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: Finesse Bridal Wear

An Irish Santa

St. Michael’s graveyard in Winter 2021


Church Street

Church Street gets its name from the church which once stood at the top of the street. All that remains of that church now is the bell tower pictured above. The church itself was demolished and the stones used to build the new church in The Square.


A Christmas Window

My photographs do a great injustice to Listowel’s lovely Christmas window displays. This one is Finesse, who always have a perfect interpretation of whatever theme is set.


An Irish Santa Claus

Unlike the most famous inhabitant of the North Pole, this Santa is probably a man you have never heard of. Mattie Lennon in this essay is doing his bit to right that wrong.

The Irish Santa Claus

by Mattie Lennon

Seamus Maguire was born in Thurles in 1950: the only child of James and Eileen Maguire. He completed his education in 1969 and subsequently worked as a Bus driver, Prison Officer and Social Worker in Tipperary and Cork.

In 1979, The International Year Of The Child, he founded Youth-In-Need. It was meant to be a one off project to help three young people for six months. Seamus went on to pioneer many projects to help young and old at home and abroad. Over the years he was the recipient of many prestigious awards and commendations.

He headed an organisation which operated a soup-run in London.

While he and his volunteers were distributing soup, sandwiches and blankets to the Irish homeless, Seamus felt that the marginalized exiles needed more. In December 1979 when Jingle Bells was blaring from loudspeakers in cities around the world and Ireland was coming to terms with the buzz brought about by the cub-Celtic Tiger, Seamus was busy. The unsung hero from Tipperary was approaching the homeless in the English capital offering them the chance to ” go home for Christmas”.

Those who availed of his offer were taken to a hostel and given accommodation. Proper food for a few days and fresh clothes meant that many who had abandoned all hope of a homecoming would be able to meet their loved ones looking “fairly respectable”.

Amid all the hardship, Seamus and his crew experienced the odd humorous incident.

A volunteer worker from County Donegal, John Cassidy, told the following story to me; “In early 1992 we arrived in Hammersmith with a forty- foot lorry loaded with food and blankets for the homeless centres. As we were unloading on a road that was restricted to vehicles under three tons a policeman insisted we move or he would have us arrested and the lorry impounded.

After a few moments of heated discussion Seamus produced a document bearing the seal of both the Irish and British Governments and warned the policeman that it would cause a diplomatic incident if he continued harassing us. The policeman reached for the document that Seamus was holding, hesitated, looked at Seamus and said; “you have four hours to unload and get the truck out of here”.

Thankfully the policeman did not insist on checking the paper that Seamus was holding; it was a customs clearance certificate.”

I penned the following ballad about Seamus Maguire; it was put to music by John Hoban


The soup-runs of well meaning people

Could not heal the souls or hurt pride

Of the Irish in alien doorways

With no one but God on their side.

Through decades of drink and misfortune

Returning was out of the frame;

The streets and the hills of their homeland

Were but specks on an ocean of shame.

Despondency fed by resentment

Ran loose like an unbroken colt,

‘Til a hero, unsung, from Tipp’rary

Gave the conscience of Ireland a jolt.

“We’ll bring some of them home for next Christmas,

Who haven’t seen loved ones for years.

All we need is the will and the courage”

He blasted at pessimist ears.


Dreams dreamt, under cardboard in Camden,

Of a whin-bush, round tower or turf fire

Were realised beyond expectation;

We were brought home by Seamus Maguire.

The captains of business he badgered

While his care-workers beavered away,

Collecting the cash and resources,

And then came the memorable day

When the “rescue coach” left Dublin’s quayside

In December of seventy nine,

Taking fifty glad hearts to the country

With their loved ones once more to entwine.

For the next twenty years every Christmas

Maguire and his team would ensure

That the birth of the Saviour was special

For those He called “Bless’ed”; the poor.

And many a parent died happy

Resigned to their ultimate fate

With the son or the daughter they cherished

United before ’twas too late.


The date on a gravestone in Thurles

Proclaims ninety-nine as the year

That God gave to Seamus Maguire

The reward for his mission down here.

And his name in more permanent fashion

Is forever inscribed in that tome;

The hearts of our destitute exiles

Who once had no hope of going home.


(c)  Mattie Lennon 2004

For a man who was so good to so many it is very sad that in the end, he died alone. It is equally sad that nobody saw fit to keep Youth-in-Need going after his death.

John Cassidy, who was one of his stalwart volunteers said,  “ . . . I feel his commitment to the less well off should be acknowledged in some meaningful way. To the homeless Irish on the streets of London Seamus Maguire was known as the ‘Irish Santa Claus’. “

Irish Santa Claus


And the Wittiest 2021 Christmas T shirt….

Dunnes Stores.


Ballinagare, St. Patrick’s Day, The Square in 2005 and some Memories and another Covid Cartoon

Ballinagare near Ballyduff in May 2020

Photo; Bridget O’Connor


Football Memories from 1959

The late Michael Sheehy grew up in Main Street, one of a family of very talented brothers. He sent us this a few years before he died. I’m sharing it again now, especially for the cocooners.

I remember the town league as if it was yesterday. What great games between the different streets!

I remember playing with The Ashes around 1960 and the Ashes winning. I still have the medal but it says 1957 which would have made me 12.

We had guys like the McMahons, Toddy Enright, Junior & Bert Griffin, Frank Murray etc.  What great times they were just to have the bragging rights for a year.   Now as I think of the places that made up the “Ashes” I doubt if you could field a team. How sad it is. Now as I think in the Small Square the only person to live there over the last many years was Mrs. Scully.r.i.p. Everyone else closed their business and lives somewhere else.


An Old St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Don’t know the year. If you recognise yourself let me know.


Troubled times


The Square 2005


Old Railway Bridge on Ballybunion Road in May 2020


Mike O’Donnell at his Most Incisive

Mike captioned this “Boris paints coffins blue in support of healthcare workers” . The tide has turned against the British government which is now presiding over Europe’s most catastrophic Covid 19 pandemic tragedy.


Darkness into Light 2020

The usual big walk through darkened towns did not go ahead this year but many still found a way of “walking” into the light.


Thunderstorm in Lyreacrompane

Story and pictures from Joe Harrington on Facebook.

Saturday May 10 2020 was the hottest day so far this year.

Joe Harrington recorded record high temperatures at his glasshouse in Lyre.

Then this happened.

Lightening hit the power pole in The Glen  near the old schoolhouse.

Within the hour help was at hand.  ESB Networks removed the damaged pole and erected a new one.

Power was restored to this little piece of Heaven in The Kingdom.

Helios, Knocknagoshel, a Poem and A Spooky Window Display

” I’m trying to read, Helios. Walkies later….”

Helios is the Cork Cogan family’s lovely dog.


Arise, Knocknagoshel

The charming village of Knocknagoshel is perched above its neighbours on a Kerry hillside.I took a wander with my camera and here is the first flavour of this village /nation.

Reynard greets you on your approach.

The purpose of my visit was to seek out Kieran in his village shop.

My book is now on sale in 100% of retail outlets in Knockgoshel.

I took a little stroll around as I was at it.


Halloween 2019

Knocknagoshel is the home of Halloween in Kerry but Listowel can do spooky too. Look at Finesse window.


Just for a Laugh

A Baby Sardine     by Spike Milligan

A baby sardine

Saw her first submarine

She was scared and watched through a peephole.

“Oh, come, come, come,”

Said the sardine’s mum,

“It’s only a tin full of people.”


Cogar Mogar

Aidan, Brendan agus Eamon ÓMurchú

Kay Caball snapped the three ÓMurchú brothers deep in conversation at the launch of

A Minute of your time.

Finesse, 1973 street scene and Changes at Changes

Red Squirrel by Christopher Bourke


If You’re Buying a Wedding Dress

Look no further than Finesse of Church Street Listowel. You will find no better service anywhere. Liz and Mags are the soul of generosity and professionalism. For our recent wedding they accommodated the bride in every way . They didn’t just go the extra mile, they did the whole marathon with us.

Here they are, Liz and Mags of Finesse Bridal Listowel in the Listowel Arms with us when they called to help us pin up the train for the dancing. They didn’t help us at all in fact. They did it all themselves. They are truly exceptional. They also have a huge stock of beautiful wedding dresses and they know everything about fitting and embellishing. So, if you have a prospective bride in the family, go to Finesse. You won’t be disappointed.


A Rare Treasure

Here is the email that accompanied this;

Hi Mary, 

I thought you might like to see the attached scan of a 1973  pen and ink drawing of Listowel.  It was signed by Guy Brisore . My parents bought it in Listowel.

Thanks for all your wonderful photos.

If you ever make a map showing where all your readers are located, you can add Lakewood Ranch, Fl. to the map.

Pat Dillon Del Savio


97 Church Street

Changes is Changing. This premises will soon house a physiotherapy Clinic.

Brides Night Out at The Listowel Arms, the 1950s in Asdee and Fr. Pat Moore R.I.P.

Seán McInerney of Mallow Camera Club took this picture of People at Work


The Wedding Saga Continues

The next step in our family’s
wedding journey saw us back in The Listowel Arms Hotel on Friday evening April
21 2017 for Brides Night Out.

We nearly missed this one as
our bride had deemed it too close to the wedding to be going to a Wedding Fair.
We already  have most of the requirements in place. Luckily as we were in Finesse
for a dress fitting, the lovely Mags and Liz persuaded us that we would be
missing a great night by foregoing this one. They were right.

Here we are, mé féin, Cliona, the bride to be, with Mags and Liz Horgan of Finesse Bridal Wear

The hotel fitted us in at
short notice and we were ready in jig time for a lovely night.

This is Clíona at our lovely sunny table

Firstly there was the wedding
fair part with lots of exhibitors and lots of 
tips. Clíona got her make up done at The Vanity Case stand and she looked a
million dollars for the rest of the evening.

We met Siobhán with her eye
poppingly artistic cake creations. They tasted delicious as well.

These ladies had a great idea
worthy of Dragons’ Den. Anyone at the wedding downloads their app. You take photos and then you load them into the app and press print. The person
who took the photo gets a printed souvenir photo/photos of their day at the
wedding and the happy couple get all the printed photos on a memory stick. I
thought this one was much better than a photo booth or the old camera on the table lark.

Brendan Landy held a pop up
workshop. He gave us loads of tips about posing for photos. Here’s a few free
for you.

Don’t lean back. It gives you
a double chin.

Bend your elbow out from your

Bend your wrist back and your
hand will look better.

Don’t face full square to the
camera.  Etc., etc.

Stylish Eilish was there. We met her chatting to the beautiful Maria Keane of MK Beauty.

The Listowel Arms as a wedding venue was on show and it looked absolutely stunning. We are so lucky to have everything one needs to hold a wedding at out fingertips in lovely Listowel.

Then it was time for the
taster menu and the fashion show.

Finesse Bridal opened and
closed the fashion show and their stunning dresses set the scene for the Mother
of the Bride or Groom and wedding guest style which followed. There were some
really  glamorous outfits on show. If I
hadn’t bought mine already I saw lots that I would have liked.

The food and wine were top

If you have anyone in your
family getting engaged this year, tell them to go to this before they make any
decisions. It’s an annual event and a great night out.


The 1950s  as remembered by Jim Costelloe and told in his book, Asdee in the 40’s and 50s

… At that time in Asdee there were no Costelloes- they were
all Custelloes, MacMahons were Mickmahons, O’Connors were simply Connors,
McElligotts were Elligotts, Ruddles were Riddles and Moriartys were Maraartys.
There were no cars then, they were all motors, a barrel of stout was a quarter
tierse, hayforks were pikes and a dung fork was a four prong pike. There were
high shoes and low shoes and we didn’t know which were boots. A stripper was a
cow, a gallon was a container for sweets and a muller was an aluminium pot. We
also had the skillet, the black pot with its three legs which hung over the
fire with the pot hooks. The bread was baked in the oven which was placed on
the brand over the coals.

These were the days of the settle beds, the po ( politely
known as the chamber pot), the ticks of feathers, the straw mattresses and
the iron beds with the brass knobs at
the four corners. The parlour was the sitting/dining room which was rarely used
except on the morning of the Station when the priest dined there. It usually
smelled of dampness and had old, decaying furniture with limp curtains and
wallpaper with a flowery border which was almost always discoloured at the


eCar Parking and recharging

In the Square in Listowel there is this car charging station and it now has a dedicated parking bay for your  electric car.


“…the best labourer dead, and all the sheaves to bind.”

Fr. Pat Moore, R.I.P. and yours truly in happier times

Fr. Pat with his great friend, Mary Fagan

Fr. Pat in his element among his own at the great barbecue in Duagh


North Kerry will be a duller place without him.

This is the poem Fr. Pat wrote after his mother died.

This Much I Will Remember   _______ for Peg

It was a bright August morning, sunlight filled the kitchen.

I sat next to you remembering my birth.

Your heartbeat the first sound I heard.

A home you made around us, people you are now welcoming,

Alive and some dead.

And as I look past your shoulder at the glass on the windowsill,

That captures the sunlight inside the garden you once tended,

Which also drinks in the light.

Everything I see converges into a random still light,

Fastened together by colour.

It is fixed behind the foreground of what’s happening around you

As you are now being looked after.

And I can feel it being painted within me,

And brushed on the wall of my skull.

Then all the moments of the past begin to line up behind that moment,

And all the moments to come assemble in front of it in a long long row.

It gives me reason to believe that this is a moment I have rescued

from the millions that rush out of sight

into the darkness behind the eyes.

When I forget I will still carry in my skull

the small coin of this moment

Minted in the kingdom that we pace through everyday.

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