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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Listowel, Old GAA Brochure and Writers Week 2015

Ireland’s most famous dolphin

photo:  Fungie Forever


Public Consultation

Last week, the Heritage section of Kerry County Council conducted a drop in consultative event in The Seanchaí . We got to tell the consultants what was good and bad about our town and we got to tell them of any opportunities we saw for improving our town for residents and tourists. I was there with my camera. Here are a few snaps I took on May 13.


Ads and images from 1960 GAA Brochure


Vincent Carmody and Jim Cogan R.I.P.

Vincent Carmody knows the history of Listowel and its people better than anyone.  This year, his morning walks during Writers’ Week promise to be the best yet. If you are in town, join Vincent and his  followers. You won’t regret it!


Date for the diary

photo; Writers’ Week

On May 31 at 12.00 in St. John’s


Poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice & musician Danny O’Mahony share a passion for the traditional music, song & poetry of their native North Kerry. Fitzmaurice and O’Mahony collaborate in this unique project to bring the audience on a journey, celebrating local masters and their legacy of poetry, music & song.


For The Young Ones

Judi Curtin will be in Listowel Community Centre on  Friday May 29th.with her Big Book  Quiz.

You don’t need too much book knowledge for this one. It’s a team effort for teams of 4 people.The atmosphere will be fun and relaxed. The prizes are super. Easons is sponsoring this event so goody bags of books etc could be on offer.

Suitable for book loving or not so book loving young people aged 9 to 12.


Coming up


Ladies Day

The hardest working lady in Listowel for the past few months has been Eilish O’Neill. She has organized a great event for Sunday May 31st. So ladies get your glad rags on. It promises to be a good one!



I posted these two photos on Wednesday to illustrate my great story about Liam Healy. I had asked Cathy for a photo of her father as a boy. She sent me these without caption, I presumed (wrongly) that the boys with Liam were his brothers. They weren’t. They were his classmates and the photo was cropped from a school photo.

Apologies to the boys, now men involved. Liam is the cute little fellow on the right and Tony Stack is next to him

Convent, All Ireland Hurling in 1914 and Rebel Fitz

Then and Now



Frank Greaney and Jim Cogan pictured in Frank’s garage around 2009


All Ireland Football 1914

In 1914 the quarter final of the Munster Hurling Championship was played in Listowel.

Munster Senior Hurling Championship

Quarter-final 10 May 1914  ;          Kerry     4-1 – 7-3 Clare  played at Listowel

That Clare team went on to win the All Ireland

The final score in the All Ireland at Croke Park, was Clare 5-1, Laois 1-0. The Clare team on the day was: A. Power (capt.), J. Power, M. Flanagan, E. Grace, T. McGrath, P. McInerney, J. Shalloo, W. Considine, B. Considine, M. Moloney, R. Doherty, J. Fox, J. Clancy, J. Guerin, J. Spellisey. 

Note James Guerin scored 3 goals. Tragically he died during a flu epidemic  in 1918. 

The team trainer was Jim Hehir (father of the legendary broadcaster, Michael O’Hehir)


ALL IRELAND HURLING: Kerry’s record;      1 win     1891  

I am told that the sister of Kerry team member in 1891 was working in Clare and would row across the Shannon for her  Christmas break.


A Kanturk hero

This is Barry Geraghty on his way to another win on that great Kanturk horse, Rebel Fitz., in Tipperary on Sunday. Photographed by Healyracing.


Ploughing 2014

Photos from The National Ploughing Championships 2014


Jim Cogan R.I.P.

June 23 2014

Jim and Mary Cogan July 26 1975

Enduring love is a two way street. People looked at us and saw Jim, an invalid, and Mary, a carer. They did not see the true picture.

Jim Cogan cared for me in so many ways. He bolstered my faltering self esteem and gave me the self belief to be proud of what I can do. Jim was a great encourager. He encouraged me in all my efforts. Without Jim I would never have had the confidence to produce a book or to write a blog.

Ironically, being confined to Listowel so much gave me the interest and the time to get to know and love the town and its history. This knowledge and love informs all of my creative output nowadays.

From his first diagnosis in 1973,  Jim was never alone in his struggle with M.S. I stood at his side and watched every stage of his slow decline for over 40 years. I remember the first day he couldn’t do his shirt buttons, the phone calls from school to say he had fallen, the nights he couldn’t sleep and the fatigue that left him exhausted by 4.00p.m. I remember the walking stick, the crutches, a succession of motorized scooters and eventually a chin controlled wheelchair. I heard his voice decline and weaken until he could no longer teach. His hands had long since failed him until he couldn’t even scratch an itch on his face.

Together we picked ourselves up after every fall and found a way round every new obstacle. In the early days we tried every new fad and treatment. We both read voraciously about the disease that was slowly crippling Jim. We were prey to every quack and charlatan who might offer a hope of a cure. The medical profession seemed to have none.  We went to Knock and Lourdes. We tried everything.

We were lucky to have supportive families. We had three children. We tried to shield them as much as possible but they lived with M.S. and no doubt they saw the decline and worried.

Our greatest ally was always Listowel and the community in which we found ourselves. Cherrytree Drive neighbours and in particular the Moylan family have carried us for years. They are still carrying me now that Jim is gone. Emotionally, practically and at times physically, Eddie and Helen lifted and carried their ailing neighbours.

St. Michael’s College was good to Jim. Fr. Diarmuid OSuilleabháin assured Jim, when he was first diagnosed, that, for as long as he could do it, there was a job in St. Michael’s for him. That promise meant a lot to a young couple facing an uncertain future. Every successive principal, without exception, looked after and accommodated Jim’s needs. Ramps were built, his room moved downstairs and an emergency evacuation plan put in place to facilitate him. The boys too rose to the challenge. Jim often had to ask for help and he usually got it without question.

Jim made good friends among his teaching colleagues. Joan ORegan came to visit him frequently right up to his last hours. After his retirement, Jim missed the buzz of the staffroom but his colleagues called often and eased the transition for him.

Over the years, as our interaction with health care providers increased, we met constantly with support and kindness. Dr. Billy O’Conor supported us in trying every new treatment and maintenance regime. He treated Jim through numerous chest infections, bladder cancer, respiratory failure, heart failure and all the twists and turns of M.S. along the way.

Nurses Mary MacMahon, Denise McKenna, Catherine Kirby and all of the other community nurses were kind and caring to Jim. Aileen O’Carroll and the various physiotherapists from her practice stretched and flexed and manipulated stiffening muscles into keeping going a little longer.

Jim’s illness brought out the best in every one. So many people went that extra mile for him. Dan Carmody, Ear Nose and Throat specialist, drove from Tralee to make a house visit to deal with an intractable ear infection, Seán Moriarty, dentist, treated Jim after hours and often at short notice. His previous dentist, Mr. Kennelly built a ramp for Jim to access his surgery.  John Doyle, John O’Carroll and later, Pete Spink were incredibly patient and attentive to Jim’s technology problems. A past pupil, James Carr, sourced for Jim an ingenious little programme that allowed him to turn on and off the computer by voice.

Jim was lucky to find in Helena Moore a neurologist with whom he hit it off from the start. Jim enjoyed his interchanges with her. Jim felt cared for and he respected the honest and forthright way she dealt with him. He appreciated the sensitivity with which she allowed him to make the “Do not resuscitate” decision for himself. She knew his wishes and she carried them out to the end.

As well as Helena Moore, Jim had many friends in The Bon Secours hospital in Tralee. He had been going there for nearly 30 years and he always felt he was among friends in St. Patrick’s. Betty, Phil, Maureen, Nancy, Margaret, Mary, Bríd, Catherine and all the other nurses and staff whose names I have so soon forgotten looked after Jim better than I could myself on so many visits. They saw him up and down, once or twice at death’s door, and they restored him to health and to me.

When it became obvious that I needed help to look after Jim, the decision to take strangers into our home to help in the caring role was taken with some difficulty. It was a decision that we delayed too long. Beginning with Christina Enright, Jim welcomed a succession of carers, all of whom became his friends. Eileen Hanrahan was Jim’s last carer. For years she looked after Jim with professionalism and great gentleness.  Jim looked forward to her daily visits and to the banter with her or with one of her many subs.

Jim loved all of his girls in The Twilight Service. He looked forward to his nighttime routine and the welcome interaction with all of these lovely women. Cathy Corps was like a angel bringing blessings to us continually.

Given the level of his disability, Jim had a good life and he knew it.  He harnessed an amazing array of technologies to give him as much independence as possible. He accepted what life threw at him and he always endeavored to look on the bright side. He was lovable and well loved. Twelve months on, I miss him out of every corner of my life. Family, blogging, our old friends and my new friends in the craftshop and in Writers’ Week have all helped and distracted me but there is no escaping the fact that, for me, life has changed, changed utterly.


Kindness       (Naomi Shihab Nye)

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing,

you must wake up with sorrow,

you must speak it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I that you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.

Convent girls in 1954 and the Millennium Arch

Convent girls with Sr. Dympna in the early 1950s

The following is from the letter from Marie Shaw which accompanied this great photo of her class in Listowel sixty years ago.

Back Row: Eleanor Leahy, Eileen Barrett, ? McCarthy, Celia Carroll, Rose Healy-Fitzmaurice, ?Walsh, Marie Neligan (me), Doreen Stack, Nora O’Keefe, ? Enright.

Middle Row: Kathleen Fitzgerald, ? Noonan (not certain about that name)Margaret Sheehan Mary McElligott, Phyllis Horgan, Kathleen Dunworth, ? Beasley, ? O’Keefe, Maeve Moloney, ?Murphy, Dympna Hillard.

Front Row: Nora Barry, Margaret Horgan, Eileen? Lynch, Noreen Mahoney, Geraldine Reidy (an american girl visiting Listowel), Patricia Hartnett,Marie Buckley, Terry Buckley and of course Sr. Dympa

I’m wondering if there is anyone else still around who remembers this.


Does anyone recognize herself, her mother or maybe her grandmother in the photo? I’d love to know where they all are now.


garda patrolling the beach in Tramore in 1922


These are appearing on footpaths all over town.  They are covering the newly installed water meters.


My three lovely grandaughters praying at their grandad’s grave last week.


This is our Millennium Arch in all its glory in 2009. I don’t suppose it would be cost effective to rebuild it .  Another landmark gone!

Buíochas; Thanks

A very heartfelt thank you to everyone who contacted me since Jim’s death. I greatly appreciate your kind words and I especially appreciate the sentiments of people who only know me through the blog and who have never contacted me before. Knowing that so many people are thinking of me and praying for me has been a small consolation to me at this very sad time in my life.

I intend getting back to blogging in September. In the meantime, I’m sharing with you a link to the programme Mary Fagan did with me on Radio Kerry. I have had such a good reaction to the interview that I thought you might like to hear it before it disappears from the Diocese of Kerry website.

If anyone has any material suitable for inclusion on this blog,  I’ll be delighted to receive it .  I’d love to include photographs of events I missed over the summer.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with you all very soon.

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