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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Gurtinard Wood, Tidy Town seat, Frank Sheehy and Finuge’s New Jersey

Remembering a popular teacher and a great servant of the GAA who died in Nigeria.

I previously published the below biography in 2013

Who was Frank Sheehy?

The question is answered by Vincent Carmody 

Frank was born in 1905 to John J.(b 1870) and Annie Sheehy.(b 1874) His father served as a drapery assistant in the Listowel and his mother was a native of Tipperary. Frank was the youngest of 4 children, with a brother John (b 1898), Margaret(b 1899) and Ellen ( b 1901).

He received his primary education at the Boys’ National School, only 3 doors up the street from his home,. After this he attended St Michael’s College where he was a classmate of Seamus Wilmot among others.

 Having achieved an M.A. at University College Dublin he then applied for and was accepted to attend at St. Patrick’s Training College 1932-1934 to complete his studies to become a National Teacher. Among his colleagues at this time was the redoubtable Sean O Síocháin, later to become a long time General Secretary to the Gaelic Athletic Association. OSíocháin, in a tribute to Frank in 1981 wrote, ‘I first made his acquaintance in 1932/1934 as a student teacher in the Primary School attached to St. Patrick’s Teacher Training College, in Drumcondra, Dublin, where Frank had established himself as one of the great primary teachers of his time. In the following years, through the thirties and into the forties, we worked in after-school hours for the Comhar Dramaíochta, in the production and promotion of plays in Irish, he as runaí and I as a junior actor and sometimes Bainisteoir Stáitse. His high efficiency, his drive and his sense of humour streamlined many a situation for amateur actors which, otherwise might have been chaotic. During the forties, as Principal of an Endowed Primary School in Oldcastle, Co. Meath, gave him a distinction enjoyed by few in Primary Education, while his period in that part of Co. Meath, which coincided with that of the incomparable Paul Russell as Garda Sergeant, transformed the town and the district into a mini-Kingdom all their own’.

He returned to his native town in the early 1950s and quickly immersed himself in the local club and county GAA scene. He became Chairman of the county board in 1953 and many would say that he indeed was the spark that ignited the Kerry Senior team to regain the Sam Maguire, the first since 1946. That year he also organised the golden jubilee of the county’s first All Ireland success in 1953 and he was also instrumental in initiating the scheme that allowed Kerry All Ireland medal holders the right to apply for two tickets whenever the county reached the final. 

He was appointed as principal of the senior boys’ school on his return to Listowel, a position he held until 1960. He served as Munster Council President from 1956-1958 and was narrowly beaten for the Presidency of the GAA by Dr.J.J.Stuart. 

In 1961 he went to Nigeria, Africa, to take up a position of Professor of Educational Science at a training college in Asaba. He died there in 1962.

Listowel sports field is named ‘Pairc Mhic Shithigh’ in his honour.


Gurtinard Walk

It is lovely to walk in Gurtinard Wood at this time of year.

This set is surrounded by wild garlic.

This new seat by the pitch and putt club hut is a gift to the town from the Tidy Town Group.


The Most Stylish team in the North Kerry Championship

When you have a fashion designer in your club…..

Photos and text from Paul Galvin on Facebook

Finishing up the Finuge senior club jerseys for 2019. Under-designed so as to promote color, meaning & identity. 

•Deep green & gold color combination. 

•Finuge Cross printed on the sleeves where 4 sides of the parish come together to play shoulder to shoulder.
•The parish map co-ordinates sit alongside to drive identity.
•Sampled 3 different sleeve lengths, went for a half-sleeve covering the bicep to the top of the elbow which I think is under-utilized in jersey design. Finished product to come

A Walk in The Park, a prodigious walker and memories of the fleadh

Gurtinard Wood and Childers’ Park

The Council staff have been busy tidying up the place after Christmas and our lovely town is living up the title of Ireland’s Tidiest Town.

St. Michael’s Graveyard

This seat with its poignant message is situated within sight of the new gym where young people are busy exercising and living their best lives. But we never know….  “people who have left us before their time’ is often a euphemism for “died by suicide”.


Martin Enright was Some Walker

Great Walker: – (from Dúchas, the national folklore collection)
Martin Enright of Knockanure who died in 1924 aged about 76 years walked to Dingle fair once. On his way he passed Gleann-a-ngalt. While admiring some trees on the road side he saw a branch which would make a very nice scythe tree. He cut it and hid it until he would be returning home. He then went to the fair, and bought some cattle. As he was returning he forgot his scythe tree until he was about nine miles beyond the spot where it was hidden. He turned back and found it and came home with his treasure early next morning.
Collector Thomas Leahy-Age 14
Informant, William Keane, Age 64, Occupation- Labourer, Address, Lissaniska, Co. Kerry.


Operation Transformation Saturday Walk

Garvey’s Super Valu posted this photo on Facebook of some of the participants in the Saturday walk


Memories of Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Listowel

For  a few years in the 1970s Listowel played host to the biggest musical festival in Ireland. These few photos from Junior Griffin will give you an idea of the crowds that used to hit town in those days.

The park was converted into an impromptu campsite. Happy days!

Church Doors, Food Fair Craft Fair and the last of my Young Adult Bookfest 2018 photos

Gurtinard Wood


Listowel Church Doors and a Window


Old Homestead

This is a photograph taken in Duagh. It is part of the Duchas collection and the photographer is Caoimhín ODanachair


Listowel Food fair 2018

Some more photographs of crafters that I took at this year’s craft fair on the Sunday of the Food Fair.


Young Adult Bookfest 2018, November 15 2018

 In a packed programme full of inspirational speakers there was no one more inspirational then Joanne O’Riordan. Joanne was born with a condition called total amelia. She has no limbs.  She has just graduated from UCC with a degree in criminology. She is a sports fanatic and her ambition is to be a sport’s journalist. She knows lots of sportspeople including Kieran Donaghy and they all have the greatest respect for her.

Joanne shared the stage with Pat Falvey, another man who does not let anything thwart him from a path he has chosen.

Helping out on the day were Seán McCarthy, David Browne and Tom Dillon


Seeking Irish Relatives

My name is Ken Duckett and I’m tracking a legacy of my mum and 19 1st cousins she received in the 1980’s/90’S from a Denis

Buckley, son of Edward Buckley and his wife Mary {Mai) Stack (married in New York). She was an aunt of my Mum’s (Kathleen Hanlon)

as Margaret (Madge Stack) was my grandmother and Patrick Hanlon my grandfather who farmed in Asdee.

So I’ve been trying to track down the families involved and one came up in your post in 2013. I’ve found by looking at Joseph Vincent 

Buckley 31st January I’ve been able to track the line of the family of six so far with sons/daughters and grandsons/granddaughters.

The parents have been identified in some of these posts as Michael Buckley and Nora (Nellie) Shine, however I cannot find records

For them in the usual places. That’s why I’m asking if you have any further information from members near to Listowel?

One other favour can you put me in touch with a local contact who I can purchase a copy of Asdee in the 1940’s/50’s I believe by 

a  Costelloe?

I enjoy your posts it keeps me in touch of my roots,



(If you can help Ken I have his email address)


Things you Hear at the Hairdressers’

The following have not been checked by Storyful so could contain an element of Fake News.

We are soon to have an Olde Worlde Sweet Shoppe on Church Street.

A popular local hairdressers’ is soon to relocate to a gorgeous new premises.

Bailey and Co. is planning to extend its range to include “affordable fashion”.

Two Listowel retail businesses are to close their doors in the new year.


Look Who ran into our Lizzie of Lizzie’s Little Kitchen?

Lizzie Lyons and Michael Parkinson were stars of Ireland am on Sunday No. 25 2018

Listowel June 2017, the convent and Listowel Celtic Under 12s in 1990

Church Street June 2017


Gurtinard Wood


Down Memory Lane with The Advertiser

This photo appeared recently in The Advertiser. Apart from Bunny Dalton at one end and Roly Chute at the other I dont recognise any other men.


The Steady Decline of the Convent and Chapel

June 2017


Listowel Celtic Under 12 team 1990/91

I posted this picture with no names back in 2013. Now Kevin Donovan (front left in the photo) has given me these names. Can anyone supply the few that are missing?  The trainer is Henry Molyneaux.

Back row L-R

Donald Griffin

Don’t Know

Enda Galvin

Simon Adams

Noel Kennelly

Don’t Know

Ger Galvin

Front Row L-R

Don’t Know

Maurice Carmody

Taigh Kennelly

Kieran O’Sullivan

Don’t Know

Connor Hayes

Kevin Donovan


A Thought provoking poem for you

the nation whose people are sheep,and whose shepherds mislead them.

Pity the nation whose leaders are liars,
whose sages are silenced,

and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice,

except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero

and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.

Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own

and no other culture but its own.

Pity the nation whose breath is money

and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.

Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode

and their freedoms to be washed away.

My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.”

― Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Talk at the Turnstiles, Part 2, a few emails and some Humans of Writers’ Week

Gurtinard Wood, A Perfect place to Run


Old National Bank in Listowel Square

In answer to your question, a language school, I’m told.


The Talk at the Turnstiles…Junior Griffin of Listowel writing about his experience of collecting the admission charge at GAA matches in the70’s, 80s and 90’s.

This is the concluding part of this article that was published over two weeks in The Irish World in 1999.

For the big matches it always
means an early start and the general procedure in Munster is for all the
stilesman to meet at designated hotel where mass is celebrated by Munster PRO
Fr Seamus Gardiner. This is followed by breakfast. Then it is on to the pitch
as soon as possible to wait the call for your assignment.

There is usually good banter
between the stilesmen from different counties as they await their call. One of
the usual topics would be the comparison of the breakfasts served at the
various venues.  Killarneys Park Place
has always been one of the favourite locations of Munster stilesmen. On behalf
of all the gatemen, may I take the opportunity to thank the O’donoghue family
for their hospitality over the years and wish them well in their retirement.

As already mentioned the new
type of stile and the all ticket matches have made life easier for the
stilesmen but a Cork collegue did have a problem on one of the first nights at
Pairc Ui Rinn. All stiles are geared to go one way, but at some sides of the
ground you will find a combined enterance/ exit stile.

My friend was at such a stile
on the night in question. At the top of the stile there is a leaver to change
gear. On pressing that, without realizing it, he moved forward and was caught
in the middle. He could go no further and was unable to reach the leaver to
change the gear. Panic set in. His companion suddenly realized something was wrong
when they heard shouts for help. He was eventually realized but he was in such
a state had to spend the night in the South Infirmary hospital. Such are the
trials and tribulations of a gateman.

Whilst nobody looks to be
thanked or praised for doing a labour of love, it is nice to hear words of
appreciation being spoken, and in my time in Munster, I can recall 3 chairmen
calling the stilesmen together to thank them for their service. I am glad to
report, 2 of these were Kerrymen, the great late Michael O’Connor and the
present chairman Sean Kelly. The third man was that genial Tipperary man
Michael Frawley. I am served under 2 Munster secretaries, the late Sean
McCarthy and the current secretary Donny Nealon.  May I say 2 wonderful gentlemen for whom it
has been an honour to work.

Finally, back to the 1977
Munster hurling final and a story about myself. 
The late Paddy Horgan and myself had our money handed in and we were
told there was a cup of tea available we entered the room and sat at a table
that had 5 empty chairs around it. Three gentlemen entered the room and asked
could they join us. I said by all means, pointing to the three empty chairs.

The three men in question
were Dr Patrick Hillary, they President of Ireland, Mr Jack Lynch, then Taoiseach
and Liam O Morchu who was then at the height of his TV fame. Give them their
due, they exchanged pleasantries but at the time, I think Paddy and myself were
more interested in the goodies being served at the table. But there we were the
famous 5!

I was downing the second
slice of apple tart when the door opened and a Tipperary official entered.
Looking over, he had for our table. I could see the veins bulging in his
neck.  “OUT”, “ye have no business in

Wiping the juice of the tart
from my lips, I whispered to my friend, 
“Paddy” I said “he must mean us. It is hardly the other 3 he was talking

Like the fallen angel cast
from paradise,  those the seven steps to
the door were like an eternity as I walked them the words of the gospel flashed
through my mind : “ he that exalted himself shall be humbled.”

Later we found out there was
tea for us but Paddy and myself were directed to the wrong room.

Oh yes! Have you solved who
played in Tralee on the day of the Cork v Dublin All-Ireland semi final?

If you remember that was the
festival of Kerry Sunday and who played in Tralee- none other than James Last
and his world famous orchestra.

So, dear readers, the next
time you attend a match spare a thought and a kind word for the man you part
your money to- THE MAN BEHIND THE WIRE.


From my Mailbag

All sorts of lovely people email me. Here are just a few examples  I would like to share with our little Listowel Connection community today;

Hello Mary,

I’d like you to know that with your reports, photos, videos, etc. of Listowel, I’m beginning to feel as if I live there, too.  So, I am, now, a resident of Listowel and of Santa Cruz, at the same time.




Ms. Cogan

I am a student of the History of Art and Architecture in Dublin’s Trinity College. The subject for my final year dissertation is Irish industrial architecture in the Lemass Era. I was delighted to come across your blog through my online research. I believe that the Jowika (Imperial Stag) factory has now been demolished. Am I right in this regard? It appeared to have been a beautifully designed building and one deserving of appreciation and study.

Is it possible that you might be able to put me in contact with a previous employee of the company who could tell me more about the factory building itself?

Best regards,



Dear Mary,

Just a note to tell you that Billy Keanes new book is available on Amazon USA for all your US readers.I just bought it.

Hope you’re keeping well and thanks so much for such an interesting and thoughtful blog. I really enjoy it and it makes a huge and uplifting  difference in my life in NY !

Thank you Mary and you  be well!

Mary (ORourke)NY 

Formerly of 91 Church Street, Listowel.


Humans of Listowel

Catherine Moylan, recently elected vice chairperson of Listowel Writers’ Week and Máire Logue, Festival Administrator.

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