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: Gerard Neville

A Poem about Loss, Jerry Ryan R.I.P. and the Old Chapel in Asdee

Waterfall at Conor Pass by Éamon ÓMurchú


Another Poem from Poetry Town


A Permanent Reminder

This recent mural with a quotation by Brendan Kennelly is a poignant reminder of how fleeting all the living voices are. The man whose distinctive voice enthralled so many has left the stage. R.I.P.


+ Pat O’Flaherty R.I.P.+

Pat O’Flaherty of Chic Boutique has passed quietly away. She will be a huge loss to Mary and to her many friends. May she rest in peace.


A Fact stranger than Fiction

According to a story in The Sunday Times there are more than 50 billboards in the UK fitted with cameras and equipped with facial recognition technology. If you are walking past one of these billboards it can recognise your age, sex and mood and it will then display an advertisement it is programmed to “think” suited to you.


The Old Chapel in Asdee

from Shannonside Annual 1956

Continues tomorrow….


+Jerry Ryan R.I.P.+

Nobody’s child; everybody’s friend

“No Mommies’ Kisses and no Daddies smiles” but Listowel took Jerry Ryan to its heart and he was a valued member of our community.

The Monday after Listowel Races 2014

Jerry Ryan who passed away recently was the salt of the earth. He did his job diligentlty, keeping our streets clean for many years before his retirement from Listowel UDC. He always had a smile and a friendly word. He didn’t know my name. “Friend,” he called me. Jerry had many friends.

With Mark Loughnane
With Pat Hickey

I took these pictures of Jerry at work.

He was part of the fabric of Listowel life for years.

I invited Jerry to come to the launch of my book, Listowel Through a Lens, in 2009. He had never been to a book launch and he was a bit dubious about whether it was his kind of thing.

This is the photo of Jerry and Jim Cogan in Listowel Through a Lens

I can tell you all that it was my honour to have Jerry there and there was no guest more appreciative of the invitation.

May his gentle soul rest in peace.


Gerard Neville’s walk

Child’s Play

It’s summer; time for children to play outdoors


Bord na Mona in the 1940’s

In the 1940’s Bord na Mona cut millions of tons of sod turf. This photo shows a loco and rail of turf being driven off the bog.

The temporary railway line was laid, then lifted when the cut sods had been carried away and moved to the next location.

Information and photos fromóna-Heartland


Fifty shades……

Another Listowel premises is being painted…grey!


Gerard Neville’s personal camino

At age 60,  Gerard Neville
challenged himself  to walk alone from
his home in Littleton, Thurles to his native Inch West, Listowel, a distance of
95 miles. The journey would take him  5
days and 4 nights. To be in peak fitness for the challenge, Gerard undertook a
regime of walking up to 20miles 3 days per week.

Gerard is a nature enthusiast,
historian, Gaeilgeoir, family man and writer.

Gerard took up his 1st
teaching position in Littleton, Thurles in 1972. A few years  later he became principal in Gaile N.S.
Holycross. He remained there until he took early retirement in 2009.   Gerard
had gone from Gale Cross, Lisselton/ Listowel to Gaile, Co. Tipperary. He was
now making the return journey on foot.

He had just turned 60 and he
marked that milestone with this challenge, to walk alone from his home in
Ballybeg to Inch West, a solo  trek of 95
miles. He washed and bathed his foot blisters 
in streams along his route, bypassing major roads, ate a sandwich and
fruit bought in some quiet village.  This
was  not a Charity walk , just a personal
challenge. He had carried out previous challenges in the past.

He was  met by his family and friends as he neared
his destination and again when he returned home to Tipperary there was a
welcoming group awaiting.

Gerard left Littleton at 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning,  21 May 2014 laden with 2.5 stone, (16 kg)
consisting of a hammock, a triangular plastic cover/canopy to be suspended over
the hammock, sleeping bag, ropes, spare clothes, spare shoes, rain gear, creams
and foot plasters, Weetabix, water etc.

He walked 26 miles on day one to near Monard in Co. Tipperary. He slept
in a plantation that night and took to the road again just before 6 a.m. The second
day’s walk of 20 miles took him to Meanus, near Croom, Co. Limerick, where he
set up hammock behind an Eircom automatic exchange. Late that night his
brother, Dan, arrived with an adapted  hand cart/trolley to relieve the pressure on his
feet of carrying the weight.

Now, on day three, he covered 24 miles pushing the laden trolley ahead
of him. He arrived in Ardagh, Co Limerick.

Day four brought him 17 miles to Dore’s Cross, near the Clounmacon
G.A.A. field.

As his sister, Noreen O’ Connell, lives only two miles away he stayed
with her family on Sat. night, with a welcome shower, home cooked meals, good
company and expert footcare for blisters and lifting toenails.

 On Sunday he was back at Dore’s Cross
and headed on to Coolaclarig, Bedford, Coolard, Gaile churchyard and finally to
Inch West, having completed the 95 mile journey.

Without family support from both the Tipperary and Listowel sides, he
said, he would probably not have been able to see the challenging undertaking
through to a successful conclusion. He is delighted he achieved his challenge
but if setting out again he would stay in B&B’s along the route and have
his baggage carried  for him between the stages.

The walk itself would be more than adequate.

The hammock was enjoyed by other members of Gerard’s extended family too.


Photos from the 1970s

O’Connell Bridge, Dublin

NCBI 10th anniversary in Listowel; 1955 communion boys

The NCBI charity shop which used to be called Mrs. Quins celebrated 10 years in town with a one day half price sale, a raffle and an in-shop all day party on Friday last. I bring you some photographs of the hard working staff who pulled out all the stops to make Friday a great day for their customers. Well done girls. You brought a bit of cheer to an otherwise dull and rainy day.


Joanne Dillon brings us a link to a good news story from the U.S.


Paudie Carey wrote to me about this photo

This is what Paudie wrote;

“I just noticed the Holy communion picture on your Blog. My uncle (Paudie Carey, after whom I was named), is in the centre. I have marked up a picture to point him out. He emigrated to Australia circa 1970, married a girl from Dublin and had one girl (named Nora after my grandmother). He was killed at the age of 23 when he fell from the construction of a bridge on the Hopkins river. He was a strong swimmer (learned in the river Feale), but drowned as he wore heavy boots and a tool belt. His body was not found for about 3 weeks.  The hardest thing for my grandparents at the time, is they never got to bury their son; no such thing as bringing home bodies back then or flying relatives out. Communication was bad at the time, only a handful of phones in Listowel. Guard Healy (neighbour) was asked to call toto tell my grandparents of his death but refused as he did not have the heart. I was my mother who got the hard task. Just goes to show how communication has changed the world. “

What a sad sad story! I’m grateful to Paudie for sharing the story with us. Maybe people reading this will remember the older Paudie who looked so sweet and dapper on his communion day in 1955.

 May he rest in peace.


Another photo taken at the Ballydonoghue Magazine launch

Noreen, Gerard and Dan Neville with their old teacher, Joseph Linnane


The unveiling of the Paddy Finucane plaque;  video from Jer.


This link should lead you to a Pathé clip of the GPO 1938 in an ad advising people to post early for Christmas. Listening to that voice I am transported back to the cinema of my childhood.


Páidí ÓSé;  a life in pictures here


Don’t bother reading this next bit if the variations in font size lately have not bothered you.

( Apologies to the people who care about style and consistency in format;  Recently you will have noticed that text is often too big or too small and the formatting is all uneven. I have eventually discovered why this is happening despite my best efforts to tidy it up.

 Blogger offers me a choice of text sizes, smallest, small, normal, large and largest. I always choose normal but recently normal can be either tiny or huge rather than normal. This happens because I have cut and pasted someone else’s text and Blogger takes “normal” from there.

To cut a long story short, I will try cutting and pasting contributions into Word and formatting there before cutting and pasting again. That should eliminate the annoying variations in text size that have been the bane of my life in the past week. Thank you for your patience. No body has mentioned it to me so I’m delighted that my readers value substance over style.)

Christmas craft fair, Ballydonoghue magazine and a teacher heroine

The Ventry Warrior was laid to rest yesterday, his coffin shouldered by the son and nephews of whom he was so proud. His daughter read lines from Liam MacGabhann’s Blind Man in Croke Park.

Kerry is poorer for Páidí ÓSé’s passing. In the words of Seán Walsh at the graveside

““May the Ventry sod rest lightly on this noble warrior and may the angels bear him 

gently to God’s happy playing field” 

Listen, asthore, for those old eyes are sealed

Tell me once more when the Kerrymen take the field

Tell an old man who is feeble, grey and old

Do they walk proudly still wearing the Green and Gold?

Jer sent me this photo of Páidí with Aidan Moloney in Dingle recently


Today’s Christmas poem

is called Kerry Candlelight and I asked Pierce Walsh to send it to me for the blog after he had told me this story one day on Church St.

“I was privileged to have been taught by the master ( Bryan McMahon ) and he imparted many great poems and stories to his pupils but one that is full of memories for me is “ A Kerry Candlelight “. After leaving school I spent a couple of years in London and I have such a vivid memory of the train journey to Hollyhead and  it was as if I was back in the Master’s classroom reciting  “ A Kerry Candlelight””



I am
standing here in Euston, and my heart is light and gay,

For ‘tis soon I’ll see the
moonlight all a-dance on Dingle Bay. So behind me, then, is London, with the
magic of its night,

And before me is a window
filled with Kerry Candlelight.


‘Tis the lovely light of glory
that came down from heav’n on high,

And whenever I recall it,
there’s a teardrop in my eye.

By the mountainside at
twilight, in a cottage gleaming white,

There my true love sits
a-dreaming, in the Kerry Candlelight.


She’ll be waiting by the turf
fire; soon our arms will be entwined,

And the loneliness of exile
will be lost or cast behind,

As we hear the Christmas
greetings of the neighbours in the night,

Then our hearts will beat
together in the blessed Candlelight.


Now the train is moving
westward, so God speed its racing wheels,

And God speed its whistle
ringing o’er the sleeping English fields,

For I’m dreaming of an altar
where, beside my Breda bright,

I will whisper vows of true
love in the Kerry Candlelight.


Craft Fair

On Sunday last I attended the annual Christmas craft fair in The Seanchaí. Here are some of my photos from the fair. Such talented craftspeople we have in Kerry! I bought some of Pat’s Woodford pottery mugs, really stylish and functional; my engagement gift of choice. I loved the beautiful glass products I had seen on Nationwide but I could find no excuse to buy them. 

The knitting by Anne Egan, Ella O’Sullivan, Frances O’Flaherty and Dawn Thomas was the best you will get at any craft fair anywhere. I bought too much goodies from my favourite baker at Westcove Confectionary. She makes meringues to die for and her chocolate cake is finger licking good. In fact everything she bakes is delicious. There was also beautiful jewelry, exquisitely carved wooden ornaments and Swinky Doo’s beautiful fabric brooches, tree ornaments and party favors.

The Carmodys, Vincent and Dick were signing their books. 

You all know that I think Vincent’s book is a treasure, but, while on a different scale, Dick’s book is also a little gem. AND he has very kindly given me permission to quote from it, so look out for first hand accounts of country ways and a life of carefree innocence lived under the shadow of a country schoolhouse.


Last week the hard working magazine committee in Ballydonoghue launched their annual publication. It is a huge triumph for such a small parish to produce such a high quality journal year after year. This year’s book is a massive leap forward in terms of layout and design. There is colour on every page, the magazine is divided into colour coded sections and this year there is am emphasis on young people and on current news from the parish with beautiful colour photographs of local people.

Gerard with Mick Finucane and David Kissane

Above is Gerard Neville receiving 1st prize in Adult Creative Writing at launch. He is seen here reflected in the beautiful mirror made from local slate which was his prize. 

His story was “ Just Caws”. He also received the Danny Curtin Perpetual Trophy. 

Gerard grew up in Inch West, Listowel, taught as Primary Teacher in Gaile N.S. Thurles,  until he took early retirement in 2009. He has had stories and poems published in both English and Irish.


An Irish American teacher killed in the massacre in Newtown

Anne Marie Murphy lost her live trying to shield the children in her care from the gunman

“An Irish American family have paid tribute to their hero daughter who died ‘serving children and serving God’ in the Connecticut school massacre.

Mother of four Anne Marie Murphy was shot dead by gunman Adam Lanza as she protected her pupils at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday morning.

The 52-year-old Katonah, New York native was shielding the bodies of students when Lanza opened fire on them in the tragedy which claimed 28 lives. Her body was found on top of a group of children, desperately trying

to save them.

Her grieving parents have paid tribute to their daughter in a moving interview with the New York Newsday publication.

Dad Hugh McGowan and mum Alice spoke of their broken hearts after the death of the special-education teacher, found in a classroom covering a group of children who died alongside her.

Hugh told Newsday: “A first responder said she was a hero.”

The sixth of seven children, Anne Marie’s parents described her as “artistic, a fun-loving painter, witty and hardworking.”

Mum Alice said: “She was a happy soul. She was a very good daughter, a good mother, a good wife.”

The McGowans, both 86, were looking forward to welcoming Anne Marie and 36 fellow family members home for the Christmas holidays. Now they will remember the hero teacher.

“We loved being together,” Alice McGowan sighed in the Newsday interview.

Dad Hugh added: “You don’t expect your daughter to be murdered. That’s sort of a shocker. It happens on TV; it happens elsewhere.”

Mum Alice revealed how she turned to prayer when it became apparent Anne Marie wasn’t going to come home from school on Friday.

She added: “As time went by and Anne Marie didn’t contact anyone, well, then you’re waiting and waiting and waiting. When the news was confirmed, my first reaction was to grab my rosary. Then we wept.

“I’ve done my crying. Haven’t we all? I’ll miss her presence. She died doing what she loved. She was serving children and serving God.”

The McGowans attended Mass on Saturday morning at the St. Mary’s of the Assumption church in Katonah.

Father Paul Waddell explained: “I was preparing to pray at the start of Mass but I looked up and saw a lot of teary eyes.

“They told us about their daughter, that she was a teacher, she was killed in Connecticut. So we prayed at this 8 o’clock Mass for all of them and for her.”

Murphy’s family have asked that donations be sent to Autism Speaks, 1060 State Rd., 2nd Floor, Princeton, NJ 08540 or donated online at”

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