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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A Listowel Lacemaker

River Feale in July 2023


Happy Childhood Memories

Listowel Arms today


Eleanor Belcher remembers

My father was a GP and our house was always busy as the surgery was in the front room. Next door were the Fitzgibbons. Mr Fitzgibbon was a vet and Marie and Joan were in the same age group as my sister Katrina and I. The other half of their house was let to various people. Miss Noonan was there when I was a child. She was a teacher and very popular as she gave us sponge fingers sometimes, a wonderful treat. Then came the Rochfords . both teachers with children Sheila and Eoin. Sheila was actually called Philomena but when Saint Philomena became demoted her name was changed!  They were followed by the Gannons. There were two children Renée and a boy, Barry. The young Hannon family hadn’t moved into the house next to the hotel when I was young though did so later. I do remember Maurice as a child. 

The Listowel Arms was run by Mr Gerald McElligott  and the ballroom hadn’t been built. He had one of the few cars in the Square which he kept in the large yard. It had a running board. On cold mornings we children on our way to school would be asked to push the car . 


Listowel Lacemaker

This picture was shared on the internet. It was part of a newspaper feature on Listowel’s first Civic Pride Week. No date was given but I’m guessing sometime in the 1950s

Does anyone remember Kathleen MacElligott? Does any of her beautiful lacework survive?



Image and story from Radio Kerry

Three cuckoos were tagged in Killarney National Park in May of this year.

One cuckoo, named Torc, was tagged in East Herzegovina – close to the border of Montenegro, while anoher called KP was tagged near the foot of the Italian Alps.

The third cuckoo, Cores, was tagged in the Piedmont area of Italy.

The project is a collaboration between the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).


A Teaser from Brian Bilston


Holidays 2023

Holocaust Memorial, Garden of Europe, July 2023


Flavins Window

July 2023


Well Clamped Turf

Turfshed in Ferbane, Co. Offaly Photo from the internet


Should Old Acquaintance….

My friend, Phil and I, visited Boherbue. She now lives in Dublin and hadn’t visited her old home for some time. Phil has no family left in Boherbue now and has lost touch with her old school friends. My sister in law Breeda is from Boherbue so we planned to meet Breeda there to hear some of the old stories. In my photo, Maureen Ahern, her old neighbour, is next to Phil and Breeda and I are across the table.

Boherbue is much changed since the twentieth century. The lovely café where we met was one such welcome change serving delicious food and with super friendly staff.

Phil attended secondary school in Mrs. Kerrisk’s in Boherbue. There were 5 girls in her Leaving Cert class. The boys went to the tech in Kanturk. One of the 5 girls has passed away and almost incredibly the other 3 all turned up in the café while we were there. Above with Phil is Noreen OConnell, a lady full of local information and history.


Listowel Arms Now and Then

Apart from the colour very little has changed in 20 years.


Martin Chute, Master Signwriter

It’s done and it’s absolutely beautiful.


Holidays 2023

My boys were at Longitude. They are very independent now that they each have a part time job for the summer.

The Kildare branch were at The Derby.

Darby family still fraternising with Olaf and other Disney characters in the sweltering 36 degrees in Orlando.

Meanwhile back at the ranch….


Transport and Churches

Beautiful autumnal corner of Listowel Town Square



(from Joe Kennedy’s Country Matters in yesterday’s Independent)


The Residency @ 74

Isn’t it coming along beautifully?

Martin Chute has added his flourish.


St. Batt’s Well

From Shannonside Annual 1959

Note the reference to Collopy’s Corner.

Public transport has improved since those days. Here is a recent post from

“There are now buses running 4 times daily to Listowel and back to Tarbert. The 1st bus leaves Tarbert at 7.55am. There is also buses running to Limerick 4 times daily and back. The 1st bus leaves at 6.45am.”


Listowel Food Fair 2022 Opening Banquet

I was lucky enough to be invited to this feast in the Listowel Arms on October 27 2022

The evening was a celebration of delicious Listowel food and was in tribute to Kerry Group which has sponsored the food fair from the beginning. Kerry Group is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. We were honoured to have at our table, Eddie Moylan who was one of the founding members of what is now an 8 billion euro global industry.

We heard great tales of soggy boggy fields and employees in caravans. From a little acorn in the Canon’s field, Listowel, a mighty oak has surely grown.

Liz and Jim Dunn, Mary Cogan, Helen and Eddie Moylan, Martin Moore and Simone Langemann

Here is the menu for the meal

Because of Kerry’s sponsorship of Kerry football, Jason Foley, newly announced as Ballydonoghue’s first All Star was a guest of honour.

Jason Foley and Jimmy Deenihan……… photo shared by Jimmy

We got to pose with another guest of honour, who has become a bit like Banquo’s ghost, turning up at every feast.

Eamonn Dillon, Sam, Mary Cogan, Eddie and Helen Moylan


A Reunion Photo

When this class from the early sixties reunited, they brought a few old photos with them. Here is one of the girls from a good few years ago.


Brides Night Out at The Listowel Arms, the 1950s in Asdee and Fr. Pat Moore R.I.P.

Seán McInerney of Mallow Camera Club took this picture of People at Work


The Wedding Saga Continues

The next step in our family’s
wedding journey saw us back in The Listowel Arms Hotel on Friday evening April
21 2017 for Brides Night Out.

We nearly missed this one as
our bride had deemed it too close to the wedding to be going to a Wedding Fair.
We already  have most of the requirements in place. Luckily as we were in Finesse
for a dress fitting, the lovely Mags and Liz persuaded us that we would be
missing a great night by foregoing this one. They were right.

Here we are, mé féin, Cliona, the bride to be, with Mags and Liz Horgan of Finesse Bridal Wear

The hotel fitted us in at
short notice and we were ready in jig time for a lovely night.

This is Clíona at our lovely sunny table

Firstly there was the wedding
fair part with lots of exhibitors and lots of 
tips. Clíona got her make up done at The Vanity Case stand and she looked a
million dollars for the rest of the evening.

We met Siobhán with her eye
poppingly artistic cake creations. They tasted delicious as well.

These ladies had a great idea
worthy of Dragons’ Den. Anyone at the wedding downloads their app. You take photos and then you load them into the app and press print. The person
who took the photo gets a printed souvenir photo/photos of their day at the
wedding and the happy couple get all the printed photos on a memory stick. I
thought this one was much better than a photo booth or the old camera on the table lark.

Brendan Landy held a pop up
workshop. He gave us loads of tips about posing for photos. Here’s a few free
for you.

Don’t lean back. It gives you
a double chin.

Bend your elbow out from your

Bend your wrist back and your
hand will look better.

Don’t face full square to the
camera.  Etc., etc.

Stylish Eilish was there. We met her chatting to the beautiful Maria Keane of MK Beauty.

The Listowel Arms as a wedding venue was on show and it looked absolutely stunning. We are so lucky to have everything one needs to hold a wedding at out fingertips in lovely Listowel.

Then it was time for the
taster menu and the fashion show.

Finesse Bridal opened and
closed the fashion show and their stunning dresses set the scene for the Mother
of the Bride or Groom and wedding guest style which followed. There were some
really  glamorous outfits on show. If I
hadn’t bought mine already I saw lots that I would have liked.

The food and wine were top

If you have anyone in your
family getting engaged this year, tell them to go to this before they make any
decisions. It’s an annual event and a great night out.


The 1950s  as remembered by Jim Costelloe and told in his book, Asdee in the 40’s and 50s

… At that time in Asdee there were no Costelloes- they were
all Custelloes, MacMahons were Mickmahons, O’Connors were simply Connors,
McElligotts were Elligotts, Ruddles were Riddles and Moriartys were Maraartys.
There were no cars then, they were all motors, a barrel of stout was a quarter
tierse, hayforks were pikes and a dung fork was a four prong pike. There were
high shoes and low shoes and we didn’t know which were boots. A stripper was a
cow, a gallon was a container for sweets and a muller was an aluminium pot. We
also had the skillet, the black pot with its three legs which hung over the
fire with the pot hooks. The bread was baked in the oven which was placed on
the brand over the coals.

These were the days of the settle beds, the po ( politely
known as the chamber pot), the ticks of feathers, the straw mattresses and
the iron beds with the brass knobs at
the four corners. The parlour was the sitting/dining room which was rarely used
except on the morning of the Station when the priest dined there. It usually
smelled of dampness and had old, decaying furniture with limp curtains and
wallpaper with a flowery border which was almost always discoloured at the


eCar Parking and recharging

In the Square in Listowel there is this car charging station and it now has a dedicated parking bay for your  electric car.


“…the best labourer dead, and all the sheaves to bind.”

Fr. Pat Moore, R.I.P. and yours truly in happier times

Fr. Pat with his great friend, Mary Fagan

Fr. Pat in his element among his own at the great barbecue in Duagh


North Kerry will be a duller place without him.

This is the poem Fr. Pat wrote after his mother died.

This Much I Will Remember   _______ for Peg

It was a bright August morning, sunlight filled the kitchen.

I sat next to you remembering my birth.

Your heartbeat the first sound I heard.

A home you made around us, people you are now welcoming,

Alive and some dead.

And as I look past your shoulder at the glass on the windowsill,

That captures the sunlight inside the garden you once tended,

Which also drinks in the light.

Everything I see converges into a random still light,

Fastened together by colour.

It is fixed behind the foreground of what’s happening around you

As you are now being looked after.

And I can feel it being painted within me,

And brushed on the wall of my skull.

Then all the moments of the past begin to line up behind that moment,

And all the moments to come assemble in front of it in a long long row.

It gives me reason to believe that this is a moment I have rescued

from the millions that rush out of sight

into the darkness behind the eyes.

When I forget I will still carry in my skull

the small coin of this moment

Minted in the kingdom that we pace through everyday.

A tale of St. John’s clock, a few Listowel photos and John Relihan at Fifteen in London

Great Hunting Weather

Duhallow Hunt       Photo; Willie Nunan


A Tale of Protestants and Catholics United by a Clock

 My story started with this old postcard. I posted it here a few weeks ago. On the same day as it appeared I was on Radio Kerry giving my Just a Thought. Just a Thought is a minute’s reflection broadcast on Radio Kerry on weekday mornings. It is broadcast first at 7.30 a.m. during Kerry’s Full Breakfast. One of the presenters of this programme is Elaine Kinsella. Elaine heard my “Thought” and realised that it was her old teacher whose blog she now follows. So Elaine opened the blog and the first thing she saw was this old picture of Listowel Town Square. “I wonder,” says she, “when this photograph was taken.”

Later on the same day, I met my friend Junior Griffin. Junior didn’t know when exactly the photo was taken but he was sure that it was before the 1940s because he had observed that the numerals in the St. John’s clock were illegible and he knew all about their being repainted.

Junior is a great man for a story and he didn’t let me down on this occasion either.

The man second from left in this photo (kindly given to me by Patsy O’Sullivan) is Archdeacon Wallace and he was the last Protestant rector of Listowel parish. Junior remembers him as a great community man and on the very best of terms with his Catholic neighbours.

One of these Catholic friends was Junior’s dad, John Griffin. Now John was the local expert at mending clocks and watches. So it was to Bridge Rd to the Griffin house that the archdeacon came to get his clock seen to.

Junior remembers the whole undertaking well.

In the 1940s it was forbidden for a Catholic to enter a Protestant church. Mending the clock would not involve entering the church as there was no access to the clock from the church. To solve this problem John Griffin constructed a kind of primitive cherry picker. This contraption was a kind of cage that he would enter on the ground and using pulleys and ropes he would hoist himself up to the clock in order to access the movement of the clock.

Junior’s mother was worried sick that some harm might come to her husband in this makeshift hoist so she sent Bert and Junior to the Catholic church to light candles and to pray that no harm would come to their dad.

Bert, R.I.P. and Junior

Mr. Griffin repainted the numerals and he brought the two huge hands home to paint them. Junior remembers that the big hand measured five feet and the small hand was 3 feet long.

There remained one final problem to solve but John Griffin was a dinger at solving problems. If he couldn’t do something himself, he knew someone who could.

The last piece of repair work needed was the vital pin that held the hands in place and allowed them to turn as well in order to tell the time. This was a job for an engineer and John Griffin knew just the man, his friend Michael Graham. Michael lived in Dublin but he had a Listowel connection in that he was married to a North Kerry woman.

Michael made the vital pin. The clock was in working order again. 

Now there is a lovely postscript to the story, Junior told me that Michael Graham, the man who made the vital pin was married to Canon Declan O’Connor’s aunt.

Canon Declan with Jimmy Hickey.


Listowel Arms from Convent Street


St. Patrick’s Hall, Listowel


Star Pupil

Fifteen Graduates is a Facebook page for graduates of Jamie Oliver’s apprentice programme. This is what it says about our own John Relihan

“Great to see graduate John Relihan at Fifteen today. John has become a Food Ambassador for Ireland and he has been busy travelling all over the world in that role. For St Patricks Day on the 19th of March this year John will be back cooking in Trafalgar Square again – we will send an email out soon as he will be looking for other graduates to come along and cook with him on the day as well. Keep up the great work John “

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