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: Kanturk Arts Festival Page 1 of 2

Celebrations and Commiserations

In Childers’ Park in Summer 2023



Clíona McKenna on Church Street with her balloon from Sweet Times for her friend’s birthday.

When did balloons become a thing?

Nowadays you can’t have any celebration without balloons. It’s not just children’s parties, every party must have balloons, helium filled balloons that is.

Time was when you had to have cake or it wasn’t a proper celebration. Forget cake. Buy balloons.


Sonny Egan

This is Sonny with his cup for adult storytelling, which he won for the fourth time at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann 2023 in Mullingar

There has never been anyone before quite like Sonny Egan. He is not just a champion storyteller, he is a musician, a singer, a podcaster, an actor and an expert on many subjects. He is generous with his talents and for years opened his door to everyone in his famous rambling house.

Congratulations on the well deserved win.


A Poem from Kanturk

Sometimes people read these posts years after they were written so I have to give you a bit of context again for the sake of those who come here via Google. Kanturk is my hometown and I spent a bit of time there recently and I loved the poems on the trees in O’Brien Street Park for Kanturk Arts Festival.

I love this one.

I was in this lovely O’Brien Street Park at 12 noon and the Angelus was tolling from the nearby church. The Angelus bell tolled the tune of The Bells of the Angelus. This is a hymn I learned in a Kanturk classroom over half a century ago. Memories, memories!


Enough Said

Beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach.



This is the very last time I’ll put up this picture. Thank you, Mary Horgan for all the pleasure it has given so many old girls.

Noreen Holly can name them all.

Noreen wrote to us from the U.S.A.

…I left Listowel in 1986 but it never left me.

I listen to all of the matches on Radio Kerry.  I was still home for most of the Kerry Ladies Glory Days. I remember Annette O’Connor, Matilda Mc Donagh and Nora O’Donoghue from O’Connell’s Avenue won All-Ireland medals with the Kerry Ladies before I left. I hope that the ladies do the job tomorrow. I will be listening with a heart bursting with pride and passion and will wear the Kerry jersey. Radio Kerry is my Sunday treat!

The photo that Muireann contributed names to was my class in primary school, all of whom I remember.  I am almost sure that it was Third Class which would make it 1970. I remember all of our teachers too! – Sr. Consolata, Babies Class, Sr. Clare High Infants, Sr. Bernadette First Class, Sr. Pierre, Second Class, Sr. Therese Third Class which Mrs. Enright took over at some stage during the year, Sr. Ronan, Sr. Kieran Fifth Class, Sr. Carmel Sixth Class that Grace O’Sullivan took over during the year. They were great days and I  have great memories of being in this class. I met up with Ann Lynch and Gerardine O’Connor in May. Gerardine flew in from England to visit Ann in New York and they came out to my place.  We hadn’t seen each other in donkey’s years but were great buddies while at school. we reminisced about school as if were back in that big two-story building on Convent Street with windows that were always getting stuck!

I am a principal of a primary school in Madison, New Jersey and I always tell the children that the best memories are made in primary school. I know that mine were!

Here goes with the names in the photo:

Back Row left to right.

Norma Doyle, Kate Kennelly, Joan Dore, Alice Dennehy, Avril O’Driscoll, Me Fein Noreen Holly, Noreen Canavan, Helen Daly, Mairead Hourigan, Dana Mulvihill, Christina O’Driscoll,  Mary Lynch, Muireann Moloney, Ann Gammell

Middle Row Left to Right

Caroline Barrett, Marie O’Halloran,  Margaret Faulkner, Eleanor Costello, Ann Kennelly, Mary Daly, Eleanor Brown, Margaret Stack,  Ann Lynch, Annette O’Gorman, Mary Dillon, Phyllis O’Mahoney

Front Row Left to Right

Kathleen Kelliher, Mary Cantillon, Anne Marie O’Donoghue, Gerardine O’Connor, Marie Greaney, Helen Heaphy, Eilish O’Neill, Breda O’Neill, Nell O’Sullivan, Audrey Sheehy, Margaret mc Donagh, Pat Mulligan, Joan Kelliher, Mary Heaphy

Thank you Sr. Noreen. If anyone would like to write to Sr. Noreen I have an email address and a land address. I won’t be putting them on here but if you contact me I’ll put you in touch.


A Fact

A rat can last longer without water than a camel can.


In Kanturk, Cork and Listowel

An image for today, August 15 2023 , feast of The Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven. Photo taken in Teampall Bán in August 2023


Kanturk Arts Festival

This is the scene in the O’Brien Street Park in Kanturk in summer 2023

This is a lovely way to spend a bit of time. I photographed some of the poems for you so I’ll be sharing them here now for a while.


End of an Era

Last week I was at two funerals. Both deceased were nuns. Slowly I am witnessing the end of a way of life I thought would continue forever.

Sr. Mary Salmon was the sister of Listowel’s Michael. Her life was one of service to the communities in which she lived. She was a member of a very small order of sisters, The Little Sisters of the Assumption. They live among the people they serve and give witness to God’s love in a practical way.

Sr. Mary was a nurse and though a succession of roles, eventually a director of home care services in the north of Cork city. She had many friends in the neighbourhood and it was lovely to meet her friends from the rosary group she set up 40 years ago and her more recent friends from the active retired group all come to celebrate her life at her funeral mass.

Sr. Mary was active right up to her final few days. She loved her family, her community and her beloved Mayo. May she rest in peace.

Sr. Benedict O’Connor was my colleague in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel.

She passed away after a long life of service to education in Kerry and in the U.S. Sr. Benedict loved books, she loved reading and encouraging others to read. She kept abreast of what was happening in the world by reading the newspaper and she loved to do the crossword.

Many Pres. past pupils will remember her in the school library, where she was in her element. She loved to encourage girls to read the classics and she encouraged many a reluctant reader to take up a book .

In her final years she lived in a silent world, being profoundly deaf. She still attended mass in St. John’s nearby to where she lived in Pres. Tralee and she lived as full a life as she could. She accepted her cross and was resigned to death when it came suddenly at the end.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam uasal.


An Old Ad.

( shared by Liam OHainnín on Facebook)

Listowel’s first department store?


Just a Thought

My reflections which were broadcast last week on Radio Kerry are here;

Just a Thought


A (Mad) Fact

In the 19th century madness was an occupational hazard of hatmakers. Hence the phrase “as mad as a hatter”.

Mercury was an ingredient in the solution that was used to treat the felt that was used in the making of hats. Mercury poisoning attacked the central nervous system causing trembling, irrationality and confusion. People just thought that all hatters were mad.


Agricultural Show in 1953 and other old stuff

June 29 1953

Margaret Ward gave me this photo from 1953. The occasion is the annual agricultural show and the place is the sports field. If you recognize yourself or your family, do tell us. The two girls in the middle of the picture with big bows in their hair and eating ice creams are daughters of the local garda, Barney Scanlon. Mrs. O’Flaherty, formerly Walshe is there and so is Gene Moriarty. Mrs Kennelly and Ned Browne are in the photo as well.


Kanturk Arts Festival 2015

They had a great arts festival in my home town in the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. I took part in a  photographic event. We went on a little tour of the town snapping away. Then we compared our snaps and shared them with the group. The Mallow Camera Club facilitated it all. We had a reading of some hilarious one act plays. Hazel Gaynor gave a great author reading and talk and I’m told that the poetry slam was brilliant but I had left by then. It’s a lovely event. I’d advise local people to take a trip there next year. It’s only down the road.

During the arts festival a local man displayed his old record collection in a shop window. Do you remember these?


No Mail Today

I took this photo of a deserted mail box in a wall beside the castle in Kanturk. I think it used to be an An Post postbox but its an unusual one.


 Reminder; Daffodil Day 2015, March 27

(photo; Listowel Daffodil Day)

Cashen sunrise and preparing for St. Patrick’s Day

Sunrise at the Cashen, March 2015

(photo: Mike Enright)


More Green Shoots

Refurbishment going on here too


Getting Set for St. Patricks’ Day

If you need a hat in the national colours, drop in to Craftshop na Méar .

Easter chicks and daffodils, it must be spring.

Affordable ceramics and signs proclaiming your love for Listowel make lovely gifts for those visitors coming home for the national holiday.


Counting our blessings

Fr. Pat Moore as he faces into cancer treatment is supported by the love and good wishes of his many friends.  In his blog, he shares this poem by Moya Canon. It is called Introductions.

Some of what we love we stumble upon

A purse of gold thrown on the road

A poem, a friend, a great song.

And more discloses itself to us- 

A well among green hazels,

A nut thicket-

When we are worn out searching for something quite different.

And more comes to us,

Carried as carefully as a bright

Cup of water,

As new bread.’


Great Idea for next weekend

I’m going to  Kanturk Arts Festival 2015 next weekend. It promises to be another great event for this very hard working committee.

Most of their events are free.

I’m reading a great novel by Hazel Gaynor called A Memory of Violets. Hazel is the invited author at the Kanturk festival. I’m hoping she will tell us all about the research she did for this book. She is an expert on child flower sellers in Victorian London and the great philanthropist who rescued them and built a home for them.

There is also yoga, an animation class, a photography workshop and a poetry slam.

Old Listowel photos, the Oscars, a Listowel Connection and sport in Tralee

Listowel in Bygone Days from Denis Carroll’s photos

At Convent Cross

The Dandy Lodge in its original location in Bridge Road

The foundation for the Community Centre being dug.


A Successful young man with a (very tenuous) Listowel Connection

This young man is Will Collins of Kanturk.  He is in the news because he wrote the script for the Oscar nominated film, The Song of the Sea.

Now the Listowel connection; Will is the son of my old Kanturk neighbours, Peggy and Willie Collins.

People my age and older will remember Bill and Pat Kearney of this parish. Bill was very involved with the Listowel Drama Group. After Bill’s death, Pat lived on in Listowel on her own. One evening she was driving home from Cork when she got a puncture. In the days before mobile phones, the done thing in this instance was to call to the nearest house. Pat did. This house was the home of Willie and Peggy Collins, my lovely neighbours. Being the kind people they are, they brought her in and gave her a cup of tea and some of Peggy’s legendary delicious baking. They changed her wheel and ascertained that it would have to stay in Kanturk overnight for repair. Peggy and Willie would not hear of Pat driving home alone with no spare wheel so they drove to Listowel with her. Pat never forgot their extraordinary kindness to her and she mentioned it often to me. There would be none more delighted than Pat Kearney to hear  that the son of her Kanturk friends is now a famous scriptwriter and if she has any influence above, that Oscar is in the bag for The Cartoon Saloon gang.

This photograph of Will with his family was taken (not by me) at Kanturk Arts Festival two years ago. Peggy and Willie Senior are on the right.

I saw the film, in French, during my recent visit to Ciboure. It is a lovely film suitable for all the family. I laughed and cried and was charmed by the story. I won’t spoil it for you by telling you the story but, believe me, it’s a good one.


A Proposal to bring joy to the hearts of many of our diaspora

A report recently in the Irish Times outlined a proposal that was presented to Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for the Diaspora. Jimmy is looking into it before bringing it to government as part of a package that includes voting rights for emigrants in presidential elections.

It is proposed that American Irish young people between the ages of 18 and 26 be offered an opportunity to spend 10 days in Ireland immersing themselves in the culture, language,  history and modern day living conditions of the country to which they claim ancestral allegiance. The trip, which would be free to the participants, would be paid for out of a combination of philantropy and government funding. 

A similar “Birthright” scheme is in place for young adults of the Jewish faith. This scheme is in place for 15 years and is very successful, creating a strong bond between the diaspora and the homeland.


All is forgiven

I took this unlikely picture fro Joe Brolly’s Twitter feed. He is pictured here among some of the greats of Kerry sport at a recent fundraiser for Austin Stack’s GAA club.

He was brought onto the stage for a “surprise” confrontation with Kieran Donaghy. The whole country knows that Joe, in his role as a football pundit, had famously written off Donaghy in a season when he went on to win an All Ireland and an All Star.

When asked if he would apologise for the article, Brolly laughed it off saying that it was, in fact, a motivational exercise and it worked. “Didn’t I win him an All Star?” says he. No one could argue with that.

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