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: Liam Downes

Thank you Teachers, A Lament a 1965 Gleann football team and staying in touch with her Listowel roots

 Photo credit; Liam Downes


Thank You Teachers

These notes were recently left on the railings at Presentation Primary School, Listowel


The Last (Lamp) Post

By Mattie Lennon

At dusk and at morn, long before we were born

His bark had re-echoed on the old barrack square.
His life’s breath departed and grieving now started
We walked slowly behind him, emotions laid bare.

With moves synergetic and memories genetic,
In sorrow united by our hero’s demise,
Distraught, but none bolder, we stood shoulder to shoulder,
From a long line of soldiers, our gait was precise.

Then one of our party, all bouncing and hearty,
Made some crack or other within the cortege.
Through stiff-upper-lip training and morale restraining
He evaded chastisement, which befitted our age.

There was slight improvising; what the bugler was rising
Was not made of silver or bright gleaming brass.
‘Though sorrow abounded, no volleys resounded
As the pallbearers laid his corpse down on the grass.

In the sombre enclosure, we retained our composure,
Then adjourned to environs more private and lax,
Where concerns ballistic and matters more mystic
Were debated ’till fiction got mixed up with facts.

Then an offer from Alice, without favour or malice,
Meant a hasty collection was arranged on the spot.
She conveyed by suggestion, that without any question,
For proceeds sufficient, she’d show all she’d got.

No libidos developed, in mystery enveloped,
At our stripper, quite curveless, we gazed all agog.
But it still seemed like Heaven; we were all aged eleven


An Gleann Football Team

Here is Noel Roche’s photo again. Now between Noel and Neil Brosnan we have most of the names. The year is 1965

Players back row from left   D OConnor, Mickey Barry,[rip]  Paudie Carey[rip]  Jasper O Driscoll.[rip] Noel Roche, ? O Connor, Jimmy Woulfe, Thomas McDonagh.

middle row from left PJ Browne, Kevin Woulfe, Ned Lyons,[rip], Pat Loughnane, Charlie Nolan, Michael Hannon, ? O Connor

Front from left. Jimmy O Driscoll, Charlie McDonagh and Stephen Downey.


A Note of Appreciation

I know that people appreciate what I do on Listowel Connection because they tell me so all the time.

This happy sad email from Frances Blaikie makes me want to keep on posting  despite the lack of “news”.

Thank you Mary!  When I open my emails and see the Listowel Connection I smile immediately.  My Dad was born in Listowel in 1907 and came to the US in the early 1920’s.  My link to your wonderful town is through him and so many of the O’Brien transplants.  I may not be able to visit Ireland again (age) but everyday you open the town up to me. 

I do keep in touch with my cousins in Listowel.  My Uncle died at age 100 two years ago and I truly miss knowing him.  I traveled to Ireland about 8 times in the last forty years and the highlight of my trip was spending time with Uncle David and Aunt Crissie.  Roots go deep and for a ‘yank’ it’s important to know your roots.  My Dad was a true Kerryman.  He always said ‘once a Kerryman always a Kerryman’.  I understand what he meant.

 God bless you.  Frances

Thank you, Frances.

Crows, The Mens’ Shed is Locked Down and a timely story remembered

Photo credit; Liam Downes from Born in West Limerick on Facebook


Everything Looks better in Colour

Look at this great initiative in Athea.

West Limerick Rocks! 

We are delighted to be working with West Limerick Resources on the West Limerick Rocks Project. 

Take a rock, bring it home, wash it and paint it and return the rock to the rock display at the fairy garden adding colour and much-needed joy to Athea. You can also pick a rock from your own garden, decorate it and add it to the display. Remember – movement is limited to 2km from your home! 

Thanks to our local caretaker Margaret Carroll who has agreed to spray varnish the rocks! 

This project is funded by the SICAP programme. The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) 2018-2022 is funded by the Irish Government through the Department of Rural and Community Development and co-funded by the European Social Fund under the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020


Observing Birds

Photographer, Tom Fitzgerald, is finding lots of subjects to photograph without leaving the confines of his own house. He has set up his camera in the garden. He can operate it remotely. He can sit at a distance and wait for the action to happen. Last week he saw these crows descend to gobble up these crumbs that had been left out for smaller birds. He captioned the photo “Loaded Up.”


Lament for Good Times in The Mens’ Shed

We all miss so many things during this crisis. I miss my book club, my knitting group, Writers’ Week meetings and more. But what I really miss is the human interaction, the chat and the banter, the listening and the observing. 

Mattie Lennon speaks for many when he writes of missing The Mens’ Shed.

Our poet with Seamus Hosey at Opening Night Listowel Writers’ Week


By Mattie Lennon.

Were you born since nineteen fifty four?

Then listen to my tale.

Since now I can’t go past the door

It’s worse than being in jail.

The Mens’ Shed  basks in silence now

Dead ashes in the grate.

The powers that be will not allow

Us meet or congregate.

Trips to historic places

Postponed till God  knows when

And absence of the faces

Of jolly Mens- Shed men.

Restrictions with good reason

Our precious lives to save,

But it’s Limbo land this season

No wooden beams we’ll shave.

Sans banter, cakes or mugs o’ tay

The shedders felt marooned

 Spin-doctors soon came into play 

‘Twas simply called “cocooned.”

The sound of saws and lathe no more

No smoke or leaping flames. 

We miss the sawdust on the floor

And elders calling names.

No forty verses now from Jack 

Or the  Micks with Niall and Noel.

No poems or  songs or mighty craic

To elevate the soul.

Poor remedy for culture shocks

Are Zoom and mobile phones.

We’ll have to take our stumbling blocks

And make them stepping stones.


A Thought for the Day

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

I enjoyed this anecdote from Nicholas

Hi, Mary, 

Amazing what an unseen and unknown little ‘bug’ can do! Mighty countries laid low, despite nuclear weapons and ‘star-wars’ capabilities and endless money. And then there are ourselves. When all the mighty are laid low and helpless, we sheepishly turn to God, who, for many, as was said about the fairies, ‘doesn’t exist’ (but He’s there alright!). We can’t even whistle past the grave-yard now. The bug has decreed that we stay locked away at home! 

All the fear and dread generated by the bug reminded me of an incident in my part of South Meath long, long ago. One of our ill-fated rebellion  was in  progress, and a group of peasant warriors was transporting a cache of weapons, ingeniously, in a coffin surrounded by wailing mourners and downcast men. A troop of soldiers, who were used to these stratagems,  halted them and demanded that the coffin be opened for inspection. There was much shuffling, and obvious horror in the faces of the ‘mourners.’  One of the peasant warriors audibly muttered ‘cholera’ – for the benefit of the soldiers, whereupon the latter fled in some disarray- leaving the ‘funeral’ to proceed unhindered.

Whoever coined ‘O Tempora, O Mores’ got it spot on!

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