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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Marching on

Ballybunion on March 17 2022


Setting the Spuds

Raymond O’Sullivan has a great knowledge of gardening and the old traditions. Here is what he says about potatoes.

St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional day for planting spuds. Maybe because the saint protects them and the devil has no power over them on that day. But more likely because it is within a couple of days of the Spring equinox, 20th March this year, when there is a good chance that soil conditions would be suitable. Lunar gardeners believe potatoes should be planted in the week following a full moon, and the moon was full on Friday night. We got a couple of fine days and everything seemed to be right, so I took the chance. Potatoes can put up with a bit of hardship. Fingers crossed!! Not so with many seeds though, the soil needs to be much warmer for germination. An old gardener gave me a trick to test the suitability of the soil temperature for seed germination: you take off your pants, and if you can sit comfortably on the ground on your bare backside, then it is time to start setting seeds outdoors.


Some Local Sports Clubs on Parade

St Michael’s basketballers
Listowel Emmetts
Listowel Celtic


A Strange Happening at a Holy Well

In the schools folklore collection of 1937 three are many stories about holy wells. Clandouglas children had many wells to choose from and their elders had many a tale to tell.

Margaret Shanahan collected this story from her father.

Sunday’s Well is in Oak Park near Tralee on the Abbeydorney side. Wether’s Well is in Tubrid near Ardfert village + I wish to tell the following story, which I heard from my deceased father (R. I. P.) who is dead 19 years + was 75 when he died. From early times people paid rounds at both wells + still continue to do so.

In Wether’s Well there is a mound , an altar, + a well but in Sunday’s Well there is only the well + a lone bush. When the Sandes were Landlords of Oak Park, one of them got a mason to remove the altar with its three effigies from Tubrid or Wether’s Well to Oak Park + erect it over Sunday’s Well. The next morning it was back again in its own place at Wether’s Well + signs of the fresh mortar could be tracked as the crow flies from one well to the other aCdistance of about 5 miles in a direct line.


Sport and Writing…….Where did Tadhg learn his love of these

You can take the man out of Kerry but….

Tadhg has found success a long way from Church Street. He has never forgotten his roots and is literally and metaphorically flying the flag for his native traditions.


R.I.P. Noreen Holyoake- Keese

Listowel Connection has lost a great friend and supporter. Noreen always took time to tell me how much she appreciated the work I do in connecting people like herself who loved Listowel so much.

Noreen passed away peacefully at her home in the U.S. on March 22 2022. She is mourned by her dear mother and her family, here and in her adopted home in New York.

Bernard O’Connell, the only boy in the photo, posted this photo a few years ago. Noreen is in the centre of some Listowel childhood friends.

Mary Brosnan, Katrina Lyons, Bernard O’Connell, Noreen Holyoake, Mary Lyons, Mary Carmody, Maura Moriarty.

I was thrilled to meet Noreen in person in 2019. She was a lovely lady.

May Noreen rest in peace. Braithfidh mé uaim í.


Aisling Ghéar do dhearcas Féin……

The first marquee event of Listowel Writers’ Week 2022 took place in The Listowel Arms Hotel on Saturday evening, March 26 2022.

Picture shows Catherine Moylan , chair of Listowel Writers’ Week with Deirdre Walsh of Radio Kerry who interviewed Emer McLysath and Sarah Breen, authors of the Complete Aisling series.

It was a very enjoyable event, a great start to this years exciting festival.


A Parade in the 1980s, Change is the peat industry in the 1960s and a Church Street skyline in 2019

At the Corner of Charles Street and William Street


Last of Danny Gordon’s St. Patrick’s Day in Listowel in the1980s Photos


Trinity College and Dame Street, Dublin in 1930

Photo ; National Library


Changing Times at Bord na Mona

A photo from the Foidin machine, taken in 1967. There’s also another one in the background. The Foidin or small sod programme, began work in 1965 and was an attempt to produce small sods of peat on milled peat bogs. This was because of a succession of bad summers during the 1960s. Much of the experimental work was carried out at Oweninny, Co. Mayo. However the machines were too big and the programme was dropped in the early 1970s. The seventies also brought a lot of dry sunny summers.

Photo and text: Tony McKenna


Look Up

Signs and shingles on Church St., Listowel in March 2019


Vincent Carmody on His Book Tour

Vincent met up with the Carpenter family, who are frequent visitors to Listowel, on his book tour cum holiday in the USA.

Photo: John Carpenter on Facebook

Listowel Celtic, The Case of the Black Pudding and will the next US ambassador be a Corkman?

Photo: Donal Murphy, Mallow Camera Club


Reliving a memory with Listowel Celtic

These photos from Listowel Celtic’s Facebook page are from the official opening of the soccer playing field at Tannavalla. May all of those who were part of the occasion and are gone from us rest in peace.

The late Jack Carmody (The Sherriff) with his family.

John Delaney with club chair, Aiden OConnor and Beatrice and Jack Carmody

Some great club stalwarts.


The Council of Dirha by John B. Keane continued from yesterday

………However, this is
another matter. It is with the pre Pope Paul period of fast and abstinence that
I propose to deal now. Before I do, let me say that fireside theology was
reduced to a very fine art in those days. There was no opposition from
television and the country was far from motorized. Consequently there was
genuine profundity in most fireside exchanges. The subtler arts of sarcasm,
irony and cynicism all flourished and were brought to such a degree of
excellence by common country folk that ordinary comment was almost totally

The first serious
council held by hobside theologians to which I was a witness was held in Dirha
Bog circa 1935. So great was the fear of excommunication in those distant days
that even today I am not at liberty to mention the name of the house owner. The
council was well attended and present at the time were such venerable sages as
the late Sonny Canavan and Jack Duggan. The main spokesman was a spailpín by
the name of Billy Drury, brother of the poet, Paddy. The main item on the
agenda on that memorable occasion was whether the consumption of black puddings
on a Friday constituted a breach of the laws of fast and abstinence. Pork steak
and puddings were a common enough diet at the time. Every countryman kept his
own pig and when the creature was fat enough to be butchered substantial
quantities of pork steak and home filled black puddings were distributed among
the neighbours.

It was universally
accepted even amongst the most extreme heretics and schismatics that under no
cicumstances was the eating of pork steak to be countenanced on a Friday or any
other days of fast and abstinence. Puddings, however were a different kettle of
fish altogether. If I might be permitted to the use of a widely used saying at
the time, “there were puddings and puddings.” 
It was with this aspect of the matter that the Dirha theologians
concerned themselves. When is a black pudding not a black pudding or, to put it
another way, what are the chief characteristics of a sinful pudding?

more tomorrow 


The Next U.S. Ambassador to Ireland ?

Ohio businessman Ed Crawford has emerged as the front-runner to become the next US ambassador to Ireland. 

A long-time Republican party donor, Mr Crawford is the chairman of Park-Ohio Holdings, a Nasdaq-listed manufacturing and supply-chain company which has operations across the world, including in Cork. 

He was the finance chairman for the Republican National Committee’s Ohio campaign during last year’s presidential race, and was an early supporter of Donald Trump

Mr Crawford, whose grandparents came from Co Cork, has also been centrally involved in the Irish community in Cleveland, hosting the then taoiseach Enda Kenny at an event to mark the rededication of the Irish Cultural Garden in the city in 2012. 

His emergence as the top candidate to become the next US ambassador comes after Brian Burns, a Florida businessman and friend of Mr Trump, withdrew from consideration for the post.

I read the above in The Irish Times and I decided that the next time I passed through Newmarket, I’d stop for a look around and see how this man’s ancestral place was doing now.

Newmarket is a neighbouring town to my own Kanturk and , apart from the old tribal rivalries of the G.A.A. Newmarket people were friends.


Listowel Boy Scouts and Leaders

Photo from Mike Hannon from the John Hannon archive.

This looks like a St. Patrick’s Day parade passing through Main Street. I’m guessing the 1970s because the Spinning Wheel is where Footprints is now. I could hazard a guess at some of these men and ladies  but, for fear of mistakes, I’ll let it up to you. Tell me if you recognise yourself.


Sam In O’Connell’s Avenue

The man on the far left is Tom Sweeney, a man whose family is steeped in football. The others are Tom Lyons, Mick Carey and Gigs Nolan R.I.P.


One for the diary

On Sunday next, April 22 2018 Kay Moloney, formerly of Gurtinard House, Listowel will give a talk in The Seanchaí at 7.00p.m.

The subject of her talk will be an incident that was very significant in the history of Listowel.

One hundred years ago a group of local men ploughed up Lord Listowel’s lawn.

Who were these men?

Why did they convert Lord Listowel’s lawn into a tillage feld?

What were the consequences? 

These questions will be answered by Kay on Sunday evening and the answers might surprise you.

You won’t want to miss this one.

Daithí OSé, Listowel a “pauperised town” in 1831, Mill Lane and a poem by Alice Taylor

Chris Grayson was in Barrow


Before He was Famous

From The Kerryman archives…August  2001


Poverty in 1831

(Extract from a debate in The houses of Parliament discovered recently by a blog follower)

…..The electoral division of Listowel as
defined by the a commissioner consisted of the town and parish of Listowel, the
parish of Finuge, including a small portion of the parish of Dysert. Mr Hawley,
in the course of his observations called Listowel a “pauperized town” and such,
Mr. Collis was sorry to say, was the case. In confirmation of that statement,
`Mr. Collis held a document which was put into his hand previous to his coming
into the room, by his friend Rev. E.M. Denny.

This document detailed the state of poverty
in the town of Listowel and its minuter districts during the trying and scarce
summer just past- a period of famine he might call it. It appeared from that
document that in one locality, Glounafous, consisting of 236 houses, 1175
paupers had received relief through the medium of the charity meal while 4,000
paupers in the town and the immediate vicinage, had daily obtained relief. He
found that the entire of the parish consisted of 4,300 acres, which, with
Finuge gave an area of say 6,000 acres for the electoral division of Listowel.
The population in 1831 was about 4,900 souls, considerably exceeding the
adjoining parishes: although these parishes contained a much greater amount of
surface, equaling Listowel in quality of soil. This position Mr. Collis
illustrated forcibly by interesting statistical details, contrasting the
quality of the soil and population.

Mr. Collis went on to show that the
population of the town of Listowel alone exceeded in 1831 that of the parish of
Knockanure and Lisselton, and nearly equaled Killeheny, Galey and Murhur. Of
the entire parish of Listowel the preponderating proportion was in the town of
Listowel. Of these residents in the town the majority were paupers migrating
from other districts- very generally from the surrounding parishes. He was, he
thought, justified in assuming that in the district proposed for the electoral
division a relative proportion of the lands to the population would be one acre
to one individual.

Mr. Hawley; You calculate according to Irish

Mr. Collis said the comparison still held.
Finuge, a poor district was added to Listowel; but the addition would rather
prove an incumbrance than a means of lessening the burden that threatened to
press upon Listowel. Finuge was a miserable parish. Galey with its population
of 2,900 souls and surface of 1,300 acres, had no pauper population. The
average in that parish would be as four acres to one inhabitant – in Murhur two
to one. In the other parishes to which he referred the proportion was equally
favourable; while in Listowel with its dense and pauper population the
proportion was as one acre to one individual.


Fresh Flowers by Alice Taylor


Mill Lane in October 2017


International Soccer in Listowel

It was the occasion of the official opening of the new soccer pitch at Tannavalla. Aiden O’Connor, who was chair of Listowel Celtic at the time came into the secondary school to tell the girls about the game and to introduce the two local lads who were to play on that evening.

Guess what year?

Listowel June 2017, the convent and Listowel Celtic Under 12s in 1990

Church Street June 2017


Gurtinard Wood


Down Memory Lane with The Advertiser

This photo appeared recently in The Advertiser. Apart from Bunny Dalton at one end and Roly Chute at the other I dont recognise any other men.


The Steady Decline of the Convent and Chapel

June 2017


Listowel Celtic Under 12 team 1990/91

I posted this picture with no names back in 2013. Now Kevin Donovan (front left in the photo) has given me these names. Can anyone supply the few that are missing?  The trainer is Henry Molyneaux.

Back row L-R

Donald Griffin

Don’t Know

Enda Galvin

Simon Adams

Noel Kennelly

Don’t Know

Ger Galvin

Front Row L-R

Don’t Know

Maurice Carmody

Taigh Kennelly

Kieran O’Sullivan

Don’t Know

Connor Hayes

Kevin Donovan


A Thought provoking poem for you

the nation whose people are sheep,and whose shepherds mislead them.

Pity the nation whose leaders are liars,
whose sages are silenced,

and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice,

except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero

and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.

Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own

and no other culture but its own.

Pity the nation whose breath is money

and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.

Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode

and their freedoms to be washed away.

My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.”

― Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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