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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Covid Signs,and A Sister’s Love in a poem and Opening Night Listowel Writers’ Week 2020

Only God can Make a Tree

Kay McDonnell took this photo


Sisterly love in a Poem

“Limerick poet Anne Mulcahy wrote the poem Sister in 2014. I have her permission to get it published. ” Mattie Lennon”

The story behind it is as follows;

   A mutual friend of ours had a brother, David, with Down Syndrome. He was also non verbal. David spent 55 of his 57 years in an institution until his death in 2014. When he reached the terminal stage of his life that same institution clearly did not wish to have him remain in their care but rather wished him to enter an acute hospital setting. This issue needed to be robustly fought with the members of the institution to allow David to remain in his ‘ Home’.  His sister, who had been his Guardian Angel for decades, was an able and willing advocate to defend his rights. 

Sister was written from David’s perspective from beyond the grave.  

 Dear Sister, thank your noble heart, that fought my need to sleep,

In sheets that smelt and felt so familiar to me,

You spoke my words when my voice could not be found,

Through divided chaos you firmly stomped the ground,

Chin firm, teeth clinched, and no budge to make-

Steering the ship to higher ground!

Now, here, in this realm my tongue is loose and free,

And sings songs like Jingle Bells and happy melodies.

I cannot keep a pair of shoes, so worn are they from dancing.

And I laugh so much, I cry big tears, till my shirt oft needs changing.

Cold nights I read before I sleep, warm tales of hope and peace,

And all the while, I lay entwined, in my own familiar sheets!

Everything here is wonderful, both the company and the food,

And I’ve met many here that I once knew.

Pain does not exist here-only a great peace of vast magnitude.

Dear Sister, hold fast the times we had,

We both know the efforts you made, the gifts you brought, the prayers you said,

And when we meet, as sure we will, I’ll have a bed ready and made!

©Anne Mulcahy 2014.


Listowel in the Pandemic of 2020

Jumbo’s and O’Connell’s Decor are two very busy shops at this time.

McKenna’s has a one way system.

The pharmacy next door has lots of signs

You can see the table with the sanitiser for customers. A one way system is in operation.

Behan’s The Horseshoe is open for take away food.

Sad to see a Robert Moloney’s, a shop which always worked long hours, closed.

When I took my second walk downtown later Dominick was in town checking on his premises. Dominick  Moloney is a tonic in a pandemic, always in good form and ready to pose for the camera.


Listowel Writers week Opening Night May 27 2020

I love Opening Night. i take up my position at the hotel door and photograph local people and visitors arriving in their finery for one of Listowel’s biggest nights. The atmosphere is electric, the music uplifting and everyone is in great high spirits.

Covid 19 meant that all of that was different in 2020. Opening night speeches and prize giving went online. RTE came to town and Joe Stack, whose usual role as sports reporter is in a bit of a lull, interviewed local people about the loss of the festival and its revenue. Lovely Listowel was on every news bulletin.

The scene at The Listowel Arms on May 27 2020

Billy Keane was being interviewed at the door of John B.’s

In The Square, RTE was interviewing Gabriel Fitzmaurice for TG4.


Out and About with Camera

I met my friends, Joan and P.J. Kenny in the Square on May 28 2020. They posed, at my request, on the Tidy Town seat.

Loughlin Dolan, Jumbos, Coffee Morning for Ballydonoghue Bardic Festival and Kilflynn Fairy Festival

Teeing off at the Munster Championship Pitch and Putt in The Town Park, June 2019


Listowel’s Jumbo’s does it again

In Listowel, Jumbo’s is a brand as big as McDonalds. It is a local institution. Every Listowel person and people who visit Listowel have a special Jumbo’s memory. Good food, friendly loyal staff, social responsibility and efficient service are the hallmarks of this business. I’m delighted to see it in line for another award.

A Kerry business has been shortlisted for a national award for their social media activity.

Jumbos Family Restaurant, Listowel is one of seven nominations for the Facebook Small Business 16+ staff category in the 2019 Social Media Awards.

The ceremony will be held in Dublin’s Liberty Hall Theatre on July 25th.

(Story and picture from Radio Kerry on Facebook)


Loughlin Dolan Remembered

Above if the plaque on the wall at Listowel Garda Station commemorating the mutiny of 1920.

Two of the relatives of Loughlin Dolan, one of the mutineers, came to Listowel to see the plaque and to find out more about him.

Loughlin was born into a farming family in Lusmagh, Kings County, Co Offally in 1889. He served as RIC officer in various places in Kerry ending up in Listowel. After the mutiny he stayed for several years before he was reposted to Cavan. He never went to Cavan however but emigrated to Liverpool. From there we went to Australia. It is not clear if he was on the run or if his mental health had deteriorated but he eventually was found in the Australian bush where he had lived the live of a hermit for three years.

Loughlin Dolan

It’s now nearly 100 years since the infamous mutiny in Listowel Barracks. It’s an incident in a very troubled time in Ireland which has been variously denied and glorified, depending on which side you are on. This is my take on what happened.

In a nutshell in1920 North Kerry was a republican stronghold. The RiC in Listowel were a band of Irishmen, doing a job who now found themselves in direct conflict with their friends and fellow Irishmen. Col Smyth, a decorated English soldier was sent to commandeer Listowel barracks as a military headquarters for the region and the police officers therein were to act as agents of the military and lead them to the ringleaders of the republican dissent.

Fourteen of the police officers, led by Jeremiah Mee laid down their arms and refused to obey. North Kerry was now under martial Law but without the local knowledge of the RIC men there was nothing left for the military to do but to rely on The Black and Tans and their brutal tactics led to much bloodshed and destruction.

After the mutiny the mutineers were dispersed to various other police stations but four were left in Listowel.

One of these four was a man called Loughlin Dolan.

Martina Dolan, who has been searching for information on her relative sent me these accounts from Australian newspapers of the mystery surrounding Loughlin’s turning up unexpectedly and his refusal or inability to say who he was and why he was living like he was. Unfortunately after he recovered he left the hostel before his brother could get to him and there the trail goes cold.

It would be interesting to hear from the relatives of the other mutineers to see what happened to them after that fateful event.


Loughlin Dolan’s the handsome young

Irishman who hid himself for three

years in the hills near Strathatbyn and

was discovered three weeks ago unconconscious and emaciated has now recovered much of his lost vigor.

Dolan. is recuperating and doing light

work in an institution in an Adelaide


He still refuses to say why he be

came a hermit, but one statement he

made yesterday to a visitor may throw

some light on the mystery.

Today Louglin Dolan believes that,

unless .something is done for him, he

is doomed to an early death. Examined

by a doctor,since he forsook the isolation

bush pronounced physically sound, -he persists that he

is suffering from an ailment which, if

not checked, wili kill him. Is this

strange dread born off reality or delusion?

 Is it the solution of Dolan’s

astounding three years of isolation?

Yesterday morning he was whistling

happily as he trudged along ‘behind a

horse ‘ attached to a single furrow

plough. The flowing hair and beard

which obscured his features before he

entered the institution have vanished:

be is a stone heavier, his skin is fresh

and clean, and his eyes sparkling with

the brightness of health.

He showed no trace of that timidity

that governed his speech and actions

three weeks ago. He was eager to


-How do you like sleeping inside?’

”All right now, but I didn’t take

kindly to a bed at first.’

‘What are you going to do about the


‘It depends on my health.’

‘But the doctor has said you are fit

and well.’

‘I know, but I am not satisfied. I

will not be satisfied until there has been

a blood test.’

‘Would not the disease you are afraid

of have done its work during your three

years’ stay in the hills?’

 ‘No; it will take five years to lull


‘It will not kill you. You are physi

cally well. The doctor said so.’

The young Irishman shook his head.

”I know they think it is imagination,’he said,

 ‘but it is not. It is in the

blood. -I -wish to God it wasn’t.’

Any attempts to brush aside the pos

sibility of his being mistaken were met

with refusal. He discussed the matter

quietly and rationally, and his man

manner was not that of a man suffering



Three Years in Bush


Why Loughlin Dolan lived in the Adelaid hills for three years, 

existing on rabbits, water, and apples, is

known only to himself.. He refuses to

say. He is recovering his strength,

and intends to go to work.

An uncle of the Irish immigrant

and a brother reside in Western Aus

tralia. Dolan loved a girl in London,

but will not even hint that that was

the reason for cutting himself off from

the outside world.

One of the strangest stories revealed

for many years in Australia-is. that of the

life during, the past three-years of Loughlin

Dolan, the Irish immiigrant whlo was found

in the bush “at Bull’ Creek on Sunday


Dolan talks willingly to those whom he

is convinced are his friends. He has a

cultured voice, and has-evidently been well

educated, but he is shy and sensitive and

shuns idle curiosity. He is 

tall and handsome and his curly reddish

beard is streaked with grey, but he is

weak through lack of food. Normally he

Is a powerful man. He is unaffected and


Why he took to the hills is a mystery

and a subject upon which he steadfastly

refuses to talk.’

 In a conversation today

Dolan’ said, that now he knew he was

among friends he was glad he had been

found. He was deeply grateful for what

Sgt.G A: Heinemann, of Strathalbyn, had

done for’ him.

“You have been a good friend to me,”

he said sincerely. He did not profess to

have liked his life n the bush..but it was

his own choice. 

“It has a grim fight,”‘ he said. and

it was evident that had he  not'”been en

dowed with a hardy constitution he could

not have lived through the many hard

ships he underwent. Out in the open-in

all weathers, ill-clad with a scanty covering of bags and with rabbits and water as

his diet was his life for three years. It

is probable that in a few weeks’ time he

will regain his health and strength.


“Wait unitil you see me shaved and well

again,” he said.. ‘”I will be a different

man. I can work and will be anxious to

work” as soon as I am well.”‘

Dolan said he was brought up on a farm

in Ireland, and was used to farming work

and could also drive a motor car. About

eight months, before he came to Australi

he was in Liverpool and worked as a gar

dener at a college. His sweetheart was in London, and they intended to make a

home in Australia.

Be had an unIcle who had been a farmer

in Western Australia for 40 years, and his

brother had been there 14.

LOUGHLIN DOLAN–As he was when

he arrived in Australia three years ago.

Intended to go to them. He had about

£200 before he left Liverpool and brought

that with him to Adelaide.

It was on his arrival here that he made

for the bush for some reason which he

will not disclose,but he says he has been

worrying and fretting while he has been

there. He made no attempt to go to

Western Australia although the he

travelled on and called at Freemantle . That

he is not troubled over money matters is

indicated by the fact that he had more

than £70 tied in a small bag round his

waist when he was found This.has been

taken charge of on his behalf by friends

at an institution where he is now being

cared for.

He is much concened about his rela

tives in the West, and also in England and

Ireland. He has made no attempt to

communicate with any. of them while he

has been in hiding, and he realises that

they will have been worrying, about him.

He said he was anxious for someone to

write to them on his behalf.

For three years he has been absolutely

out of touch with the world. While he

has seen many people he has carefully

kept out of sight. He had-no newspapers

or anything to read, and did not do any

writing during that .time. He evinced

great interest in’European affairs, and was

glad to know that in his native country’s

matters were somewhat peaceful.


“I Will soon pick up the news of what

has happened during the last thiee years

by talking to friends,”‘ he said. “

Concerning his: life in the bush he had

not much to tell. He did not travel far

from the spot where he was found. He

lbathed regularly, and lived in a most

primitive manner.’

“I always liked to, be on the move,’ he

said, *”and I did not build a permanent

shelter. I was afraid someone might find

me. Sometimes, in the.winter, I lept in

water I had  apples.occasionally,

but 1 never caught anything but rabbits.

I never knew what month it was;, but I

always knew the. seasons… The climate

here is-beautiful, and I have found the

people very kind.”

Regarding his future, Dolan has no

plans, but he is definite in his.desire to


Sgt. Heinemnann said the country in

which Dolan had been living was rocky

scrub, in which a man would find no ditffi

culty in hiding, but would probably find

it hard to live.

“You would not stay there two hours.”

he said. Dolan told the sergeant that life was hard 

he had had nothing to eat for a fortnight,

as the rabbits were scarce and he was getting


When he was found he could not walk and it required

 Three men to carry hiim.

The sergeant provided hlim with some

clothes, for which he was grateful. At

the hospital Dolan said the nurses had

been kind to him. He had had a good

night’s rest and a good breakfast. He

expected he would be well again in a few



Coffee Morning


Ted is Back

Well done to the people behind the Kilflynn Enchanted Fairy Festival who defied the vandals to rebuild Ted. The festival is a lovely event for children and the young at heart. It’s on this weekend starting on June 29 at 7.00 p.m. Killflynn will be buzzing.

Remembering dead soldiers, a U.S. visitor and Listowel Food Fair 2018 and Young Adult Book fest 2018

Painting: Sharon O’Sullivan shared on Facebook


Remembering Dead Soldiers

Church of Ireland folk were way better than us Catholics at centralising their war dead in their churches. Even though we held the same belief that there was something holy about giving your life for your country, we tended not to celebrate the war dead in our churches but in public monuments and memorials.

 In St. Mary’s in Killarney

 in Macroom, Co. Cork


A frequent Visitor Returns with family

Conor and Samantha with Mike Flahive of Bromore when they visited the cliff walk.

Patty and John Faley love Listowel and North Kerry and they visit often. On this visit they were accompanied by their son, Conor and his girlfriend, Samantha. 

The Florida visitors suffered a bit in our cold weather but all in all the holiday was a success and here are the photographs to prove it.

 They stayed in MacMahon House and Patty took this photo from the window.

 Listowel Castle

Main Street

St. John’s


Listowel Food Fair 2018

A highlight of the annual food fair is the Food Trail. The word is out that this is a super gig and on Saturday Nov. 10 2018 so many of us showed up for the trail that we had to split into two groups and take two trails. My trail went to Jumbos, John B. Keane’s and Lizzy’s Little Kitchen. Both trails started in The Listowel Arms.

Lots of local ladies enjoyed the food trail.

Patrice set us all off to  great start at The Listowel Arms.

In Jumbo’s Damien served us some delicious burgers. He buys his poultry from Larry Buckley so very few food miles here.

The lighting in John B.’s wasn’t great for photographs but the food and the craic were mighty. Now John B.’s is not a place known for its food but for Listowel Food Fair 2018 Billy enlisted the services of local chef, David Mulvihill, so, ironically, in a premises not known for food we got some of the best food of the trail. While we munched, Billy entertained us with his “Atin House” story. Such was the generosity of our host that everyone in the pub, regardless of whether they were on the food trail or not, was treated to some delicious Leah’s black pudding on apple purée.  Then we washed it all down with some delicious craft beers….all part of the deal,

Like last year’s trip to Mike the Pies, the pub stop proved to be the surprise hit of the day.

It was no surprise that Lizzy Lyons served us up some delicious fare in he little kitchen restaurant. Rice pudding is her family’s comfort food of choice for generations.

She also served us Bailey’s hot chocolate. This was new to me but I’ll definitely be having it again.

Here is Lizzy after a hard day slaving in her restaurant on Saturday Nov. 10 2018.

Here is Lizzy later on the same day. She is all dressed up for the Gala dinner at which she received a well deserved local food hero award.


Older Adults at Young Adult Bookfest 2018

Writers Week helpers, Jim Dunn, Eilish Wren, Sinead Mc Donnell and Maria McGrath

Ensuring the day ran smoothly were Bernie Carmody, Eilish Wren, Catherine Moylan, Mike Lynch and Rhona Tarrant.

Above Listowel and below Tralee teachers

Jumbos on March 17 2018, Presentation memories and a big Listowel moment in Twickenham

Ballybunion Castle, Easter 2018


From my Archive

Photo: John Stack

John  Stack took this photo at my retirement party in The Listowel Arms in May 2010. I include it today to remind past pupils that we are still looking for photos or stories from you.


A last few from St. Patrick’s Day 2018 in Listowel

I finished the day in Jumbos with my visitors. Jumbo’s is an iconic Listowel institution with much more mouthwatering fare than many of its big name competitors.


Meanwhile in Twickenham

We all saw the picture. Billy Keane in his “famous blue raincoat” and his beloved godson, Jonathan Sexton embrace after Ireland’s victory over England to win the Six Nations competition.

Listowel is not known as Ireland’s literary capital for nothing. Local poet, Micheál Gallagher and photographer Paul Manning came together to create this artistic memory of that famous hug. I found it on the John B. Keane Bar’s Twitter feed.


A Fact Stranger than Fiction

On display in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral are the mummified remains of a cat and a rat. It would appear that the cat was chasing the rat when both became trapped in an organ pipe. Their mummified remains were later found and put on display.


For One Week Only…starting tonight

Snow, Storm Emma, Writers’ Week team, Some words of wisdom and some old stuff

The Week we went Mad

Today is March 5 2018 and Ireland is picking itself up after one of the strangest weeks I have yet witnessed. We had an extreme weather event when a snow storm from the west met a wind storm from the east and we witnessed blizzard conditions.

We went mad. I think everyone ate sandwiches and soup for a week as supplies of sliced pans and vegetables sold out faster than they traditionally do on Christmas Eve. 

Slimming World  and Weighwatchers will make a killing from this.

Marie Moriarty took these photos in Garvey’s Super Valu, Listowel on March 1 2018 at 10.30 a.m.


Then we went outdoors and we made snowmen, snow women and snow dogs, igloos and even a sneachtapus.

A Kerry snowman…more specifically a Kilflynn snowman.

A Lithuanian/Kerry snowman

An igloo under construction in Kanturk. Igloos and snow sculptures were popping up everywhere.


This creation trumps them all.

A video appeared on Facebook of downhill skiing in Moyvane.

Aisling and her sisters made a Cork snowman in Ballincollig.

Meanwhile my Kildare based family were snowed in.

I am so lucky to have neighbours who look after me. Eddie Moylan shovelled the snow from my drive and Helen Moylan brought me a delicious dinner when our trip to Allos had to be called off.


Glentenassig by Deirdre Lyons


Ladies Who Lunch

No, they are not really ladies who lunch. The Writers’ Week team were bidding farewell  to their German intern when I met them in Scribes last week.


On 3/4/17 Fr. Pat Moore posted on his blog.

Worth repeating 

“Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you will not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now.”


Everything that is in God, is God”

Meister Eckhart 


Listowel girls?


Drink Aware

Billy MacSweeney found this poster which was issued as part of an anti drink campaign in 1919. I think they’d put you off drink alright.

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