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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Sunday Morning in Listowel and photos from the Launch of The Personals and he Jimmy Hickey DVD

Rutting Season 2019

Photo: Chris Grayson


Sunday Morning, Coming Down

” There ain’t nothing short of dying half as lonesome as the sound

Of the sleeping city sidewalks, Sunday morning coming down.”

The streets are quiet in Listowel too on Sunday mornings. It’s a good time to snap the streetscape. The light wasn’t great on the morning I took my stroll so the photographs are a bit dark.

Eileen O’Sullivan was coming from mass. She stopped to offer a few words of encouragement.


Launch of The Personals

I have a few photographs for you from the launch of The Personals in Waterstones on October 3 2019

This book by RTE journalist, Brian O’Connell, is a look at the stories behind the small ads; the classifieds as we called them.

Brian bravely contacted the sellers of interesting items he spotted in his trawl through the small ads in the papers and on Done deal and he met with them and more often than not, got an interesting story.

The launch drew a a packed house with a few celebrities in attendance.

Seán O’Rourke told us a few tall tales of a great grandmother who regularly washed her burial shroud or habit and hung it out on the line to air it so that it would be ready whenever…. He told us of a mother who made sheets from flour bags, and he mentioned a few of the more unusual items for sale that Brian tells us about in The Personals.

The author, Brian O’Connell watching on as his book is launched.

Will you look who I met. Evelyn O’Rourke is a colleague of Seán’s and Brian’s. She remembered our time making a programme for TG4 with great fondness. It was she who presented the programme where Julie Evans came from Australia to research her gr. gr grandmother who had left from the workhouse in Listowel under the Earl Grey Scheme. Below is the link to the story which was picked up by the makers of the Tar Abhaile programme.

Earl Grey Story

Me in  between Evelyn O’Rourke and Sean O’Rourke.

Brian O’Connell signing my copy of The Personals. Look what he has in his left hand. I invited him to the launch of A Minute of Your Time. You’d never know. He just might come.


Jimmy Hickey’s DVD

This DVD has been years in the making. It was a labour of love for Jimmy Deenihan and a few more and I’m delighted it got such a good reception in The Listowel Arms on Sunday last and I am so sorry that I couldn’t be there.

John Kelliher took some great photos on the night. These are just a few, click on the link for more.

The man himself enjoying his big night.

Jimmy in the company of his friends and fellow dancers with the North Cork music maestro, Liam O’Connor

Garden of Europe and Evelyn O’Rourke’s Dear Ross

Recently I took a stroll through the lovely Garden of Europe. Several lovely trees came down in the February 2014 storms.

Two men were working clearing the fallen wood on the day I visited.

They told me that they were using the wood pulp as mulch for the remaining shrubs and trees.

These hardy daffodils were blooming on regardless.

Two dogs were enjoying the early spring sunshine.

I spotted these on a tree on the path from the Garden to Gurtinard. Nest boxes?


This is definitely the end of my WIM Weekend coverage

I know that that is not really a headline but I thought it might be a relief for some of my faithful followers to know that normal service is bring resumed next week.

Before that I have to tell you that I met my friend, Evelyn O’Rourke in Ballybunion.

Me with Evelyn O’Rourke

Evelyn with her mum Peigí, her aunt Eileen and  friend Mairead

Her anxious mum watches as Evelyn relives a very hard time in their lives.

Breda Boderick from Listowel is a fan of Evelyn’s and maybe its this selfie craze but I seem to be in far too many photos of the weekend.

Evelyn has written a book, Dear Ross, telling the story of a year in the life of her family. Evelyn was still on maternity leave with her first son, Óisín when she discovered she was pregnant. She was thrilled. The thrill only lasted a very short while as, within a week, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  

Evelyn wrote a series of letters to her unborn son, Ross, telling him how much she and his dad, John loved and wanted him and wanted to do everything possible not to compromise him in any way.

In the book we read of the horrors of chemotherapy compounded by the discomforts of pregnancy and the trials of looking after a small child.

In Ballybunion we saw Evelyn, the surviver, read movingly from some of the letters. We met Evelyn, the campaigner, passionately promoting the cause of breast cancer research. We  met Evelyn, the family woman, wallowing in the love of her old and her new family. And we met Evelyn, the great communicator standing before us, a testament to the triumph of will, of love and support and modern medicine over this terrible disease.


During the weekend the local Creative Writing group took the opportunity to sell a collection of their works, A Little Life Music.

As part of the weekend too we got a taster eco tour of Ballybunion.

Danny Houlihan is a man of many talents. He told us about history and wildlife in a really interesting trip to the Cashen and the Castle Green. Below are a few photos from the tour


Writers Week 2014

The programme was officially launched last night in The Seanchaí. Great night, lots of photos to come but I had to share this one.

 Eilís Wren and Máire Logue of Writers’ Week fill in my lovely granddaughters on who’s coming to this year’s festival.

Listowel girls, Australia, Craftshop na Méar and Evelyn O’Rourke: surviver

Brenda Donovan,  Mary,Quill,  Noreen Kelliher, Marie Sullivan,  Mary Kenelly  and Patricia Tatten 

Patricia Tatten sent me this lovely photo of a group of Listowel girls, all of whom did their Leaving Cert. in Pres. in 1971. This photo was taken a few years earlier.


A long way from Lovely Listowel!

My friend, Mary Sobieralski is back from a trip to Australia with her son, Mark. Here are a few photos she took on her travels of a very different lifestyle to ours here.

They saw all the sights and even got up close and personal with a joey.


This is a photograph from the internet of the new Kansas City Library.  Cool or what?


This photo from the RTE archives was taken in Limerick in 1968


News from Craftshop na Méar

This lovely lady is Eibhlín Ní Ghliosáin of Tigh Polly Couture Dolls’ Clothes

On Saturday last she gave us a demonstration on how to make and envelope bag.

Some of the attentive class
choosing a button
putting finishing touches
Eibhlín top sewing
the bag
The lovely Sharyn draws the winning ticket
Yipee, I won……Happy Days!


The lady on the far right in the below photo is Evelyn O’Rourke of RTE. She is pictured with myself and Kay Caball in The Seanchaí during recording of the Tar Abhaile programme we made  for TG4.
Why is Evelyn in the news?
You might have seen her on The Late Late Show promoting her recent autobiographical book, Dear Ross, where she recounts her extraordinary tale of finding herself pregnant while still on maternity leave and then discovering that she has breast cancer while still in the first trimester of her pregnancy and with a 6 month old baby at home.
When we met the lovely cheerful ever smiling Evelyn, we had no idea that she had behind her a tale of pain and suffering as traumatic as any we were about to tell her.


Dates for the diary…….promising to be a great weekend.

Christmas preparations and Craftshop na Méar and Tar Abhaile

Photos from Changes at Nine Seven , Christmas 2013


Craftshop na Méar

Mairead Sharry is spinning by the range in Craftshop na Méar at No. 53 Church St. Listowel. Namir Karim of Scribes is opening a craft shop just in time for Christmas. Knitwits will be selling their wares there and spinning demonstrations, knitting classes etc are planned.

Our first job was to make a St. Bridget’s Cross to pray a blessing on the venture

Kniwits joined in a good old sing song around the wheel and by the range;

The shop will be officially opened on Dec. 10 2013.


Do you liked the new sign?

Its not finished yet. I’ll bering you the fully finished sign soon.


It’s that time of year again.


These two are in rehearsals for this year’s panto. Alladin will go on stage in early January 2014.


Date in the diary yet?

Mary Cogan, Kay Caball and Evelyn O’Rourke

Sunday next Dec 1 Tg4 9.30 Tar Abhaile from North Kerry. People outside of Ireland can watch it in a live stream from TG4.

This is the press release from TG4:

“Don’t forget , TG4 , This Sunday Night 9.30 P.M. A night of Genealogy with North Kerry Reaching Out. This week’s programme of the “Tar Abhaile ” series comes from Listowel and other locations around North Kerry and West Limerick.

The first descendant who features this weekend is Julie Evans, a teacher from Sydney Australia who discovers the mystery behind how her grandmother’s grandmother ended up leaving Listowel Workhouse in 1849 and on a ship to Australia as a 16-year old girl as part of the Famine Orphan Girl Scheme. 

The second is Angie Mihalicz, a retired teacher from Beauval, Saskatchewan, Northern Canada who comes back to discover what she can about her grandfather’s father, Peter McGrath and his mother Ellen, who emigrated to Canada at the height of The Famine and after a long search finally gets to stand on the land of her ancestors.
Join us live on TG4 at 9.30 P.M Sunday , Listowel time
Monday 8.30 A.M. Sydney time
Sunday 3.30 P.M. Beauval Canada time.
Watch it live anywhere in the world at or Just go to www.tg4.ieand click on the Tar Abhaile (Come Home) logo when it appears in the ‘Check it Out’ box and it will bring you directly onto the series link on the player.
It is available to view live and for a further 35 days after airing.”


Lovely photo from Friday night. Bernard Brogan and his parents watch the fireworks in The Square, Listowel.

( More beautiful shots from a better photographer than me to come in the next few days)

The GAA and Ireland’s Civil War, Tar Abhaile and Tralee video

Weeshie Fogarthy  drew our attention to this article in The Irish Times. 

It makes interesting reading.

The wind that shook the Farney

October 11th, 2013

by Frank McNally

Source: The Irish Times

The Civil War has been on my mind for another reason
this week, because among the windfall of autumn books that have fluttered into
my mail-box lately is one called Forging a Kingdom: The GAA in Kerry 1884-1934.

Written by UCD academic Richard McElligott, it traces
the first 50 years of Kerry GAA as the formative period that established the
county’s national dominance, at least in football. And of course the decade
after 1916 was pivotal to this development.

The commitment of Kerry players in those difficult times
is testified by the story of John Joe Sheehy’s appearance in the 1924 Munster
final. Sheehy would have been an automatic starter at corner forward. But there
was a slight problem on this occasion in that, as a prominent anti-treaty
militant, he was still on the run.

Naturally, however, football took precedence. On the day
in question, he entered the Limerick venue as a spectator and, before throw-in,
emerged from the crowd, togged out, to take his place. It’s almost needless to
add that Kerry won, after which Sheehy’s warm-down routine was to disappear
back into the crowd and resume his fugitive status.

A year earlier, the same man had been among the first
arrivals at Ballyseedy after eight of his colleagues were massacred in the
single most notorious incident of the war. So not the least impressive thing
about the Limerick appearance was that it was facilitated by his team captain,
Con Brosnan, a Free State Army officer who arranged safe passage.

But the part of McElligott’s book that most fascinates
me, for personal reasons, concerns a game six years later: the All-Ireland
Final of 1930 (by which time, incidentally, the now off-the-run Sheehy had
become Kerry captain).

This was the first and still, sad to say, only senior
(men’s) All-Ireland final involving my own county, Monaghan. And although there
can’t be many supporters left alive who witnessed it, the trauma has since
passed into folk memory, where it continues to be painful.

Whatever divisions lingered within Kerry football after
1923 had clearly resolved themselves by then. A uniting factor may have been
the death, on the eve of the match, of Dick Fitzgerald: a giant of Kerry GAA.
Indeed, his bereaved county men at first wanted the final called off, and when
it went ahead anyway, they probably needed no extra motivation.

But, as the book suggests, they had some. Kerry were
also by then perceived to be a predominantly republican outfit. The Monaghan
team, by contrast, “contained several officers in the Free State
Army”. The northerners may also have been tainted by association with Gen
Eoin O’Duffy, then Garda commissioner and future Blueshirt.

Either way, Mc Elligott writes, “the match would
enter GAA folklore as the last battle of the Civil War”. The result on the
scoreboard was bad enough – an 18-point win for Kerry: 3-11 to 0-2. But the
beating handed out by Sheehy and his men was not limited to goals and points.

Afterwards, Monaghan lodged an official complaint, both
about Kerry’s “brutality” and the apparent bias of the referee, who
was said to have waved play on at one stage when the losing team had three
players down injured. At a central council meeting, the Ulster team’s
representative likened the match to a “Spanish bull-fight”.

To this day, a vague but collective memory in Monaghan
has it that, during the second half, an unnamed substitute refused to play when
asked, having become a conscientious objector. Despite which, the complaint was
thrown out.

That Kingdom side went on to complete a four-in-a-row,
although there was some retrospective corroboration of the complaints against
them when, before the 1932 final against Mayo, the referee was moved to enter
the Kerry dressing room beforehand and harangue them about their persistent
“blackguarding” (McElligott’s word) of opposition players.

Monaghan, as I say, have not been back in a senior final
since. Maybe this is one potential area of closure that should be discussed at
the aforementioned Civil War conference in Athlone. In any case, the day-long
event will take place on November 23rd at Custume Barracks. Booking and other
details from


Did you ever do this?

Back in the 1960’s there were no GHD’s you know.


Tar Abhaile

These photographs were sent to me  by Red Pepper Productions. You have probably forgotten by now but back in the Spring, Kay Caball of My Kerry Ancestors and I, on behalf of NKRO made a Tv programme with Julie and Glyn Evans from Australia. The programme is to be broadcast on TG4 and will be called Tar Abhaile.  Our programme will be the third in  the series. I’ll keep you posted.


Lovely promotional video for Tralee here

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