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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Public Seating and Memories

Office of The Revenue Commissioners Mill Lane Listowel Feb. 2023


Some Public Seating in The Park and Garden of Europe

This bench under this massive tree which has obviously lived a long time is a memorial to those whose lives were cut short by suicide.

I don’t know who Liz was but I know she was loved.

I knew Hugh. He helped me publish my book, Listowel Through a Lens. He was professional, kind and gentle with a complete novice nervously dipping her toe in the book publishing waters.


The Shop on the Corner

Horans Healthstore today has an interesting history, as told to us a few years ago by Vincent Carmody.

(Remember you can hear more Listowel stories from Vincent in Listowel Library today Feb. 17 2023 at 11.00 a.m.)

From the late 1800s and running well in the 1900s William and Florence (Haughton) Woods had a drapery shop. William put his name up before the people on the occasion of the 1899 local U.D.C.elections. It must have been a lonesome experience for him as he only received 14 votes and came last of 26 candidates fighting for one of 12 seats. 

For a short time after the Woods the shop was taken over by Tom Walsh from Lyreacrompane.  He operated there until he moved across the street and opened his new drapery in what had been Gibsons. Tom Walsh went forward was elected several  times as a member of the Listowel Urban Council. In this regard it is worth recalling an unusual occurrence in the local elections of 1928. Up to closing time for the acceptance of nominations, the then Town Clerk and Returning Officer, Mrs Annie Gleeson had received no nomination. 

The Council which at that time have consisted of 12 members had since the previous local election of 1925, through resignation, disqualification and other causes dwindled down to only three members, i.e. Thomas Walsh, Edward J. Gleeson and Patrick Brown. So in 1928, Mrs Gleeson in accordance with her powers, published a notice stating that as no candidates had been duly nominated for election, Messrs. Walsh, Gleeson and Brown would be declared elected. They afterwards became known as the Holy Trinity. None of the three put their names forward in the 1934 or subsequence elections.  

Michael Fitzmaurice was next, having served a hardware apprenticeship in the town, after which he got married to Bridget Buckley and they had a stationary and newsagency in the house.

The house  had a new tenant in the 1920s, John Scanlon opened it as a grocery and hardware establishment, also catering as a cycle agent. His billheads advertised it as ‘The Corner House’.  

The house reverted to a drapery establishment again during the 1930 and 1940s when it was occupied by a Stack family. 

In the 1950s it converted into a shoe shop when it was bought and run by Paul Shanahan. 

Today it’s Horan’s Heathstore.


Mosaics in St. Mary’s

Mosaic art is absolutely fascinating. The firm who did the beautiful work in St. Marys were Oppenheimer.

The firm of Ludwig Oppenheimer was founded in Manchester in 1865 and operated until 1965. Ludwig Oppenheimer was born in 1830 in Brunswick in Germany. His family were merchant bankers in Hanover and he was sent to Manchester to improve his English. He lodged with a Scottish couple and fell in love with their niece Susan who was from Montrose. He was an orthodox Jew but converted to Christianity and his family cut their ties with him. He spent a year in Venice studying mosaics as an apprentice. On his return to England he married Susan and started the mosaic workshop.

They had six sons, five of whom eventually worked for the firm. The eldest Lehmann was born in 1869 and went to art school and won a scholarship for a year’s study in Florence.

On his return he married a fellow student, Edith Newton, in 1892. He worked in his father’s firm from a boy and was the main designer. On his father’s death in 1900 he took over the firm and ran it with his brothers.

His younger brothers Louis, Albert and William all worked in the business. They travelled in Europe and Ireland seeking and gaining commissions including many prestigious projects.

In Ireland their main work was done in conjunction with the architect George Ashlin. Between 1856 and 1860 he was articled to E.W. Pugin whose sister Mary he married in 1860. In 1859 Pugin received a commission to build the church of SS Peter and Paul in Cork and he made Ashlin a partner with responsibility for their work in Ireland a position he retained until 1870.

The most important Irish commission they received was Cobh Cathedral. You can see their work there to this day.


The following mosaic pieces are in St. Mary’s Listowel. They are only some of the many mosaics in our church.


Opening Night Listowel Writers Week 2019, Horan’s Closure and Glin Castle

Opening Night, Listowel Writers Week  May 29  2019

I positioned myself by the entrance to the hotel and here are a few of the good folk who I snapped as they headed towards the ballroom for the festivities.

You will spot some local folk as well some prizewinners and other visitors.


Change of Tenant Due Here

Making a living as a small retailer in Listowel is tough.


Glin Castle

Tom Dillon took this photo when he toured Glin Castle with the Irish Georgian Society. These are some of the stories he brought back.

“Best bit was the great stories that go with the family portraits particularly the Cracked Knight who rode his horse up the stairs, the Knight who died dancing at his own wedding and the Knight of the Women who had all his mistresses living in the different lodges on the estate.”

Sounds like those knights were a fairly daft lot.

The Council of Dirha, an old photo and a new jumper

A camelia in The Garden of Europe


A Photo from the Johnny Hannon Archive

Junior Griffin to whom I  went to ask for help in  identifying these people wrote;

The best known name here of course is Sam McGuire. Not sure of the man on the left but he may be Walsh from O’Connell’s Ave as the other3 are from that area of town., namely Tom Lyons, Mick Carey and “Gigs Nolan, who sadly died just a few months ago. Mick Carey was known as the doyen of the Gleann street league football and knew the game inside out.


A John B. Keane Story   (serialised )

Today I’m beginning another serialised essay of John B. Keane’s. He writes of a different era when Irish people were in the thrall of the church and fear of the wrath of God, as defined by the Catholic church, was ever-present.

The Council of Dirha       by John B. Keane

Good luck and
success to the Council of Trent

What put fast upon
mate but not upon drink,

(Overheard at a

When the above
couplet was conceived there was fasting on Fridays. Nowadays, Lent apart, we
may eat meat with impunity throughout the entire year. The church was quite
clear in its strictures regarding the consumption of meat and meat products on
days of fast and abstinence. Then in 1966 Pope Paul promulgated new laws for
Roman Catholics. Fast days, which had included all the weekdays of Lent, the
vigils of Pentecost, The Immaculate Conception and Christmas and the Ember Days
were reduced to two, i.e. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In the same decree
Pope Paul reaffirmed the laws of abstinence from meat. However, he allowed
episcopal conferences to substitute for abstinence with other forms of penance
especially works of charity and exercises in piety.

theologians of the time were known to smirk at the expression “works of
charity”. They deduced in their own indigenous fashion that to be charitable
one had to be rich. Since neither they themselves nor their associates were
remotely connected with wealth, they regarded themselves as being incapable of
charity. When it was explained to them that charity had other connotations such
as love of one’s fellow man they were quick to point out that because of their
innate worthlessness no one, save their own family, places any value on their

(more tomorrow)


Horan’s New Look


My Latest Knit

The story of a jumper that turned into a saga.

Handknitted by moi
with a little help from Woman’s Way’s Louise Finn

It all began with
Woman’s Way, “Ireland’s best selling women’s magazine”.

I spotted a knitting pattern and I thought “This has my name on it.” 
Simple pattern, easy peasy knitting and beautiful result down to the
beautiful colourful yarn. But…..

I went on line to
the two big online sellers of wool, Vibes and Scribes in Cork, my favourite bricks
and mortar craft shop but I knew they sold online as well, and Springwools in Dublin,
Ireland’s biggest online yarn retailer. Neither of them seemed to stock Tivoli
Colour Maze.

Feeling a bit
miffed I contacted Woman’s Way with my false assumption that they had published
an old pattern and the yarn was discontinued. Louise Finn, the lovely deputy
editor, who has become my new best friend in this venture, emailed back to say
that my assumption was wrong. It was  a brand
new pattern and the wool came into the shops in September 2017. She gave me the
phone number of Tivoli, the Cork company who market the wool and Anne there
told me that they had thousands of yarns and not every shop takes every one.
She couldn’t sell it to me because they don’t sell directly to the public. When
she found out that I lived in Kerry, she found that the nearest retailer to me
with that wool in stock was in Kenmare. I gave her a quick Geography lesson.
Kenmare is 100kms from Listowel.

I reported back my
lack of success to Louise. Now Louise didn’t get to where she is today by
giving up. She did a bit of research and she found a lovely shop in Midleton,
Karen’s Krafts. Karen had the yarn in stock and she was willing to post. Now we
were sucking diesel or so I thought.

I contacted Karen.
There were 8 colourways available and she didn’t have them all but she was
expecting a delivery. So the final outcome of my chat with Karen was that she
would text me when the wool came in and I would take a trip to Midleton on my
next visit to my family in Cork.

Meanwhile my
daughter is going to Midleton with her work on Monday, February 26 2018.
Spottting an opportunity I ask her to call to Karen to suss out my wool. I ring
Karen and now she hasn’t got three balls in any colour. (The pattern requires
three) but the delivery from Tivoli hasn’t come yet.

Delivery comes  and Karen texts me to tell me that the only 3 ball
stock that came in are grey or beige. Now remember I said that this is a very
basic jumper only made special by the colourful yarn. Let’s say grey and beige
don’t cut it with me in the ‘Colourful” stakes . So I decided to throw in the

Did I mention that
Louise did not get to where she is today…….?

When I told her
that I had accepted failure she was having none of it. She emailed back to say
that she had contacted a wool shop in Blanchardstown and they were willing to
order the wool and to post it to me.

And so they did.
The yarn arrived in Listowel and now all that was left for me to do was knit
the blessed thing. Then Louise emailed to say that she would like to see a
photo of the finished product for publication in the magazine.  No pressure then.

So voilà, me in my
beautiful new jumper just in time for the next cold snap.


Two Names

The two people on the left have been identified as Arthur Chute and Violet McCarthy. The search continues to identify the other three people.

Writers Week team, Horans and The Brogue and a wet day on Church St.

 The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow

And what will the robin do then, poor thing?

He’ll hide in a barn and keep himself warm

And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.


The power behind the throne at Listowel Writers’ Week 

Maria McGrath,  Éilish Wren and Máire Logue show off their new reading mittens as they work away in the basement of The Seanchaí , putting together another great programme for June 2016.


Down Memory Lane

John Keane with the late Gerard Relihan a few years ago  (photo; Ita Hannon)


Horan’s was a Great Venue in its Hayday

Historical Tralee shared this old one. The Horan Centre is here in Tralee today. Gone but not forgotten by many.


Kirby’s Tralee, Maybe a Tad Overdecorated for Christmas 2015?


A Wet Morning stroll in Listowel, early December 2015

Come with me down Church Street in early morning, December 4 2015. Storm Desmond is on the way and the streets are wet and empty. The Christmas lights are trying bravely to add a bit of festive cheer to the scene. This was to be the day we switched on the Christmas lights and partied in The Square but that was all later cancelled due to the usual spoilsport; the weather.


Change in Main St.

A new sign….a new tenant?


photo: Scoil Realt na Maidine

Junior and Senior Infants helped Mrs. Sheehy with on the Christmas lights.


A Collectors’ Item

A message from Knockanure Parents Association:

“Scoil Chorp Chríost Parents Association 2016 Calendar. Our fundraiser for this Christmas. €10 per calendar. Loads of pictures from 1966 onwards. School will be 50 years in September 2016. Celebrations ahead! 
For Sale in School (9.30 – 12.30 from secretary), Flynns Bar, Knockanure, Holly’s Gala, Moyvane, The Parish Office, Moyvane, The Flying Saucer, Cafe, Listowel or enquire from Parents’ Assoc Committee members.”

Mind the View and a few older photos

RISE in Listowel

This lovely book was launched in Olive Stack’s Gallery on Friday last, February 6 2015

The book is a compilation of poems by Paddy Creedon and images by Olive Stack. Proceeds from the sale of the book go to RISE, a charity set up by Frances Black to help families impacted by a family member’s addiction.

Heart Broken is one of my favourite poems from the anthology;






Small -Things

Little- Surprises


With You.

Proud of You



Making -Love





The poem speaks eloquently to me of the up and down life of someone living with a loved addict in recovery.

The launch of the book was a great night in Olive Stack’s lovely gallery. The party carried on after I left in Lynch’s, Main St.

Paddy Creedon, poet

Olive Stack, artist

Frances Black was the special guest on the night. She was very accessible, signing everyone’s book and chatting to all the local people. She even gave us a song, Bright Blue Rose, despite having laryngitis. Robert Pierse, Nora Relihan, Elizabeth Dunn and Gabriel Fitzmaurice were among the guests who read their choice of poem.

Here are a few photos I took on the night.


Then and Now


A few old ones

(photo; Pat Del Savio)

Pat is looking through her old photos and she came up with this one of three generations of Ballybunion Culhanes, Sonny, Jackie and Jackie.


Do you remember this one from Pat last week?

Update: The Babs Scully here in the white dress is looking forward to her 102nd. birthday!


Duagh and a Hollywood connection

 This is the cover of the latest edition of National Geographic Traveler magazine and this is an article from Irish Abroadabout the article everyone is talking about.

The  front cover of February/March edition
of the prestigious travel magazine National Geographic Traveler has a picture
of Ross castle in Killarney in County Kerry and the headline ‘ Return to
Ireland – A Journey Home’.

Inside is an 11 page feature with an article
about Kerry written by award winning travel writer and actor Andrew McCarthy,
where he talks about his journey to find his Irish roots and traces his origins
back to the village of Lacca West in the parish of Duagh in County Kerry.

The article ‘A Song for Ireland‘ is adapted from Journeys
Home, the book Andrew McCarthy wrote about his journey to Ireland. 

In the
article, McCarthy writes “My own relationship to my Irish heritage had
always been one of casual pride and affectionate, if uninformed,
identification. When people asked what part of Ireland my people hailed from,
“Cork” was always my answer. Yet I had no idea exactly where my clan called

However, he was soon to find out that his people
had come from County Kerry. “It was as if I awoke, after a lifetime of
supporting the New York Yankees, to find that my people actually hailed from
Boston, and I was meant to be a Red Sox fan.”

He then talks about his
visit to Kerry, his climb of Carrantoohil, his visit to Killarney to buy an
Aran sweater, through Kenmare, around the ring of Kerry and onto the Dingle
peninsula and the long stretch of Inch beach. He moves from the town of Dingle
on through Tralee to the town of Listowel and then finally to his ancestral
home of Lacca West, a small yellow cottage where he meets cousins and extended
family and where the crests of the McCarthy and Fitzgerald family hang.
“This is is my family”,  he writes.

Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s head of North
America, said: “We are delighted with the coverage in the latest edition of
National Geographic Traveler, which is an excellent way of showcasing Kerry and
Ireland to a large audience of potential holidaymakers.”

Home: Inspiring Stories, Plus Tips and Strategies to Find Your Family History

book, published by National Geographic,  leads with Andrew McCarthy’s tale
of Irish genealogical discovery and also includes tales from twenty-five other
prominent writers across the globe of their explorations in family history with
tips on how you can start looking for your roots.

The above are photos from Facebook of Andrew McCarthy taken during his visit to Ireland. He is pictured with his relatives and with Ger. and Damien who helped him trace his roots.

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