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: fox

Observing the Pieties, Tidy Town Folk and a Fox Photo on my Trip to Kanturk and a library in Kildare

Long Tailed Tit

Photo by Pauline Doran , finalist in Irish Wildlife Trust’s Photography Competition.


Observing the Pieties

The following poem by the late Gary MacMahon was given to me by his brother, Owen. It is a great run through of all the old traditional practices in Kerry long ago. Thankfully many of these customs are still preserved here.

Observing the Pieties

Garry MacMahon

I confess I’m a creature of habit, as down life’s road I go

Observing annual rituals is a must for me, and so

Before the crib at Christmas Eve I kneel with all the clan

And on the feast of Stephen go to Dingle for the wran.

Then for sweet St. Brigid’s Day a straw cross I have made

To hang upon the threshold whereon it will be laid.

In the house of my Redeemer I chant a hymn of praise

My throat criss crossed with candles on the feast day of St. Blaise.

Shrove Tuesday I eat pancakes dipped in honey from the hive

And thank the Lord that yet I live and another year survived,

And when the long gospel is read before the end of Lent

Home I take the blessed palm and breathe its sacred scent.

On Good Friday I buy hot cross buns and before the day is past

Gather cockles from the sea shore and keep the old black fast

And then on Easter morn I rise to see the dancing sun come forth

Not forgetting Patrick’s Day between, as the shamrock I still sport.

The coming of the swallow, the awakening of the earth

The promise of a primrose I await with bated breath,

And lest ill luck should follow me and give me cause to grieve

I never bring whitethorn to the house upon May Eve.

June bonfires once I lighted on the feastday of St. John

A custom all but vanished as relentless time moves on.

July sees me hit for Milltown and Willie Clancy in the County Clare

In Marrinan’s pub I pay my sub and a song or two sing there.

And then its Munster Final time and the piper must be paid

To Thurles, Cork, Killarney the pilgrimage is made.

Again I fetch my fishing rod before the season’s out

Take the time to wet a line and coax elusive trout.

To the Pattern of the Virgin, from thence on to Puck Fair

The Races of Listowel come next and I’m certain to be there.

Dew drenched fields provide me with mushrooms gleaming white

While plump and juicy blackberries for my sore eyes are a sight.

When comes November of the souls and all the leaves are shed

Will you light a candle then for me as I do for the dead?

You’ve heard an old man’s story, each word I swear is true,

Be blessed thrice, take this advice I now implore of you

Don’t turn your back on dúchas or on history’s learned lore

And pass it on before it’s gone and lost forever more.


Working Hard on our Behalf

I met these hard working tidy towners on Tuesday May 7 2019. They were still working hard when I came out of my meeting.


Slow Mail in Moyvane in 1894

Kerry Sentinel Saturday, January 13, 1894; Page: 3


A move has been made by the inhabitants of Newtown and the surrounding district with a view of inducing the Post Office Officials to accelerate the postal service between Listowel and Newtown. At present letters posted in Listowel for Newton have first to go to Limerick, then to Tarbert, and from thence by foot to Newtown. The roundabout could be easily avoided by running a mail car direct from Listowel to Newtown, and it is to be hoped that the Post Office may recognise the benefits which the adoption of the change would effect, and the desirability of connecting Listowel more immediately with the surrounding districts.


Reynard, Up Close

This brave fellow stopped to pose for me  at my old home in Kanturk last week.


Kildare Town Library

I was in Kildare for the weekend and I took the opportunity to deliver some Listowel Writers’ Week brochures to the libraries round about. This is me delivering to the Kildare Town librarian, Orla.  Orla loved the programme and resolved there and then do to her best to come to the festival.  She is really knowledgeable about books and loves reading. Her library runs four book clubs!


Listowel Town Square, May 13 2019

Upgrade works have started. Should only take a few days.

Vicar Joe photobombed my picture.

Summer weather, Áras Mhuire and a Grotto in Cork

Lovely photos;  Shame about the weather

One day in July Elizabeth Brosnan photographed the weather story of summer 2015 in North Kerry.


A Close Call

Photo: Timothy John MacSweeney


A Presentation at Áras Mhuire

Last week I visited Áras Mhuire for the occasion of the presentation of a bequest from a long time resident of the retirement home who had passed away recently.

Seán Collins had lived in Áras Mhuire for 18 years. He had made his home there and he was among friends. The outstanding memory everyone has of Seán is usually his piety and his devotion to The Holy Rosary. It was fitting that his statue of Our Lady, adorned with rosary beads. should be the symbol to represent him at the little ceremony.  Trish Joy, Person in Charge at Aras Mhuire, accepted the donation from Eilish Dillane (sister of the late Sean Collins) and her husband Michael gave a lovely little speech outlining Sean’s time in the home and expressing the family’s  appreciation of the care he received there. John O’Keeffe represented the Board of Management.

John O’Keefe, Eilís Dillane, Trish Joy and Michael Dillane.

Some of the care assistants I met .

Some of the residents who were present.

I met an old friend, Eileen Fitzgibbon. She is pictured here with Claire Carmody who organized my visit.

James Gould took me to the  oratory and showed me the fittings which had come there from Listowel’s Presentation Convent Chapel.

This was the side altar in the convent chapel and the prayer stools came from the convent as well.

The Annunciation  and Presentation Windows once adorned the Pres chapel as well.


A Peaceful Oasis in Cork

For my Cork family reading this, be assured, I’m only touching that flag out of politeness. The other flag bearer, Fr. Pat Moore is a proud Kerry man and well on his way back to The Kingdom. I found Fr. Pat in great form, definitely on the mend and only looking a little the worst for his recent ordeal. They say that faith can move mountains. Fr. Pat is living proof.

He is convalescing in a lovely spot, Mount Desert.

Cork is located in a valley and appropriately enough, Fr. Pat’s new abode looks down on that valley.

Just down the road from the gate of Mount Desert is this entrance to a magnificent shrine, a feat of engineering set back into the hill.

This extraordinary heart shaped  thing on top of the grotto  looks like it might light up at night. Should be worth seeing.

I looked this effigy up on Google and this is all I could find;

“Set of twelve freestanding rectangular rosary stations, erected 1952, comprising carved limestone plaques with incised pictures and lettering. Located at intervals against wall to roadside marking decades of the rosary and terminating in grotto to west. Grotto comprises stepped structure housing statues with limestone boundary walls and wrought-iron railings. Dedicated to Our Lady.


Marking decades of the rosary and terminating in a grotto, these plaques are a very unusual feature to the roadside. The plaques have been executed to a high standard by skilled craftsmen. Opened on Assumption day 1952 the grotto and plaques play an important role in both the religious and social fabric of the area.”

I spotted those “rosary Stations” alright. I’ll have to go back for a closer look. As they say on Facebook…..feeling fascinated.

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