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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A Craft Fair, a Christmas Story, The Annual Lyreacrompane Journal and More

Riding home at dusk…Photo; Elizabeth Ahern

A Christmas story from a Great Anthology

Craftfair in Ballylongford

Sunday November 19 2023

This productive little crafter was spending her time building up her stock.

Beautiful locally produced craft work. Knitting, pictures, everything for your dog, confectionary and more will be on sale in some craft market every weekend from now til Christmas.

From the Capuchin Archive

Cumann na nGaedheal Election Poster, 1932

A striking poster published by Cumann na nGaedheal for the 1932 general election.

The poster seeks to lampoon senior members of Fianna Fáil, the principal opposition party, by comparing them to performers in a travelling circus. Principal figures in Fianna Fáil are given distorted and mangled names to this effect; Éamon de Valera (‘Senor de Valera, World Famous Illusionist’), James Geoghegan (‘Jiffy Geoghegan, Champion Quick-change Artist’), Frank Aiken (‘Frank F-Aiken, The Fearsome Fire-eater’), Seán MacEntee (‘Johnny Magintee’), Hugo Flinn (‘The Great Hugo, The Mystery Man’), Seán T. O’Kelly (‘Shaunty O’Kelly’), and Seán Lemass (‘Monsieur Lemass, Famous Tight-Rope Performer’).

The 1932 election (16 February) was historic as it saw the defeat of Cumann na nGaedheal, which had been the governing party since the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922. It was succeeded by Fianna Fáil which formed a government with the support of the Labour Party.

The men named in this poster were among those most closely identified with violent opposition to the state during the Civil War ten years earlier. They now assumed power, embarking upon a sixteen-year period of government for Fianna Fáil. The poster forms part of an ephemera collection assembled by the editors of ‘The Capuchin Annual’. 


Lyreacrompane and District Journal

This year’s journal is the best yet.

Lyreacrompane punches well above its weight in terms of initiative. A place without a village but with a festival, a rambling house, a forest walk, a journal and its own radio station.

I have no doubt the planned tourist trail will be a success too. If you are in the locality take a trip out there soon and if you are local or distant check out their website..

Lyreacrompane Heritage Group

A Fact

Every day between 10 and 20 volcanoes are erupting somewhere on earth.


Shop windows, Flowers at the Courthouse, Christmas Customs and A Christmas Craft Fair

Listowel Castle December 2019


Some Lovely Shopwindows

Listowel shopkeepers make a great effort with their window displays always.

Cheryl’s lovely crochet crib figures are on the NCBI window.


McKenna’s Winter Wonderland


Work at Listowel Courthouse courtyard

They look like flowerbeds in the making.


Christmas Cleaning from the Dúchas collection

The first job always seemed to be the cleaning and painting.

Christmas Customs

It is an old custom to clean up the house the week before Christmas, to white wash it and paint all the furniture. All the old people like to go to Tralee for the Christmas.

On St. Stephen’s day boys flock together and go around with the wren. They dress up in various kinds of clothes and get a dead wren and a bit of holly. They go from house to house and sing and play and dance. The people of the house give them some money and sometimes give them drink.

The old people put up holly around the windows and mantles for Christmas. On the Eve of each holiday candles are lighted through out the Christmas.


Christmas is a merry time for young and old. Five days before Christmas the people go to a town or village for their Christmas supplies.

The first sign of Christmas is the houses are whitewashed and the places cleaned. On Christmas Eve the candles


Mike’s Murals

Mike O’Donnell’s own photo of himself painting the old Kerryman masthead over the door of The Kerryman building


Listowel Tree 2019


Christmas Craft Fair

I never got round to posting these last week. This was the Christmas Craft Fair in Kerry Writers’ Museum with some lovely things to buy.

The heavenly Elle Marie ODwyer is a new face at Listowel craft fairs. I love her new song, Christmas by the Lee. Have a listen.

Our local historian, Vincent Carmody was there with his chronicles of old Listowel and old Newcastlewest

Anne and Katie’s snowmen and candy canes were very popular.

Frances O’Keeffe is the best knitter and knitting designer I know. Her cupcake dolls are a new addition to her range and they’re gorgeous. I also love this Rhode Island Red hen tea cozy.

This lady had beautiful large or small Christmas arrangements.

Craftfair, Aghadoe, Bothar, Christmas in Killarney and Ballybunion Radio Station

Seanchaí Craft Fair

Pat Murphy was in The Kerry Writers’ Centre on Sunday December 16 2018 with some lovely new stock.

Vincent Carmody was selling his unique new book of printed materials from 1870 to 1970.

This new hair device, Dreamy Curls, curls your locks without the aid of heat. It is invented, made and marketed in Listowel. I bought one for my granddaughters. I’ll let you know how it goes when they have road tested it.

Orla has had 2 craft fairs in a row so she had enlisted some young help with this one. Her confectionary was selling fast.


Aghadoe, Killarney

The path to the viewing spot at Aghadoe

Remains of old tower in Aghadoe

Heavenly spot.


Sheep May Safely Graze

When I saw this pastoral scene on may way back from Aghadoe I was reminded of the hymn;

Sheep may safely graze and pasture

Where a shepherd guards them well.

So the nation ruled in wisdom

Knows and shares the many blessings

Which both peace and plenty bring.

And then I spotted the sign on the next door fence.


Christmas in Killarney


Ballybunion Radio Station

(Photo and text from Liam O’Hainnín on Facebook)

Despite references in several publications, Ballybunion Station was not built by Marconi, and never operated commercially. The station was built by the Universal Radio Syndicate. Construction started in 1912, but the station had not obtained a commercial licence by the time World War 1 started. The company went into liquidation in 1915. A sister station at Newcastle New Brunswick, built to the same design as Ballybunion, suffered a similar fate. The Marconi Company bought the two stations from the liquidator in 1919, mainly to prevent their use by potential competitors. The stations were not idle in the interim, however, having been appropriated by the British Admiralty almost immediately upon outbreak of the Great War and kept in constant activity as key components of the allied communication system until the Armistice of November 1918.

The Marconi Company did not use the stations commercially, and it would appear that the Ballybunion station was only used briefly, in March 1919 for a successful telephony experiment with the Marconi station in Louisbourg, and for communication with the R34 airship in July 1919.

In March 1919, Marconi engineers H.J Round and W.T. Ditcham made the first east-west transatlantic broadcast of voice, using valve technology, from the Ballybunion station using the callsignYXQ. The first west to east voice transmission had already been achieved by Bell Systems engineers from the US Navy station at Arlington Virginia to the Eiffel Tower in October 1915.

The contents of Clifden and Ballybunion were sold for scrap to a Sheffield-based scrap merchant, Thos. W. Ward in 1925.

Industrial Schools, Castle Hotel, Ballybunion, Abbeyfeale, a Craft Fair and a Sand Art Festival in Ballybunion

Chris Grayson’s robin


Numbers in Reformatory Schools 1939


Old Ballybunion

The Castle Hotel;  a photo posted on Facebook by Ballybunion Prints



After my recent trip to Abbeyfeale I received this email from a loyal blog follower;

Welcome to Abbeyfeale, Mary!

This year marks the Golden Jubilee of the new Church in Abbeyfeale. Celebrations are planned and a commemorative magazine is in preparation.

The traditional Stations of the Cross are really eye-catching and artistic. No wonder, for they were donated to the Church in recent years when the Sisters of Mercy closed their Convent across the road form the Church.

Originally, the Stations of the Cross were a gift to the Convent in 1900 from a local man who made good in the USA.

The following report in the Freeman’s Journal of 1 September 1900 gives the history of the generous gift:


Mr. John M. Nolan, a wealthy citizen of Lowell, U.S.A., who emigrated from Abbeyfeale some years ago, has just presented the Sisters of the Mercy Convent, Abbeyfeale, with the Stations of the Cross for their chapel, the order being executed in Paris at an estimated cost of £250. 

The carving and tinting of the figures is most elaborately and artistically executed.

 Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1932)

·  ·  Sat 1 Sep 1900 

·  ·  Page 4 


I wonder what  the 1900 amount of  £250  would represent in today’s money?

The Stations are priceless in many ways,  and the Sisters were most generous and far-sighted 

to ensure that such a treasure will always be  part of the heritage and the daily religious faith experience in Abbeyfeale Church.

They will also be a  beautiful and  commemorative tribute to the good work of the Sisters of Mercy in Abbeyfeale.

There are but two Sisters residing in Abbeyfeale now- once there was a host of them  in the thriving Convent Community.

The times and the changes! 




I was at a craft Fair in The Seanchaí on the May weekend

Maria Leahy was minding her father’s stall. He makes these hand made replica wagons at his home in Buttevant. Hours of patient hard work goes into every one. They are all made to a unique design.

Frances O’Keeffe is still making her gorgeous tea cozy creations.


Friends Reunited

Childhood friends in Listowel, Jean, Hilary and Eileen met up for a chat and a catchup.


Sand Art in Ballybunion on Saturday May 19 2018

This is a marvellous new festival. I wasn’t there myself so the photos are from various Ballybunion photographers 

These are just some of the creations by sand artists from different parts of Ireland.

Writers’ Week Children’s Festival and Craft Fair

This is Bromore, Ballybunion last week. For more photos of this stunningly beautiful spot click HERE


What other literary festival boasts a full children’s festival programme in tandem with its adult events? The 2013 children’s events were as varied as their adult counterparts and they were enjoyed by hundreds of young participants. There was Fossett’s Circus. The Big Top also doubled as a venue for all sorts of literary and ghostly goings on. There was Larry Lartigue showing our next generation a window into the past. We had Baby Boogie, always a hit with the smallies, a Teddy Bears picnic as well as all the readings and workshops.

I had first hand experience of 2 events when my grandchildren came to visit on Saturday. Here is 6 year old Aisling at her animation workshop. You can see her finished cartoon here.

This next event was called Bee the Book.

It took place in Garvey’s Super Valu on Sunday morning and it was a resounding hit with early readers and pre readers. Book reading is fun!


As always Xistance youth Cafe helped out with the children’s programme.

Louise and Chloe are 2 of the hard working members who ensured that everything ran smoothly.


As well as the scheduled programme there are also other attractions in Listowel during the weekend.

A Busker
Street musicians


There was racing on the Island on Sunday and Monday and all the glamour of a very successful Ladies’ Day. I was at the Craft Fair in The Seanchaí instead.

What a wealth of beautiful things!


John Stack’s photo of the Feale Rangers team who defeated Mid kerry in the first round of the County Championship 2013. For more information about this photo or to see lots more of John’s great North Kerry football photos go to this site:


Just like the old days!

Ballybunion the way we remember it but this time its June 9 2013

Jer Kennelly’s video memory is here

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