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Tag: Christian O’Reilly

Listowel Success Stories

Ballybunion in Nov 2022


My Friends in Vincents

Vincents of William Street, Listowel, is one of my all time favourite shops. Recently I am meeting many new people manning the shop on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Helen, Theresa and Eileen
Frances, Mary and Hannah


A Laugh from Mattie Lennon

An elderly man, in Listowel,  was quite unhappy because he had lost his favorite hat. Even though he was a man like myself who was always as honest as hard times would allow, rather than purchasing a new one, he decided he would go to church and steal one.. When he got there, an usher intercepted him at the door and took him to a pew where he had to sit and listen to an entire sermon on the Ten Commandments. After church, the man met the Priest  in the vestry  doorway, shook his hand vigorously and said, “I want to thank you for saving my soul today, Father. I came to church to steal a hat, but after hearing your sermon on the Ten Commandments, I decided against it.” “You mean the Commandment, Thou shall not steal, changed your mind?” the Priest  asked. “No, the one about adultery did,” the man said. “As soon as you said that, I remembered where I left my old hat.”


Listowel Tidy Towns

The good people of Listowel Tidy Towns held a great local awards night recently. They have shared photos of all the winners on their Facebook page

Listowel Tidy Towns


A Listowel Success Story

Seamus Given sent us an account of this one.

No Magic Pill is as play by Christian OReilly. It played to universal acclaim at the recent Dublin Theatre Festival.

“It had previously run in the Black Box Galway and had its Dublin opening night on 5 October. 
It is a dramatisation of a campaign for independence for disabled people in Ireland, based on the life of Martin Naughton.
It was rapturously received by the Dublin opening night audience, which included many Listowel residents and Dublin exiles.
It continues Christian’s stellar year. His play “The Good Father“ presented by Bunclody/Kilmyshall Drama Group was placed second in the Athlone All-Ireland Drama Festival in May and his play “Chapatti”, presented by the Palace Players from Kilworth, came third.” Seamus Given.

Christian is a native of Listowel.


What I’m Reading

They now have copies of this book in Woulfe’s and Kerry writers’ Museum.

Noel Grimes is a native of Listowel. He now lives in Killarney. His book is a very readable account of the Famine in the Killarney area. It is perfect for someone who wants the sad story in accessible form. I highly recommend it.

Well done and thank you, Noel!


October Stocktaking launch, Wrenboys Long Ago and West Limerick Journal

Millenium Arch and Bridge Road after Neodata


Pat Given’s Book Launch

It was November 3 2016 in St. John’s Listowel and a very popular retired teacher, Pat Given was launching a collection of poetry in aid of the North Kerry Literary Trust. In retirement, Pat Given is still contributing to the literary heritage of Listowel, a town he adopted when his family moved here from Mayo in the 1930s.

Pat and his wife, Lisha, are regular patrons of St. John’s so it was fitting that this should be the scene for the launch of  his anthology.

It was Jimmy Deenihan who encouraged Pat to publish another collection of his poems. Pat had previously published 2 anthologies but he had been silent for many years. Jimmy knew that he was still writing daily so he determined to help him to get back into print. The result is October Stocktaking.

Jimmy was the MC for the night and joining him on stage were four of Pat’s past pupils who had gone on to success in literary and dramatic endeavours.

Joe Murphy recalled Pat’s great Greek language and history lessons. Learning by rote was a feature of  education in the 20th century and Joe could still decline a Greek verb and rattle off the dates of Greek battles after a gap of nearly forty years.

Billy Keane was a pupil in later years and he remembered Pat with fondness. Pat and John B. Keane grew up as part of that great gang of boys in Church Street. Billy read the poem which gave the book its name, October Stocktaking.

Gabriel Fitzmaurice donned the old school tie and took us back to the heyday of St. Michael’s. He recalled inspirational teachers and memorable classmates. He indulged his love of sonnets by reading one of Pat’s.

Christian O’Reilly was there to represent the younger generation of Pat’s pupils who remember him more as a teacher of English than of the classics. Christian is a very successful playwright and TV and film screenwriter and he was happy to return to his native Listowel to celebrate with his former English teacher.

John Mc Auliffe, poet and Reader in Modern Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Manchester, is also a part pupil. He was not in St. John’s for the launch but he contributed a testimonial to the book as well.

We all know that St. Michael’s College was not a bed of roses for all of its pupils but it did provide a classical education to compare with the best schools in the land at one time in its history. These bright, successful past pupils form a very loyal old boys network and it was well in evidence on December 3 in St. John’s to thank and celebrate with a gentle giant of St. Michael’s academic history, Mr. Given.

Pat posed for photos with Lisha, Seamus, Peter and John and his extended family.


Humans of Listowel Bank of Ireland

Nov 25 2016 in Listowel Community Centre


What I’m Reading

Christmas time is a great time for annual local history journals. This one is new to the scene and is a great read…probably also a collectors item, a first edition

You will spot a few faces familiar to Listowel people at the launch of this magazine.

Photos posted by Eamon Doody


Christmastime in Kerry Long Ago

This account of Wrenboys is taken from an account by WM. Molyneaux in Shannonside Annuals.

With Tambourines and Wren

Wm. Molyneaux

I was questioned one time by
the BBC one night behind at Cantilons. 
They sent me word “can you 
come to Cantillons the same night to give them any information I had
about the Wren.  I promised I would.  I went back and They came.  There are just three of them come-one of them
was a publican inside in the town of Listowel, John Keane.  But I didn’t know the headman at all of the
BBC.  And that was the man that was
questioning me.  The way he questioned me
was-he asked me what I knew about the Wren. 
He asked me how long I was going with the Wren boys.  I answered him and I told him “I’m
going, sir,” says I, “from boyhood to manhood”.  “What were you doing,” says he,
“in the Wren?”  “I used to
tip, Sir,” says-“I was a drummer.”  He asked me what class of a drum-“was it
a big drum or a tambourine?”  I told
him I drummed either one or the other of them. 
He asked me had I got a tambourine. 
“No sir,” says I “I’m out of them” “well, we’ll
get you one,” says he they went and they searched the same night and they got
a tambourine for me as any case and the BBC man asked me what would I drum.  I told him I’d drum reels, jigs, marches, or
hornpipes.  He asked me what special tune
used we play going with the Wren.  I
answered him and told him it was the Wrens hornpipe.  He asked me could I hum it.  “I will,sir,” says I. There was no
music there but the tambourine.  I drummed
the hornpipe and it was taken down. 

(more tomorrow)


Coca Cola Trucks in Listowel

Niamh Stack snapped the Coca Cola truck being towed by  Listowel Transport tractor cab as it left town on Sunday night, December 11 2016. Apparently they needed the help of Listowel Transport as the big American tractor that was attached to it in the Square is not really great for manoeuvring it on Irish roads.

Damien Stack shared this photo on Facebook as Listowel bad farewell to the truck that brought so much excitement to town for one day only on Sunday December 11.

Damien O’Mahony is the local hero who made it happen. It was because of his putting of the case on 2FM for a stop in Listowel that the bandwagon rolled into town. 

From mid morning till nightfall families queued for a taste of the magical experience. We got a can of Coca Cola, our photo taken with the truck and a virtual reality sleigh ride, all for free. A Gospel choir set the atmosphere and 2fm broadcast live from The Square.

In the afternoon the Love Listowel activities kickstarted the street party. Traders mounted a Christmas Market, a céilí swung into life on William Street (which was temporarily reclosed for the party) and local actors played out a scene in McKenna’s window.

The town was jam packed with happy people, full of Christmas good spirits. The word I heard often was  “proud”. For one day everyone was proud of the town, the town’s people and everyone’s ability to put on a show.

All roads lead to Listowel and the Coca Cola event.

As dawn broke over Listowel on Sunday December 11 2016, people realised that, like a Santa in the night, the truck had arrived in town and had taken up position outside St. John’s in The Square.

At 12.00 noon Damien declared the show open and the first families stood on the plinth for their photo.

 While in the queue you could play ice cube Jenga.

When you got to the top of the queue, you stood on the step and obeyed the elves instructions to smile and pose. The snapper snapped and within seconds you had a lovely souvenir photo to take home.

St. Patrick’s Day

On this day in 2012

Today is March 17 2015 so, all going well,  I am in town at the parade. I’ll bring you photos from today’s parade tomorrow but meanwhile I’ll jolt your memory with a few from yesteryear.


St. Patrick’s day in Dublin in 1950

(Photos of Dublin on Twitter)


O’Reilly play in Cincinnati

Last week I wrote about Listowel playwright, Christian O’Reilly. Then I got this lovely email from a blog follower, Elizabeth Koller:

” I read ago about Christian O’Reilly in your blog, then discovered there was a production of Chapatti showing in Cincinnati, OH. My daughter and I went to see it on Saturday night, just before the run ended. It was powerful and the two actors were absolutely amazing. It was very well received here and was pretty well sold out. We were lucky and  managed to get two tickets that had literally just been turned back in.”


Tralee goes Green

Tralee Chamber Alliance is turning Tralee green for St. Patrick’s Day 2015. 

Could Listowel try something similar?

Dominican church


(Photos; Tralee Chamber Alliance)

Listowel Camogie 1934, Christian O’Reilly and Denny street as you have never seen it

The Voice of Ireland …Listowel Connection

This is Laura Enright from Glin. She is in the news because on Sunday night next she enters a “battle” to qualify for the live shows in the RTE 1 programme, The Voice of Ireland.

Laura’s mother is Brenda O’Halloran from Bridge Rd. Listowel. Laura is the granddaughter of the late Tom and Eileen O’Halloran. Laura is blessed with an exceptionally beautiful voice and is one of the favourites to go all the way in this competition. Listen to her blind audition 



Last train through Barna tunnel  in 1986

Barna Tunnel

This photo was taken by Sam Kennedy in 1986

Sam was the driver. They stopped at the mouth of the tunnel for this photo. Shortly after this the tracks were removed and sold to the Iraqi railways.   (Liam Downes)


Great Listowel Camogie Victory in 1934

From July 7 1934 Kerryman

I don’t know who wrote the following poem but it’s a good one.

Camogie At Listowel. 



There’s joy to-night in every heart from Tarbert to Kllflynn,

From Ballyduff to sweet Duagh, from Newtownsandes to Glin,

While bonfires bright blazed through the night by Shannon, Brick and Gale,

To welcome home those champions fine with victory in their trail.

As the golden sun was sinking fast behind the western hill,

The very air reeked with delight, although ’twas calm and still.

The streets with sheer excitement blazed, all woe was turned to weal,

As the clash of seasoned ash was heard roll down the River Feale.

When Blennervllle marched to the line it was a pretty sight,

To see the far-famed pink and green. mixed through the black and white.

With swords across we won the toss and hurling towards the town,

The magpies on Liz Kiely’s goal at once came swooping down.

Liz kept her fort to clear the rush to touch she drove the ball,

Where dark-haired Jenny Mulvihill applauded was by all.

 But in a wink the green and pink was at the other end,

Where Maggie Foley showed the boys how well she can defend.

But Blennerville came down again more eager than before,

Till Kathleen Wilmott pulled them up and robbed them of a score,

Each time they  pressed, she stood the test, in fierce but fair attack.

With lightning-like velocity, she met and drove them back.

And out before this stonewall back her gallant sister stood,

 A hurler grand, with brilliant hands, to pass her nothing could.

 No stag unloosed, nor hound unleashed, than Baby Joe more fleet,

 ‘Twas her defence that spanned the bridge ‘twixt victory and defeat.

At midfield where the battle raged we starred in the pink and green.

 With the veteran Julia Mary Stack, the “Kingdom’s” hurling queen

Through forests of ash she’d dive and dash, when danger threatened there,

Her line intact she held, in fact, none with her could compare.

The champions broke the line again, they swept along the right,

 And from this Ballaclava charge, sure things were looking bright.

 They spoiled their chance by fouling here. Bride Foley took the free,

But Kathleen Stack pulled down the ball and filled our hearts with glee.

The pink and green were aggressive seen, and fighting for a score.

 Nan Tyndall’s posts were threatened now more serious than before,

For Josie Kiely, dashing in was not on pleasure bent,

She fired a shot, a goal she got, then up the green flag went.

The pace was fast, the hurling fine, the strokes were quick and clean,

The Kerins pair along the left were to advantage seen.

For more than once they stopped the rush, backed by the Foleys two,

May Moynihan and Maggie Moore, Peg Connell helped them too.

With change of sides, the champions now were hurling down the hill.

 And victory seemed within their grasp. showing extra speed and skill.

Joan Brosnan out-manoeuvred them in some mysterious way.

And beat Liz Kiely for a goal—she gave a fine display.

But nettled by this fluttering flag, the lovely pink and green

Took all before them in a charge and quickly changed the scene.

 For through a bunch of shivering ash, brave Maureen Moran tore,

And pulled Nan Tyndall’s barrier down, she well deserved the score.

The sands of time were running out, the light was on the wane,

The magpies forced a fifty free, but failed to score again.

 Fitzgerald May and Wilmotts two, across the goal were drawn,

 And Blennerville’s best was beaten by the champions’ brain and brawn.

 The Wilmotts two, I’ve still in view, with Julia Mary Stack,

With dash and vim they’re out to win, from nothing they’d pull back.

This gallant three, you’ll all agree, have never let us down,

They’re a credit to the dress they wear and to their native town.

Babe Holly over on the right was doing a lion’s share.

Likewise the dark-haired Peg O’Shea, the darling from Kenmare,

 Nan Connor, thirsty for a score, a trier to the last,

This trio of sharpshooters their best form more surpassed.

The magpies made a last great dash, they came along the right,

 Till May Fitzgerald called a halt, which closed the friendly fight.

The Sullivans true, both tried and true, and grand old Duffy Pat,

When extra steam was turned on, they gave us tit for tat,

But, listen! there’s the whistle, now the gruelling hour is o’er.

See a smile on faces here that never smiled before.

Old people bent, with sticks crawled in, to see their idols play.

With fair excitement now going out they threw their sticks away.

 Give us your, hands, you gallant band, we’ll shake them every one.

 from goal to goal, from left to right, all through the field you shone  

We’ll follow you from field to field, we’ll sing; your praise aloud.

 Dishonour never soiled your dress of you we’re justly proud.


Interview with Listowel Playwright, Christian O’Reilly

is an awkward scene in The Good Father by Christian O’Reilly. Out at an Italian
restaurant, Tim decides to order the antipasti. Jane asks, ‘As a starter?’ Tim
hesitates. He doesn’t know what antipasti are. He’s never eaten them. Maybe you
haven’t either.

Tim’s a working-class boy, a
painter and decorator. Jane’s a middle-class girl, a solicitor. They’re
different. But he got her pregnant after a drunken night and they’re having a
baby together.

It’s often said that we don’t talk
about class in Irish society, and while the C-word isn’t used explicitly in The
Good Father, the play is founded on its tensions.

Written about 13 years ago, the
two-hander gets a lick of modernity from director Mark O’Brien at the Axis,
Ballymun, a playhouse but 20 minutes from Dublin city centre.

Does class matter? “I think it
can be an impediment to a relationship, certainly to people discovering each
other,” says Christian before a read-through. He seems nervous and happy
with his lot; he has a mixed accent. “Class is a façade that you wear as a
consequence of your upbringing. But underneath that is some kind of shared
humanity. I was interested in exploring how two people of a different social
class could find each other. He’s not as educated as she is, but he has an
emotional honesty and openness that she lacks. And her carapace is sarcasm,
barbed wit. But underneath it all there’s huge fear and quite low self-esteem.

“The play comes from my
experience of living in Dublin, studying at DCU but playing soccer in Fairview
and Santry. Soccer transcends class immediately. Everyone just accepts each
other because you’ve got a shared goal.”

Shedding class differences was part
of growing up for this playwright. Born in London, his family emigrated to
Listowel, Co Kerry when he was eight. “I was bullied a little bit, I had
an English accent and I stood out. Playing for Listowel Celtic Under-14s gave
me some kind of status as a young fella.”

Until he was 17 he wanted to be a
professional soccer player. He never had a trial, which he regrets because he
knows he would have failed: good practice for a writer. Writing was “a
wayward path”.

He tried short fiction and
screenwriting, attempted novels, “doubting myself”. He worked as a
researcher for his father (crime novelist Victor O’Reilly) and worked in
disability rights (he wrote the moving film Inside I’m Dancing). Then came a
Druid Theatre Company prize and the success of The Good Father. When it was
first staged in 2002, Irish Theatre Magazine praised it as “an Irish love
story with attitude, but with a disarming softness at its core”. Christian
says: “I remember at the time thinking I’m never going to write a play
better than this. This is a good play.”

But miserably, The Good Father left
him blocked for five years. “It kind of spooked me, because the bad
reviews really upset me and got to me, but the really good reviews also threw
me. I saw myself as a serious dramatist and took on all the pressure of that. I
found myself in a kind of wilderness. I struggled with my next play, because I
was trying to be serious and worthy, and to appeal to the critics. I really
lost the connection to why I write, and to the advice that John B Keane and my
sister had given me.”

His artist sister Ciara told him to
“put your passions into your work”; John B Keane told him to
“write from the heart”, when he used to visit him in his pub in
Listowel for a pot of tea to discuss writing. The playwright played a mentor
role from his barstool where he was often “singing, sitting and

“Once I went to him and I was
really struggling. He just said to me, ‘Keep at it. Persevere’. Leaving, I
said, ‘Thank you for your help’. He said, ‘Thank you for your youth’.

“Often the struggle is
personal and to do with confidence, to find my way in that respect. Confidence
comes and it goes and it wavers. There are times when you feel your voice is in
full throttle, and nothing can stop you, and there are times when you can feel
quite crushed and small and frightened and anxious about writing, and it can
fluctuate. It can feed the writing too, because I often write characters who
are struggling with their own demons, who are low in self-esteem, hard on

Now married in Galway with two
small children, he can take the cut and thrust of winning and losing. His star
rose through Druid Debuts play programme. Now Druid are among those rejecting
his plays, and this drives him to write more; he laughs, “I’ve enough
rejections to decorate my house.” Classy.

Axis, Ballymun presents The Good
Father by Christian O’Reilly, March 10-21

(Published in The Irish Independent March 1 2015)


Denny Street, Tralee 1980s

This photo from the Cleary Archive was taken during the carrying out of massive drainage  works in Denny Street.

Christian O’Reilly, Fr. Kennelly and Listowel Races

Would you like to win a trip to Ireland for The Gathering for yourself or your friends who live overseas?

 Enter this competition and you might be lucky.


Our very own Listowel playwright has been working away in the background and we can see the fruits of his labour today.

Today’s episode of Doctors on BBC 1 at 1.40 p.m. is written by Listowel’s Christian O’Reilly


Casualty on Sat. next Sept 15 at 9.10 p.m.

Look out for his future episodes of Holby City and Eastenders.


Birds are setting up in the old mart site. The countdown to The Races is well underway.


I am returning to our famous Fr. Kennelly of China. Jer has filed me in on him and his family. Fr. Kennelly came from Woodford, Listowel

This is another Fr. Kennelly who was a priest in Freshford

This Kennelly died while in formation with the Jesuits in the USA.

The Kennelly family Woodford

The following are excerpts from The Lamp 1914;

Dr. Margaret Lamont of Ashcroft . BC, was the first woman physician to go to the mission fields  under the Catholic Medical Mission Propaganda , she went on the Empress of Japan on July 23rd 1914 from Vancouver. The Rev M Kennelly SJ who hailed from Woodford in Listowel wrote from Shanghai, China to Fr Paul of Greymoor about the recent arrival of Dr. Lamont and her need of help and difficulty with the language.

Macmillan published a book in 1925 under the title Catholic Medical Missions by Floyd Keeler.

Fr Patrick Kennelly born, Listowel son of Pat Kennelly and Mary Purcell was V.G. stationed in Warrnambool; at Hamilton 1902, Clunes; 1906-10,Colac 1920-1928, V.G. & Mons at Warrnambool 1932-47. Died 15 Feb. 1947 aged 78 years, brother of Martin above.

Warrnambool, Victoria 1940

Sisters of St John of God first went to Warrnambool in Western Victoria in 1939. The parish priest, Father Patrick Kennelly who had played a central role in the foundation of St John of God Hospital in Ballarat, had been swift to realize Warrnambool needed a Catholic hospital.

He purchased a house and land and gave it to the Sisters where a hosital was quickly established. As was the case in the opening of other St John of God hospitals at that time, emphasis was placed on the fact that the hospital be opened to people of all faiths. The Sisters continue to live and minister to the people of Warrnambool.

Bishop Foley opened Catholic School in Sept. 1932, for Dean Kennelly at Dennington it cost £1,500 , there was only £200 debt left and a collection at the opening ceremony  amounted to £ 136.

Rev Mgr Patrick Kennelly   Clunes, Ballarat, Colac, Warrnambool, etc,died,15 Feb 1947.

I’m a bit confused between all the Kennellys but they certainly made an impression in their day.


Great picture of O’Connell Bridge in 1960s


I am delighted to see that the new marketing group has joined us in cyberspace.

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