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: history

Lislaughtin Holy Well, Whiskey for a Writer and a Powerful Poem

 Young people enjoying a game of pitch and putt in Childers’ Park Listowel in March 2019


Spotted in the Off Licence window

Sounds like just the think for the writer in your life.


St. Laictín of Lislaughtin

In Lislaughtin Abbey.

About a mile from Tarbert Parish there is a well over which is a bush. One evening two men sat near the well, one was chewing tobacco and as he did so he began spitting into the well. Suddenly he thought a rat ran up his leg, and in his effort to keep the rat from running up he felt the supposed rat in the other leg. He tried to restrain the rat from running up the second leg but the rat went over to the first. The supposed rat ran over the man’s body and he stripped himself on the road but no rat was to be seen. It was no rat but that was his punishment for spitting in the well.

Alice Mc Carthy- Address, Tarbert, Co. Kerry

Informant, Richard Curran, Age 78 Address Tarbert, Co. Kerry

Local Patron Saint


(name not given)


The following story was told to me by my father a few nights ago.

The patron Saint of Ballylongford is St. Laictín. The townland of Lislaughtin is called after him and it means the “Fort of Laictín”.

It is said that he lived in Lislaughtin Abbey but in the year 1478 a man named Smith said of an older Church being there dedicated to Saint Laictín.

Saint Laichtín’s feast day is kept on the 19th March. Before he died he walked around Lislaughtin and blessed it. It is said that he was buried in the Church near the Altar with other Monks and Priests.

There is a Well called after him and it is known as “Laichtín’s Well”. It is in the land of Mrs. Sullivan in the townland of Lislaughtin. It is said that he visited the Well on the 13th May 758 with other followers. There are no rounds paid at the Well because it is not certain whether he visited it or now.


A Powerful Poem from Facebook

Barbara Derbyshire shared Viola Wilkins poem and the accompanying picture.

When this horror ends (because it will end), 
we will do museums and in the showcases 
there will be shoes, letters, small photos, 
Cards, hair, pile of torn cl
And there will be school classes 
that will wonder how this has been possible.
And there will be survivors who remember 
“if it was human” thinking of Primo Levi.
And there will be intellectuals, well-thinking, 
of all variety that agree “never again this”
There will be TV shows where they interview our contemporaries
And there will be those who will say that they only obeyed the orders. 
And there will be those who will explain they had the courage to disobey
And as always there are those too busy on the shopping channels
Who will say “we didn’t know”
And there will be grandchildren 
who are going to ask their grandparents
on which side were you ?
And there will be grandparents, a few,
who will answer with truth “I was on the side of humanity”.
And there will be others who will drop their eyes and will not answer.
…….. A. Nonymus

St. Patrick’s Hall…Those were the days….

 A big thank you to Vincent Carmody for all that follows in this post. I am posting it in response to a request for information on the bands room.

Final of the billiard tournament in St. Patrick’s Hall, Listowel in 1954/55

Front Row;  Seán Stack, Francie Holly, Eamon Stack, Moss Carmody, John Enright, David Roche, John (Chuck) Roche, Tom Murphy, Simon Kelliher, Michael Mc Guinness, J.J. Rohan

Back Row:  Danny Enright, Matt Kennelly, Michael O’Connor, P.J. Maher, Frankie White, Tim (Windy) Kelliher, Dan Lou Sweeney (with glasses)

Backround: Ned Stack (caretaker), Fr. Michael Keane (C.C. Listowel) (Uncle of Moss Keane )

St Patrick’s Hall, a brief history.

There was an active Temperance Society in Listowel at the end of the nineteenth century, this committee were anxious to have a meeting place and after some protracted negotiations with Lord Listowel’s agent  they were facilitated with a site where the present hall now stands.The committee comprised of the following, Lar. Buckley, Maurice Kerins, Con Kearney, Maurice Scanlon, Michael O Sullivan and John Kirby. 

Fund raising began at once and the agreed contract price of £293 was quickly risen. Soon afterwards building commenced and was completed within an agreed twenty two weeks. The builder was Mr Michael Costello of Church Street.

An interesting aside is that the builder was bound by a contract clause that he was libel to pay a penalty of £1 for each week of part of for any over run. The committee appointed Mr Maurice Nugent, then coach-builder to the Lartigue to act on their behalf. Fealy Brothers supplied all building material.

When built, the hall became the focus for much Parish activity. A very fine Brass & Reed band which had been active in the town for some years were facilitated with the use of the upstairs room as a bands room, the balcony from this room overlooking Upper William Street was used as a stage for many outdoor summer evening performances. The main room downstairs was used for card games, billiard and snooker, the towns musical society of the day also used the hall and the billiard tables were used as an improvised stage.

In 1895 a split occurred in the local GAA club and for a number of years afterwards the Temperance Society affiliated a team in the Kerry Co. Championship known as St. Patrick’s. 

In March 1907 a set of nineteen general rules were drawn up and unanimously adopted. These rules gave a clear indication of the moral code which the members were expected to adhere to.

In 1936, a branch of the Catholic Young Mens Society was started, this incorporated a study circle and lectures were given on various nights. One of these had Paddy Fitzgibbon (senior) speaking on the topic “Is Ireland ripe for Communism?”

Also, the same year saw a move into the electronic age with the procurement of a radio. This was very popular, especially on Summer Sundays with live transmission of GAA matches.

Over the years, whist drives were organised as fundraisers, a bridge club was also set up under the chairmanship of local photographer, Jimmy Adams.

From the 1920’s all band activity was under the baton of James Hennessy.  He had served in the British Army as a bandsman in his younger days and besides being a noted musician he also was a strict disciplinarian.  However allied to his retirement in the 1940s and a lack of genuine interest shown by the younger members it was decided to cease band activity, and so the band which had given so much joy the followers near and far for over fifty years was no more.

Father Sayers arrived as a new curate in Listowel the early 1940s, and was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Society.  At the first committee meeting which he attended it became apparent that he was determined to leave his imprint with a set of new rules and regulations which he proposed. These caused immediate resentment. Some of these were,

In future the Hall would be referred to as St. Patrick’s Catholic Hall,

He in future would nominate all committees, (this was a break in tradition, as from 1905, members elected half of the committee of sixteen)

Membership of the men’s confraternity had to be strictly adhered to by all members.

Fr. Sayers, who was vehemently anti-drink, decreed that anyone he suspected of entering the hall having taken drink would be suspended. Many members resigned at this point and the position was further escalated by the announcement that the front door lock was to be changed and entry would be permitted to key holders only. During this period also the now unused band instruments which had been stored in the upstairs bands room were sold without any consultation with the older members who had been part of and had always hoped for a reformation of the band. 

The resignation of so many of former active committee members must have had an immediate effect on Fr. Sayers.  He relented on much of what he had tried to implement. Sanity prevailed and things resumed in a more lax mode with Fr Sayers taking a more demure back seat role.

Following the war years, under a new and younger management, the hall went from strength to strength.  Billiard tournaments were organised with clubs from other towns, card games of Poker, Solo, Patience and Whist were popular, while Jimmy Adams and Super Mulcahy again revived the dormant Bridge club. An annual dinner dance was organised (a ladies committee was chosen to run this, even though membership of the Society was for men only). The hall remained in great use and activities were most popular especially during the months from August to May, however by the late 1950s the condition of the hall in general, now built over sixty years had started to decline and a revamp was badly needed. 

Again it was in the form of a new Curate as Spiritual Director that was to effect changes, Fr. Michael Keane arrival in Listowel was to herald a new beginning for the hall.  A tireless worker, he gathered around him a band of fellow workers and so began a whole array of improvements, the first since 1893.

During the late 1950s and 1960s the hall was once again the centre of winter activities and one of the most popular fundraisers was the holding of Pongo during Listowel Races. However by the latter part of the decade a steady decline of membership had begun. This would have been mainly due to emigration and a host of other social activities which had become popular by this time.

The hall had closed by 1970 and the billiard and snooker tables were dismantled. One particular group showed interest in taking it and running it as a private members club, the local council were said to be interested in buying it, with a view to knocking it in order to give wider access to a council car park at the rear of Charles St./Upper William St.

During the 1970/80s it mainly served as a hub and office space during Writers Week, Fleadh Cheoil, Listowel Races and as headquarters of a youth club. By the 1990s a very vibrant active retirement group under the Chairmanship of Michael O Sullivan and they with the youth club  began a series of fund raising draws to find money to implement some repairs. Again a young Curate got involved, Fr John Kerins.  Meetings took place and with the funds already collected along with grants promised by Tuatha Ciarraí and North Kerry Together, the committee set up to oversee the changes sought and got FAS to carry out the restoration work. Work started and was completed in 2002. The major improvements have left us with a building that looks better than ever, since the re-opening has once again been the centre of a multiplicity of events and groups. Hopefully it will again serve the town and its people for the duration of the twenty first century as it has done for the previous hundred years.     



Our time has come

Do you all recognise this timepiece? It hangs outside Mai Fitz’s on William Street. It should not be today’s picture because I should have thought of taking a photo at our meeting on Monday night. I was so excited by the sight of the huge attendance that I forgot to fish out the camera and record the occasion. Apologies. Kerry’s Eye did take a photo or two so I’ll see if they will share.

The meeting was a great success.The over capacity crowd was very enthusiastic and ready for the challenge of preserving our history.

I’ll outline the format of the night for those who couldn’t make it. Ger Greaney, our hard working chairman, introduced the project and gave a bit of the background to its beginnings. Cara Trant then gave a presentation on the pilot project in Loughrea. She showed us all that it could be done. We can learn from any mistakes our Galway pioneers made and we can build on the model they have outlined for the work.

 Ger was next up. He had diligently traced the history of one lesser known but mildly famous Listowel family. He was greatly helped in this research by all the hard work that had been done and is now shared on line by Robert Corridan. This family is the Stack family, formerly of 53 Church St. Michael Stack is a state senator for Philadelphia but his family originated in Listowel, Co. Kerry. Seven of the children from this family alone emigrated to the U.S. and have all done well in their adopted homes. Ger traced this family using on line records and he painted a fantastic picture for us of what could be done. Of course it will not be so easy to trace people less in the public eye.

It never ceases to fascinate me what can be found online. Only yesterday I found a marriage record for my great grandfather from 1839. This record had been kindly uploaded by another member of my extended family who was researching through church records for another ancestor.

Back to Monday night. With everyone fired with enthusiasm for looking back, we came to the highlight of the night, Vincent Carmody’s slide show of pictures of North Kerry. Vincent presented to us a varied and interesting insight into North Kerry in the past. We saw a beached plane on Beale strand and what looked like half of North Kerry under its wing. We saw a photo of a fleet of naval warships sailing up the Shannon estuary. This sparked one of the audience to recount his mother’s memories of the same sailors on a paper chase training exercise. He told us that the sailors had stayed in Tarbert for 6 months and had assimilated well into the local community. I heard on the radio yesterday that our own Irish soldiers are likewise bonding with the people of Tibnin today. We marvelled at progress as we saw a picture of the first car to be registered in Limerick as well as one of Mrs. Raymond in full regalia heading to town in her ass and cart. Many people in the audience recognised friends and relations, and in one or two cases themselves, in the photos.

A lively question and answer session ensued. Everyone agreed that it was a very enjoyable night. The next question is, Where to from here? All suggestions will be brought to the attention of the committee.

BTW I have not forgotten the bandsroom. Vincent is on it and will give me something to post on it shortly.

Nightime in Listowel

My blog is going viral! I thought I had better give you all something else to ponder on before you lose interest in it. This photo is The Listowel Arms as it looks with the floodlights on in August 2011. Isn’t it beautiful? the Arms has recently got a facelift, a new colour and new signage. We were all so used to the black and white facade that it took a while to adjust. Now it looks elegant and stately in its little niche in The Square.

You can read a little about the history of  the hotel and follow a link to its own website.

BTW can any of you tell me why some people’s comments are not appearing on the site?

A big thank you to everyone who commented and who tried to comment but failed. You are all welcome here.

I welcome any comments at

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