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: John Pierse

Some Aspects of Listowel in Summer 2020

Some Images from Town

The Square through the gate of the Intreo office.


Brendan Mahony is working hard. His shop  is open for business.


I wonder how soon is soon.


Danny’s and Bailey and Co.  are closed but Danny is available online.

Don’t be without a tasty fish for tea.

Morkan’s will be open in Phase 2.



Church Street

Woulfe’s and Perfect Pairs will take your order on line and both shops are open for a few hours for collection.

After a few weeks of closure, Eason is open.

These two kind caring signs are at The Hair Lounge.





Early Morning walker

I met John Pierse taking an early morning constitutional on Sunday May 31 2020. John is always really the most interesting man you could run into to on Listowel’s streets. He has a brain full of various interesting facts.

On Sunday he told me that in the years between 1841 nd 1851, 18000 people died in North Kerry. John is the acknowledged expert on The Famine in North Kerry.


Church Street Mural

Charlie Nolan has recorded and edited a lovely video of the unveiling of this mural by Olive Stack and paid for by the Church Street Traders. The unveiling took place on Nov. 15 1998. It’s a lovely souvenir but sad to see so many of the old stock of the town now no longer with us. The mural is a lovely addition to our streetscape. Church Street traders can be proud of their legacy.

Mural unveiling

Listowel Children in the 1960s, A Holy Well and Armistice Day Centenary Commemorations in Listowel

The River Feale behind the Listowel Arms; Photo: Charlie Nolan


Old Pals

“Fond memory brings the light of other days around me.”

Bernard O’Connell who lived in Upper William Street Listowel and now lives in Canada posted to Facebook this picture of his childhood friends.


A Holy Well

From the schools folklore collection at Dúchas

Tarbert School collection. Nora Scanlon, Dooncaha.

Our Holy Wells

There is a well in Tarmons known as St. Senan’s. It is in the corner of Buckley’s field in Ballintubber.

This well is not deep and a stream flows out of it. Always in the month of May people pay rounds at this well on every Saturday of the month.

This is how people pay rounds. People pick up seven pebbles out of the stream and then kneel down at the well and start reciting the Rosary. Then they start at the right hand side of the well and walk slowly all round reciting a decade of the Rosary while going round. At the end of each decade they throw one pebble away. Then when the seventh round is paid they kneel down and finish the Rosary. Then they take three drinks out of the well and wash their faces at the stream. Then they usually tie a piece of cloth on an overhanging bush. It is said that according as the cloth wears away the disease wears off the patient.

It is called St. Senan’s well because it was St. Senan who blessed its waters. From the well you can see the ruins of seven churches and round tower in Scattery built by St. Senan.

There are no fish in the well and the water is not used for household purposes. Once a woman went to fill her kettle at the well. She forgot to bring a vessel with which to fill her kettle. She left her kettle at the well and went back for a saucepan. When she returned the well had disappeared and the bush with it. It went from the top of the hill to the side where it is now.


A Thought

As Asphalt and concrete

 Replace bushes and trees,

As highways and buildings 

Replace marshes and woods

What will replace the song of the birds?

Tony Chen


Only in Ireland

Photo; Random Cork Stuff


People at the Armistice Day Centenary Commemoration in Listowel

On a cold showery Sunday a good crowd turned up to commemorate the men who endured appalling hardship in the most awful of wars. Cold and rain were nothing compared to weeks spent in wet trenches with rats for company.

Carmel Gornall was there with her brother and two sisters in law.

Carmel’s sisters in law had grandfathers who served in The Great war.

Great to see Jim Halpin brave the cold to be part of it. Jim has done more than most in North Kerry to make sure that the names of the brave men who fought will be remembered.

Local history lovers and retired military men turned out in numbers to remember.


One to Watch

 Bánú nó Slánú:  Thursday TG4  9.30p.m.

This documentary looks at the small town way of life that is dying a death in Ireland, as illustrated by a visit to once thriving towns in Kerry and Leitrim. Ballylongford in north Kerry has seen its mill, creamery and many businesses close over the last 30 years. In 2017, no new children started in the national school for the first time in living memory and its post office is now under threat.  One of the last small farmers in the village, Donal O’Connor, who’s in his 70s, sums things up: “I’m the last of the family. There are no small farmers anymore.”  Kiltyclogher in north Leitrim made the headlines when it launched a media campaign to attract people to move to the village. Six  families made the move, helping to save the local school  – but one year on, how does the future look? Did the newcomers stay? And have they done enough?

(Photo and text from Irish Times TV Guide)

Kennedy’s Pet Farm, The Kingdom County Fair and a few photos of town

Some Aspects of Town

Cherry tree by the river near the racecourse bridge

 Spire of St. Mary’s

 Door into The Seanchaí

2 Jack Russells in The Living History park at Listowel Military Tattoo 2016


Can you imagine a lovelier place to live?

This is Kennedy’s pet Farm and last week  I was back for my second visit of 2016 .

The puppies had grown but they were still seriously cute.

This lamb was only hours old and just finding its feet.

 The old wooden boats are still popular.

The calves are very tame and friendly.

Rabbits and guinea pigs were probably the most popular animals with my grandchildren.

It does my heart good to see the poultry roaming free.

The children went trip trapping on the “trolls’ bridge”.

 Then it was back to the animals again.

Scenes in Kennedy’s are reminiscent of a Turner painting.


Listowel Ladies doing business at The Kingdom County Fair

Dawn Thomas and another satisfied customer.


A Celebration of Listowel videographers

Weds May 11 2016 was a great Listowel night in St. John’s. We were treated to a feast of local memorabilia and wildlife.

This is Charles Nolan, Listowel’s answer to David Attenborough. The big difference is that Attenborough has a team of cameramen, editors and assistants to help him. Charlie is a one man show.

Charlie knows the River Feale like no other. He is really knowledgeable about the fish, birds, insects and animals of our local river. He has filmed them over months and has spend even more months editing the film, identifying the subjects and adding a soundtrack which is mix of birdsong and music. The result is a masterpiece and a triumph for this humble Listowel man whom we are so lucky to have in our midst.

John and Noreen Lynch

The second half of the show was devoted to the work of John Lynch, our own documentary videographer over so many years. One of the gems John has recorded is the late Joe Hickey making a boot. This skill, now almost forgotten, is preserved forever in John’s lovely film.

We also saw the Fleadh Cheoil of 1973, which was shot by John. He concentrated on the human elements and the life on the street and in the camping site.

It was a joy to watch this film in the company of Listowel people who were thrilled to recognise local people as they appeared. Unfortunately many of the these old folks are now gone from us. A huge cheer went up when Jimmy Hickey in his prime dancing in The Square appeared on screen.

All in all a great night and a very successful fundraiser for Kerry Parents and Friends.

John Pierse, who was the mastermind behind the venture, is pictured here with the musicians who did a great job in matching and recording the music. The original was filmed without sound.

Listowel Military Tattoo 2015 and the launch of Teampall Bán, the book

Date for the Diary

Listowel Military Tattoo 2015. First schedule for 2015 unveiled.

May bank holiday weekend. Friday May 1st to Monday May 4th.

The story so far!

Friday May 1st:

‘military forces’ move in and occupy listowel.
Author and BBC military historian James Holland arrives as our special guest for the weekend.
Military vehicle owners and groups roll into town.

Saturday May 2nd:

Living history park
Military reenactors and airsoft groups displays.
Military vehicle displays
Garda Siochana displays
WWII battle reenactments
‘military patrols and checkpoints’
Wreath laying ceremony with various veteran associations, foreign embassies and dignitaries.
Armed forces representatives.
Military historian James Holland will give a talk on the D-DAY landings
Evening entertainment in town square- details to be announced soon.

Sunday May 3rd:

Living history park with military camp, vehicles, reenactment and airsoft groups. Militaria stalls and displays.
WWII battle reenactments
‘military patrols and checkpoints’
Street entertainment
Military history lectures to be finalised
Sunday night in the listowel Arms Hotel:
1940s hangar dance with the fabulous BombShell Belles and ‘frank Sinatra’ all patrons attend in full military uniform or vintage civilian dress, optional but preferred.

Monday May 4th:

Military forces withdraw from listowel and normal life returns!



Here are a few photos I took last year just to get you in the mood;


Fundraising in gratitude

This is Brenda Doody. Many Listowel people will remember her from when she ran a beautician’s in Church Street or will have attended one of her boot camps.

Benda plans to run 12 marathons in 8 months. She is doing this to fundraise for a charity close to her heart. Mercy Hospital, Cork

Brenda’s husband, Pat , had oesophageal  cancer. He was treated in the Mercy Hospital, Cork. After a regime of surgery, chemotherapy and radium therapy, the Doodys feel that they are coming out the other end of a dark tunnel.

Brenda wants to give something back. You can contribute to her fund HERE


Teampall Bán Book Launch

I missed the launch by Listowel Tidy Town Committee of John Pierce’s eagerly awaited book on the Famine in North Kerry. The book is a huge contribution to the history of this era in this part of the world.

I scrounged a few photos to share with you.

Historians, John Pierse and Paddy Waldron

John is giving the proceeds of his book to the local Tidy Town Committee. Here he is with some of his fellow volunteers on the night of the launch.

Kieran Moloney, John Pierse and Hiram Wood

A section of the large audience in St. John’s



The top of Patrick’s Street in 2010 and last week


15 minute set down

Jimmy Moloney’s proposal of one free one hour parking in Listowel was shot down but we are being given 15 minutes free set down time. Small victory.

Posters, New Look Church St.

Here are a few things to do in Listowel over the next few days.


This end of Church St. has had a bit of a face lift recently. Mrs. Quin’s has rebranded as NCBI ( National Council for the Blind of Ireland)

Eason has opened next door.

Ladbrokes is in situ in time for Cheltenham


Some more from John Pierse

Members of TABLE hard at work.

This looks like the Town Council of a few years back but where and why?


Joanne Dillon from Brooklyn sent us the following account of mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan last Saturday,

Celebrating at New York’s Other St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Most people, New Yorkers included, are not aware that New York City boasts not one — but two — St. Patrick’s Cathedrals.

The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, on Mott Street, near Little Italy, Chinatown and the trendy SoHo district in lowerManhattan, was built in the early 19th century. It served as the seat of the Archdiocese of New York until 1879, when the Cathedral of St. Patrick on Fifth Avenue and 50th Street was completed and became the center of the Catholic Church inNew York.

For almost 200 years, St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral has flourished as a church serving immigrants. Irish, Italian, Haitian, German and French communities have all worshipped there as they worked to gain their foothold in America. Today, the parish serves an active congregation of Chinese, Mexican and Dominican immigrants.

Over the years, however, the Basilica has maintained its ties to the Irish community. And on Saturday, March 10, it recognized the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday by celebrating an Irish language Mass. As New Yorkers began their St. Patrick’s Day festivities in earnest, about 200 people turned out for the Mass, which was cosponsored by the New York Irish History Roundtable and Glucksman Ireland House of New York University.

Fr. Andrew O’Connor of Holy Family Parish, Castle Hill Avenue, in the Bronx, and Fr. Aidan O’Driscoll, who hails fromCounty Cork, served as concelebrants. An honor guard from New York’s famous Sixty-Ninth Infantry Regiment of the Irish Brigade — “The Fighting Sixty-Ninth” — led the processional. Following the Mass, the Washington Square Harp & Shamrock Orchestra provided some lively music, while attendees enjoyed a traditional corned beef and cabbage buffet luncheon.

Photos Attached:

§         Fighting Sixty Ninth Honor Guard

§         St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral

§         Members of the Washington Square Harp & Shamrock Orchestra

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