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: Joanna Keane O’Flynn

Nature photos, BlazeAid, Big Maggie in 1969 and 2018 and Welcoming the rain in summer 2018

Nature Photography

Photo; Chris Grayson

Readers of this blog know that I love a good wildlife photograph and one of my favourite wildlife photographers is Chris Grayson. The above photo is one that he entered for an Irish Times biodiversity competition. He didn’t win but when you look at the others he was up against, you’ll agree that it was a huge achievement to be shortlisted.

Here is the link;  11the Annual Biodiversity Photographer of the Year Competition 2018

and here is what Chris said about his image;

Blue Tit by Chris Grayson: “I took this pic in my Garden in Glenbeigh, Co Kerry. This beautiful Blue Tit and partner are happily nesting in a tiny gap in the stonework of my house. I caught this shot as she/he headed very quickly into the nest. They’ve been a joy to watch daily collecting caterpillars to feed their nestlings. Beautiful to see every day.”


Bert Hickie and a Different kind of volunteering

Bert, who grew up in Duagh follows Listowel Connection from Melbourne

He wrote:

Hi Mary,

  I love your blog & your entry about Molly made me LOL as I used to breed Cocker Spaniels when I lived in Duagh as a gorsoon to make pocket money which was spent quickly & foolishly, in hindsight. 

I have lived in Melbourne Australia since 1971 but I’m still considered Irish because I never lost the “accent” so they tell me . I retired in 2014 & started travelling around Oz in a campervan, & I’m on my second trip to Western Australia at present , but I also volunteer with BlazeAid, an organisation that helps people affected by fire, cyclones, floods, & droughts.

 I’m currently at a blazeaid camp in Cobden SW Victori,  replacing fences destroyed in “the St Patrickis Day bushfires” .  Its the middle of Winter here & its very similar weather that we used to get in late Nov in Irl. Cold,wet mud everywhere, thunderstorms, hail & sleet & sometimes frost in the mornings, but its all in a good cause & we get well looked after.

Your blogs keeps me in touch with all the local happenings in Listowel & the surrounding districts & sometimes little snippets of information that take me back to my days at St Michaels when I shared the same class as Batt Hannon, Seamus Brown, Michael O Keeffe Jim Keane, Maurice McMahon ,”Martin Sheehy & David Shaughnessy & Teddy Halpin,”all three  of whom I believe are deceased, also in that class was Thomas O Connor, Eugene Doyle ,John Moran, but my memory fails me on the other names.

Unfortunately, I cant say my days at St Michaels were happy ones.


John B. Keane’s Big Maggie

Big Maggie was first seen in a professional production in The Olympia in 1969. In the audience was a Kildare impresario, Paddy Melia. He couldn’t wait to produce it with his amateur actors, The Kilcullen Players. An approach was made to John B. and, lo and behold, The Kicullen Players in Kildare produced the first amateur Big Maggie. They took it around to several drama festivals to much critical acclaim.

Dave O’Sullivan found the newspaper accounts for us.

My connection with the Kilcullen Players is to Johnny O’Neill who played Byrne. My daughter is married to his grandson.

Johnny’s daughter, Mary was only 10 when her dad played the part and she wasn’t allowed to see it.  So when the Corofin Dramatic Society  performed it In St. John’s, Listowel as part of of the Remembering John B. festival, Mary was delighted to finally get an opportunity to see the great play. Let’s say she understood why her parents deemed it unsuitable.

Mary (O’Neill) Mc Kenna and her husband Tony met Conor and Joanna at the festival.


Welcome rain

After weeks of drought It’s great to welcome a drop of rain.

Kerry Idioms explained, Two of Listowel’s old stock and Many Young Men of Twenty

Photo: Breda O’Mullane, Malow Camera Club


Was That Summer 2018?

Beautiful sunshine in Ballybunion on April 19 2018


The Kerryman Unbuttoned  Part 2

by Redmond O’Hanlon in Shannonside Annual

…..In those days
rural Kerry was strange to me. I knew even less of the county, if that were
possible, than the Customs man at the six county border post who inspected my
pass on one occasion. “Ah, Listowel! I see” he remarked knowledgeably as he
examined my right to pass from one part of my own country to another, “I hear
they’re all six footers and Irish speakers down there.” Whatever about the
physique, I was soon to find that Irish was a sub stratum of the talk of field
and fair in Kerry.

Of words lifted
bodily from the Irish and first heard in Kerry I like to hear talk of collops.
This is a jewel in its English, a warm mouth- filling word, rounded in its
saying as the calves of which it tells. A satisfying word! Plucks too is simple
and expressive. Here I see a cherubic good humoured face., evidence of years of
lush feeding and rosy with content. Incidentally I can recall a townland called
Collops near The Tory Bush in Co. Cavan. But neither the land nor the people were

When I was first
told that the milk in the muller had cracked, I talked cautiously around the
subject until I learned that the milk that was heating in the saucepan had
curdled. Bread baked on a losset I found to be just as flavoursome as the farls
from the bakeboard of my youth, but only just. Bacon and cabbage from the
skillet came no different from the pot or oven. And the brand, I was to find
out, had nothing to do with the stock round up, but was only a substitute for
the bucket hoop that with us kept the griddle from getting too hot. A gruel
stick has a personality of its own, I always thought, with a higher kitchen
status in Kerry than the potstick came south from stirring the stirabout.
Crocks refer not to ancient motor cars or old wheezy men but merely to jam
jars. The woman of the house darns “broken” socks and in the interval puts down
a couple of eggs for John’s tea. When John comes in he pulls the door in after
him. Some feat this for a tired farmer, and costly in repairs……..


From John Hannon Archive

These men have been identified as Paddy Healy and Jimmy Browne


Another smiling ESB Girl

Her brother, John Antony Hegarty, sent us this photo of his sister, Josephine Hegarty at work in the ESB shop in Church Street in the 1990s.


Many Young Men of Twenty

There is nowhere better to see a John B. Keane play than in Listowel and there are no better interpreters of the great playwright’s work than his own North Kerry folk and you will find nowhere a more appreciative audience than in Listowel.

If one were  to single out one actor in a really strong cast in the latest production in St. John’s,  Batt O’Keeffe put in an outstanding performance as Danger Mulally on Friday’s opening night. I have seen Batt  play many parts over the years. His Michael James O’Flaherty in Synge’s Playboy of the Western World was top class. But it would be hard to find a more professional performance than the one Batt put in on April 20 2018. I am delighted I was there to enjoy it.

Jack McKenna, Jamie Mazzelle, Annette O’Donnell, Sonny Egan, Rebecca Stapleton, Margaret Flavin

Oliver McGrath, Batt O’Keeffe, Barry Francis, Frances Kennedy, Tommy Denihan, Conor Foley and Gearóid O’Connor

Caitríona Dillon is missing from the photograph.

In the interval I met up with three lovely ladies who were remembering John B. with great fondness and I’m sure he was smiling down  on them….Anne Keane, John B.’s grandaughter was with a great Keane family friend, Sally O’Neill and Anne’s aunt, John B.’s daughter, Joanna O’Flynn.

Aileen Hayes/ Scanlon was making a return to Listowel for the weekend. Aileen was a teacher in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel before her marriage. Joanna Keane was one of her star pupils.

A meander around town on June 2 2017

Where they Lived and Where they Lie Tour of Listowel 2017 (continued)

It is Listowel Writers Week 2017 and we are on our Friday walking tour of the town with Vincent Carmody. The theme of the walk is Listowel and its people. Carrying on from yesterday, we are now in The Small Square or more correctly Main Street.

Here at the statue that stands to her father, John B. Keane, Joanna O’Flynn read his poem to his father.

We wandered on to Tae Lane and the premises which was once the restaurant of Sandy Fitzgerald. Here we had poems from John Fitzgerald and Dick Carmody.

Next stop was the entrance to the old mart. Joe Stack read Bryan MacMahon’s account of how he ensured that the bag of spuds he would buy in the market would be the best on offer.

Joe Stack

Paddy Fitzgibbon

Thomas Ashe

A small section of the attentive and appreciative audience.

John MacAulliffe read his own poem about a sad weekend after the Harvest Racing Festival.

Kay Caball deputised for John Pierse and reminded us of a time when it wasn’t all fun and games. She read from John’s scholarly account of The Great Famine in his book, Teampall Bán.

On to William Street and Tony Behan read a poem called The Printer’s on the Tack which Bryan MacMahon wrote about his friend, Bob Cuthbertson who was living through a period of sobriety.

Another Bryan MacMahon came from Ballyheigue to follow the tour.

Eamon Ó Murchú celebrated Tim Enright, a little known Listowel classical scholar and translator.

Paddy Glavin read one of his own poems.

Knockanure Local recorded some of the bits I missed HERE


An Appeal

I missed a great evening in Duagh as Fr. Pat Moore’s birthday was celebrated. Would anyone have a recording of the tributes or the choir to share with people who, like me, would love to have been there but couldn’t.

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