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: Lislaughtin

Fr. Pat Moore R.IP., Brian Cowen’s Visit, Jeanie Johnston and Lislaughtin

Photo: Eamon Ó Murchú


Fr. Pat meets the Pope

Fr. Pat Moore and Pope Francis


More Photos from Brian Cowen’s Visit in 2008


With John O’Sullivan

with Michelle Buckley


St. Michael’s 1979


Mike O’Donnell, Muralist

Mike must be one of the most prolific muralists around. This is his Jeanie Johnston at KUH.


The Story behind Lislaughtin

Lislaughtin was a Franciscan Friary near Ballylongford. It was built in 1470 and from then until the horrors of 1580 it was a place of worship and learning. King Henry V111 had years earlier passed a law dissolving all religious houses but Lislaughtin, in its remote location had escaped detection for decades.

This beautiful window has fascinated artists and locals alike. It is replicated in a lovely silver sculpture at Ballylongford Church

One day in 1580 a battalion of English soldiers was in the area when the monastery bell rang for prayers. The man in charge of the soldiers ordered them to  immediately attack the abbey and the monks inside. The boys scattered left and right fleeing for their lives. Three old men were slower than the others and only got a few hundred yards away. ` The soldiers captured them, The story goes that they cut off their ears so they would hear no more prayer bells. They dragged them back to the abbey, made them to kneel before the high altar. They tortured and beat the holy old men, and, as a final indignity, beheaded them.

The abbey now is a ruin and is more used as a graveyard than a place of worship.


Great to have family visit again

Lislaughtin Holy Well, Whiskey for a Writer and a Powerful Poem

 Young people enjoying a game of pitch and putt in Childers’ Park Listowel in March 2019


Spotted in the Off Licence window

Sounds like just the think for the writer in your life.


St. Laictín of Lislaughtin

In Lislaughtin Abbey.

About a mile from Tarbert Parish there is a well over which is a bush. One evening two men sat near the well, one was chewing tobacco and as he did so he began spitting into the well. Suddenly he thought a rat ran up his leg, and in his effort to keep the rat from running up he felt the supposed rat in the other leg. He tried to restrain the rat from running up the second leg but the rat went over to the first. The supposed rat ran over the man’s body and he stripped himself on the road but no rat was to be seen. It was no rat but that was his punishment for spitting in the well.

Alice Mc Carthy- Address, Tarbert, Co. Kerry

Informant, Richard Curran, Age 78 Address Tarbert, Co. Kerry

Local Patron Saint


(name not given)


The following story was told to me by my father a few nights ago.

The patron Saint of Ballylongford is St. Laictín. The townland of Lislaughtin is called after him and it means the “Fort of Laictín”.

It is said that he lived in Lislaughtin Abbey but in the year 1478 a man named Smith said of an older Church being there dedicated to Saint Laictín.

Saint Laichtín’s feast day is kept on the 19th March. Before he died he walked around Lislaughtin and blessed it. It is said that he was buried in the Church near the Altar with other Monks and Priests.

There is a Well called after him and it is known as “Laichtín’s Well”. It is in the land of Mrs. Sullivan in the townland of Lislaughtin. It is said that he visited the Well on the 13th May 758 with other followers. There are no rounds paid at the Well because it is not certain whether he visited it or now.


A Powerful Poem from Facebook

Barbara Derbyshire shared Viola Wilkins poem and the accompanying picture.

When this horror ends (because it will end), 
we will do museums and in the showcases 
there will be shoes, letters, small photos, 
Cards, hair, pile of torn cl
And there will be school classes 
that will wonder how this has been possible.
And there will be survivors who remember 
“if it was human” thinking of Primo Levi.
And there will be intellectuals, well-thinking, 
of all variety that agree “never again this”
There will be TV shows where they interview our contemporaries
And there will be those who will say that they only obeyed the orders. 
And there will be those who will explain they had the courage to disobey
And as always there are those too busy on the shopping channels
Who will say “we didn’t know”
And there will be grandchildren 
who are going to ask their grandparents
on which side were you ?
And there will be grandparents, a few,
who will answer with truth “I was on the side of humanity”.
And there will be others who will drop their eyes and will not answer.
…….. A. Nonymus

North Kerry, Clounmacon boots, Eamon Kelly and Alison Spittle at the Young adult Bookfest 2018

St. John’s, Bryan MacMahon statue and Seanchaí

Entrance to Kerry Writers’Museum


Visiting North Kerry

Patty Faley took these photos on her recent holiday.

The visitors  were disappointed to find Carrigafoyle Castle closed.

Patty took this on the way to Lislaughtin.


Clounmacon and Boot wearing

From the schools folklore collection in Dúchas

“Some of people used not wear boots until they were eighteen or nineteen years long ago.”

Some of people used not wear boots until they were eighteen or nineteen years long ago. They used to work in the fields and in the dikes and the frost cracking under their feet. Jack Mahoney used never wear boots and he could walk on any thing and he would not feel it. he used to walk on bushes and on briars and he would not feel it.

Most of the children go barefoot in the summer but they put them on in the winter. They throw the water they use for washing wash their feet if they did not throw out the water after washing their feet they should get up in the middle of the night and throw it out.

Some people used to wear clogs locally. They used to wear them in the winter but they are not worn now at all.

There was a tannery in Listowel about three miles form here. The National Bank is now built where it stood. About fifty or sixty years ago brogues used be worn. They were made of cheap leather and stitched. In Listowel up near the top of church Street lived a man named Johnny the Cottoners or Johnny O’ Connor. He used make brogues and sell them at the big fair in Listowel and Abbeyfeale. In the same street lived two men named Mick 

the Nailer and Jacky the Nailer. They used make the heavy nails that were driven into the soles of the shoes.

Most shoemakers at that time used cut out the uppers themselves and sew them and the boots used hold a long time.

Collector- Martin Kennelly, Address  Dromin, Co. Kerry

Informant  John Shanahan- Age   69- Address,  Dromin, Co. Kerry


More Local Doors


A Seanchaí remembered at The Seanchaí

I took the two photos below at The Seanchí, Kerry Writers’ Museum. I grew up listening to Eamon Kelly on the radio. I was a child in pre TV times when people sat down and paid attention to the radio. My mother loved a good story and Eamon Kelly was far and away her favourite storyteller.

BryanMacMahon, John B. Keane and Eamon Kelly

Passing on the stories.


Young Adult Bookfest 2018

On November 15 2018 over 800 North Kerry and West Limerick second level students gathered  in Listowel Community Centre for a great day of entertainment and education, organised by Listowel Writers’ Week.

Among the inspiring speakers was Edaein O’Connell.

Eilish and Máire met Alison Spittle at the centre.

Alison was a photographer’s dream, willingly posing for all my snaps, with Kay Halpin, Catherine Moylan, Seán Lyons and Joanne O’Riordan.


1938 Ireland

This story, which I found shared on Twitter, falls into the category of truth stranger than fiction.

Women in Media 2016, Lislaughtin and another 80th Birthday Party

Chris Grayson


Women in Media in Ballybunion April 2016

There were some big names in attendance at the 2016 event.

 Joan O’Connor is the organizer of the whole event. She is the hardest working woman in Ballybunion on that weekend. Here she is consulting with Mary Dundon, Head of Journalism at UL.

 Hildegarde Naughton T.D. was there.

 Miriam O’Callaghan of RTE

 Joan Burton T.D.

 Aoibhinn Ní Shuilleabháin of RTE

These two ladies are not so well known because they are the big names behind the cameras; Catherine Magee, producer of Rebellion for RTE and Katie Holly, M.D. of Blinder Films.

I didn’t attend every event. There were big names on Sunday as well but your blogger had moved on to the Brendan Kennelly at 80 event.


Kennelly’s Lislaughtin

 On Sunday April 17 2016 Listowel Writers’ Week and The Seanchaí Writers Centre celebrated Brendan Kennelly’s 80th birthday with a day of events dedicated to him. In the Seanchaí we watched the remastered DVD, River of Words. We saw a younger Kennelly read his work in Lislaughtin Abbey and in Ballybunion, places we were soon to visit on our bus tour. Then it was on the bus away we went to Ballylongford and Lislaughtin, where Padraig OConcubhair and Gabriel Fitzmaurice were waiting to entertain us with history and poetry.

 We stood among the monastic ruins and the graves and listened, enthralled to tales of friars, monks, piety and massacre, betrayal, looting and sacking.  We heard stories of very powerful O’Connors and the very powerful Cromwell whose marauding army sacked the Friary. The story told to us was that Cromwell, uncharacteristically decided to spare the monastery. But when the monks rang a bell to call everyone to pray in thanksgiving , Cromwell mistook this for triumphalism, returned and burned the place. All of the monks escaped except three old men and these he massacred on the steps of the altar.

The wealthy O’Connor clan commissioned a huge processional cross for the monastery. This was discovered one day years after the sacking of Lislaughtin by a farmer who was ploughing. I suppose a monk had rescued and  buried it during one of the raids on the monastery. The farmer, Jeffcott, was reluctant to part with his find and kept it for eighteen years, before a combination of the gentle persuasion of a local historian and the fact that he had fallen on hard times combined to persuade him to part with it. It is today on display in The National Museum.

As well as history we had poetry. The first of many renderings  of I See you Dancing, Father was given by Denis Hobson.

Before we left the churchyard I took a wander around and noted Ballylongford’s strong republican leanings  with the presence of many tricolours adorning headstones.

This republicanism is alive today. When we returned to Bally a group of people had laid a wreath at the memorial to The O’Rahilly.


A Hooley in Áras Mhuire

Two 80th birthdays in a row! I took a few photos at Áras Mhuire at James Gould’s birthday party. I’ll share them shortly.


Giants of the Game

photo: John O’Shea

Mrs Spillane sees her three sons head out to a football game during the glory days of Kerry football.

Lislaughtin,Rattoo Mural and a Presentation Mystery

Historic Ballylongford

My good friend, Breda Ferris recently took a group of us on a mini tour of Ballylongford. We visited all the places Fr. Pat Moore visited on his first day out.

I will first let you read Fr. Pat’s Caring Bridge account of his day and then I will add my photos from my excursion to the same locations.

An update from Fr Pat Moore.

Today is Wednesday!! August 25th. A Slow move out!

By Fr. Pat Moore

Yesterday was a day of difference and newness. In the morning it rained, monsoon like, as it did last night. Yesterday afternoon, the sun shone and transported us into a different world, every place dry and bright. After lunch, Debbie, Sr. Kathleen and myself ventured on a small tour. We drove up along the Shannon, into Ballylongford Creek via Killelton and stopped first at Carrigafoyle Castle. It has now become a very busy hub for tourists and locals judging from all the entries on the visitors book. The Wild Atlantic Way has made a difference. The two women took the 104 steps to the top of the Castle and later we sensed its history back until its destruction in 1583. On we journied to Ahavallin Graveyard where our family are buried. Around the ruined Church where Lord Kitchener of Karthoom was baptised we remembered so many family and neighbours among ” the unforgettable dead”. We connected through prayer with” those that had gone before us marked with the sign of faith”. 

On to Lislaughtin Abbey with its sad history. There we prayed over neighbours and friends like Michael Linnane.

“Flashing starlings twist and turn in the sky above my head

While in Lislaughtin lie the packed anticipating dead.

Silent generations there that long had been the knee

Endowing the Shannon with the grace of reaching to the sea. Brendan Kennelly.

Back to Ballylongford and to St. Michael’s Church where I was ordained to priesthood in 1982. There in the grounds of the Church is the bust of our local poet. There is an extraordinary quote there, words that hung in his brothers garage for years from “The Crooked Cross”. “If the life of little places dies, greater places share the loss. Life if you wish, may not be worth one passing game of pitch and toss and yet a nation’s life is laid in places like the Crooked Cross”.

As we travelled home through the storied countryside we had travelled less than 15 kilometres, feeling into the past yet there is a great sense that the countryside is emptying out. “The silence of unlaboured fields stands like a judgement in the air”. Though we met people, moved among fields that each held a story, there is a sense of rural depopulation. Some have ” fled the fields that lied them down”, so many of a certain age have gone to work elsewhere. The changes of the past are a reminder that ” to live is to change and to change often is to become perfect”  as J.H. Newman said.

This iconic window at Lislaughtin Abbey is one of the strongest symbol of Ballylongford. There are several more beautiful windows and other features here in what was once the finest Franciscan Abbey in all of Europe.

There are graves everywhere within the Abbey and in the adjoining graveyard. The big memorial above is to the O’Rahilly family.

We also visited the 5 story high Carrigafoyle Castle, an O’Connor stronghold.

Next stop Saleen pier…lovely spot. The old boat below added a touch of mystery to the place.

From peaceful Saleen we could see Lislaughtin in the distance.

This is the Moneen, a kind of mudflat that is at times submerged.

On to Ahavallen and the tomb of the reviled Sandes family

Our last stop was St. Michael’s church. The grounds of this church are beautifully maintained with sculptures and plaques recounting Ballylongford’s history. There is also a beautiful parish centre and a a little rock garden. The recently unveiled bust of Brendan Kennelly is another milestone in Ballylonford history recorded here.


Rattoo Mural at Ballyduff Post Office

Bob Scott; Artist

all photos; Bridget O’Connor


Presentation Girls

I posted one of these photos before and got no replies. I’m posting a slightly better image this time along with another photo taken in the same classroom on the same day. They’ re definitely taken in Pres. Listowel, not sure primary or secondary school. Surely someone recognizes someone or remembers the day.

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