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: Kissane Gathering Page 1 of 2

Fr. Michael Kissane, Muckross in summer 2017 and Elizabeth Marince, our Rose

St. John’s spire at eventide


We Owe a lot to Family Historians

At the recent Kissane clan gathering, their family historian, Eily Walsh, marked all of the family graves and tombs for the visiting diaspora to visit. Headstones tell us so much about our ancestors. For many of our scattered Irish there are no grave markers to help. Yes, their families are buried here but they were too poor or too sick to erect a memorial. In some cases they were the last of the line remaining on Irish soil. I have witnessed first hand the joy some returning families experience in discovering a plot where their Irish ancestors lived, worked or are buried.

Fr. Michael Kissane of Kilcox

The Kissanes number many influential academics in their gallery of famous ancestors. This man caught my eye at their recent exhibition of photographs.

This man, Fr. Micheál OCiosáin worked as a priest in the parish of Ballyferriter. While there he published a collection of essays about life in Ballyferriter.

He also wrote a history of his native place, Cnoc an Fhómhair in 1988.

The renowned Irish scholar, Páraig Tyers, published a book of photographs of Ballyferriter and Cork Dhuibhne in honour of Fr. Ó Ciosáin in 1991.


Muckross in Summer

Recently I took a trip to Killarney and I visited Muckross house and Gardens, always a pleasure.

Muckross famous herd of Kerry cows.

The walled garden


She Didn’t Win But……..

Elizabeth Marince may not have won the judges vote but she won the hearts of everyone in Kerry with her sincere and entertaining interview with Daithí on stage in the Dome. Her singing of Up the Kingdom was the talking point of the night on social media. Did you spot her mother and sister singing along in the audience?  Elizabeth told me that that song was an anthem in her grandfather’s house and everyone in the family knew all the words and sang it always at family gatherings.

Someone suggested on Facebook that she stay and sing it it again on RTE’s Up for the Match. I think there is a small obstacle of next Saturday’s match to be got over first

Blasket Donkeys and the Current State of Presentation Convent, Listowel and Kissane Clan Gathering

Gymnasts in The Square


Athea Mural Update

Do you remember I told you that the figure that the artist, Jim Dunn had added to his mural was a well known local man. The stethoscope protruding from his pocket now gives the game away, it’s Athea’s very popular  G.P.


Blasket Donkeys

Chris Grayson took these interesting photos of Blasket Island Donkeys.

The very hairy one looks like a different breed. Or is he just very old and no longer losing his winter coat?

I read somewhere that the island people used to only keep female donkeys. If they had both sexes the males would get frisky and might fall off the cliffs and into the sea so they had to bring the mares to the mainland for the mating pourposes.


Snapped in Listowel

I ran into Tralee people, Seán Lyons and his lovely daughter. Maeve, recently.


Update on the Convent

Whenever I’m in the vicinity, I take the opportunity to document the slow decline into ruin of Presentation Convent, Listowel.

I took these photos on August 1 2017. They speak for themselves.


Kissane Clan Gathering

You’ve seen the photos, now help them celebrate family.

The planned gathering will open with a gala banquet on Friday evening August 18 2017.

Tickets (€50) are available at Listowel Arms Hotel reception. All Kissane of Kilcox descendants won’t want to miss this one. Anyone with an interest in this family is welcome to the banquet.

On Saturday August 19th, proceedings move to The Thatch in Lisselton for the launch of “Descendants of John the Elder”, a hard back book including over 90 photographs. This promises to be a great night of family history and reminiscence. The launch will be followed by a night of music and craic with family, friends and neighbours.

A highlight of the weekend will be the Walk and Talk with Eily Walsh. I’m reproducing here Eily’s guidelines for those Kissanes planning to attend the walk. This is one for the descendants.

On Saturday Afternoon
19th at 3.p.m. and, again on Sunday Morning 20th August  at 12.30 p.m. The Thatch will also be the
Gathering Point for the “Walk and Talk” to be held in Kilcox throughout the
weekend. (Weather permitting) We expect tickets for these walks to sell very
quickly. There are only 25 places MAX for each walk.  Your name will be held on a Booking list and
your ticket may be collected at the Thatch Bar a half hour before the walk
starts. The Thatch will be the Gathering Point for the Walk, and we will drive
in convoy to the two adjoining Kilcox Farms (Scralom Entrance) where the “Walk
and Talk” will start. There will be ample parking for up to 20 cars. Tickets
are 10 euro each. The walk is very easy and will last approx. 75 minutes.
Suitable footwear or flat shoes are advisable. Please bring a jacket as you
will be on exposed ground  – whether the
sun shines or not. The walk itself is flat and easy, and suitable for all ages
with only a slight incline at the end. There are wonderful panoramic views so be
sure and bring the camera! 

Sunday August 20th will see the gathered Kissane clan in Coolahan’s of Tarbert at 2.30p.m. for an afternoon of music and “sheer joy”.

Family gathered for the gathering weekend will be anxious to visit the Kissane tombs in Killeheny. The two tombs will be marked with an identifying marker for the weekend. Ballybunion church will also be open to visitors.


We are Family

The Kissane family of Kilcox in North Kerry has spread far and wide. There are branches of the family in the U.S. and Australia and representatives of all of this scattered clan are coming home to Kerry this weekend for this great celebration of family.

I was privileged to be in St. John’s on Saturday Aug 11 2017 as the exhibition of family photographs to accompany the Kissane Gathering was launched by Eamon OMurchú. Eamon is justly proud of his Kissane ancestors. As a photographer, he knows the importance of family photographs and their role in family history. If you are in Listowel, call in to St. John’s to see this important collection of Kissane family history and memorabilia.

The collection was curated by Eily Walsh (here on left of Eamon ÓMurchú). Eily has invested hours and hours of time and effort into collecting the photographs and researching the family history. This weekend gathering and book are all due to her tireless work.

Keelin Kissane of Kerry and Dublin with Barbara Kissane of New York. The ladies are standing in front of a photograph of Barbara’s parents on their wedding day.

Barbara’s dad, Pats Kissane, was the first president of the New York Kerryman’s Association. Keelin is the current chairperson of the Dublin Kerryman’s Association.


Our Very Own Disney Princess

I met this lovely Rose in The Kingdom Greyhound Stadium last night. She is Elizabeth Marine, the Florida Rose.

She is mighty proud of her Listowel connection. She feels that her presence here is in honour of her grandfather, Tom O’Donoghue of Tannavalla who left Listowel for Pittsburg with a heart full of hope and a head full of dreams. He made a success of his life in the land of the brave and the home of the free. He never forgot his Kerry roots and he steeped his family in Irish traditions and Irish culture. He loved Irish music, song and dance and above all he was passionate about Gaelic football. He, himself was a handy footballer with the Six Crosses team.

Elizabeth, his granddaughter, is a singer and dancer. I don’t know about the Gaelic football. Her cousins look after that tradition. She is in Tralee with her mother and her sister. Her dad had to stay behind in Florida to look after her severely disabled brother.

If you run into The Roses this week, be sure to single out the Florida Rose. Tell her you are from Listowel and she will be delighted to meet you.

Robert O’Shea’s New York, Listowel Castle Visit and Kissane Photo Exhibition

Visitors in Listowel Town Square in Summer 2017


At Listowel Castle with my granddaughters

If you have children to entertain, a tour of the castle is the ideal way to pass away an afternoon. The tour is free. The tour guides are excellent. This lovely lady gave us the ladybird version of the tour and patiently answered all the little ones’ questions.

One of the benefits of the tour is the the great vantage point for overlooking the town.  From the castle steps and from the windows you can see over the countryside, the river Feale and the town Square.  You’d never know who you’d see.

Another benefit is that you get to meet some lovely fellow tourists.


More of Robert O’Shea’s Photos

Robert O’Shea, formerly of Charles Street and now of New York sent us these. The first ones were taken on the roof of the building where Robert works and the others are of The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage.


The Kissanes are gathering

Eily Walshe is an avid family historian. Following on from her comprehensive history of her own Kissane line in photos and story, she has now traced her cousins’ Kissane line and she has put together a book and a comprehensive photo gallery and timeline.

All of this will be revealed this  evening in St. John’s

This is what Eily says :

An August Treat at St. John’s Theatre!

All photos are in black and white and mostly pre 1960. Some have been taken before 1900 and are of normal family events and celebrations. They say “a picture tells a thousand words”!! Well we have 92 pictures in total on view from 11th August for a full three weeks!

Kissanes of Kilcox, The Harp and Lion then and Now and Busking for M.S. in the small square

Family History Lesson from the Kissane Clan Gathering

Every family should have a family historian. Few families are as lucky as The Kissanes of Kilcox for they have their very own amateur genealogist in Eily Kissane Walsh. Not only is Eily a thorough researcher and a dogged chaser after family lore, but she is unstintingly generous with the information she has gathered and she shares it with her clan in a entertaining and informative way.

Last year she mounted an exhibition of family photographs telling the story of her ancestor, Richard Kissane and his descendants. This year she took the descendants of brothers John and Richard Kissane on a walking tour of the old homestead, pictured above in Bridget O’Connor’s photo.

Above is a small section of the participants in the Walk and Talk with Eily Walsh in the centre.

Here is an account of that day from one of the participants;

On Friday August 5 2016 I did the  ‘Walk & Talk tour of the Kilcox Kissane farms with Eily Walsh. It was amazing!

From the top of Scralom hill we were looking right down onto the farms of Richard, The Elder, and that of his brother John, The Elder. I was thrilled to be walking  in the footsteps of my Kissane ancestors.

Eily covered a huge span of history from the late 1700’s to modern times. She was so informative! She was able to tell us exactly who our ancestors were & what they did for a living. Her niece Meghan Kissane, Dick’s daughter, had a map of the farms printed out for each of us, naming each field by the name it was known back in the day. 

No stone was left unturned. 

Eily spoke at 5 viewing points along the way. The sights were breathtaking.  We could see 3 counties, Kerry, Clare & Galway. We were also entertained by Meghan who recited an aptly chosen poem, ‘The Boglands’ by William A Byrne. 

The purple heather is the cloak
God gave the bogland brown,
But man has made a pall o’ smoke
To hide the distant town.
Our lights are long and rich in change,         5
Unscreened by hill or spire,
From primrose dawn, a lovely range,
To sunset’s farewell fire.
No morning bells have we to wake
Us with their monotone,         10
But windy calls of quail and crake
Unto our beds are blown.
The lark’s wild flourish summons us
To work before the sun;
At eve the heart’s lone Angelus         15
Blesses our labour done.
We cleave the sodden, shelving bank
In sunshine and in rain,
That men by winter-fires may thank
The wielders of the slane.         20
Our lot is laid beyond the crime
That sullies idle hands;
So hear we through the silent time
God speaking sweet commands.


 Eithne, Eily’s daughter, sang in Irish ‘Táimse im’ chodhladh is ná dúistear mé’, i.e.  ‘I’m asleep and don’t waken me’. 

Tráthnóinín déanach i gcéin cois leasa dom
Táimse im’ chodhladh is ná dúistear mé
Sea dhearcas lem’ thaobh an spéirbhean mhaisiúil
Táimse im’ chodhladh is ná dúistear mé
Ba bhachallach péarlach dréimreach barrachas
A carnfholt craobhach ag titim léi ar bhaillechrith
‘S í ag caitheamh na saighead trím thaobh do chealg mé
Táimse im’ chodhladh is ná dúistear mé


This is a lovely Aisling poem. The poet is asleep and he wants to continue dreaming forever because in his dream he sees Ireland as a beautiful woman who will free Ireland from the yoke of English rule.

 Eithne sang this plaintive song as she stood in front of the ‘Cillín’. This is an ancient burial ground on the farm. It is one of 400 in Kerry which date back to  pre-Christianity. The Cillín is a breathtaking sacred place surrounded by trees and framed by the lovely river Shannon. Cillíns were ancient pagan burial places which were used in Christian times as the resting place for unbaptised babies, people who died by suicide, or anyone who was deemed to have died ‘in sin”. 

You can see the cillín beautifully preserved within the circle of trees.

The whole experience was very moving.  

To top it off we had a picnic in the lands of our ancestors! It was absolutely perfect.

Eily plans another gathering in 2017. It will, no doubt, be equally informative and entertaining. 

Thank you, Eily and everyone who helped make this year’s event such a success.


A Work in Progress

The same shopfront in August 2016

This painter obviously relishes a challenge. He is starting with a clean slate. He has hours of painstaking work ahead to repaint this iconic Listowel shopfront.


Busking for M.S.

The weather delayed fundraiser took place in town on Friday August 12 2016

Junior Griffin was making his contribution from his car.

They could be sisters! Barbara Walsh was out collecting for the local branch of the M.S. Society when she ran into her mother.


Then and Now

An American wedding, Lyre, Ballybunion and Kissane Photo Gallery opening

“Ireland unfree shall never be at Peace”

This photo from the National Library is of Padraig Pearse delivering his famous speech at the graveside of O’Donovan Rossa, one hundred years ago.


Anne MacNamee of Paper Hearts took this lovely wedding photo of an American bride who returned recently to the hometown of her ancestors to get married. The wedding in St. Mary’s Listowel and The Listowel Arms was featured in this article in  The Irish Independent

Wedding of Corey and Shannon


A Party in Lyre

The good people ofLyreacrompane had a party and they put the photos up on Facebook. I’ve copied a few for you and I’ve printed here the reflection, Fr. Pat Moore, their parish priest sent to them. As Fr. Pat continues his recovery, his parishioners are never too far from his thoughts. He shares with them the valuable life lessons he is learning, lessons that are deeply personal but have a universal application.

His flock have got to know their shepherd a lot better in these past few months.


I now realise I have felt it all my life. Again and again I find myself going down to the shoreline, negotiating the last few steps where the road meets the strand. We always called it the pinch. Breathe in the air, feel a bit of warmth in it. I turn west along the strand, by Dexter’s Rock where the Englishman who deserted his army, read his newspaper. The soft carpet of sand beneath me, ground stone taken from cliff. Nothing is permanent, rock and land to sand and the rock rises out of the sea. Listen, listen to the conversation between the sea and the shoreline – the taking and the giving. It is now enforcing the lack of permanence for things are always changing. At a deep level there is nothing to hold onto.

Yet the voice of the sea speaks to the soul. I am walking in the shadow of faith. Believing,I now realise is not seeing. Where is my frantic activity bringing me, bringing us, in our world? How do I keep my zest for life? What helps me value building family and community? What I hold onto brings me within, through the heart to grasp something to hold onto, something that lasts. I have sensed it as an invitation and the response I have hitched my wagon to is in and through Christ. The zest can’t come from myself, it comes from beyond.

Is it God that gives me the impulse to want God and that sense of permanence I seek?


A Few more Listowel ads from 1960

Both of these businesses are still going strong today.


Rough Summer in Ballybunion

The sea is cold and rough, the beach is deserted. I have pity for the poor people who depend for their income on the tourist season in seaside towns in Ireland this summer.


Kissane Photo Gallery Launch

Eamon, Eily and John at the opening of the Kissane Photo  Archive in The Horseshoe Gallery on Sunday August 2 2015.

The archive is an extraordinary collection of photographs of three Kissane families, of Lacca, Kilcox and Kilgarvan, all descended from the same ancestor. Eily Walsh has done trojan work in researching the family tree. Eamon OMurchú, whose mother was a Kissane, did the work on the photographs, editing, mounting and captioning them. They have done their families a huge service.

Jimmy Deehihan performed  the launch. He was mightily impressed with the exhibition and he will be using it as an example of what can be done. This family has many high achievers in its midst and the younger generation of high flyers was well represented on Sunday evening.

The gallery is open to the public. Do drop in while the Kissane photos are in situ. You will be amazed at the beautiful black and white photos and the extraordinary story they tell.

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