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: Eabha Joans

Photos and more photos

Happy Christmas to all followers of Listowel Connection. Thank you for all the support and good wishes in 2016.

I’m taking a short break to recharge the batteries. With your help, we’ll do it all again in 2017.


Humans of Listowel

Some lovely Listowel people, mostly in pairs, who I photographed in Listowel Community Centre on November 25 2016.

Knitters party, Tidy Towns Unveiling, Wren boys part 4 and some photos of local people

Knitwits Christmas Party in Scribes

Una Hayes and Maureen Connolly

Patricia Borley and Mary Boyer

Katie Heaton and Anne Moloney

Helen O’Connor and Pat Barry

Peggy Brick, Kathleen McCarthy and Una Hayes

Jane Anne Sheehy, Eileen O’Sullivan and Eileen Fitzgerald

Maria Leahy, Anne Moloney and Joan Carey


New Kids on The Block

This business  has opened at the corner of William Street and Charles Street in the premises that used to be Jerome Murphy’s


Sunday December 11 2016 at the Unveiling of the Tidy Towns’ Sculpture

At 5.00 p.m.we turned our backs on the Coca Cola truck and headed across the Square to the island outside The Listowel Arms for the unveiling of the sculpture to celebrate the work of Listowel Tidy Towns Committee in bringing glory to town. Readers of Listowel Connection already knew what the piece looked like but the committee covered it up again for the big reveal.

Kerry County Council and the Enterprise office had a hand in funding so Aoife Thornton gave the first speech on their behalf.

Canon Declan O’Connor, P.P. Listowel blessed the piece and blessed the work of the Tidy Town committee.

Ta da! There it is.

The artist, Darren Enright stood proudly among the onlookers as his work was praised.


That was then; this is now

When another sculpture was unveiled in The Square in December 2010 we had snow on the ground

This year the sun shone and we had temperatures of 13 and 14.


A Few More People I photographed on November 25


North Kerry Wren Boys by Wm. Molyneaux in Shannonside Annuals

Part 4

We had great times with the
same Wren, so we did.  One St Stephen’s
Day I was out with Coolkeragh.  They were
a good crowd.  We were travelling on,
whatever.  I don’t know that anyone of us
knew the names of the people where we were at all. 
But still is was a good place. 
Well, any torn down house or anything, we’d say to ourselves that we
wouldn’t go in there at all.  

So this
house, anyway, we crossed it.  It was a
small little pokeen of a  house.  Myself and the player were talking.  We said to ourselves we wouldn’t go in there
at all-you know.  There would hardly be
no one there at all- poor looking. “Cripes,” says I (as if I had the knowledge)
“ “I imagine,” says I, “but I see an old woman walking around
the house, and now  that old woman might
only get insulted.  We want nothing from
her,” says I, “but she might get insulted if we didn’t go into with
the Wren.”  “Well, by God, that’s
right, Williameen.  “We go in

In we went.  This poor little woman was inside.  A very small little house entirely.  She had a few coals down.  I went up to the fire, myself and the player.  He was Willie Mahoney over in Coolkeragh and
a good player he was.  The Dickens, I
went up.  I was inclined to
“hate” the tambourine over the coals. 
There wasn’t as much fire there as would heat it.  Stay, I told him play away.  He played away.  He played, I think, a hornpipe.  God he was a good player!  We were at it for a bit, and with that,
whatever look I gave, there was the poor woman and the tears rolling down her
face.  “Stop, let ye,” says I
to the crowd.  “Stop, let ye, there
must be something wrong here.  Will ye
stop!”  I turned around to the old
woman: “well, poor woman,” says I “there must be something wrong
with you or with someone belonging to you. 
And if we knew anything like that,” says I, “we were not going to come in at all” says I “if
we knew what we know now….  When we see
the tears in your eyes we wouldn’t have come in at all….

At that she started, at the
top of your voice: “Yerra,Wisha, Weenach!oh!oh!OH!..It isn’t any dohall I have
at all about the Wran Boys!….Yerra, Wisha… husband, Tom….he’s inside in
the Listowel ‘ospital with a sore leg. 
And, and if Tom was here today, wouldn’t he be delighted to see the fine
crowd of fine respectable Wren boys that made so much of me as to come in here!
Wait a fwhile ‘til Tom ‘ll come home and if I don’t be  telling him that…..oh!oh!oh! and she went on
at the top of her voice.

I turned around to the crowd:
“lads,” says I, “have ye much money around ye? “agor, we have”
says the captain,  we could have up to
about five pounds, (it was early in the day) “Are ye all satisfied to give
this poor woman,” says I, “half of what ye have?  The day is long” says I, “and
we  will make enough to maintain us
through the night.”  And they said
they were agreeable.  The cashier was
just starting to pull out his purse and off she started again: “oh!  No! 
No!  Wait awhile now and I must
turn around and give ye something.  She
had long stockings on her, and she stuck down her hand in one of them-down,
down, and then she got hold of something and she started pulling and pulling
til she pulled up a big cloth purse-as sure as I’m telling you there would a
quarter sack of male fit inside it!  And
I couldn’t tell you what money was inside it. 
Up she pulled the bag anyway and reached a shilling to myself.  “No, ma’am,” says I, “put that in
your own pocket.”  Then she started
again: “oh!  No!  No! 
No!  If you don’t take that now,
decent boy!  Oh,Yerra  Wisha 
after what ye had done for me! 
Yerra, Wisha, the best friend I ever had in all my life would not do
what ye’re after doing for me.  That the
Almighty God and the Blessed Virgin Mary may save and guard ye! Bless and
protect ye! And that you and yer crowd might be going around on the Wran,”
says she, “ for the next 100 years without a feather ou of ye.”

That happened, for a God’s
honest fact.

(more tomorrow)


Home Alone

A Christmas poem from Mary McElligott


‘What will I do Mrs Claus?”

Santa rubbed his head.

He really was exhausted.

His legs felt like lead.

His head was pounding,

He was frozen to the bone.

Mrs Claus was too busy

To listen to him moan.

He was like this every

I suppose you’d say,

She’d listen, support and

Take out his long sleeved

Christmas Eve was looming,

Three more sleeps to go.

Was it his age? She

Gosh, t’was hard to know.

Mrs Claus was high

Changing sheets and beds.

Five hundred elves was no

The last time she counted

One hundred stayed all

But in October that count
went up,

Hard work for Mrs. Claus,

To get it all set up.

She cooked and cleaned
their dorms.

She worked out their Rota,

24/7 their job,

Hard, juggling that quota.

She loved it though, being

Loved caring for the

They were like their

When they didn’t have any

Some poor elves were

In the North Pole for a
whole twelve weeks.

She often saw tears

Down their little cheeks.

She had one big job to

She did it through the

It was she who got the
elves their gifts,

Brought them their
Christmas cheer.

She made several trips
down south.

There was a great service
from The Pole

But her favorite place to

Was a place called

It was so tidy and clean,

So pretty, down by the

And even more beautiful at

What with all those blue
lights in the dark.

She’d buy all their gifts,

Hats, scarves and gloves
for the elves.

She’d pack them in huge

Leaving a bit of space for
a few bits for themselves.

She loved Christmas Eve,

Santa gone, the elves in

She’d open up her cases,

Deliver gifts as she’d
quietly thread,

Up and down, between the

One hundred in each dorm,

Over and back until the
cases were empty,

Finishing up near dawn.

They all get a Christmas

50 Euros and of course,
some sweets,

After all it was Christmas

And you’d have to give
them treats.

She’d only just be gone to

When Santa would land in,

She’d leave out coke and

Waiting for him, dozing.

‘How was it Santa?’ she’d

‘Everything go all right
with the reindeer?’

“Absolutely perfect Mrs

Thanks to you. Merry
Christmas, my dear.”


Friends Reunited

I had a lovely morning meeting with some old friends recently. Some I met by arrangement and some by chance. It was delightful to renew old acquaintance at the end of 2016

I first met these ladies when we were all teenagers. Heres to the next time, Jill, Assumpta, Eileen and Peggy. 

Little did we think back in the 1970s that we would sit in The Malton, Killarney in 2016 discussing the merits of free travel.

John B. Keane, Flavin Sweeney wedding 1946 and Listowel shops 2009

This following is an article from a recent edition of The Irish Independent.

She gave Dad his best lines


‘I often say that if my mother got six weeks at the economy,
she’d straighten it out,” laughs BillyKeane, eldest son of Mary, 84, and the late,
great writer, John B Keane. “She is amazing with money and would cut out
all unnecessary spending, but she also has a great heart. I may be running the
pub, but my mam is still the boss and she has a great work ethic. I always say
that I’d give her redundancy, but I couldn’t afford it as she’s been here since

‘I often say that if my mother got six weeks at the economy,
she’d straighten it out,” laughs BillyKeane, eldest son of Mary, 84, and the late,
great writer, John B Keane. “She is amazing with money and would cut out
all unnecessary spending, but she also has a great heart. I may be running the
pub, but my mam is still the boss and she has a great work ethic. I always say
that I’d give her redundancy, but I couldn’t afford it as she’s been here since

He’s only joking, of course, and indeed the fun flows
throughout my gorgeous lunch at the family-run John B Keane pub, in Listowel,
Co Kerry. Then again, laughter is fitting as it is here that some of the
funniest and most moving plays in Irish history were written including plays
like The Love-Hungry Farmer which returns by popular demand to the Gaiety.

The warm and welcoming Mary lost her beloved John B to cancer
in May 2002, and Ireland lost one of its most celebrated writers. And none felt
it as keenly as his wife, three sons Billy, Conor and John, and daughter

“He was too good to lose, which made it very
difficult,” says Billy, while Mary says that John B was her best friend
and they were inseparable in his final years. They met at a dance at the
Listowel Races when both were 20. He was a chemist’s assistant who also wrote
poetry, not that Mary knew that when they met. Her dad had a shop, selling
everything from bread to methylated spirits, and she worked there, and also
went on to train as a hairdresser- cum-beauty therapist.

“I thought John was fine,” she said. “People
said to me, ‘Do you know that he’s a poet?’ and I said ‘What?’ And a while later,
a girl at work said, ‘There’s a poem in The Kerryman today and you’re mentioned
in it’. That was the only paper that would take him, but he used to write
lovely poetry. He wrote very nice letters to me, and one day he asked why I
never wrote back, and I said, ‘Sure what have I to say to you?'”

Eventually, what she did say was yes, of course, and they were
married in 1955, the year they bought the pub, which is also their family home.
Mary grew up just outside Castleisland, as the second-youngest of Cornelius and
Bridget O’Connor’s five children, but her mother tragically died in childbirth
aged just 36, when Mary was two.

“My dad was always crying after her, so I didn’t know what
marriage between a man and woman was like,” she recalls. “The first
argument I had with John was a fine one, and I said, ‘Oh my marriage is gone.
It didn’t last long at all.’ But we made up and it lasted another 47

The first child, Billy, was born in 1957, a lively child who
hung out with boys from local families like the Sextons (he is godfather to
rugby starJonathan Sexton.) “We were cracked young
fellas,” he says. “My mother wasn’t that strict and my dad wasn’t
strict at all. He had a bit of a temper, but never with us and he never slapped
us. Although he gave me a mild kick in the arse when I came home at five in the
morning one Christmas Eve. Mam called the shots and she was, and still is, a
great businesswoman. I think she wanted to be the best mother in the world
because she grew up without her own mother, and she did a great job. She is
very funny and comes out with amazing statements, and I always think my dad
plagiarised some of his best lines from her.”

Billy studied law after school and became a solicitor, but
found that it wasn’t the career for him. He took over the running of the pub at
34, and is married to teacher Elaine. Of their four children, Anne, 26, and
Laura, 24, are studying law, while Lainey, 21, is training to be a teacher and
educational psychologist. John, 17, is still at school.

Billy also writes, and is a newspaper columnist.

“Billy is a great son, and I love him dearly, like the
others,” says Mary. “He is maturing to my satisfaction,” she
adds, while Billy says that the process will probably be complete by the time
he’s 98.

John B famously wrote 18 plays and 32 works of prose and poetry
sitting in the corner of the bar. His first break came in 1959 when the
Listowel Drama Group won first prize at the All-Ireland Amateur Drama Festival
with his play, Sive.

“John always wanted to be a writer, but had no luck at all
at first,” says Mary. “We went to a play and afterwards, he felt he
could do better than that, so he got a copybook and had Sive almost ready in a
week. He sent it to The Abbey and they wouldn’t look at him, but when it won
the Esso trophy, it changed our lives.”

Billy says that he got his imagination and ability to move on
from the past from his father, as well as his sense of fair play and anarchic
sense of humour. His dad was brave, he says, often taking stances on political
issues, while his mum was tough and he attributes his ability to see things
through to her.

“There is great humour in his plays, such as The
Love-Hungry Farmer, and at the time my father felt that Ireland was a sexually
repressed society,” he says. “While he sometimes got himself into
bother with his stances, he realised that laughter was the best weapon. He and
my mother were always out for the underdog, and you couldn’t meet two more
decent and generous people.”

Des Keogh will return to theGaiety Theatrefor one week only in ‘The Love-Hungry
Farmer’ from June 17.

Tickets: 0818 719 388 or

Visit John B Keane’s pub, 37 William Street, Listowel, Co

Irish Independent

Mary Keane at the door of John B.’s


Businesses no longer in business


Flavin Sweeney wedding  1946

 2nd, lL to R, Maureen Flavin Sweeney Blacksod Bay, 5th L to R Theresa Flavin Kennelly Knockanure, 6th L to R, Peg Connor Moran, Knockanure 


Signs of hope!

This sign which was just being put up beside The Mermaids said Fantasy Room. It appears to be a new function room.

Mr. Signs, Martin Chute was painting a new sign at Fitzgeralds.

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