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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Story Behind The Rose of Tralee Festival

Rewilded meadow in Childers’ Park in August 2023


Then and Now

I’m sure plans are afoot to redo the mural. In the meantime, the blank wall has its own significance. The Famine was a time of wiping out, whole families, whole neighbourhoods “bánaithe”.


Date for the Diary

September 14 to 17 2023


The Rose of Tralee

Mick O’Callaghan writes a very entertaining blog

A Rambler’s Blog

Last week he filled us in on the back story of the Rose of Tralee.

The Mary referred to in this love song was Mary O Connor who was the beautiful daughter of a local shoemaker living in the appropriately named Brogue Lane at the bottom of Rock Street, Tralee. For visitors to the town of Tralee many of you will have seen The Brogue Inn which is the territory we are speaking about.

She got a job minding children at age 17 and there she met William Pembroke Mulchinock, who was a protestant, and, in those days, mixed marriages were frowned upon. William was wrongly implicated in the death of a Daniel O Connell supporter, and he was forced to emigrate to India where he worked as a war correspondent. He returned to Ireland in 1849 to marry his Mary having got engaged to her before he left for India. On the day he returned to Tralee, there was a funeral of one Mary O Connor aged 29 years. William was broken hearted. He later met Alicia Keogh whom he married, emigrated to America, and had a family. This marriage broke up and William returned to Ireland in 1855. He turned to alcohol, did some writing, and died in Ashe Street, Tralee in 1864 aged 44 years.

It was in his final years here that he penned the last verse of The Rose of Tralee

In the far fields of India mid wars dreadful thunder

Her voice was a comfort and solace to me,

But the cruel hand of death has now rent us asunder,

I’m lonely tonight for my rose of Tralee.



The sign says that the closure is temporary.


A Fact

An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.


The Loo Hullabuloo Part 3, Some Wild Flowers, A Tree Planting Project and a Horse Fair

Cherry Tree in Blossom

On the John B. Keane Road, Listowel in March 2019


Looking to The Future

Photo: Listowel Tidy Towns

Friday April 5 2019 was a very significant day in Listowel’s history. In an initiative from Kerry County Council and facilitated locally by Listowel Tidy Towns Group, young people from Listowel schools planted 420 saplings in and around Childers’ Park. All the trees are native Irish species. Future generations of Listowel people will enjoy this important legacy.

Hard working Tidy Towns’ volunteers Imelda and Bridget are the school liaison officers. They are pictured here with some of the Junior Tidy Towns’ Group before the tree planting.

Photo credit: Listowel Tidy Town’s Group


Listowel’s ‘s  Public Toilet

For those who have been following this story which began back in 1942 we are now in the 1970s and the headline writers are having a field day. Everyone seems to be about to lose patience with the saga when eventually a solution is reached , a site acceptable to everyone is secured and the toilet built. 

Thanks to Dave O’Sullivan for the research.


Flower Miles

Flowers on the right travelled many miles across Europe to a hall table in Knockanure. The flowers on the left came from outside the window.


April Horse Fair 2019

The traditional horse fair has morphed into a street fair. You could buy just about anything from a needle to an anchor on Market Street on April 4 2019.

Here are a few snapshots of the fair.

Childers Park in Autumn, Fitzgeralds in the U.S. and new memorabilia for the Lartigue Museum

Photographer in the Park

Deirdre Lyons took these lovely autumnal photographs in Childers Park, Listowel in early Autumn 2018


Proud of his Kerry Roots

I’ve been writing this blog now for 7 years. There are over a million posts now out there in cyberspace. Every now and again someone googles something or someone and finds his way to an old blog post, This is what happened to Robert  Fitzgerald when he looked online for information about his ancestors.

He sent an email;

Good Evening:

I recently came across your blog post Farmers and gardeners from Tuesday, 3 January 2012.  The man that you talk about (Thomas Fitzgerald) turns out to be my great, great, grandfather.  I am only recently starting to find out more about the heritage of my family and it is my knowledge that Thomas came to Beaver, Pennsylvania to start a floral business and the many, many descendants of this Listowel gentleman have remained in the same small town for over 5 generations now.  Thomas had a son John (my great grandfather), who had a son John Lee (my grandfather), who had a son James (my father), that led to myself, Robert.  There are of course many other children involved as our family has grown quite considerably from the small Listowel roots. 

I am quite uncertain of any relatives still living in the Listowel area or the entirety of Ireland for that matter, but it is my intent to make the trip out there sometime in the near future and see for myself the humble beginnings of Thomas Fitzgerald and what is now a massive family here in the US. Browsing through some of the more recent posts on the blog, I see that the local area is quite beautiful and certainly full of history and tradition.  

I want to thank you for putting that information out in the blog as I was able to really uncover a lot of family history and learn a bit more about the small Irish town that my family descends from after many generations and what was thought to be lost history.

Very Respectfully,

Robert Fitzgerald

And here is the blogpost he is referring to ;

Here is a man I found on the internet. He has a Listowel connection but I wonder if he is related to any Fitzgeralds who still live around here.

FITZGERALD:   John Fitzgerald and Mary Conway Fitzgerald, of County Kerry, Ireland saw their second son, Thomas off  to Canada in 1862.  Thomas, who was born in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland, came from a long line of gardeners and had worked at this since he was a boy in Ireland, managing the grounds and hothouses of Lord Colliss, of Tarbert township, County Kerry, Ireland and for 15 years an estate in Glin, County Limerick, Ireland. Thomas was leaving his beloved land to earn enough to bring his intended over and get married.  After 3 years of work in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, he was successful and brought Mary Healey, his intended over and they married.  Their first child was Patrick, born in 1865.  At this time Thomas and his family moved to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area where he worked as a gardener on a nearby estate. While in Pittsburgh, Mary and Thomas had seven more children; John, who became manager of the Plumbers Supply Company in Erie, Pennsylvania; Thomas M., who was sent to study in Ireland for 3 years, and returned to open a large florist business in Beaver, Pennsylvania; James F.; Annie; Mary Catherine; Edward, who married Catherine Conville and was sent to Erie with his four children to help his brother John with the business in Erie; and William.  Thomas and Mary later moved to Beaver to help in their son Thomas M. Fitzgerald’s greenhouses.

Two published biographical sketches provide great insight into the life of the Fitzgerald’s of Allegheny and Beaver County Pennsylvania

Update: 10.00a.m. Vincent has looked him up and this Fitzgerald gardener is from Tarbert. He was married in Ballylongford on July 24 1832.

So if you are a Tarbert Fitzgerald and you think you are a relative, do drop an email to Listowel Connection.


Lartigue Museum Received Fascinating Donation

Recently the Lartigue Museum have put on display some lovely old postcards and photographs donated to the museum by Catherine Kenton

Town Park, Sinn Féin v. Lord Listowel and Ballylongford remembers the days of old

Listowel Town Park Today

This little house is now known as The Dandy Lodge. Most older Listowel people knew it as Danaher’s Lodge. The Dandy Lodge seems to be a name that came about when it was relocated in the park.

On the subject of names, the Town Park is actually Childers’ Park after the late Erskine Childers, who was the only Irish president to die in office. Older Listowel people call it The Cows’ Lawn remembering its iconic place in the history of Listowel.

This path is relatively new. It runs between the children’s playground and the pitch and putt course.

The playground was busy on the sunny evening I took my walk.


Listowel’s Childers’ Park, a painful memory

Kay (Moloney) Caball is a historian with a particular interest in Gurtinard House, her childhood home and in the long struggle put up by Listowel elders to secure Lord Listowel’s front lawn as a public amenity for the people of Listowel.

I took this photo after her excellent talk to Listowel’s Historical Society in The Seanchaí on Sunday April 22 2018

Kay is on the left of my picture. Chatting to her is Donal O’Connor of Tarbert and Helen Moylan of Listowel.

One hundred years ago, at the height of World War 1, there were  many poor people in Listowel who were struggling to feed big families. We know that Listowel made a huge contribution of manpower to the front. Jim Halpin once told me that there was one area in Listowel which provided more soldiers that any street in any town in England. Pals’ Brigades were a way of encouraging brothers and friends to enlist. This policy left many towns, including Listowel, bereft of young men.

Listowel was lucky to have a very able leader in the late Jack McKenna, father of the present Jack McKenna. He was chair of Listowel Town Council and he was also on Kerry County Council. He was a member of Sinn Féin. He conducted a long campaign of letter writing to Lord Listowel’s agent with a request to hand over his 2 “lawns” to the town for tilling to plant vegetables.

His campaign was not meeting with any success so he and some more elders of the town set up The Sinn Féin Food Committee and took it on themselves to cut the locks on the gates and, helped by volunteers from local areas, who brought ploughs and manpower, they ploughed up the lawns.

This act of civil disobedience saw them before the courts and landed with prison sentences.

Kay Caball has done a thorough study of this episode and what followed.

Her talk was filmed by Mike Guerin and it is available  here;

Sinn Féin Food Committee versus Lord Listowel

Paul Murphy, who is a great friend of Listowel Connection, sent me some stuff on his grandfather who was one of the town folk who was sentenced to jail. He served his time in Ballykinlar, Belfast. Most of the men were jailed in Cork but Jack McKenna was also incarcerated in Belfast. The regime here seems to have been particularly brutal and Mr. McKenna came home with his health broken and unable to continue with his civic work.


Local and National Treasures

In St. Joseph’s National School in Ballylongford they had a vintage day when the children displayed the artefacts they had researched.

The antiquities included a Box Brownie Camera, a tilly lamp, a bed warmer, a shoemaker’s last,  a smoothing iron, a school bell and a washboard. 

I feel old as I acknowledge that I remember all except the bedwarmer in use.


Listowel History and Comic Festival

Friday May 4 2018 to Sunday May 6 2018

Aspects of Listowel Childers’ park, Mike the Pies for Music and Phone box or WiFi hub

Chaffinch photographed by Chris Grayson


Awakening Trees

Our trees in public places are a delight to watch as they change from the dullness of winter into the glorious colours of spring and summer.

These trees in the park were planted by Scoil Realta na Maidine.

This dense copse has grown really quickly.

Magnificent trees on the pitch and putt course will soon bud into leaf.


More Progress on the commemorative garden

This beautiful golden sand adds to the jewelled effect.


Prestigious Award for Mike the Pies


We have Phone Boxes with Working? Phone in Listowel too

On William Street

According to the sign its a WiFi hub. I must test it out.


When You’re making plans for Easter Monday…..

If you’ve overindulged with the Easter eggs or even if you haven’t, Listowel Writers’ Week’s Cruinniú na Cásca event is just the ticket:

Beginning at 11am on
Monday 17th April from The Seanchai Centre in Listowel Square, the morning walk
will take you around the beautiful and resourceful River Feale. You will see
and hear some dramatised stories, poems and excerpts from the plays of
Listowel’s literary giants such as Bryan MacMahon, John B. Keane, Dan Keane,
Maurice Walsh, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Brendan Kennelly, Billy Keane and many

The walk is free, and
will begin with the opening of an open art exhibition by local artists both
professional and amateur followed by a brief introduction to the walk. Along
the walk we will be entertained with short performances by local actors. After
the walk, we will return to the Seanchai Centre for complimentary tea &

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