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A Bit of Listowel History

John B. Keane’s of William Street



Convent Street, Listowel in 2008

Serendipity is the discovery of nice things by accident. I had a piece of serendipity today. When I was searching the web for the Convent Street Clinic, I came across the following Facebook post from Vincent Carmody from 2016. This is a fascinating piece of local history told in Vincent’s own words and illustrated with photos from his vast collection.

Living History Miscellany.

Number 35, Market Street witnessed many changes in the course of the twentieth century. It was built as the town’s brand new Technical School, to cater for those more technical and commercially minded than their fellow townies studying the classics at St Michael’s College. It catered for both young men and women. The convent secondary school would not be built for decades. Beside serving as a school, it served as a meeting place.

As can be seen from the pamphlet, it was used to hold meetings of the local North Kerry Farmers Association. The J. Scully mentioned as Hon Sec. was a County Kerry Committee Agriculture adviser.

On December 17th, 1913, a meeting was held there, to form a Listowel branch of the Irish Volunteers. This was a mere month after the formal launching of the Volunteers at the Rotunda in Dublin. In a newspaper report of the Listowel event, it told how the meeting was convened by Edward Gleeson, Edward Leahy and John McKenna, the latter ( who was then a member of both Listowel Urban Council and Kerry County Council) taking the meeting’s chair. All those present at the meeting, were sworn into the new organisation with hand on a rifle. The rifle was supplied by McKenna. After, when a new Technical School, had been built in Lower Church Street, the building went into disuse.

The scout photograph is of senior scouts, Billy Doyle, Dan Maher and Michael Kennelly.

A new scouting organisation which had been formed in the town, got permission to use the Convent Street premises. It became, headquarters for scouting activity.

‘Commercial class of 1931’ . Pat Moriarty, (Pat was born in Ballyheigue, of a large family, he was sent to Listowel, when young, and raised by his grand parents, James and Margaret Moriarty and their daughter Kathy, who lived at 41 Upper William Street), is pictured 3rd from left in back row, gave me the photograph some years ago, at the time his memory was failing, he was, however, beside’s, been able to point out himself, identified, second from left, back row, Michael O Sullivan of Market Street and Church Street, (Michael,(Mickey) was born across the road from the school, where his father, Edward O Sullivan, had a tailoring business), Peter (Peader) McGrath, of William Street, where his father, Ned McGrath, operated a drapery shop) and later Convent Street is extreme right in back row, Richard (Dick) Fitzgerald, Convent Cross is second from right, back row. It is worth pointing out, that Richard (Dick) Fitzgerald in later years, was a highly efficient and respected caretaker, of both the Technical School in Church Street and afterwards the new school built at Upper Church Street.

Front row, extreme left is pictured, Canon White P.P. of Listowel, he was a Listowel man, born in Bedford. On the extreme right, front row, is Charles Chute, of Charles Street.


A Limerick from Dan Keane


The Good Old Days

I’m remembering today an M.S. Busking Day in Main Street. I hope this cheery musical fundraiser will return in 2022.


Banna , Convent Street and Flavin’s of Church street

Banna by Bridget O’Connor


Convent Street, Listowel

The sign is on the wall at the entrance to the hospital. I’ve discussed this at length on the blog but it still fascinates me to see street signs where the Irish has absolutely no connection whatsoever to the English name. In most cases the English street name is an English Christian name, thought to be named after Lord Listowel’s sons, e.g. William and Charles. In this case however and in the case of Church Street the English name refers to a well known building, a landmark located on the street. The Irish name refers to an older superstition. One didn’t mess with the Púca. He was a wicked spirit who rode around the countryside after dark spiriting away anyone foolish enough to be out late.

The entrance to Listowel hospital grounds

They are making great progress with the dementia day care centre. The organising committee are still looking for volunteer cyclists to do the Ring of Kerry Cycle to raise funds for them. If you can’t do the cycle, please sponsor one of the cyclists.


Bryan MacMahon and  Flavin’s Bookshop

Dan Flavin and his son, Micheál at the door of the shop sometime in the 1950s. The photo appears in Vincent Carmody’s Snapshots of a Market Town.

Flavins is closing tomorrow, Saturday February 8 2020


Famine Poverty and a Kind Landlord

from the Schools’ Folklore Collection

The Quarter field is situated on the side of a hill. It contains nine acres in the begining of the nineteenth century many families lived in this field The field was owned by a Land Lord and he allowed these poor people build houses in it. Each family got a quarter of ground. There was no division between the quarters only paling. They used to set potatoes in the quarter every year and used to get the manure from the neighbouring farmers. These people had no other way of living only when ever they would work for another farmer for small hire. When the potatoes failed in the years 1845 to 1847 all these people died of starvation. When they were gone my grandfather bought this field with more land surrounding it and my father is in possession of it now My grandfather threw the remains of the houses away and it is all one level field at present. If you walk through parts of it on a Summers evening you could see the form of the houses and the little gardens alongside it

Liam Ó Duilleáin
Gortacloghane, Co. Kerry
(name not given)
Gortacloghane, Co. Kerry

Tralee path, The Lartigue, Industrial Schools and another old one

Cherry blossom on a path by the library in Tralee


The Butler Centre

This beautiful building in the corner of The Square was once a tannery. Then it was a bank. Now it is in a far more fragrant recreation as a language school and beautiful venue for meetings, weddings etc.

I am researching this and other buildings in Listowel Town Square for my gig at this year’s

 Listowel Writers’ Week

Why don’t you check out the full programme at the link above?


Lartigue at 130

I popped in to the lovely Lartigue museum as they were celebrating 130 years since the service first ran. Read all about it here 


The good people at the Lartigue Museum have amassed their own National Treasures and they are on display in the museum. If you love to take a trip back in time or if you have visitors to entertain, be sure to visit this summer.

Volunteers and visitors.

 John and Mary and their friends from Listowel Writing Group gave readings of their work on the day. They are with Judy and Jimmy in my photo.

As I headed back to town I met some reenactors. They are not real soldiers but when they offered to take a selfie with me I didn’t feel I could refuse.


Halo has Moved

Elaine has moved to a bigger premises on Upper William Street and she has expanded her range. She also now serves  coffee to take away or drink in the store or in the sun.

When I called in she was serving one of her faithful customers, Ruth O’Quigley


Reasons for Commital to Industrial School in 1939


Guerin’s Londis

Photo from the John Hannon Archive

Garvey’s Super Valu is here now.

Listowel people, Abbeyfeale church and Colm Cooper is the 2018 Kerry Person of the Year

Convent door, Castleisland in 2018


People in The Seanchaí

I took a few photos at the lecture in The Seanchaí on April 22 2018

 Arthur Caball, John Pierse and Paddy Keane

Con Kirby and John Corridan

Dolores Carroll, Vincent Carmody, Paddy Keane and Liam Grimes

Mairead Pierse and Kathy Walsh

Kay Caball, Donal O’Connor and Helen Moylan


Abbeyfeale Parish Church

On my recent visit to Abbeyfeale, I took the opportunity to visit the church and to say a prayer. The church has some lovely mosaics but bot too many stained glass windows. You can tell a lot about the wealth of a parish but the amount of artwork in their place of worship.

This lovely grotto stands in the church grounds.

There are two sets of Stations of the Cross, one more traditional then the other but both beautiful.


Familiar Faces at Kerry Person of the Year 2018 Event  in The Mansion House


The Final piece of the Convent Street jigsaw is in place

Look what came to my inbox yesterday!

The little boy is Maurice Bunyan and the dog’s name is Rusty (who belonged to John Guerin).

Mary Dunne (previously Corridan)

Yes it’s an email from the lady in the curlers.

So, from left to right in John Hannon’s Convent Street photo we have;

Mary Corridan (now Mary Dunne), Maurice Bunyan, Mike Healy with John Guerin’s dog, Rusty


The Dandy Lodge

This house, Vincent Carmody tells me, was always called The Dandy Lodge. It was the home of the Hannon family. Danaher’s house was at the other entrance to Lord Listowel’s estate in Cahirdown.

Grugs, Rabbits, Town League 1950 and North Kerry; the Swedish connection and National Poetry Day 2018

Chris Howes, Irish Wildlife Photography Competition


The Kerryman Unbuttoned by Redmond O’Hanlon Part 5 

 ….Early I learned that in Kerry the ‘accounts’ that are so prominent a
feature of the social structure of the county are distinct (but not completely
so be  remembered) from financial
statements or debts unpaid. Ramblers have no affinity with the tinkers but are
the Kerryman’s word for loose stones on the road. To be taken up in the bones
may baffle any doctor outside of Kerry. The complaint seems endemic to the
county-  tribute to its mists maybe and,
so far as can be gathered medical treatises are silent on the subject. It is
doubtful too if a medical man can state with certainty the location of his grug
on which a Kerryman sits betimes.

It was in the
townland of Trieneragh near Duagh where the land falls away in eye-soothing
sweeps towards the river Feale, that I met a young man who was a specialist in
the art of indirect approach. I had made my way slowly towards the road from
the inch by the river, burdened with a rifle and a bunch of rabbits when I met
him. Eyeing the bag from time to time as we chatted he at length observed
reflectively, “If my mother met you now she would ask you for a rabbit.” Adding
somewhat unnecessarily that she was terrible fond of rabbit. I thought a brace
of graziers but a small fee to pay for this delightful example of Kerry tact.
In any event, I had been shooting over my young friends fields……


Town League 1950

This old photograph from Vincent Carmody’s Living history popped up again recently on Facebook.

The occasion is the Ashes team for the Listowel town league of 1950.

The players are

Front Row. D.Prendeville, John B., Toddy Enright (holding mascot, Frank Pierse) Jim O Neill, Mick McAuliffe, Jimmy Harris, Mick Cotter.
Back Row. Timmy Walsh, Michael McGuinness, Jim (Roddy) O Sullivan, Mick Barrett, Micheal Quigley, J.Ryan, Jim Deveraugh, Tom Finucane.


Spotted on My Walk

A blackbird, a dry wall and a ruin


A Swedish Influence in North Kerry

A few months ago I had Vincent Carmody’s story of Lars Larsson and how his relatives came to St. Michael’s graveyard to seek out his grave.

On the foot of this story, Jim MacMahon wrote to tell me how it came about that a Swedish man was buried in Listowel.

Sweden was a big dairying country and companies like Alfa Laval had trained many technicians and engineers.

A far seeing creamery manager in Ballyheigue, a granduncle of Jim MacMahon’s, advertised in Sweden for some operatives with technical experience to work in Ballyheigue Creamery. Three of the men who came were our friend Larsson, Nielson and Monson. Larsson was killed in an accident but Nielson and Monson went on to marry local women and their descendants still live in North Kerry or else visit often.

The Monson descendants have a jewellery business.

Monson Irish Jewellery


Did you do Your Leaving Cert in St. Michael’s in 1968?

A 50 year reunion celebration is being planned for this class and the organisers are encountering some difficulty in rounding up the last few old boys.

Here is an extract from Ned O’Sullivan’s email:

A group of us are planning a reunion weekend on the 7-9 September 2018. It entails a social gathering plus hopefully a nostalgic return to the school, photo exhibition, and some other things finishing with a day at the Races on the Sunday. We have established contact with most past colleagues but we are in the dark about a few. 

It’s possible that some of them read your blog and we would be v thankful if you could put it out there for us. 

Committee members are Michael Moriarty NT., Teddy Murphy, John Moloney n Christy Sheehy. 

Many thanks Mary

Ned O Sullivan. 

Ned has given me his phone number in case anyone of his classmates is reading this and wants to get in touch.


Healys of Convent Street and their Neighbours

Cathy Healy sent the photo to her uncle Pat in England and he confirmed that the young boy is Mike Healy, Cathy’s uncle. The lady in the hair rollers is till a mystery.

Common sense says that she would not be going too far from her home in rollers, I’d say she was a neighbour of the Healys and of John Hannon who took the photo, so we’re looking for someone from the Gleann area to put a name to a face. Liam Healy R.I.P. would have remembered her name and as Cathy said he’d have the dog’s name as well.

We miss them every day.


National Poetry Day 2018

Poetry Ireland decided to celebrate National Poetry Day 2018 on April 26 2018. Listowel Writers’ Week went to town on it, literally. They took to the streets and they gave everyone a poem in their pocket and challenged everyone to read at least one poem on Poetry Day.

Here are some of the people they met with a poem.

Would you read a Poem on Poetry Day          by Mary Cogan

with apologies to Dr. Seuss

Would you read it in a shop?

Would you read it with a cop?

Would you read it in a car?

Would you read it with a jar?

Would you read it stuck in traffic?

Would you read if it was graphic?

Would you read with Sinead and Liz

Máire or Maria, gee whiz

Poetry Day brought to my mind

That Writers’ Week’s not far behind.

Listowel Writers Week and the National Children’s Literary Festival run this year from May 30th to June 3rd.

See what’s in store here

Listowel Writers’ Week 2018 programme

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