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: Listowel 1908

Changing face of town,Brian Lenihan and Aodhagán ORahilly, a concert in 1864 and more about Sive

All Over Bar the Shouting


Lovely Listowel

St. John’s in Listowel Town Square in Summer 2007


Then and Now


A Midland Event with a North Kerry Connection

Minister Brian Lenihan opening the rail bridge over the Shannon in 1969. He was Minister for Transport and Power from 2/7/69 to 3/1/73. The priest had blessed the bridge just beforehand. To the priest’s left is BnM MD, Dermot Lawlor and left and just behind Lawlor is BnM Chairman, Aodhagán O’Rahilly. O’Rahilly’s father Michael, known as “The” O’Rahilly” was a member of the GPO garrison and was killed on Easter Friday 1916 while charging a British barricade in Moore Street.

(photos and text: Bord na Mona Heartland)


“I don’t care about Clifton Clowers…”

Who needs Clifton Clowers when we have our own old ploughmen here at home.


Concert in Listowel in 1864

This concert seems to have been a bit of a pot pourri. Poor Mr McCarthy got an awful reception from the audience;

Tralee Chronicle and Killarney Echo
 Tuesday, 15 November, 1864; Page: 3

from a Listowel correspondent

On Thursday evening last, the
celebrated Madame Castaglioni gave one of her pleasing and entertaining
concerts in Listowel.

We have not had any concerts worth
speaking of in Listowel, ever since the Messrs Richardson performed the
beautiful piece of the harmonious Blacksmith on their curious rock band some
few years ago; and now accordingly heard with delight, this visit of a troupe
of clever artists, as the harbinger of a goodly number of future visits of a
similar kind.

The Signors Carletta Zerbini and Le
Petit Louis Napoleon were prime favourites with the audience and really, taken
on the whole, their performance was very creditable. The latter little marvel
of precocity gave “The Dark Girl dressed in Blue” and “Polly Perkins”, with
admirable effect, while the Senora Zerhiai positively enthralled the audience
with the flood of feeling and passionate pathos, which she infused into
Lurline’s” Sweet Spirit Hear My Prayer” and the capital manner in in which she
rendered the Italian air “ Una Voco pocofa”.

 We were particularly delighted with the deft
and skilful manner, in which this accomplished cantairiea introduced the
tremulous quator and thrilling shake into her magnificent voice. At first she
warbles a few notes with bird like clearness and vivacity; then slowly and
majestically her voice falls, and for some seconds becomes pendulous with deep
emotion, then suddenly rising to the full height of her vocal powers, she pours
forth one sustained volume of delicious harmony. With reference to the personal
attractions we may be permitted to state, that when in repose, the countenance
of the Signora Zerbini seems immobile and statuesque, but when under the
inspiration of the spirit of song, every feature is animated and illumed with
the charming glow of eloquent enthusiasm.

The performance of Mr M’Carthy was
unsatisfactory; he seemed restless and fidgety and the slightest interruption
on the part of the audience discomposed his equanimity; In consequence of this
the “Hour of Ireland” was completely expunged from the programme.- M’Carthy who
seems to us to be either very sensitive or very irascible, had commenced his
comicalities, some of which were received with loud laughter by the audience,
whereupon he retreated behind the scenes in high dudgeon and did nor put in an
appearance for the rest of the evening. Mr. M’Carthy misunderstands the
effervescing and joystering disposition of his countrymen. But he should
recollect that a public concert, is not a humdrum Quaker meeting.

After Mr M’Carthy’s disappearance a
scene of considerable confusion took place. In the midst of the tumult “Patsy
the Cottoner”a well known character, rose to address the assembly, and was
received with tremendous cheering and waving of hats by his fellow townsmen.
This important personage who had been a long time absent from Listowel,
formally enjoyed a high reputation, as a village orator and was quite indispensable
at every gathering of the “great unwashed”.

He said,” ladies and gentlemen, I
have a very great cold, so that if I break down, I hope I am quite excusable.
After so long an absence. I have returned to visit my old friends and
acquaintances in Listowel again.” Having delivered himself of those two weighty
sentences, this individual blurted out a comic song of a very doggerel
character, which of course our musical sympathies and affinities do not permit
us record, much less notice approvingly.

Miss Carlotta Zerbini then rose and
said,- “It is unusual for a lady to address an audience, but I must say we have
come here to fulfil our engagement, and not to be insulted,- If therefore you
will have a little patience, we will terminate the performance. Miss Zerbini
concluded accordingly by singing a song. Then the company dispersed, though, it
must be confessed, not without some feeling of disappointment, caused by the
fragmentary nature of the entertainment.


Times Past

A nun in Convent Street in 2007


Listowel Drama Group’s Sive in 1959

What some papers said


A Listowel Dance Card from 1908

Jim Halpin found this when he was renovating his shop in Church St. some years ago. It is in perfect condition. We can only assume that the young lady it was intended for lost it before she ever got to the dance . Jim has kept this treasure safely and you can see it if you visit the Listowel Military and Historical Museum at 24 Church St.


Colourful Spirits in NCW

Flavins of Church St. the last of a kind, 1908 in Listowel and a Listowel connection to Florida

Is Time Running Out for the Owner Occupied shop?

This is Joan Flavin in her shop, Flavin’s of Church St. Listowel, one of the last of an endangered species: the shop run by the owner who has his/her home upstairs. 

Coinnigh do shiopa is coinneoidh do shiopa thú. This Irish proverb says “Keep your shop and your shop will keep you.” Not any more I’m afraid.

There are only about 3 such shops left in town.

  A Flavin has traded in this spot since 1880.

Market forces are working against the small newsagent. By the time the news gets to the paper now it is old news. I have heard a newspaper described to a child as “that big paper thing your grandfather is reading while you are catching up with the news on the internet.”

I love a newspaper myself, not so much for the news as for the features, the puzzles and, of course, the photographs. I would hate to see small local retailers like Flavins leave our streets. They are what adds the local colour and individuality to our town.

And lest I start a rumour, Flavins is open for business seven days a week and Joan is determined to keep the family tradition going for a long time yet. She deserves our support.


John Ross for Jewellery ………..         and a head of cabbage?

Junior Griffin ponders on changed times as evidenced in two advertisements from 1908.

adverts that appeared in the “Kerryman” on Dec. 12th, 1908 are as

For younger
people it is worth noting the poultry prices.  Those were the days when
there were 240 pence to the pound; 12 pence to the shilling and 20 shillings to
the pound.  The shilling was denoted as “s” and the penny was “d”. There
was a half crown coin which was worth 30 pence and eight of these made up a
pound.  So as one can see from the above advert, a full goose, which in
those days was more popular than the turkey, could be purchased for 2s and
6p  The turkey price was 7d per lb.(pound)

The advert,
John Ross, Jeweller, Listowel, Yes that is the same John Ross who has always
been associated with Tralee.

A native of
Aberdeen, John Ross came to Listowel in 1899.  For some reason Listowel
reminded him of his native Aberdeen and he set up business in William Street as
noted on the 1911 census. A qualified horologist (watch and clock maker) he
soon built up a respected reputation as a purveyor of exquisite jewellery.

Who knows,
maybe John Ross played Badminton in Listowel.

He sold his
Listowel business in the late 1930’s and moved to Tralee where at one time he
had no less than three shops and a farm from which the produce was also sold.

information received from his great-grand daughter was that one would find
jewellery, watches and clocks on one side of the counter and just a few feet
away one could purchase, potatoes, cabbage and carrots.

Such was the
norm for business in those days, a little bit of everything.


” Such stuff as Dreams are made on”

This is Sarah Murphy, Montessori Teacher, Artist, Art Therapist and Author.

Sarah is passionate about children. She paints them, teaches and helps them and her latest venture is an unique book concept. Her book, What if? is meant to be read by an adult and child together. The text and pictures are a conversation starter. Sarah explores common scenarios like what would happen if I ate too many sweets or if my ball rolled on to the road. The adult and young child talk together about what is the best course of action and the consequences of making a wrong decision. The idea behind the book is that when the real life situation comes up the adult and child go back to the book and revisit the conversation. Simple but effective.

So where does Minnie Mouse come in and what is the Listowel connection? I’ll answer my second question first. Sarah launched her book at Listowel Writers’ Week in 2014.

Sarah on the far right  with Listowel friends, Mary Salmon and Eileen Moylan.

Sarah at her workshop in Craftshop na Méar on May 31 2014 as part of Listowel Writers’ Week fringe programme.

Sarah with some of the young artists.

Recently Sarah was on holiday in Orlando, Florida and she visited Disneyland. She bought a book in the Disneyland book kiosk and she fell to chatting with the shop assistant.

Sarah told her about her book. The shop girl contacted her boss. Now they have agreed to stock What if? in the Disney store in Florida.

If you are lucky enough to go to Disneyland, be sure to look out for Sarah’s book in the bookshop.


Another One Gone

It is sad to see this once very busy and popular public house closed.


Sounds Good but not True…or so I’m told

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