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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Sr. Thomas R.I.P.

Photo; Kieran Mangan, Mallow Camera Club


” She lived unknown and few could know

When Lucy ceased to be….”

I am reminded of Wordsworth’s Lucy poem when I think of this humble nun.


A Corner of The Square

St. Mary’s in May 2022


A Lounge Bar

Photo shared by Mike Hannon on Facebook. This is Finucane’s Bar, now The Saddle in Upper William Street.


Four Men and a Cup

The four men in Mike Hannon’s photo have been named on Facebook as

Tom Sweeney, Tom Lyons, Mick Carey, Gigs Nolan


In Kerry Writers’ Museum

Cara Trant and David Browne at the launch of the exhibition of Kerry’s Amateur Dramatic Heritage on Saturday, May 7 2022


President Michael D. O hUigínn in town, Ballybunion Dining, Writers’ Week 2018

Presidential Visit to Kerry Writers’ Museum

The purpose of the president’s visit to Listowel last weekend was to celebrate Listowel’s great win in the Super Valu Tidy Towns’ Competition 2018. While he was in the area he fitted in a few other engagements as well. On Friday evening one of Listowel Tidy Town’s  hardest working volunteers, Breda McGrath was out giving the place a last sweep up when she spotted Uachtarán na hEireann in his motorcade on his way to The Seanchaí.

There were gardaí everywhere. Here are three who assured me that they have a Listowel connection.

Rambling house musicians waiting to play for the president.

The greeting party at Kerry Writers’ Museum with their VIP guests, Eoin Moriarty, David Browne, Sabina and Michael D. Higgins and Madeleine O’Sullivan

I’ll have more photos from the presidential visit after my short break.


Ballybunion, Main Street


Cosmopolitan Ballybunion

Eating in Ballybunion can be a very interesting experience with cuisine from around the world offered in different establishments around town. Here are a few examples.


Writers’ Week 2019

Tomorrow May 29 2019 is opening night. Here are a few photos from last year to whet your appetite. Here’s to a great week for those who love to write, those who love to read and those who love to photograph the people who write and read.

I’ll be busy Writers’ weeking for the next while. I’ll share all the photos later.

Women in Media 2019, Lartigue reopens and an old photo of Listowel UDC

William Street, Listowel in April 2019


Writers’ Week folk at Women in Media 2019

Laura Enright, former intern at Listowel Writers Week and now an aspiring journalist, David Browne, chair of the Board of Directors of LWW, Katie Hannon with Catherine Moylan chair of Listowel Writers’ Week.

Two very successful North Kerry women have a chat.

Mary Rose Stafford, Head of the School of Business at IT Tralee was one of the contributors to the panel discussion on Opening Night of WiM 2019. On the left is Catherine Moylan.


Snake in a Tree

I was walking on the path behind the Dandy Lodge recently when I spotted this. It’s a big long blue snake wound around a tree. I’m guessing he was left behind after some children’s event. If anyone is missing a bright blue cobra look no further. I’ve located him.


It’s Open

2019 Operating Schedule
• May 1st to September 8th, daily 1pm to 4.30pm
• September 16th to September 30th, daily from 1pm to 4.30pm

Admission: Adult 6. Senior 5
Children 5yrs + 3. Kids under 5 yrs Free
Family 15. Group rates on request


Downpatrick Twinning

This photograph of Listowel UDC at the ceremony to mark the twinning of the towns will feature in Robert Pierse’s upcoming memoir :

Under the Bed: Stories & Thoughts from a Desert Island

The book will be launched by Billy Keane and Cyril Kelly in The Listowel Arms Hotel on May 24.

Entente Florale 2019, Ballybunion, Juvenile tennis and All Night Dances

Our lovely town has been chosen to represent Ireland in the Entente Flotale competition.


Listowel Juvenile Tennis in the 1980s

Photo: Danny Gordon


David Browne’s tribute to Ballybunion

Ballybunion yesterday

Billowing winds, skimming the surface of the dark gray sea.

Churning the water, forceful and wild.A distant howling, the promise of an untethered force.

Swirling mute skies, the storm approaches.

Gathering pace, gathering noise.

Waves rising higher, crashing from their peak,

to the foamy wash below.

She will take no prisoner’s, have no mercy.

Arc’s of silver flash in the distance,

into the depth’s of the angry sea.

A building crescendo of deep, growling,

closer, closer.

Mother nature, she reigns supreme,

ethereal, powerful, a universal queen.


All Night Dances

Once upon a time there were dance halls at many cross roads. Also people held dances in their houses or barns and these were a place where young people met to meet the opposite sex.

The clergy had very ambivalent attitudes to these dances. They were a very useful means of fundraising for parish purposes like church upkeep and schools. On the other hand priests feared that these dances were “an occasion of sin.”

Of course any dancing was 100% prohibited during Lent.

Here are a few extracts from newspaper reports.

Dance halls should be closed at 11pm at latest – otherwise, they (are) a menace to morality.” Bishop Patrick McKenna of Clogher didn’t mince his words.

All night dances, he said, were in direct opposition to the teaching of the church. “He was informed,” reads a report in The Irish Times in May 1935, “that young people left these halls at a late hour and went to lonely roads”.

“In this way, dance halls were conducive to temptation and were an occasion of sin. No all-night dances should be held, except with special permission of the parish priest,” said the bishop, speaking outside a confirmation in Bundoran, Co Donegal.

“He exhorted Catholics to put their heads together, and even if it meant monetary loss, to put a stop to the evil of all-night dances.”

It was the last time his name popped up in The Irish Times archive in the context of dance halls, but it wouldn’t be the last time clergymen in Irelandmade an opposition to late dances, or the granting of licences to hold dances at all.

The dance hall act of 1935 brought in rules for the running of dances under licence. Anyone could go to court to oppose the granting of the licence. This “anyone” was often the parish priest.

In a case at Listowel in September, 1936, frequent opposer Fr Browne suggested dances only be held from 6pm until 9pm.

“Dance Halls in England closed at 11pm, and apart from the question of morality, people could not work properly if they were dancing all night,” he reasoned, according to an Irish Times report.

The priest was wary, in particular, of outsiders – “devils”, as he saw them.

“Persons who came to these dances from outside towns in motor cars were scoundrels of the lowest type, and were devils incarnate,” he said.

There was absolutely no need for all-night dances in country places, and there was only one way to deal with them, as the soupers were dealt with in the olden times – by excommunication. Dance halls were the curse and ruin of the country, and when the people were being demoralised the end is near, and so is the anger of God.”

“Man is a sociable animal,” the judge replied, “and he must find some sort of reasonable satisfaction for his social appetite.” The judge granted the dances until 10pm, but bowed to the priest’s demand that nobody from outside a three mile radius be allowed attend.

At Listowel District Court in November 1936, Fr Browne makes yet another appearance, this time alleging that one dance hall proprietor had no care for the “lives and morals” of the attendees. “There were human vultures coming in motor cars to these halls from outside places,” he said, reiterating his hatred of outsiders.

“They sometimes visited more than one hall and after the dance spent their time with servant girls and farmers’ daughters.”

The priest said he “read a report from Liverpool society for prevention of international traffic in women and children, which stated that Irish girls went over to Liverpool, hoping to find work, some with only the clothes they wear. They might as well face the facts that through the dance hall and bar regulations these girls had been made familiar with vice.”

As long as dance halls were given late licences, he said, parents were helpless in preventing this “degradation”.


Yee Haw!


I Inspired a Letter to the Irish Times

Santa, Carol Singing and the launch of A Book and cd of Kerry Songs of the Revolution

A Christmas Photo from 2016


Carol Singing

Photo: Scoil Realt na Maidine

Boys entertaining shoppers at Garvey’s Super Valu Listowel last week.


A Story that tells how Times have changed in a Picture

Extra public phonebooks being installed in Dublin for the Eucharistic Congress of 1932

“All’s changed, changed utterly”


Their Memory Will Endure

On Saturday evening, December 15 2018, I attended another launch of an extraordinary Kerry book. This is a project compiled by Gabriel Fitzmaurice and Pádraig Ó Concubhair.  We got a book and a cd for €20 . In the book and on the cd we have songs commemorating events of the wars in Kerry from 1916 to 1924. This was a particularly violent divisive and bloody time in our county’s history, a period that is not much talked of nowadays, probably because of the very bitter rifts that occurred in communities and even in families

Here are some of the people who attended the launch which was done by Dr. Declan Downey.

 Gabriel was kept busy signing books. Padraig couldn’t be present.

Vincent Carmody, David Browne and Gabriel Fitzmaurice

As you can see there were many well known faces among the attendance.

Karen Trench is one of the singers featured on the cd.

David Browne introduced Declan Downey who officially launched the package.

This man rendered his ballad in a mellow mature voice.

Gabriel Fitzmaurice is himself a well known balladeer. For this project he took on the mantle of that great collector of Kerry ballads, Bryan MacMahon.


A Nebraska Parish with  a Listowel Connection

We’re a bit late with this one but it’s worth celebrating.

St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Omaha celebrated 100 years in 2017. Marie Neligan alerted me to the connection with her Listowel family.

“Founded in 1917 as a mission of St. Patrick Parish in Elkhorn, the parish’s first pastor, Father David Neligan, celebrated St. John’s first Mass on Christmas in its original church – a former Baptist church, purchased and moved to the parish site by an early parishioner, John Zeis Sr.” 

Source: The Catholic Voice

Fr. David was born in Listowel. He was Marie’s uncle. Here is what she told me about him;

The first pastor at this church Fr, David Neligan, born and raised in Listowel said the first mass at this church when it opened on Christmas Day 1917. David was my uncle and was ordained at All Hallows’ on June 23rd 1912 and assigned to Omaha, Nebraska. He was buried there at the tender age of 33.

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