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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Prince Monolulu

Tim Doody; Mallow Camera Club


A Corner of The Square in 2022

The green area is the designated car parking spaces for electric cars while they are on charge.



Our Lidl store is going to get an upgrade. The shiny new store will be on the site of the old one so we’ll have to do without for a while.

Lidl have purchased the nearby derelict Dowd’s cottage. This will be demolished and that site will become part of the new superstore.


Prince? Monolulu

Alice Walsh shared this great old photo recently on Facebook. It was taken at Raceweek 1961 at the opening of Walsh’s Super Ballroom.

In the centre of the image surrounded by Mick Delahunty band members is a beloved visitor to Listowel Races, an eccentric tipster known as Prince Monolulu.

He wasn’t a prince and his name wasn’t Monolulu and he wasn’t an African chief as he claimed.

In Listowel in the 1950s and 60s a black man was a rare enough sight. A very tall black man dressed like an Ethiopian chief with a monstrous ostrich plume on his head and a lion’s tooth around his neck was bound to attract attention.

He was a regular on racetracks in Britain. When not at the races he was a “Lion tamer, fire eater, street dentist, preacher, tribal chief, boxer, prisoner of war, and entertainer.”

“He was married six times.”

When Spion Kop won the 1920 Derby at odds of 100-6 (about 16-1) Monolulu won a reputed £8,000 (worth around £400,000 in today’s money). 

This was all part of the myth that surrounded this man. But like most “facts’ about this character we have to take everything with a pinch of salt.

Monolulu was American. He came to England and soon discovered that a life as a showman could be quite a good living in the early 20th century.

He plied his trade on racecourses until his death in 1965 on Valentine’s Day. The story goes that he choked on a strawberry cream from a box of Black Magic. Like everything else about him, this too sounds a tad implausible.

On his trips to Listowel he would visit The Island armed with a handful of sealed envelopes. “I got a horse to beat the favourite.,” was his cry. He sold you the tip sealed in an envelope and urged you not to share it so as not to upset the odds.

He must have been successful as he came back year after year. He was part of the colour that was Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing.

Another of Alice Walsh’s photos shows Monolulu on the stage.


Writers’ Week Committee 2012

Listowel Writers’ Week Festival Committee 2012

Doesn’t feel like 10 years.

Catherine Moylan, Simone Langemann, Liz Dunn and Jim Dunn

I took this photo of some of today’s Writers’ Week people at the launch of the Amateur Drama Exhibition in Kerry Writers’ Museum on May 7 2022.


Holiday Snaps

Woulfe’s Bookshop, photo; Éamon ÓMurchú


Lovely Images of Loughshinney

by Éamon ÓMurchú


From an old New Zealand newspaper

New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXIV, Issue 17, 21 August 1896, Page 17

The news of the death of Jeremiah Enright, which took place at Nightcaps on the 14th inst, was received with general regret in this district. The deceased, who was a comparatively young man, was born (writes an occasional correspondent) at Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland, and came to this Colony about twenty years ago. He resided for the last twelve or thirteen years in the Wrey’s Bush district, where he was held in the highest esteem by all who knew him. He complained of a cold about ten days before his death, and, notwithstanding all that medical skill and careful nursing could do, he succumbed to his illness on the 14th of August. His funeral was one of the largest seen in the district. He was buried in the Wrey’s Bush cemetery. The Very Rev. Father Walsh officiated at the grave. 


The Quiet Man

I told you last week that, back in 1951 when electricity was coming to rural Ireland, the village of Cong in Co. Mayo delayed the installation of power so that the village could be used as the location for a film starring John Wayne and Maureen OHara.

It looks like the move paid off. The village has monetised its part in the popular film into a little industry with many tourists calling there.

Éamon ÓMurchú took the photo when he was in that part of the west.


Poetry Town; Poet Laureate

In Ireland the week of Sept 10 to 18 2021 is dedicated to poetry. Our newly appointed Poet laureate, Dairena Ní Chinnéide will be writing and presenting a poem celebrating Listowel and its people.

Look out for lots of poetry related activities.


It’s the Little Things

Earlier this summer I had a little rant at Lidl. One of my bugbears was the difficulty of ever getting a shallow trolley. As a small person I was often in danger of sustaining a serious injury as I nose dived into a deep trolley in an effort to retrieve my shopping.

I also made the complaint to the proper channels, i.e. Lidl.

When I visited today this is the sight that met my delighted eyes.

A whole row of bright new shiny SHALLOW trollies in Lidl Listowel Sept 6 2021.


Covid 19 in Listowel Co. Kerry and a look back to 2016 Ard Churam Opening

A Curlew photographed by Ita Hannon


A Quiet Sunday Morning in Lockdown Listowel,  May 31 2020

An almost empty Lidl carpark

John B. Keane Road

Listowel fire station

Upper William Street

St. Patrick’s Hall

Carmody’s Corner, junction of Charles Street and William Street

William Street


Here a sign, there a sign, everywhere a Covid sign

Main Street

One of our links with the outside world, the humble post box

Just a few cars in The Square

Entrance to Erskine Childers’ Park


Photos I took at the Official Opening of Ard Churam in 2016


Made in Stag Cutlery, Listowel

Vincent Doyle found this old one among his souvenirs


A Word of Caution in Rhyme

An easing of covid restrictions,

Has some people having conniptions,

They fear a new wave,

From being too brave,

Let’s hope that’s just wrongful predictions. 

Our poet, Róisín Meaney, has just published her 17th novel, The Restaurant. If you have enjoyed her little rhymes, you may enjoy her book. She deserves our support in thanks for keeping our spirits up in lockdown.

Street Names. Tae Lane, Women in Media and Construction at Greenville

Lidl on the John B. Keane Road, Listowel


When is Main Street not a street?

Answer; When it’s Listowel’s Main Street. Main Street is in fact a square. Listowel people recognise this and they call this part of town The Small Square.

Unlike other Listowel streets, Main Street is translated accurately into Irish as Príomh Sráid. But that is not how some of the businesses translate it.


The Tidy Town adjudicator loved this street name. Local people call it Tay Lane. No one says tea as in the beverage. The boutique goes for a combination of the Irish and English. It’s Taelane


Women in Media 2019

Will you look at me in exalted company, seated between two of the top women in Irish media, all three of us with a Kerry connection. Not really my new best friends but I was honoured to rub shoulders with them.

This years Women in Media conference had the usual line up of big names and in a trend I have noticed in recent years the events that draw the crowds are the political discussions featuring over- the -hill politicians.

Because it was such a huge weekend in this corner of the world I would have had to have bilocation or even triplication to attend all the events I wanted to see. I didn’t get to attend as much of this festival as I would have liked.

Storm Hannah put paid to Friday night’s opening event for me.  I would have loved to have heard Claudia Carroll, Sinead Moriarty and Felicity Hayes McCoy.

I made Saturday morning’s panel discussion ably chaired by Katie Hannon. The topic was the future of journalism and the panel had some really influential journalists, some young and some more experienced ladies. If you haven’t heard of Kinzen, look it up because it sounds like the future of journalism to me, quality trusted content tailored to you. You’ll have to pay for it but if you paid for print newspapers, then you will be surely willing to pay for news from a trusted source.

Newspapers as we know them are on the way out. Journalists are finding themselves behind a desk, downgraded to content providers. All of the panel were agreed that as long as there are stories to tell, there will be a need for people to tell them. The question is not will journalism survive but in what form.

Four of the top journalists on the panel. Dearbhail MacDonald, Lise Hand, Ellen Coyne and Aine Kerr.

The other panellist was Susan Mitchell, Deputy Editor, Sunday Business Post.

Katie Hannon facilitated the discussion. No better lady for the job.


Work Continues in Greenville


Good News 

A rapid response vehicle, dedicated to medical emergencies in North Kerry and West Limerick, has been launched this morning.

It is being coordinated by Irish Community Rapid Response to help save lives in rural communities.

The rapid response vehicle involves volunteer doctors working alongside frontline HSE emergency services to respond to life-threatening emergencies.

Source: Radio Kerry

Blennerville, Jumbo’s Listowel and some folklore

Pimp my Windmill

(photos :Kiteman)

Blennerville Windmill is undergoing an overhaul and facelift.



Mrs Quill of Derridaff told
this story to an unnamed schoolgirl in 1937.

There was a school in
Meenganare. It was a low thatched building with only one very small window.The
floor was earth and in Winter, when the roof leaked, the children’s feet were
mired in muck. Seating for the pupils
was a plank of wood resting on two blocks of wood.

It was a one teacher school.
The teacher was a Mr. Purcell, a native of Cork. He taught there from 1844 to
1879. Mr. Purcell lived in lodgings near the school and he was paid every

Both pupils and teacher spoke
only Irish. The only subjects that were taught in the school were Irish and English. The
teacher wrote on a large stone flag which rested against the wall and the
children wrote on slates.


Jumbo’s Memories, then and now

(photos; Jumbo’s)


Progress at Lidl

Roof done now. Work will move indoors next week necessitating the closure of the store.


Tidy Towns

Still cleaning Up!!! Well done all!

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