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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New Director at St. John’s, Church Street girls, Owen Family of Ballyhorgan Cycling and the Crown Jewels

Wildflower meadow at Ballincollig Regional Park


They’re Changing the Guard at St. John’s

Máire Logue is the new artistic director of St. John’s Arts and Heritage Centre, Listowel. I photographed her in St. John’s with Joe Murphy, the retiring director.


Church Street Girls

Eileen Sheridan shared a photo memory

Clementine Crowley Ann McSweeney, Gertie Kennelly, Mary OSullivan, Eileen Scanlon, Ann Ryan

Mary Fitzmaurice Mary Walsh , Eileen McSweeney,  Alice Gleeson.

Sadly three of the girls have passed away.


Owens of Ballyhorgan

Harriet Owen with Tom Fitzgerald and Jimmy Deenihan in The Listowel Arms on one of Harriet’s frequent trips to Kerry to reconnect with her family home in Lixnaw.

Harriet sent me a short version of her family history which I published in Listowel Connection. John Stack of Kildare and formerly of Duagh was interested to see that an Owen had married into the Ellis family of Abbeyfeale. Ellis was a family John had encountered when researching his own family as these Ellises were his mother’s people’s landlords.

He sent us a newspaper cutting


Resurgence of Cycling

In our cities nowadays you have to be struck by the numbers of people cycling to and from work. I took these photos on Cork’s Grand Parade recently. There seems to be bicycles everywhere.

The bike scheme stand was almost empty.


The Theft of The Irish Crown Jewels

A friend lent me this book. The story of the disappearance of the Irish Crown Jewels and its disastrous consequences for North Kerry is a fascinating one.


In Dublin Yesterday

Kerry has survived to fight another day. I don’t know if the supporters nerves will survive another one, though.

Nano Nagle Place, Old Piseogs and Carrigkerry

 Chris Grayson


Old Cork

This photo was not taken today or yesterday. I think it’s the 1960s and these are tourist caravans on the Western Road outside the Ear Nose and Throat hospital. The street is now one way.


The Legacy of Nano Angle and The Presentation Sisters

In Listowel we have a memorial to the work of the nuns centralised in our town square. We were lucky to have both Presentation and Mercy sisters helping to educate and care for generations of Listowel people.

The mission of the Presentation sisters was to educate the young ladies of North Kerry and I was privileged to work with them for many years.

Nano Nagle, who founded the Presentation sisters was a Cork woman. The order now has converted their South Presentation school and convent into a magnificent heritage centre. I was there with my daughter, Cliona, a Pres girl,  on Heritage Day 2018

Impressive, isn’t it?

 The nuns’ burial ground with its uniform headstones reminded me of the graves I’ve seen in pictures of a battlefield.

It was a bit of a shock to see a grave with a family name. I don’t know if she was any relation.

 This was a surprise. I can’t imagine how she came to be buried here in South Pres.

 The convent garden is wonderful with borders of lavender on which bees were at work.

In the museum there were artefacts and photos from Presentation communities around the world.There was a stamp from Listowel and a roll book from South Pres.


Some Little Known Superstitions

From Patrick O’Sullivan’s excellent Country Diary

Times were different back then!



Just over the border in Co. Limerick is the lovely little village of Carrigkerry.

McKennas, Donoghues in Glenderry and Australia and a look back at St. Patrick’s Day

Beautiful Kerry

Chris Grayson snapped this robin in The National Park in Killarney last week.



Photo: Mike Hannon

Do you remember when it looked like this?


From a Land Down Under

All over the world there are Listowel people searching for their roots. I am always delighted when someone makes contact to say that Listowel Connection has helped in that search. Here is an email I received from Nan Bailey in Queensland.

“I found your blog Listowel Connection this evening when I googled Glanderry, Ireland to see just where it was. I still don’t know, but presume it must be in the Listowel district.

My Fathers Mother, Mary Donoghue was born in Listowel area as were several of her siblings and tonight, for the first time I saw a baptism record for one of them in Family Search, that had Glanderry named as the Fathers place of birth.

This is the first time I have ever seen where my Great Grandfather John Donoghue was from and I was stoked. They were supposed to have lived at some stage above a post office, but I only have that 3rd hand, so don’t know exactly where

I have subscribed to your blog and am looking forward to reading more about Listowel and the surrounding area and learning about where some of my Irish ancestors come from.”

I know I have lots of Donoghue and O’Donoghue followers who might just be able to help Nan in her search for her Listowel connection.


Two More Sleeps to St. Patrick’s Day 2017


Shenanigans at a Hooley in Listowel in 1839

Kerry Evening
Post Wednesday, November 13, 1839; 


Listowel. 9th November, 1839. 

Dear Mr. Editor.—A
series of political dinners have been given, during the past and present week,
in our town and neighbourhood; But the grand coalition festival of that exotic
and eccentric Maurice Mac O’Connor to Morgan O Connell, M.P.; Pierce Mahony,
ex-M.P.; John Cronin of park; Rev Mr Harrington, C.C.; Rev Mr Simple, C.C.; Mr
Marshall, Auctioneer and many others.

 The letter goes on to explain the
expensive and lavish preparations, items from Limerick and ornaments, wreaths
and greens from Ballinruddery , used in decorations. Their motto was “Céad
Míle Failte.  Being market day many came to admire the show. 

Pierce Mahony
spoke in very dull and prosy language. Morgan O’C admitted that Tories had
political interests to support and rights to contend for, as well as the
Radicals. Third Toast was The National Board of Education and Fr Mahony who had
recently erected a school, but later on in the letter, it noted that the school
was, not finished yet and badly needed to educate the children who had bad
habits wandering around the Market place. 
Mr Marshall speaking under the influence of spirits, it was alleged, mentioned Mr Mc O’Connor being good at feeding pigs and jack asses. Ned Cain
gave an explanation the following day about the exaggerated speeches….


Listowel Cyclists

Early one Saturday morning I snapped these cyclists pedalling through town on their weekly training spin.

Ballybunion, Listowel Town Park, Postboxes and Cashen fishermen

Heron at Fota

photo; Chris Grayson


More from St. John’s Ballybunion

Above are the priest’s tombs, below is the side entrance.


Commemorative Garden coming along nicely


Seeing Double in North Main Street, Cork

On a recent visit to Cork I was surprised to spot these two mailboxes side me side in North Main Street. There must have been huge volumes of mail in this part of town once upon a time.

The boxes are from different eras as you can see from the different designs.


Cashen Fishermen in the 1980s

Photo and caption from Cashen Connections on Facebook

April 1958

(Lt) to (Rt) : Seamus Rourke, Jamsie (Mac) Mc Ellistrim, Willie Stack-Sullivan, Richie (Mouse) Diggin, Behind Richie: Willie Mc Carthy, Sean Rochford, Francie Diggin, Jackie Stack-Sullivan, John Neill, Johnny Healy, Mikey Reddon, Behind Mikey : John Carthy, Far background: John Patrick(John Taid ) Sullivan
All gone but not forgotten!


Cycling News

Stage 2 of Rás Mumhan will start in Listowel on the Easter Weekend 2017

Church St., Poverty in Kerry in 1898 and The Manly Barber on Charles Street

Church St. Listowel Sunday August 14 2016


Now and Then



When Times were Hard

Kerry Sentinel  Wednesday, February 16, 1898


Speaking on the distress in Kerry on Friday night, Mr. Flavin said he did not desire to needlessly prolong the debate, but at the same time he might say that he had little hope of obtaining anything like generous treatment or anything in the nature of a remedy from the Chief Secretary (hear, hear). 

He had made complaints before about the condition of the poor people, and he received no response from the Chief Secretary. He appealed to the right hon. gentleman last year at a time when most of the labouring population in the Listowel Union were in want of work, but nothing came of it. They were told to fall back upon the union for relief. But the fact was that the poor rates now in the Listowel Union were as much as 15s. in the pound, and the ratepayers could not bear any additional burden. 

Unless the Government stepped in to prevent it, there would be great distress in Kerry. There were no seed potatoes and no seed oats, and what seed there was in Kerry and Munster had come from the North of Ireland and from Scotland. So long as the Chief Secretary preferred the statements of his own inspectors to even those of the landlords in Kerry, and the representatives of the people, there was little hope of anything of a beneficial character being done for the people of the poorer districts (hear, hear)


I Met him on William St.

Pat Walsh favours pedal power. Pat was cycling before it became a fashionable means of transport.


Manctuary is now The Manly Barber

This shop has pinned its colours to the mast. In case there was any doubt; It is now clearly men only.


Strange Things in the Sea off Kerry this year

First it was jellyfish, now this is reported in Afloat Magazine

A miniature unmanned
sailing boat has been reported off the Kerry coast after nearly three years in
the North Atlantic.

The boat, named
West, is part of the Educational Passages project
by the Middle
School of Westbrook in Maine, USA and is one of five boats the Sebago School
Alliance sent out in the autumn and winter of 2013-14.

West was launched off
Georges Bank along with one other boat by Bro Cote, a lobsterman out of
Hyannis, Massachusetts. Several others were launched about the same time off
the Mid-East coast of the United States and off the Canary Islands for the marine science

“We had hoped the boat
would make the complete circle of the Atlantic Ocean. It has and then some,”
say the project organsiers about West, which has been spotted 32 nautical miles
from the Kerry coastline.

West could arrive in
the Kerry area over the next few days or, depending upon weather conditions,
may go further northwards towards the Galway coast.

Previously West made
landfall in November 2014 when it crashed on rocks in rough seas off Portugal,
where it was recovered by local authorities and repaired with the help of local
companies and relaunched from Lisbon in June last year.

Four months later, it
was recovered entering the Mediterranean, refurbished again and put on a cargo
ship to Madeira and relaunched from there on 28 January this year.

The project
co-ordinators have asked for assistance to help rescue the boat when it arrives
in the coming days

“It would be great if
the boat could be recovered at sea or shortly after landing to avoid


Coming Soon to a small screen in your living room

Gerard Barrett’s Smalltown promises to be one of those close to the bone series. It will be the rural equivalent of Love Hate, holding the mirror up to  aspects of today’s Ireland we may all recognise.

I heard about Smalltown first from Fr. Pat Moore who wrote about it in his very thought provoking blog. Read it here:  Strength within, Support without


Knockanure Vintage Day 2016

Knockanure Local went to the vintage day and here are his photos

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