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: convent chapel

Blacksmith sculpture, Autographs in the 1940s, memories of an Altar Server in the Convent Chapel and a gift of flowers

Blacksmith sculpture in Tralee Town Park


An Old Autograph Book

During a recent clearcut of the attic at my old home this treasure turned up.

It is my mother’s autograph book. It is nearly 100 years old. In my mother’s day and in mine we didn’t collect autographs of famous people. We never met any famous people. We used to write in each other’s books. Usually we wrote silly little rhymes or pieces of doggerel. Here are two examples from my mother’s book. It was common practice as well to only put your initials or to put no name at all.


Down Memory Lane with The Kerryman


Memories of the Convent

The images of the Convent Chapel bell brought back memories to Vincent Carmody.

It was a long time tradition for people growing up in Upper William Street (Patrick Street) to attend Sunday Morning Mass at the Convent Chapel at 7.00 pm , and for the more devout, weekly morning Mass at 7.00 pm. These attendees would have been ‘called to prayer’ by the peeling of the bell, which is now on public view on the side-yard of our Parish Church. This bell, been smaller in size than the bell in St. Mary’s Parish Church also had a more tinny tone than the full throated bell of the Church in the Square.

The Convent bell, was operated by the pulling of an attached rope, this was located close  the Sacristy, which was at the back of the Sanctuary. The ringing of this  bell was mostly the preserve and duty of the Sacristan, Sr. Aloysius.

For one year, back in the mid 1950s, (c 1956), I was an Altar Server. My mother decreed that, as my father, his two brothers and my two older brothers had donned the surplice and the soutane of the Convent Chapel, then I would have to follow in their footsteps. So, when arrangements were made, I had to undergo a crash course in the old form of the Latin Mass.  For this I was coached by Tony Dillon, a senior altar server at the Convent. When I was deemed proficient I then had to go before Sr. Aloysius for the oral exam, The Latin, was learned off like a parrot without any knowledge of what it meant, even today 60 years on, much is still remembered, ‘Introibo ad Altare Dei’, Mae Culpa, Mae Maxima Culpa etc etc. Practical training followed before been allowed to doing any serving. 

I enjoyed my year and a memory of it came back to me some years ago, on this occasion I had spoken to a group on Kathy Buckley’s time in the White House, at a question and answers after the talk, I was asked if there was anyone in life that I had met and afterwards regretted that I had not spoken to them of their earlier life. I thought and said yes. An elderly couple used attend daily morning mass at the Convent Chapel in my time as a server, their names, Ned and Anne Gleeson, Anne was blind and she would link Ned as they went, they were daily communicants and many a morning I held the paten under their chins as they received, years later as I developed a love of local history I found out that Ned Gleeson was the man who delivered the Listowel Town Commissioners address of welcome to Charles Steward Parnell, on his famous visit to Listowel in 1891. In racing parlance, that would have been a story, straight from the horse’s mouth.


Thank You, Folks

These lovely people took the guided walking tour on Saturday. We got on so well that I gave them a copy of my book from 2009. They had never been to Listowel before except for when Janet made a brief stop here during her cycle from Malin to Mizen and fell in love with our lovely town and vowed to come back.

They went to the trouble of finding out my address and sent me these. I hope they are keeping their promise and checking in with the blog so that they can see that I received the flowers and I am truly bowled over by their kindness.

Market Street, Tarbert Bridewell the Convent Chapel and The Big Fight at Ballyeigh in 1834

Market Street, Listowel in June 2019


Tarbert Bridewell, the Keepers Quarters

The family who looked after the bridewell lived upstairs.

They kept the prisoners locked up except when they were allowed into the exercise yard.

They cooked their meals and swept the floors and kept the jail in good order.

This is a selection of their cooking pots and irons.

A Bath

A settle bed

I think children would really benefit from a visit to Tarbert Bridewell to see for themselves history brought to life and to give them an insight into life as it was long ago.


Memories, Memories

Do you remember the lovely convent chapel?


A Faction Fight

from the Dúchas Schools Folklore Collection

On the 13th of May fair in Listowel some time previous to 1830. some Magheragh men (Ballyduff, Causeway, Ballyheigue, Killanhan, etc) were selling potatoes. A discussion arose as to the comparative merits of the potatoes between the Magheragh men and the cúl-na-lín (Culeen near Listowel) men. The discussion ended in a fight, where the Magheragh men got off the worst as they wouldn’t have the backing in Listowel that the others had. At the Whit Monday fair in Ardfert the fight was renewed. Practically every man in North Kerry took one side or another and for years after whenever people assembled at fair or market on Sunday after mass the fight was renewed.

The biggest fight of all took place at (Ballyduff) Ballyeigh on the 24th June 1834. The North Kerry race meeting was then held in Ballyeigh Strand (opposite the Cashen School) but was eventually transferred to Listowel (1870). The races were held on the right hand side of the River Cashen on the strand where the school is now and when some of the combatants tried to escape by crossing the river in boats and swimming, they were attacked by their opponents with stones, bottles, sticks and so on at the left side of the river. A terrible fight ensued in which about thirteen people were drowned and very many injured.

As far as I know there was only one man arrested for it, a well to do man named Leahy of Ballinorig near Causeway. Many others went on the run but were never arrested. He was tried and sentenced to be transplanted to Freemantle.

For three quarters of a century afterwards the people in this district and in North Kerry generally recorded events from the year the boat was drowned” or from the night of the big wind”. After the tragedy the faction fight slackened and died down and the famine helped to put an end to it altogether.
Even some old people take pride in the fact that their ancestors took one side or the other in the faction.

Murtie Dowling, 


Denis Lawlor, Address, Causeway, Co. Kerry


Listowel Tidy Town People

The trophies are gone back but the good folk of the Tidy town are working as hard as ever to present Listowel’s most beautiful face to the visitor

Photos from Listowel Tidy Town on Facebook of some of the volunteers at last Tuesday’s cleanup on the Tralee Road.

Ard Curam, the convent chapel, a Limerick limerick and the good life in St. Jean de Luz

King of the Stags

Timothy John MacSweeney photographed this magnificent brute in the National Park last week. This bucko is a twenty pointer and is the most mature dominant stag in the herd of red deer in Killarney.


Ard Cúram, Listowel

In May 2014 Jimmy Deenihan and Micheál OSuilleabháin turned the sod to launch the building project of Listowel’s dedicated day care centre for the elderly, Ard Cúram

One of the recent planks of the fundraising drive was the participation of the charity in The Ring Of Kerry Cycle. As you can see above the sponsors contributed a massive €149k. The project is well on target for a 2016 opening.

Ard Cúram website is at:


Presentation Convent Chapel

In response to a request, here are some more memories of the convent chapel. This lovely prayerful space is sorely missed by some people in Listowel.

 Our Lady’s Altar; This altar was at the left hand side beside Sr. Consolata’s organ.

Calvary in the grounds.

 The centre aisle

The choir gallery


The return of the bicycle

This bicycle park in Drury St. Dublin (photo: Twitter) is testament to the growing popularity of cycling to work.


Dublin 1958

(photo from Old Photos of Dublin on Facebook)


A Limerick limerick

Recently I bought a book of limericks in the NCBI shop in Listowel. They have a great offer at the moment of 3 books for €1.

The little book I bought was called The Book of Limerick limericks and its by a man called Pat Brosnan. He has written limericks for lots of Limerick towns. Here’s one;

Coming home from the mart in Listowel

A limerick man crashed in a hole

But the Council he blamed

And was no way ashamed

Of his gross overdose of the bowl.


Meanwhile in St. Jean de Luz

The EPIC adventure continues for my lovely grandsons. They are enjoying temperatures of 24 and 25 degrees in their house on the beach.

I’m reminded of the song lyrics, “How will we keep them down on the farm….?”


Well done, Fiona

(photos Irish Independent)

In The Irish Independent is this great story of generosity on the part of Listowel teenager, Fiona Murphy. Fiona has donated her hair to make a wig for Keeva, who suffers from alopecia. It’s all organized by The Rapunzel Foundation

Spring, Convent chapel, golf and Perth rice

“When loud March blows

Thro’ slanting snows her fanfare shrill

Blowing to flame the golden cup

Of many an upset daffodil.

Signs of hope


Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown

I am a bit of a fan of wee Rory McIlroy and I am very sorry to see him in such a bad place mentally at the moment.

I am going to take this opportunity to advance your knowledge of golfing terminology by explaining the etymology of the terms “birdie” and “albatross”. 

The word “bird” was once a word like cool, ace, super, champion etc. It was slang for “excellent”.

A golfer named Ab Smith in Atlanta in 1899 hit a shot which came to rest just inches from the hole leaving him one under par. “What a bird of a shot!” he cried and there and then he and his companions decided to call scores of one under par “birdies”.

An albatross is the completion of a hole in golf in 3 shots under par. It is so named because the albatross is an even larger bird than the eagle and much more rare…a bit like making 3 under par.


Here is the last tranche of Dillon Boyer’s lovely convent photos. So sad…..

The Sacred Heart stained glass window

I failed to identify this saint from the internet but I did learn that a palm leaf usually denoted a martyr. I’m sure someone local knows who this is.

Sacred Heart
Another work of art
St. Ann
St. Therese of Lisieux
door to the sacristy
plinth in the front garden
side altar with Sr. Cosolata’s organ covered


Michael Keane in Perth sent me an  interesting email describing an exhibit at
a recent Perth festival,

Perth Arts Festival Exhibition


SAT 9 FEB 2013 – SAT 2 MAR 2013

As you enter you are handed a grain of rice. That grain of rice is you. There are a lot of other people there. Hundreds of millions. Each represented by a single grain of rice. In heaps and patterns and piles: all the people in our time zone GMT +8. 1.54 billion. 30 tonnes of rice.

In a hauntingly beautiful, constantly shifting, sculptural landscape, the sheer vastness of population is captured, bringing to life previously incomprehensible statistics and presenting them in eloquent visual form.

The convent chapel, Finuge and an old Emmetts photo

Presentation Convent had the loveliest little chapel attached to it. It was a place of worship much loved and now missed by the people of Listowel. In hindsight we should have fought for its retention.

Dillon Boyer send me some lovely photos of the church. Here are a few to remind you of better days for the nuns.

 The convent as it looked in 2007

Entrance to the convent chapel

Grotto in the convent grounds

 The nave from the balcony.

 The main altar

 One of the many beautiful stained glass windows.

Detail from another of the windows.


This lovely olde world cottage in Finuge has burned down again. I sincerely hope that the money can be found to restore it once more.


That was then, this is now




This is a group of convent girls in the 1950s. I have no name at all so any help with names would be appreciated.


Listowel Emmets officers and committee.

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