MacAuliffe Roberts family

There were raffles every hour on the hour in aid of Listowel Hospice.

A great day of celebration and fun.

Remembering Michelle

It is always unbelievably sad when a yearbook contains an obituary. Michelle had only just left Pres. and her memory was still very much alive in the school when she died. She made a mark. May she rest in peace

Just a Thought

Here is the link to my reflections in the Just a Thought slot on Radio Kerry last week.

Just a Thought

Immigrant Communities in Britain

This is Rook Street in London in 1912. There was a large Irish community in the Poplar area in the East end of London in the early 1900s. This photograph shows local residents preparing for their Corpus Christi procession.

The photograph is part of a collection in the National Archives in Britain. The postcard was sent to me by Ethel Corduff (formerly Walsh of Tralee). Ethel has a great interest in immigration and immigrant communities. It was she who studied and documented the story of Irish girls training as nurses in British hospitals. Her important book, Ireland’s Loss, England’s Gain tells their story.

A Poem

John McAuliffe doesn’t find an empty house creepy at all.

Today’s Fact

During the 1950s atomic bomb tests were a popular tourist attraction in Las Vegas.


The Stunning to Headline Revival 2024

Charles Street, Sunday April 6 2024

A Find

James Kenny found this copy of Michael Hartnett’s Last Aisling in the poet’s handwriting, dated and signed. I’m presuming the original is in the Hartnett archive.

David O’Sullivan located the poem in an old Sunday Independent.

An Aisling is a genre of Irish poetry. In it Ireland appears to the poet in the form of a beautiful woman. She tells him her troubles but encourages him and gives him hope for help is on the way.

The Stunning

Pres. Yearbook 2004-2005

Cover design by Joan Stack

A great year for basketball

Jer’s find in the Newspaper Archives

Irish Examiner Saturday, 27 January, 1894;

A KERRY Missionary. Among those selected by the Holy Father to go forth during the present year to preach the Gospel in foreign parts, is the Rev Thomas Griffin, a young Kerryman, who comes of a family which have given many faithful and zealous servants to the Church. Father Griffin, who is a son of Mr Jeremiah Griffin, formerly of Listowel, and late of Queenstown, was educated at the College of the Pious Society of Missions (to which Order he belongs) at Rome, where be was ordained last autumn, and had a most successful collegiate career, acquiring in addition to the indispensable classical and theological curriculum, a thorough knowledge of French, Italian, Spanish and German, which he speaks with fluency and ease.

A Fact

In 1937 laminated glass in vehicle windscreens became mandatory in Britain. My calendar didn’t tell me if Ireland followed suit but there was little or no vehicle manufacturing going on here anyway. Factories like Ford assembled cars from parts imported into their Cork plant.


Charles St., Women in Media 2019 and Teampall Bán

Easter in St. Mary’s


Charles Street/ Sráid Uí Chonghaile

Here is another example of a street with a name in English, by which it is known and a name in Irish which no one uses. I have also discovered that not only does no one I know use the Irish name but most of my friends  are unaware that there is an Irish name that is not a translation of the English.

In the case of Charles Street, local lore has it that the street was named by Lord Listowel after one of his sons.


Women in Media 2019

Here are a few of the local people I photographed in Ballybunion on Saturday April 28 2019


Teampall Bán

I had visitors for the weekend and, as well as going to two productions in St. Johns, a few panel discussions in Women in Media conference, and a brilliant seminar in Lixnaw I found a minute to bring them to Teampall Bán. They absolutely loved it and vowed to return.

They thought this gable mural by Maurice Pierse was both moving and prayerful.

They loved the little oratory and the stations of the cross.

They appreciated that there was somewhere to sit and contemplate all the history that is gathered in this place, a whole swathe of Listowel’s population wiped out by the Great Hunger.


The Workhouse

from the Dúchas Folklore collection

The Workhouse was built in 1841. In the famine years it was full up of people who had no food to eat and other houses were used as workhouses. One of these was the college and another Dowd’s house. The People who died in the workhouse were buried in Teampall Bán. In the year 1920 the workhouse was closed and the poor people were removed to the county Home in Killarney. 

The house next to the workhouse was turned into a convent in 1891. The mercy nuns lived here. Before that this house was occupied by a party of British horse-soldiers called the Scots’ Greys. They lived there from 1880 until 1883. One of these was drowned in the river and the place is now known as the Corporals’ hole

In 1922 the workhouse was burned down by the Republicans and at the present time a new hospital is being built.

Maurice Bambury

Mayor’s Award for LWW, Garda John O’Donnell R.I.P.. Auction at Gurtinard House and changes on Charles Street

Listowel Garda Station in 2019

Church Street, Listowel, January 2019


Mayor’s Award for Writers’ Week

The great literary festival that is Listowel Writers’Week was recognised last week at the presentation of the Mayor of Kerry’s awards,

If ever there was a definition of blue sky thinking, Writers’ Week is a living example. The literary festival goes from strength to strength. Now it is expanding outside a short week in summer into a year long engagement with other festivals and events. The visionary committee well deserves this award.

Accepting the award on behalf of everyone in Listowel Writers’ Week are;

Left to Right; Eilish Wren, Joanna O’Flynn, Máire Logue, Norma Foley (Mayor)

 Madeleine O’Sullivan, Miriam Griffin and Elizabeth Dunn


The Late Garda John O’Donnell

I told this story before in 2012 but I think it’s worth telling again.

Garda John O’Donnell who was in his early thirties was stationed in Kanturk, Co. Cork.  In the summer of 1940 he was on holiday in Ballybunion with his wife and three young children.  He told a relative that he would have preferred to holiday in his native Burtonport but petrol was rationed during the war  and he couldn’t secure enough fuel for the journey.

On the evening of July 20 1940 he was swimming near Castle Point when a freak wave swept him and other swimmers on to the rocks. John drowned while attempting to rescue two local girls, Vera and Patricia O’Carroll. The girls were eventually rescued by others who were present.

Listowel’s Dr. Joseph McGuire was the coroner who presided over the inquest which was held on the following day. The jury commended Mr. Jack McGuire, then a medical student, for his bravery in taking out a life buoy into rough seas in a vain attempt to  save John O’Donnell who was being dragged out to sea by the strong current.

In an extra tragic twist, the body of John O’Donnell was formally identified by his brother who was then only 17 years old.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, letters were published in The Kerryman calling for life guards on Ballybunion beach and the presence of a rescue boat and a competent crew to man it.

Garda O’Donnell was remembered in Kanturk, where he had been living for six years, as a quiet, unobtrusive, helpful brave man. 

He was posthumously decorated by the state for his bravery. 

This courageous man was the grandfather of the very talented artist, playwright and composer Mike O’Donnell.

Dave O’Sullivan found a few newspaper cuttings relevant to the awful tragedy.


Auction at Gurtinard House in 1868

In June of 1868, Lord Listowel’s agent, James Murray Home sold everything in Gurtinard House in an “unreserved auction”. The notice was published in the Evening Post of May 23 with a list of items to be disposed of. It makes interesting reading


Then and Now

Charles Street, January 2019

Knockanure, Charles Street friends, Fr. Roger and Doran’s Pharmacy, Church Street

Photo: Chris Grayson


Knockanure parish church in May 2018


First Communion, Knockanure May 2018


Boyhood Friends

Martin Griffin gave me this old photo to share with you.

In front;  Billy Dore, Dominick Scanlon and Richie Chute R.I.P.

Back Buddy Jones and Frank Chute


Convent Chapel May 2018


R.I.P.   Fr. Roger Duggan

Last week I attended the funeral mass of Fr. Roger Duggan in St. Mary’s Listowel. It was a small funeral, because, in the words of Fr. John Fitzgerald who celebrated the mass, Roger had become a Kerryman only recently.

Fr. Roger was far from “unknown” and during his life he had travelled and served and sang and had many adventures.

As was fitting for a man who loved music his funeral mass featured some of the most heavenly music I have heard in St. Mary’s, Listowel.

So who was this gentle holy man?

Fr. Roger Duggan was the only brother of Una Hayes, whom I have come to know through our both belonging to the  Knitwits knitting group.

Una and Roger were born in Wales to Irish parents. They moved to Birmingham and it is here that Roger and Una grew up.

Roger worked in Wales, in England and eventually in Australia. His cv is very diverse. He worked in taxation, in sheep shearing, in the hospitality industry and in railway building.

Eventually this very intelligent and well read man decided on a life in the religious order of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.  He was ordained in 1993 and spent his life in ministry in Australia.

When he retired, he relocated to Cork. He took up a new role as chaplain to the local convent and he helped out with the work of the parish.

When he fell into ill health it was decided that he would be happiest nearer to his beloved Una and her husband Liam and so he spent his last years being well looked after in Oaklands Nursing Home.

May he rest in peace


Doran’s Pharmacy, Listowel opening

I disturbed Norma and staff as they put the finishing touches to her new shop. Outside, the final brush was being put to the paint.


Things ar Hotting up in the Writers’ Week office

All hands on deck, shoulders to the wheel and noses to the grindstone. Writers Week 2018 is 2 days away.


Nathan Carter meets a Star and her husband

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