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: Jane Clarke

A Song and Dance

Listowel Courthouse in April 2024

Duagh Family Recalled

An email;

Hello Mary,

I recently purchased and read Teampall Bán by John Pierse and found it most interesting. I would be pleased if you are able to convey my thanks to his family for his writing of the book.

My interest in Listowel is somewhat distant. Some forebears of mine – Bartholomew (Bhatt) Barry and Ellen Connell – on my late mother’s side married in Duagh in 1846.

I have absolutely no idea what they did in Duagh. Both were born there in the early 1820s and they had a child in 1849.

By 1851 Bhatt, and by 1853 all three, were living in Hampshire, where their second and only other child, my great grandfather Daniel, was born that same year. By 1871 the family was in Islington. 

It’s almost 20 years since we visited Ireland properly, and Duagh briefly. How time flies. 

Best Regards

Clive Hardy

A Find

I told you that I love to find a treasure in the swap box in the library.

I found this there recently.

This page of ads was inside the front cover.

This article gives us an insight into a bygone era in Ireland.

The Big Busk

This fundraiser in aid of Focus Ireland was help on Friday, April 12 2024. The Fealegood Band entertained the crowd in Garvey’s Super Valu.

Photos shared by Garvey’s on social media.

A Poem

A Fact

Funds left in the will of Swedish chemist, Alfred Nobel, established the Nobel Prize.


Memories from 1974 and Looking Forward to 2023

Millenium Arch in May 2023


How it used to look

This is the remains of the first arch in 2016, It was damaged in a big storm. You will notice the the new designer didn’t bother with the things that looked like very big ball bearing between the arch and the pillars.


Wolfgang and Anita Mertens

in John B. Keane’s Bar, May 16th 2023

This is the house from which Maria wrote to Wolfgang.

Here are 2 letters Wolfgang kept as souvenirs of his visit to Writers Week in 1974. The first is from Maria Coffey who was, I think, writing on behalf of Writers Week and one from Bryan MacMahon with whom he had a long correspondence. Wolfgang was writing his thesis on his work.

Anita and Wolfgang can’t remember where they stayed which is surprising because they remember a lot about their trip.

On their last night they saw a production of The Honey Spike by the Carrick- on-Siur Drama Group and they were enthralled by it.

Wolfgang in his library has almost all of MacMahon’s published works, in English and some in translation as well.

While we were at the MacMahon statue we met Maggie and Mac Donald who were just returning from a visit to Kerry Writers’ Museum.

Brían MacMahon took time out of his busy day to welcome the German visitors. He told them a few stories about his famous grandfather and generally charmed them with his wit and friendliness.

We met Liz Dunn who gave them a brochure for this year’s Writers’ Week. Wolfgang promises to send me his 1974 programme.

We called to the Garden of Europe on the way home from town.


A 1980 Visitor

Hello Mary.

I came upon your blog while searching for “Irish Horse Caravans”.

I was a young soldier in the US Army on leave in 1980 when I hitchhiked/walked through Ireland.

I have a photo in this email, which I think may possibly be in Adare or very close to it. I was wondering if you perhaps recognize this image and the signs for the roads they reference and could tell me where this may have been.

Regards from the US, Marietta, GA
Bob Jewell

Is Bob correct? Is that Adare? I think so.



Is your name Kevin or Caoimhín?

If the answer is yes, the place for you to be is this Listowel pub on Friday June 2 in the late evening.

The first annual gathering of people called Kevin in Kevin’s is happening there.

The back story; Stephen Connolly, curator of this year’s Writers’ Week programme was, by chance, in Kevin’s on the late owner, Kevin Broderick’s, birthday and he happened to sit beside a man called Kevin. This sparked this idea; Why not have a gathering of people called Kevin in a pub called Kevin’s during Writers’ Week.

BTW you can come too if your name is not Kevin.


On the Prowl with Camera

I was in The Square on Saturday May 20 2023

I met the lovely and very talented Eileen Sheehan as she went into Kerry Writers’ Museum to facilitate a poetry workshop.

I had a lovely chat with friends, Brian and May Griffin and Mary and Seán Comerford.



The meaning of the word, good luck in finding valuable things unintentionally, refers to the fairy tale characters who were always making discoveries through chance. You can thank serendipity if you find a pencil at an empty desk just as you walk into an exam and realize that you forgot yours.

I have so often experienced serendipity at Listowel Writers Week. I have gone to a book launch by someone I had never heard of and find the writer or subject so fascinating that I can’t wait to read the book.

Let me point you in the direction of a few opportunities for serendipity coming up for us in Listowel.

I have never read either of these authors but it looks like lots of people have and loved them.

Friday June2 in The Listowel Arms

This handsome dude is well known to everyone in Kerry. As well as being one of Kerry’s all time great footballers, he is also a clothes designer and now an author.

Confession here; I considered buying this book at Christmas and dismissed it without knowing what it was about. I presumed wrongly that it was the story of how a footballer turned into a fashion designer.

I should have looked more closely and, if only to honour my weaver ancestors, I should have bought it. It’s not too late to make up for lost time.

Join me in Listowel Arms on Saturday at 3.00


I Love this One

Published in The Irish Times on Saturday May 20 2023.

I have a god daughter who I can just imagine spending her old age (which is a long way off yet) reminiscing about horses.


A Fact

A typical lightening bolt is two miles long.


Ballybunion, Junior Griffin, a Craft Fair and Striking a Chord is launched

Beautiful photos of Ballybunion in Summertime by Deirdre Lyons


Junior Griffin, Stilesman.

Junior Griffin is a great man
to tell a story and a great man to write one too.

I have to set this article up
with a back story just as Junior told it to me.

It was 1999 and Junior was on
holidays in Spain with his late sister, Joan. The compromise rules football
game was on and they decided to go to an Irish pub to see the game.

The pub is full of customers,
mostly Irish, watching the television. At half time, one of the TV analysts is
Jack O’Shea.

Junior hears one of the men
near him say, “He was one of the greatest footballers of all time.”

Some time later and Junior is
at the airport on his way home. Who is sitting next to him but the Jack O’Shea
fan from the pub? He and Junior fell to talking.

This man was Pat Cowen, owner
of the Irish World newspaper in London.

This is a tangent now. It’s
an interesting one though.

Liam McCarthy of the hurling
cup fame died in London and no one knew where he was buried. This man, Pat
Cowen, with others helped to find his grave. When the GAA congress was held in
London and a few of the past presidents were in town, Pat and his friends organized
a ceremony at the graveside.

By the way, Sam Maguire also
emigrated to London. He played three All Ireland finals with London. In those
days, 1920s, the winners of the All Ireland series played London.

Anyway back to the Spanish
airport and our two boys chatting away.

As it happened the Kerry
County final was the next week and Junior and Pat were both going to be there?  Junior told Pat that he was going to be on
the gate collecting the admission fee. In fact, he told Pat, that he had been
asked to write something about his experiences as a stilesman to be included in
the programme for the game. One word borrowed another and Pat invited Junior to
send him the article about his experiences as a gateman and he would love to
publish it in The Irish World.

That is exactly what happened
and on two consecutive weeks in December 1999 The Irish World carried a tale of
life as a gatekeeper at GAA games all over the country, a small part of the
life of the great John Junior Griffin of Listowel, Secretary of Listowel
Emmets, handballer, legendary badminton administrator and all round good guy. 

Junior has shared these articles with me and Listowel Connection will bring you next week an exclusive (almost) insight into life at the gate at GAA games.


At The Seanchaí Craft Fair

 Cookarama looking good.

Frances and her granddaughter with their colourful display of tea cosies and hats.



I met Cara and Chris in The Seanchaí


Striking a Chord

This anthology of writing by North Kerry Writers is a treasure. It was launched in St. John’s to a packed audience on Thursday evening, November 10 2016. I’ll tell you more about it when I have a chance to read a few of the contributions. A good day to get your copy would be on November 26 when it will be on sale in Garvey’s Super Valu and everyone who buys a copy on that day will have their name put into a draw for a hamper valued at €100, sponsored by Super Valu.


And the winner is….

In Dublin on November 16 2016 Listowel Writers’ Week first poetry winner at the BGE Irish Book Awards was announced. Jane Clarke’s poem, In Glasnevin, found a resonance with the poetry loving public and they voted for it in numbers.

Finding the words carved

on their plain, granite

faithful comrade, lifelong

reminds me of my grandmother

who used to say, there was
none of that

in my day. I wish I could ask

the faithful Julia and

were they grateful for the

of sharing a grave, did they

those words to save them from

did they have someone to tell

that though the words said so

they didn’t say enough, and

they nursed the rebellion’s

did they question the cost

of a new (free) state.

( Sets you thinking doesn’t it? Have the future generations kept faith with Julia and Elizabeth?) 

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