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A Great Listowel Success Story

Sunset in Phuket, photo; Mary Sobieralski

Confirmation in Ballincollig

I was in the church of Christ Our Light in Ballincollig on March 19 2024 for the last of the Cork grandchildren’s Confirmation.

Cora with her dove picture

We had no bishop, just four priests. The mass was in Irish.

This is the actual Confirmation

Cora’s sponsor was her older sister, Aisling

Aoife and Cora’s Granny busied themselves with a doll dressing game while the lengthy ceremony was going on.

Symbols of sixth class in Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin, uniform, team jersey, football and a hurley

This is the legendary principal, Gabriel Ó Cathasaigh. He is holding up a sign saying “Ciúnas.” There were 90 children for Confirmation so the congregation was getting a bit restless during the ceremony.

The washing up

And the Listowel connection… I met David Bunyan who “knows” me through Listowel Connection but was meeting me for the first time in person. He too had a grandchild for Confirmation.

Who Knew?

Sign on Baker Street, Ballincollig. Interestingly a housing development of apartments is nearing completion across the road from this sign. The apartments appear to me to have no dedicated parking spaces, so, presumably, the tenants with cars will park them in this public carpark.

Huge Success for Listowel’s Rhona

Rhona Tarrant with Donie O’Sullivan in Listowel during Writers’ Week 2022. They started out together in Storyful, a fact checking agency for social media but have both since gone on to greater things in the U.S.

Rhona is now the executive editor of CBS News Confirmed, a fact checking initiative set up by the CBS News agency last November.

Rhona is very experienced in the area of identifying fake news and disinformation. She was perviously head of editorial for Storyful,

Rhona is based in New York, where she is highly regarded. She is described by her new boss at CBS as ‘”One of the leading journalists and editors in the world working in and breaking new ground in the area of verifying information.”

The rise of AI has made the work of journalists and editors more critical than ever. Rhona is credited with developing new tools to uncover misinformation and disinformation.

As her old teacher, I am mighty proud of her and all she has achieved. She is a credit to Jenny and Ger, to Listowel and all of us who knew her in Pres. Listowel.

Never Forgotten

This is Jerry Ryan’s grave in John Paul 2 graveyard. It is always beautifully maintained.

A Fact

I heard our current weather described as “whiplash weather’. That’s a fact.


Soldiers and Nurses

Calvary at Convent Cross


Visiting the graves

November is the month for remembering our dead and visiting their graves. Above is our own Jerry Ryan’s grave as always adorned with flowers, plants and placques from his long lost family and his Listowel friends.


Charles Fort

No trip to Kinsale would be complete without a trip to Charles Fort.

Charles fort is one of several forts which once protected Cork harbour.

looking out the window at the bay and the cannons that protected it.

Once upon a time there was a huge garrison billeted here.

The whole place is painstakingly preserved and restored as a visitor attraction. This fireplace has survived since the Victorian era.



With the advent of the EV we may be coming to the end of the gasoline era.

Mattie Lennon sent us this one of a grentleman stopping at a gas station in 1920.


Listowel in the 1980s and 90s


Irish Nurses in Britain

Ethel Corduff in her marvellous, well researched and well written book looks at the reasons nursing in Britain was so popular as an option for Irish school leavers.

During and after the wars there was a crying need for nurses in England. Many young women had left nursing for war work. Hospitals were catering for more and more casualties of war and infectious diseases were rampant.

In Ireland in the 1920s Boards of Guardians were replaced by religious orders  in the running of hospitals. Many of these hospitals charged for training. They also had reserved places in their nursing programme for their own nuns. The easiest way to train as a nurse in Ireland was to join a nursing order of nuns.

Meanwhile across the Irish Sea, particularly in the Greater London area many hospitals were crying out for healthy strong girls to train as nurses. They offered free training, accommodation and a career. Irish country girls were thought to be well used to hard work and were often offered a free trial period on the basis of a photograph and a well written letter of application. Travelling for interviews was not an option.

Over time Irish women rose to be matrons in some of the big training hospitals. They set up a kind of recruitment scheme with parish priests and doctors in Ireland who recommended girls for training. For rural Irish girls from large families the opportunity to travel to the bright lights of London was a welcome one. Thus began the phenomenon of Irish girls training as nurses in English hospitals.


A Fact

The correct response to the greeting,”Top of the morning to you.” is “and the rest of the day to yourself.”


From Allihies to Colorado

At the entrance to town, Listowel Co. Kerry


Colorado, Rocky Mountain High

This story connects Moyvane, Co. Kerry, Allihies, Co. Cork and Denver, Colorado USA

This is Alan Groarke, formerly of Moyvane and now of Colorado. Alan is president of The Irish Network of Colorado. The Network connects Irish people and people of Irish descent in Colorado.

On October 2nd. 2022, Alan and many more gathered at the Evergreen cemetery to celebrate the completion of stage one of a project that connects, Colorado with Allihies in Co. Cork.

In the late 1800s many Irish men and their families came to Leadville from their homes in Ireland. The came mostly from the Beara Peninsula mining community in Allihies Co. Cork, but also from counties Mayo, Donegal, Waterford, Cavan, Galway, and Tipperary.

They fled Ireland in the wake of An Gorta Mór which devastated this picturesque area. That scourge was followed by a dramatic plunge in the price of copper, the main mineral asset of the area. Mining was the main employment for men of the region.

Many of these destitute emigrants made their way to Colorado where a gold and silver rush had opened up opportunities for men skilled in mining.

But the land of opportunity did not prove the happy hunting ground they had hoped for. They found themselves victims of cruel exploitation. They worked for very poor wages. They went on strike twice. They lived in substandard housing in hard core poverty.

When the rich prospectors moved on, these poor people were left behind. Surface mining was exhausted and now all that was left was the excruciating hardship of underground mining with all its attendant health hazards. Temperatures above ground for part of the year are as low as -20.

Over 1000 Irish miners died, average age 23, many only children.

They received paupers’ burials and there they lay in unmarked graves until a historian called Jim Walsh made these people his area of study.


“Census records show that there were about 3,000 Irish-born people in Leadville in 1880, likely making the Colorado town, according to Walsh, the largest Irish community in the western United States outside of California. Almost a fifth of the town had some kind of Irish heritage. Of Leadville’s Irish-born, two in every five came from Allihies in west Cork, a village that exported considerably more than the famous copper that came from its mines. The names of Harrington, Sullivan and McCarthy were as common in Leadville as they were in their native Cork.”

Simon Carswell in an Irish Times article in 2016


Long story short; In recent years the local Irish community in Colorado and the Irish government set to work to commemorate these much wronged diaspora.

On October 2 2022 a crowd gathered in Leadville to celebrate the completion of stage 1 of the commemoration project. The above sculpture by Terry Brennan was unveiled in the commemorative garden.

Stage 2 of “Naming the Unnamed” is now underway. The plan is to erect glass panels with all the names of the miners.

St. Patrick’s Day is a big day in Denver. The hope is that one of the highlights in 2023 will be the celebration of the completion of this worthwhile project.


Galvin’s Flats

When a corner of town has looked the same for years, I sometimes think it will go on looking like that forever. Not so this corner of Listowel Town Square.

I think you will agree this recent paint job at this corner of town is absolutely beautiful.


Listowel’s Jerry Ryan Remembered

For all sad words of tongue and pen

The saddest are, It might have been

I was reminded of these lines yesterday when I met Marie Gorman on her way home from Jerry Ryan’s anniversary mass. She showed me this photo.

This is Jerry Ryan’s grave in John Paul cemetery. Yesterday it got a new memorial stone which reads, “Jerry, our lost brother, forever now in our thoughts, Your brothers, sisters and family.

This is Jerry at work in 2014. He was a beloved presence on our streets and he always had a greeting and a cheery word. He took pride in his work and was well looked after by his work colleagues in Listowel UDC.

I was honoured to have Jerry come to the launch of my book, Listowel Through a Lens, in 2009.

It was well known that Jerry was a an orphan who had come to Tralee from an orphanage in Dublin and from there was “boarded out” with farmers near Listowel before coming to town and settling into his job with the council. Little was known of his family for indeed Jerry knew little of his family.

It was only after his death that it was discovered that Jerry had 9 half siblings who never knew of his existence. They came to Listowel yesterday for his anniversary mass and they brought this lovely stone for his grave.

“For all sad words of tongue and pen,

The saddest are “It might have been.”


A Lesson in English


A Poem about Loss, Jerry Ryan R.I.P. and the Old Chapel in Asdee

Waterfall at Conor Pass by Éamon ÓMurchú


Another Poem from Poetry Town


A Permanent Reminder

This recent mural with a quotation by Brendan Kennelly is a poignant reminder of how fleeting all the living voices are. The man whose distinctive voice enthralled so many has left the stage. R.I.P.


+ Pat O’Flaherty R.I.P.+

Pat O’Flaherty of Chic Boutique has passed quietly away. She will be a huge loss to Mary and to her many friends. May she rest in peace.


A Fact stranger than Fiction

According to a story in The Sunday Times there are more than 50 billboards in the UK fitted with cameras and equipped with facial recognition technology. If you are walking past one of these billboards it can recognise your age, sex and mood and it will then display an advertisement it is programmed to “think” suited to you.


The Old Chapel in Asdee

from Shannonside Annual 1956

Continues tomorrow….


+Jerry Ryan R.I.P.+

Nobody’s child; everybody’s friend

“No Mommies’ Kisses and no Daddies smiles” but Listowel took Jerry Ryan to its heart and he was a valued member of our community.

The Monday after Listowel Races 2014

Jerry Ryan who passed away recently was the salt of the earth. He did his job diligentlty, keeping our streets clean for many years before his retirement from Listowel UDC. He always had a smile and a friendly word. He didn’t know my name. “Friend,” he called me. Jerry had many friends.

With Mark Loughnane
With Pat Hickey

I took these pictures of Jerry at work.

He was part of the fabric of Listowel life for years.

I invited Jerry to come to the launch of my book, Listowel Through a Lens, in 2009. He had never been to a book launch and he was a bit dubious about whether it was his kind of thing.

This is the photo of Jerry and Jim Cogan in Listowel Through a Lens

I can tell you all that it was my honour to have Jerry there and there was no guest more appreciative of the invitation.

May his gentle soul rest in peace.


A Football game and a Miracle, Listowel Feis and William Street in 2014

Listowel Celtic Oskars

 In the presbytery the cast of Fr. Ted filming for Listowel Celtic’s Oskars. Award ceremony and after parties were held on Feb. 29 2020,


The following poem was written by Noel Roche of Listowel now living in the US. 

He says “Field of Dreams is about a game of Soccer that took place in the Mart Field ( now Feale Drive)  in late 70s/ early 80s between Listowel Celtic and Gleann Rovers. As a Prelude to the poem  I would like you to state that the Poem has enough truth to be Fact but it also has enough Fiction ( poetic license) to be entertaining. “

Field of Dreams 

Noel Roche 

The biggest bunch of misfits,

That you have ever seen.

Ran out onto the mart field,

Wearing the red and green.

To take on the might of Celtic,

That was their quest on that day. 

And erase the tag of second best,

This was the only way.

The Celtic team arrived on time,

And got out of their cars.

They had shiny boots and Munster youths,

They looked like soccer stars. 

Eric made the team favourites, 

He said, “they’re the best in town”.

But he forgot eleven misfits,

Who called themselves “The Gleann”.

The people manned the side-lines,

They came from near and far.

And one man said “t’won’t be no game,

This will be bloody war.

Unless the ref can keep them quiet, 

I’m not so sure he can.

But if anyone can do it, 

Then ‘The Sheriff’ is that man”. 

Three o clock, the whistle blows,

At last the game is on.

Now it’s down to soccer,

Coz the hype and talk is done.

The Gigs runs up the side-line,

With a fury never seen.

For months he gave his heart and soul,

To the boys in red and green. 

Then Celtic got a free kick,

Which prompted Gigs to call.

“Don’t let em in boys, stand in front,

And build a human wall”.

But they bent the ball around the wall,

Twas buried in the net.

And the Gleann boys said “don’t worry Gigs,

The games not over yet”. 

The Gleann played hard and furious,

And moved the ball upfield.

A Celtic defence, a tower of strength,

Now would these Gleann boys yield.

Come on said Gigs, you have em now,

As a tear came to his eye.

And they passed to Noel, who scored the goal,

That made the game a tie. 

What happened next is history,

Of which people often talk.

The miracle of the mart field,

That made Jack Galvin walk.

The crowd was stunned in silence,

As the ball hit Celtics net.

But Jack jumped out of his chair,

And said, “that’s the best one yet”. 

Soon the game was over,

And the Gleann boys jumped for joy.

And Gigs who could not hold it back,

Cried like a little boy.

And for the other Gleann boys,

This I’d like to say.

We did not feel like misfits then,

We felt like kings that day.

Now years later, the field is gone,

And I am far away.

I close my eyes, it takes me back,

To the mart field on that day.

I hear Gigs screaming, “C’mon boys”,

Till he could hardly talk.

And the goal we thought was holy, 

Coz it made Jack Galvin walk.


Jerry Ryan cleaning up on William Street during race week  (2014 I think)


Listowel Feis 1912

Kerry News  Wednesday, June 05, 1912; Page: 3


The Feis.
The arrangements for Listowel Feis are now well underway, and this year’s one promises to surpass all those of previous years. For many years the people of North Kerry have looked forward with no small amount of interest to the fixture, and they were never disappointed. The date fixed is July 7th, and nothing is being left undone to make it an unqualified success.
The Syllabus.
The syllabus, which is slightly an improvement on previous ones, includes within its scope competitions in the language and history of our country, vocal and instrumental music, storytelling, dialogue, recitation and dancing. It also includes, harp, flute, and Irish war pipes competitions. Copies of the syllabus may be had from the hon, secretary. Anyone requiring information on any point may get it without delay from the secretary.

The Byrne Scholarship.
The thanks of the Committee is due to Mr. M. J. Byrne, solicitor, Listowel, for again donating a valuable scholarship. It is attainable by the boy or girl in the baronies of Iraghticonnor and Clanmaurice and the Abbeyfeale Coisde Coanntair who obtains the highest number of marks in the following subjects:—(a ) Irish conversation, 500 marks ; (b) fluency in reading Irish at sight, 250;
(c) storytelling or dialogue in Irish, 250—only one can be taken; (d) writing Irish from dictation, 200: (e) Irish grammar, l30; (f) short original impromptu story in Irish, 100; (g) best collection in Irish of local traditions or stories, to be sent to the hon. secretary one week at least before Feis , 150; (h) Irish singing, 50; Irish dancing—jig, reel and hornpipe, 50.
The competition for the above promises to be very keen. This is the third time that Mr. Byrne has been so good as to offer a scholarship. It would be well if we had other men of that stamp amongst us. ‘Tis a noble example of patriotism.

Kerryman 1904-current, 08.06.1912, page 4
Feis subscriptions M. J Byrne, £8; a Friend £1; M J Nolan J.P. V.C Co. C, 15 shillings; G Gun Mahony Esq. J.P. 10 shillings. M J Nolan also sent a letter of support to Mr Griffin Hon Sec of Feis Committee.

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