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: Conor Keane

An International Award for Listowel Documentary Maker. A Poem of a Still Born baby

St. John’s Listowel, October 2018


A Well Deserved win for a great documentary

A good story, no matter how old or how local can have universal appeal. This has been proven by the recent choice of Conor Keane’s Shame, Love in Shame for an international award.

Here is what RTE says in its Facebook page;

We’re delighted to have just won 1st prize in the International Radio category (across all genres of radio) at the 65th Premios Ondas in Spain. Over 300 entries from across the globe competing in radio, Tv and music. Our winning documentary was entitled ‘In Shame, Love, In Shame’. Huge congratulations to Conor Keane (Narrator & Producer) and Liam O’Brien (Producer).
The awards ceremony takes place on the red carpet of Liceu Theatre in Barcelona in front of 2,500 guests on November 14th.
Listen back to our newest award winning doc!

You may remember that St. John’s presented the documentary to us on Culture Night and we got an opportunity to hear from the people behind the retelling of this tragic story.

Brina Keane and Eileen Roche in St. John’s on Culture Night 2018. Both Brina and Eileen feature in the documentary.

On stage in St. John’s, Dr. Mary MacAuliffe whose balanced  in depth knowledge of the times in which this sad story is set gave us the historical context for the tragedy, Eileen Roche, first cousin of Peggy McCarthy, one of the two tragic victims in this story, Conor Keane narrator and producer of the documentary and Tony Guerin who fictionalised the story in his drama, Solo Run.


All Ireland Wren Boy Winners

Majella McGregor shared this lovely old photo on Facebook. It evoked many happy memories. Wouldn’t it be great is someone could name them all.


Is This The Saddest Poem Ever?

I didn’t do a great job of photographing it from the newspaper


The Charming old Building that houses Ballybunion Library

The Ballybunion Library building was once St. Augustine’s (Church of Ireland), a single-storey Gothic Revival style church. The walls are of snecked limestone with Portland stone dressings. The entrance is through a projecting porch.

What’s interesting is that St. Augustine’s was originally built at Rattoo, near Ballyduff in 1879. However, after the Church of Ireland structure at Ballybunion was knocked down in the 1950s, it was decided to move St Augustine’s to Ballybunion. It was actually dismantled stone by stone, transported and reconstructed on the current site in its exact original state.  



………In with the New

At Listowel Writers’ Week AGM in The Seanchaí on Tuesday, Oct 23 2018, Catherine Moylan (right) took over the chair from outgoing chairman, Elizabeth Dunn.

Catherine described herself as “a child of Writers’ Week” Since childhood, Writers’ Week has been the highlight of Catherine’s year. She loves books.  She loves reading.  She loves Listowel. Above all, she loves the festival that is Writers’ Week. She will be a great chairman.

Kenny Heights, Wolfgang Suschitzky, Brendan of Kerry and the Doc on One

Border at the Tim Kennelly Roundabout in August 2018


An Old Sketch of Listowel Castle


Another Beautiful Corner of Listowel


Ducks on The Feale in August 2018


Photo; The Guardian

The photographer who took the photos from the publication Brendan of Ireland was a world famous Austrian photographer, Wolfgang  Suschitzky.  He passed away in 2016 at the age of 104 leaving a huge body of very highly regarded work behind him

Obituary of Wolfgang  Suschitzky

The story is a simple one of a boy growing up in the west of Ireland. He is close to his grandparents who play a big part in his life. His grandfather tells Brendan the story of Niamh Chinn Óir, of Óisín and Tír na nÓg and Brendan sets out to find the sea and the land of eternal youth.

This is the opportunity to have Brendan encounter “tinkers’ , a ploughman and fisherman on his way to the sea. He goes via Ballyduff and The Cashen.


A Book to Treasure

I found this marvellous book recently in Listowel’s St. Vincent de Paul shop. It is full of interesting little titbits and valuable information about the countryside.

I’ll share nuggets from it with you here from time to time.


Conor Keane’s Doc on One

Conor writes;

IN 1946, in an act of defiance against the local clergy, a group of local men in Listowel, Co. Kerry force open the locked gates into the Parish Church.

This action by the townspeople of Listowel never makes it into the newspapers, nor is it recorded anywhere else at the time. In fact, the incident has mostly faded from the town’s memory yet has never been forgotten by some. What was it that drove a normally compliant congregation to challenge local Parish Priest, Canon Patrick Brennan’s dominion?

Behind this act of defiance lies the story of a young woman named Peggy McCarthy, whose tragic death in childbirth resulted in the local clergy refusing to let her body lie in the church overnight before her burial. Subsequently, an alliance between Church and State has had a devastating impact on three generations of Peggy’s family – including on the daughter she gave birth to, Breda – which persists right up to the present day.

Famed balladeer Séan McCarthy wrote a song, Shame, Love, In Shame, about the young woman at the centre of these events. Peggy was Séan’s younger sister. Years later, Peggy’s story also inspired local Listowel playwright Tony Guerin to write the play ‘Solo Run’.

Documentary On One: In Shame, Love, In Shame looks at the events behind this story, of Peggy’s life, of her daughter Breda’s life, of how the people of Listowel rallied round and defended Peggy – and of what happened before and since those Church gates were rammed open in 1946.

Narrated by Conor Keane

Produced by Conor Keane and Liam O’Brien

First Broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1, Saturday 18th August 2018 @1pm, Repeated Sunday 19th August  2018 @7pm

Nature photos, BlazeAid, Big Maggie in 1969 and 2018 and Welcoming the rain in summer 2018

Nature Photography

Photo; Chris Grayson

Readers of this blog know that I love a good wildlife photograph and one of my favourite wildlife photographers is Chris Grayson. The above photo is one that he entered for an Irish Times biodiversity competition. He didn’t win but when you look at the others he was up against, you’ll agree that it was a huge achievement to be shortlisted.

Here is the link;  11the Annual Biodiversity Photographer of the Year Competition 2018

and here is what Chris said about his image;

Blue Tit by Chris Grayson: “I took this pic in my Garden in Glenbeigh, Co Kerry. This beautiful Blue Tit and partner are happily nesting in a tiny gap in the stonework of my house. I caught this shot as she/he headed very quickly into the nest. They’ve been a joy to watch daily collecting caterpillars to feed their nestlings. Beautiful to see every day.”


Bert Hickie and a Different kind of volunteering

Bert, who grew up in Duagh follows Listowel Connection from Melbourne

He wrote:

Hi Mary,

  I love your blog & your entry about Molly made me LOL as I used to breed Cocker Spaniels when I lived in Duagh as a gorsoon to make pocket money which was spent quickly & foolishly, in hindsight. 

I have lived in Melbourne Australia since 1971 but I’m still considered Irish because I never lost the “accent” so they tell me . I retired in 2014 & started travelling around Oz in a campervan, & I’m on my second trip to Western Australia at present , but I also volunteer with BlazeAid, an organisation that helps people affected by fire, cyclones, floods, & droughts.

 I’m currently at a blazeaid camp in Cobden SW Victori,  replacing fences destroyed in “the St Patrickis Day bushfires” .  Its the middle of Winter here & its very similar weather that we used to get in late Nov in Irl. Cold,wet mud everywhere, thunderstorms, hail & sleet & sometimes frost in the mornings, but its all in a good cause & we get well looked after.

Your blogs keeps me in touch with all the local happenings in Listowel & the surrounding districts & sometimes little snippets of information that take me back to my days at St Michaels when I shared the same class as Batt Hannon, Seamus Brown, Michael O Keeffe Jim Keane, Maurice McMahon ,”Martin Sheehy & David Shaughnessy & Teddy Halpin,”all three  of whom I believe are deceased, also in that class was Thomas O Connor, Eugene Doyle ,John Moran, but my memory fails me on the other names.

Unfortunately, I cant say my days at St Michaels were happy ones.


John B. Keane’s Big Maggie

Big Maggie was first seen in a professional production in The Olympia in 1969. In the audience was a Kildare impresario, Paddy Melia. He couldn’t wait to produce it with his amateur actors, The Kilcullen Players. An approach was made to John B. and, lo and behold, The Kicullen Players in Kildare produced the first amateur Big Maggie. They took it around to several drama festivals to much critical acclaim.

Dave O’Sullivan found the newspaper accounts for us.

My connection with the Kilcullen Players is to Johnny O’Neill who played Byrne. My daughter is married to his grandson.

Johnny’s daughter, Mary was only 10 when her dad played the part and she wasn’t allowed to see it.  So when the Corofin Dramatic Society  performed it In St. John’s, Listowel as part of of the Remembering John B. festival, Mary was delighted to finally get an opportunity to see the great play. Let’s say she understood why her parents deemed it unsuitable.

Mary (O’Neill) Mc Kenna and her husband Tony met Conor and Joanna at the festival.


Welcome rain

After weeks of drought It’s great to welcome a drop of rain.

Another public Phone box removed and an up and coming bikeman and Opening Night WW18

A naonhóg on the beach photographed by Chris Grayson


Writers’ Week Opening Night 2018

We had a ball! Here are my first few photos. I’ll be busy snapping away for the next few days so you won’t see the bulk of my photos until later on. Meanwhile enjoy the sunshine and if you can at all come on down to lovely Listowel. The great and the good are here and there’s music and dancing too. If you don’t believe me look here.



Last week they took out this phone box by McKenna’s.

There it is…gone, just the rectangle of new paving bricks to show where it’s been.


Charles Street from Mill Lane


From the John Hannon Archive

Phil Walsh who passed away recently . May she dance in heaven


Conor Keane catches up with the Kellihers


One to Watch

The cyclist on the left greeting his grandparents at the Listowel finish of Rás Tailteann is Dillon Corkery . This young man is only 19 and he finished 26th overall in the Rás. This is a magnificent performance considering that many of the other riders are professional. There were only four other Irish amateur riders ahead of him. He is surely going places.

Brendan Landy on Facebook reminded us of another super bike rider who rode into Listowel at the beginning of his cycling career. This is Brendan Landy’s super picture of Sam Bennett winning stage 3 into Listowel  of the An Post Rás in 2013.

Could Dillon Corkery be the next Sam Bennett? 

Remember where you heard it first!

Something old, something new and the flea trainers are identified

KDYS Building was once the Carnegie Free Library


Two National Treasures

A cap gun


A Dublin Street Scene in 1974

 This photo tells us a lot about Irish life back then.


This fantastic evening sky scene was shared by Féach News


Under our feet in There Square, Listowel


Photo Of Old Dublin

Moore Street in the 1960s



from someone who was there

The boy on the left, the flea tamer  is John O’Sullivan, also known locally as Seán Tack, the boy on the right, the flea catcher, is Conor Keane and that is John B. Keane squatting down inside the frame


No, It’s not a Holding Cell

This is the photo that set some blog followers talking this week.

I wandered down to the back lane and took another snap, this time from the other side of the building.

Still looks a bit like stables or a garage as described by Rose Shine who grew up nearby.

Then came this missive from Jim MacMahon who also remembers the building well.

“Mary , when I was a boy in the 1940s that building was a storehouse of a sort , maybe guards’ cars although there were few of them about . We used to gather there to watch the Mulcahy brothers , sons of the super , fiddle around with cars . On wet days there might be a dozen or so boys and youths about . Pat Given , of course, or Niall Stack would be able to give much more detail if you ask them , regards Jim”

Next stop Pat Given or Niall Stack. I’ll waylay them one day soon at morning mass.

I wonder does any serving garda follow the blog. We might be able to get a photo of the interior of the shed now.

This is the lane beside the building. That is the back of the Garda Station at the end. Looks like lots of the windows are boarded up. Could it be they feared they would blow in in the recent Hurricane?

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