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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St John’s and George Sandes

In Marley Park; Eamon ÓMurchú


Listowel 2005

From “Snow Scorpion” on

Upper Church Street
The Square
Upper Church Street
William Street


A Songwriters and his Muse

Photo; Listowel Folk Group

John Kinsella is a local singer songwriter of great talent.

Sr. Eileen Leen is a singer, dancer and ever cheerful and upbeat young lady.

John wrote The Jolly Nun Hornpipe with Eileen in mind. I’m looking forward to hearing it.


Windows in St. John’s

One of the highlights of our walking tour with Tom Dillon on Saturday August 13 2022 was our guided tour of St. John’s.

One of St. John’s more notorious parishioners was the most hated man in Kerry in the late nineteenth century, George Sandes. He died in 1895. During his lifetime his misdeeds earned him the title of Terror of North Kerry.

Above is the triple window, George Sandes erected in 1888 to his son, George Jr. who died in March 1887.

The choice of three women depicting, Faith, Hope and Charity as a subject for a Sandes memorial was ironically inappropriate. George senior terrorised the womenfolk of his tenant families. The story goes that he insisted that tenants send their wives to pay the rent and he expected more than the rent from them.

Once he was taken to court by a Mary Quinlan, one of the many women he raped. She was demanding child maintenance. Mary was wise enough to bring her then 7 year old son to court. Such was the likeness to his father that the judge immediately ruled in her favour.

George’s legitimate son, also George, in whose memory he donated the window was very different to his father and was well liked and mourned.

The windows feature an entwined GS and the motto, The Lord Giveth and the Lord taketh away.”


In Kildare

This massive grindstone stands in Kildare Town Square. I can’t imagine what needed such a huge edging tool.


A Fact

In an authentic Chinese meal the last course is always soup because it allows the roast duck entrée to swim towards digestion.


Just a thought

My reflections, which were broadcast last week on Radio Kerry’s Just a Thought slot are at the link below.

Just a Thought


Revival is Revived

In a Field in Kanturk

The lovely Woody


They’ll be dancing in the streets

The Square Listowel is the place to be this weekend.

Important notice for mass goers…


Athea in the 1950s

Not that much has changed.


Jostle stones at an old Gate

In Kildare Town I saw this old sign on a gate. the penalty for leaving this gate open sounded very steep at forty shillings

On either side of the gate were these jostle stones.

Jostle stones were concrete or stone bollards whose purpose was to protect the walls from damage by nudging the carriage wheels into the centre of the path.


A Fact

In 1492 Pope Innocent VIII drank the blood of three young donors, thinking it would prevent ageing. He died shortly after.


The White Abbey

This lovely image of Presentation Convent, Listowel was sent to us by Margaret McGrath who has fond memories of visiting her aunt, Sr. Gemma, who lived there.


White Abbey, Kildare

Kildare town has a white abbey and a black abbey. The black abbey is now in ruins but the white abbey is the friary church of the Carmelites and is a busy parish church. The Carmelites came first to Kildare in 1290. They have suffered many vicissitudes since, with their various churches over the years burnt and pillaged. The most recent edifice was built in 1885 in the Gothic style.

It was there our lovely little Aoife was christened.

Everywhere I looked, the altar, the walls, there were St. Brigid’s crosses, a reminder that I was in the land of the matron saint of Ireland in her special month, February.

This church is famous for it’s stained glass rose windows.

This particularly elaborate window, partly obscured by the organ, features the prophet, Elijah, the spiritual founder of the Carmelites. He is surrounded by images of other saints.

The church features many statues and grottos.

It appeared to me to be a place of old fashioned devotion. It is obviously very dear to the people who worship there, beautifully maintained and decorated. It is a haven of peace and tranquility in a hectic world. I will definitely return there when I am next in Kildare.


Couldn’t resist sharing this one

“Look Grandad, we’re on my Nana’s blog.”



I feel sad to see this important premises in the corner of The Square has ceased trading.


Troubled Times

From the Irish independent of March 1921 and shared online by “Historical Tralee and Surrounding areas”

Historians have provided context. The Crown Forces had wind of the word that an ambush was being planned near Rathmore. This engagement eventually took place at Clonbanin.



Gap of Dunloe by Chris Grayson


Coming of the Telephone

Dave O’Sullivan has been doing a bit of research for us on the coming of the telephone to Listowel. We were remembering last week when local telephone numbers were in single digits.

From Dave;

Hi Mary,

Your refence to the phone system tweaked a bit of curiosity as to when the telephone might have arrived in Listowel. It appears from the attached to have been around 1915. Although by 1925 there were only 8 subscribers. Also a keen resistance from the town commissioners to having to pay for the apparatus !

Best wishes


I’ve snipped the relevant column from The Liberator. Listowel seems to have been a bit behind the times on this one.


Kildare on The Curragh

It is always heartwarming to drive through the Curragh on my way to my Kildare family. Everywhere there are sheep and lambs asserting their right of way and meandering to and fro. The other animal associated with The Curragh is, of course, the racehorse and horsey references and themes are everywhere.

When I stayed in Kildare town recently, I stayed at Kildare House Hotel.

Will you look at the inventive door openers?

In the hotel there are lots of pictures and caricatures of horsey people. This is Nina Carberry who is in the news nowadays more for her dancing skills that her horse riding.


From the Mailbag

Ms. Cogan,

Just a note to thank you for your work on the Listowel Blog.  My great grandmother, Mary McElligott (daughter of Maurice McElligott and Margaret Cashel) was born in Listowel in 1864 and immigrated to the States in 1885 as a single young woman. She was smart and determined and became a business woman running several of her own businesses along with purchasing a farm. She held a love in her heart for Listowel and County Kerry until the day she passed away.  I appreciate all that you share in your blog as it provides a glimpse into the land she loved and our ancestral home.  I hope I will get to visit in the not too distant future and enjoy it in person.

Best regards,




Will we ever learn? On Saturday February 12 2022 I spotted these two bicycles “parked” against the wall and windows of the community centre. Nearby the beautiful new bike stand stood empty.


Remembering Anita

Gap off Dunloe by Chris Grayson


A Schoolday Memory

As you know I’ve been revisited my old school yearbooks, trawling for “content”. I suppose it was inevitable that some of the memories would be sad ones. So many colleagues gone from us.

Then in this old treasure I came across a poem that took me back to a Tuesday I will never forget.

That Tuesday, after the long weekend, Anita should have been sitting at the back beside her friend Gretta in my first class.

We were all in shock. It was my first experience of the death of a pupil and for many of her classmates it was their first experience of death. The Leaving Cert. didn’t seem to matter so much anymore.

Anita was fun loving and artistic. She had so much to live for.

Whenever I hear Garth Brooks’ The Dance I am back in the church in Lixnaw on a bright May day when no one felt like dancing.

May Anita rest in peace.


Kildare in February

February is St. Bridget’s month. What better place to be than Kildare , the home of Bridget.

This is the statue of Brigid in Kildare Town Square.

This is the lovely Heritage Centre where a nice lady told me all about the town and its history. This is also the place to buy a few souvenirs and find out what’s on.


Where are the other Twenty Three?

Sing a song of sixpence…last week I snapped this solitary black bird at Mike the Pies.

From the internet some crow facts;


For the Chop

I heard on Radio Kerry that some of the trees in Childers Park will have to be cut down or relocated to accommodate the Greenway and for health and safety reasons. I walked that way on Saturday but I couldn’t see any sign of which trees have to go. The work starts today, Monday February 14 2022. I’ll keep you posted.

While I was in the park I was delighted to see a rugby game in full spate. Looks like the old normal is back.


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