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: Harriet Owen

New Director at St. John’s, Church Street girls, Owen Family of Ballyhorgan Cycling and the Crown Jewels

Wildflower meadow at Ballincollig Regional Park


They’re Changing the Guard at St. John’s

Máire Logue is the new artistic director of St. John’s Arts and Heritage Centre, Listowel. I photographed her in St. John’s with Joe Murphy, the retiring director.


Church Street Girls

Eileen Sheridan shared a photo memory

Clementine Crowley Ann McSweeney, Gertie Kennelly, Mary OSullivan, Eileen Scanlon, Ann Ryan

Mary Fitzmaurice Mary Walsh , Eileen McSweeney,  Alice Gleeson.

Sadly three of the girls have passed away.


Owens of Ballyhorgan

Harriet Owen with Tom Fitzgerald and Jimmy Deenihan in The Listowel Arms on one of Harriet’s frequent trips to Kerry to reconnect with her family home in Lixnaw.

Harriet sent me a short version of her family history which I published in Listowel Connection. John Stack of Kildare and formerly of Duagh was interested to see that an Owen had married into the Ellis family of Abbeyfeale. Ellis was a family John had encountered when researching his own family as these Ellises were his mother’s people’s landlords.

He sent us a newspaper cutting


Resurgence of Cycling

In our cities nowadays you have to be struck by the numbers of people cycling to and from work. I took these photos on Cork’s Grand Parade recently. There seems to be bicycles everywhere.

The bike scheme stand was almost empty.


The Theft of The Irish Crown Jewels

A friend lent me this book. The story of the disappearance of the Irish Crown Jewels and its disastrous consequences for North Kerry is a fascinating one.


In Dublin Yesterday

Kerry has survived to fight another day. I don’t know if the supporters nerves will survive another one, though.

The Owens of Ballyhorgan, Bibiana Foran and A Wireless Museum

Victorian Post box

This victorian post box in beautiful condition is in the railway station in Thurles. Isn’t it so much nicer than our modern rusting functional boxes?


Harriet Owen …A History

This is Harriet Owen who has family roots in Lixnaw with Paul Kennelly at a recent family reunion and celebration in Sheahan’s Cottage in Finuge.

Here in a nutshell is Harriet’s family connection to North Kerry

Harriet Owen

In 1750 William Owen (Miller) came from Wales to Rathdowney with his wife, Rebecca and three children. These were Rowland who married Isabella Scissons, They had no children, Robert married Sarah Hely and they had 8 children and Rebecca Owen.

The 7thchild of Robert and Sarah was John Hely Owen (1793-1870). He married Frances Smith in 1827. They had 6 children.

Henry Amyrald Smith Owe, son of John and Frances married Maria Frances gentleman in 1874. They lived in Ballyhorgan, Lixnaw. In 1860 Maria’s father  was instrumental in bringing the first bank to Listowel, The National Bank. Until then the nearest bank was in Limerick. Henry and Maria had 2 sons, John Hely Owen and Henry George Owen.

John Hely Owen (1877- 1952) married Lurline Ellis (known as Kitty) of Glenashone near Abbeyfeale. Her father, Richard Whateley Ellis was singer with  Carl Rosa Opera Company. The Ellis’ can trace their lineage back to Thomas Ellis of Co. Monaghan in the time of James the second. John Hely and Kitty lived at Ballyhorgan in the house known as The Cottage which had been built by old Goodman Gentleman as a dower house. They later moved to Glenashrone, formerly an Ellis house. When this house was burned during the civil war in 1922, the family moved back to Ballyhorgan. They had 5 children. The eldest, Henry Robert Owen sold the house and farm at Ballyhorgan in 1952.

Henry George Owen (1879-1955) married Olive Margaret Jane Eva Eager in 1910. When he married he moved to Aghatrohis, Bedford near Listowel. His wife Olive was the daughter of Major Oliver Stokes Eager, an army surgeon who served in the Ashanti War of 1873/74. The Eagwers were an old Kerry family The first Irish Eager , Robert was granted land in Queen’s County in the reign of Charles the First. His son, Alexander sold it and settled at Ballymalis, Co Kerry in 1667. The Stokes family had also lived in Kerry for many generations, being descended from The Knights of Kerry.

John Hely Owen and Frances Smith Owen’s granddaughter Frances Ayres married Sir Thomas Myles in 1888. He was a distinguished Dublin surgeon. As surgeon on duty, he attended Lord Cavendish and Mr. Burke in the Phoenix Park. He was an active supporter of Charles Steward Parnell’s Protestant Home Rule party. He owned a yacht, Cholah. In 1914 he was recruited along with Erskine Childers and Conor O’Brien to help in the importation of guns for the Irish Volunteers. Childers landed his part of the consignment from The Asgard at Howth on July 26 1914. A week later Myes’s cargo which consisted of 600 Mauser and 20,000 rounds of ammunition was landed by the Cholah in Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow. From 1900 to 1902 he was President of The Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and was knighted on completion of his term of office. He was honorary surgeon in Ireland to King George V and during World War 1 he was consulting surgeon to HM Forces in Ireland. For this he was made a C.B.


Who was this lady?

I’m only a little bit wiser as to who this lady was and I have found no-one yet to tell me what the os in her name is all about. Could it be Oide Scoile? Was she a teacher?

Bibiana was a member of the Board of Guardians. They were originally in charge of the workhouse but their roles expanded to include all issues relating to Health and Welfare and it is here that this lady came into her own.

Bibiana from Ballyahill was the wife of a local well -to -do merchant, Jeremiah Foran. She was a friend of Lady Aberdeen and she was very supportive of this lady’s Health Train initiative. This was like a travelling clinic that went round the country advising on women’s health.

Bibiana also initiated school meals and she backed the purchase of a field close to the town for the purpose of putting up a sanatorium.


Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum

Eddie Moylan, collector, restorer, curator, owner and guide at Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum is a Corkman. He has made his home in Listowel and he fits right in with this town’s great respect for artefacts from a bygone era. No town deserves Heritage Town status more than Listowel.

In his privately owned museum, Eddie has collected a mind blowing array of wireless, gramaphone and broadcasting memorabilia. Eddie is often visited by radio enthusiasts and people with a love for the old sounds and the old voices. He very kindly gave my visitors a tour recently and they were mightily impressed.

Breeda used to work in the post office and she remembered well the old radio licence.

Bee Facts, Dioscesan appointments and an Owen Reunion in Finuge

Kerry Robins in Summer

Photo: Chris Grayson


Bee Facts from the internet


Dioscesan Changes July 2019

Bishop Ray Browne wishes to announce the following changes to the appointments of clergy in the Diocese of Kerry:

Msgr. Dan O’Riordan P.P. Castleisland retiring

Very Rev. Luke Roche PP Castlemaine retiring

Very Rev. Tadhg Ó Dochartaigh P.P. Firies retiring


Fr. Maurice Brick PP Lixnaw to be PP Castleisland

Fr. Anthony O’Sullivan Rathmore (pro tem) to be PP Lixnaw

Fr. Michael Hussey PP Castlegregory to be PP Ballylongford

Fr. Eamon Mulvihill PP Kilcummin to be PP Castlegregory

Fr. Joe Begley PP Dingle to be PP Glengarriff/Bonane

Fr. Michael Moynihan PP Glengarriff/Bonane to be PP Dingle

Fr. Padraig Kennelly PP Ballylongford to be PP Firies

Two more parishes without a Resident Priest:

The parish of Castlemaine will be served by the priests of the Killorglin Pastoral Area with Fr. Kevin Sullivan to be Moderator

The parish of Kilcummin will be served by the priests of the Killarney Pastoral Area with Fr. Kieran O’Brien to be Moderator

Fr. Denis O’Mahony PP Abbeydorney to be VF of the Naomh Bhréanainn Pastoral Area

Fr. Brendan Walsh PP Causeway to be Moderator of Ballyheigue

Priests of all Pastoral Areas of the Diocese take up different responsibilities outside their own parishes and within the Pastoral Area. This will be decided and communicated locally.

These changes will become effective on Wednesday, July 17th 2019


Owen Family return to their Roots

Harriet and her brother John Owen grew up in Leinster, far from the birthplace of their parents in Ballyhorgan. But when they returned to Finuge to celebrate mass and chat with their family and new found North Kerry friends, they felt that they had come home.

I count myself lucky to be counted among those North Kerry friends who have enjoyed watching this reconnection.

The thatched house was the venue for the mass which was celebrated by Fr John Owen, a Divine Word missionary who has spend many years in Argentina and is now ministering in Blanchardstown, Dublin.

Fr. John with Tom Fitzgerald, one of the local historians who was able to give the Owens first hand history of their home place. There is a still a field in Ballyhorgan called “Owenses’ Field”.

Owen family came from the U.K. and Ireland.

Paul Kennelly remembers Harriet’s parents who sadly passed away when Harriet was quite young.

Paul also met up with his old friend, Jim Sheahan.

Some local ladies joined the family for the mass.

The Sweeney family were the choir.

Group photo at Finuge Cross

Harriet and John brought a family musician to help out with the entertainment in McCarthy’s of Finuge.

Jim Sheahan sang us The Homes of Donegal. He has lost none of his musicianship since his show band days.

Nollaig McCarthy and Nora Sheahan


Listowel Folk Group Summer Barbecue

I’m assured that the good folk of Listowel Folk Group had a great night with lots of good food, good music and lots of singing in McCarthy’s Bar in Finuge.

Listowel Public Toilet (Part 2), Helping to Research North Kerry Ancestors and Tidy Towns Awareness Day

Ballybunion Sunset, March 2019

Photo: Bridget O’Connor


The Hullabaloo about the Loo

We’re at 1972. The saga continues next week.


Harriet Owen in Listowel

Harriet Owen is pictured here with Tom Fitzgerald and Jimmy Deenihan. Harriet is a frequent visitor to Listowel. Her ancestors come from North Kerry and she is doing some genealogical research, helped by Tom and Jimmy.  She is very much at home here now. We will be seeing her again soon.


Tidy Towns’ Awareness Day

When I was in Super Valu on Friday March 29 2019 I ran into my friends from the Tidy Town Committee raising awareness of their work for the environment.

A Christmas Poem, Ballybunion Mythology and a Writers’ Week Success Story and St. Senan’s win

Ballybunion Cliff Walk in Winter

It is a great pleasure to walk along the cliff edge by the wild Atlantic in winter. Above is the Nine Daughters Hole.

It was around the year 800 AD when a fleet of invading Viking Long-ships sailed along the coast of North Kerry and disembarked at Inis Labrinde, at the mouth of the Cashen river, beside Ballybunion. According to local legend a raiding party reached the old jail of Doon called Pookeenee Castle, where they came upon the nine daughters of the local Chieftain O’ Connor.

There are two versions to the next part of the story; the first is that these daughters fell in love with the Viking warriors, and planned to elope with them and marry them. The second version sounds more plausible, and that is that the Vikings plotted to kidnap the daughters as their brides.

Whatever version is to be believed, the outcome was the same. O ‘Connor found out about these plans, and one by one he lured each of his nine daughters to the chasm. Once there, he told them that a valuable torc (old celtic neck-band, usually made of precious metal) of his had fallen in, and wished them to retrieve it. As they went searching for this missing torc, O’ Connor had them tossed into the chasm. O’ Connor then beheaded all nine Viking warriors and had their remains thrown in with his daughters. The rest of this evil deed is history. To this day, this deep chasm is known as the Nine Daughters’ Hole.  (Source;

In the distance is the former Convent of Mercy, now a retirement complex.

The Nuns’ Beach is an inaccessible strand just below the old convent.

I used to think that this was some kind of shepherds’ shelter. Not so. It was a kind of battery or arsenal.

 Druid’s Lair is located on the Cliff Path Walk north of the town, overlooking a sheer drop to the rocks below. This area is steeped in folklore and legend, with magnificent views of the Wild Atlantic Way in the distance. Deep in the pages of Ballybunion’s history is a story of Druid worship, when this turbulent epoch saw human sacrifices made to the Celtic god Mananann.

It is said that centuries ago, on May mornings as the dawn broke, sacrificial offerings were made to honour the Celtic god. This involved placing a victim at the abyss near the Scolt facing the Shannon Estuary. Specially-chosen executioners commenced the gruesome ceremony by striking blows to the victim’s head; a garrote was then used to complete the sacrifice, and the body was cast over the cliffs into the raging tide below.

Today the area is quiet and peaceful, allowing visitors to enjoy the walk along the cliffs, blissfully unaware of the blood-thirsty history behind the name Scoilt Na Dhrida! 



A Poem from San Diego

Firstly I’m going to tell you a bit about the poet, Richard Moriarty. This biography was supplied by his wife.

RICHARD MORIARTY was born in Lisselton, Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland, where much of his family still resides.  He emigrated in the early ‘80’s to San Diego, California, USA.

Richard has a rich tapestry of memories of his childhood growing up In Kerry, although he has put in a lot of distance since those days. The bonds are still strong: The constant TUG to come HOME, if only in verse.

Richard has travelled extensively throughout the USA and Mexico, holding various jobs, including construction worker and truck driver, but his favorite gig was as a horse carriage driver, where he regaled tourists and residents alike with his stories as they viewed the sights in San Diego. This has left him with many experiences and people to write about.

Richard has written several poems and short stories, much of which has been published.  Most notable is a Letter of Recognition and Appreciation from President George Bush.


Grandpaw, will you tell me the story, of how Christmas came to be

About the baby Jesus, the presents, and the tree

Why the stars all seem to sparkle, up yonder in the sky

And why there’s so much laughter, amongst every girl and boy

Can you tell me why the candles, seem to have a beacon light

Will it be like this forever, or is this a special night

Come to me my little sweetheart, and climb up on my knee

And I’ll tell you the story, just the way ‘twas told to me

It started back many years ago, in a land far, far away

In a little town called Bethlehem, or so the people say

By a manger in a stable, so cold and all forlorn

There on the hay, that December day, Jesus Christ was born

You ask me of the presents, and what meaning they behold

I guess it’s called affection, should the truth be ever told

They’re little gifts that are bestowed, and we all understand

On that special day we just want to say, God bless the giving hand

Now, I know what you are thinking, by the way you look at me

You want to hear the story, about the Christmas tree

Well, every day in his own way, God sends us from above

Some hurt, some joy, some strength and pain, but he does it all with love

He gave us gifts, like mountains, the deserts, and the sea

And mankind enhanced this beauty in the form of a tree

My little girl, with golden curl about the candle glow

Should we get lost, by day or night, as on through life we go

When we’re in doubt, as we sometimes are, as on and on we roam

It’s the twinkling stars and candlelight that will lead us safely home

Well, now I believe I’ve come to the end and I have no more to say

So go to sleep, my sweetheart


        Richard G. Moriarty


Welcome Visitors

The two ladies pictured with me recently in The Listowel Arms are great friends of Listowel and love to holiday here. In the centre is Harriet Owen whose Owen, McCarthy, Berry and Goodman Gentleman relatives all hail from around here. She was in town to liaise with local historians and to learn more about her Kerry family.

On the left is Ann Murtagh from Kilkenny. Ann came to Listowel Writers’ Week to do a writing workshop. She was already in the process of writing her first book of children’s historical fiction. When we met she had just received the great news that O’Brien Press have accepted her book for publication.

As any of you who has any knowledge of children’s fiction will know, it is a very crowded market, full of ” big” names, i.e. people who are famous for something else entirely and are now turning their hand to writing for children, people like David Walliams, Ryan Tubridy and Kathleen Watkins. I was thrilled to hear of an unknown author whose book will have to stand on its own merits being taken on by the giant of Irish publishing, O’Brien Press. I can’t wait to read the book. Watch this space!


Our Very Own Giant Killers’ Story

The papers are full this week of stories from little Mullinalachta’s St. Columba’s who beat the mighty Kilmacud Crokes to win their county’s first ever Leinster title.

North Kerry Football had a triumph of the underdog story of its own as St. Senan’s beat Ballydonoghue in the North Kerry final.

Photo: North Kerry Football on Facebook

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