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 Characters

Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue, Shannonside Annual and a Limerick

Éamon ÓMurchú in Dingle peninsula


Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue

Some lovely photos of a training exercise posted online by Jason O’Doherty


Shannonside Annual

For a few years in the 1950s a highlight of the year for local people was the Shannonside Annual, packed with excellent articles and poems.

Here is the Foreward to the first edition in 1956


The Beginning of The Next Listowel Characters Mural

And the finished artwork

Cormac and Louise of Mack Signs posed for me at the end of their week of long days and evenings of hard work on the latest Listowel Characters mural; August 14 2021.

I like it. It has a kind of old fashioned feel to it.


A Monday Verse

There was a young lady of Niger

Who rode on the back of a tiger; 

They came back from the ride

With the lady inside

And a smile on the face of the tiger

Edward Lear


Bread Shoes, Dried up River and Listowel Characters Mural

Skerries by Éamon ÓMurchú


A Strange Tale from the School’s Folklore Collection

Little Hands and the Bread Shoes

Once upon a time there lived a man with his wife and son war broke in France, and every Irish man had to go there, and this man had to go also. He wrote letters every day to his wife, and one a wire came to his wife that her husband got killed in the war. She had only one little boy, and he was only a baby. It was a slate house they had.
One day as the little boy was sleeping in his cradle, a slate fell off over the window, and a branch of ivy went in the window and it grew around the child’s. The child was about four years when he went to school. After a time the children got the “flu”, and the little boy took it, and he was very sick, and it was worse he was geting, and at last he died.
His mother kept a little red pair of shoes under her bed, and when she went up in the room the mice had them eaten, and then she took out a loaf of bread out of the bin and softened it in boiling water; and while she was softening the bread a man went in and asked a piece of bread for God’s sake. The woman said that she had bread inside, and she had a loaf in the bin.
The man who asked her was Christ at last the boy was buried, and the threw herself on the grave, and the neighbours pulled her away, and she went to bed after going home, and a few nights after her son appeared to her and said I am in the first step of heaven mother, but the bread shoes are keeping me back, and the night he came he said he was in the second step of heaven, but the bread shoes had kept him back and the next night he came he said he was in the third step of heaven but the bread shoes had kept him back, and then they took off the shoes, and he went to heaven. After a short time the boys mother died, and she went to heaven
Collector; Eileen Hannon Age 14-

Informant- Mrs Ellen Foley-Age 74-

Address, Mountcoal, Co. Kerry.


Wouldn’t it Lift your Heart?

This is my grandnephew in the U.S. dancing with his great grandmother at a family wedding.


Drought 2021

The River Feale at the Big Bridge is at a very low level.


Elegy to Road Kill


by John McGrath

I killed a fox last night

outside the graveyard wall.

Too late to brake I caught

a flash of golden fur

in headlight’s glare,

Felt the thump and crunch

of steel on bone,

Slow-motion silence,

Disbelief and then,


that fate had mindlessly conspired

to lead us to this place,

this point in time,

this intersecting line

where two lives intertwine

with tragedy.

One of us remained

outside the graveyard wall.

One moved on

and died a little too.


The Mural is Finished

I took the following photos on July 24 2021 as the muralist just finished the artwork. I took a few long shots to give those of you not in town an idea of where it is and to put the scale of the work in context


West Side Story 1990 and A Poignant Poem

What a Shot!

Leaping fish by Criostóir Grayson


Beautiful Church Street Home


West Side Story 1990

The operetta undertaken by Presentation Secondary School Listowel in 1990 was West Side Story.

As well as excellent actors, dancers and singers, some of the principals were also excellent writers. Dave O’Sullivan found the following essays by some of the cast published in The Kerryman.


A Poem for You


By John McGrath

I broke my father’s spade today.

Bent the blade against a sullen stone

and felt the final fracture. 

Saw the gaping wound and knew

that wood and steel no longer bound

his hand to mine, this line

between us lost beyond recall.

Caressed the silken shaft

of polished ash, where

fingers’ grip and hip

and sinewed thigh combined

with wit and skill

to break reluctant soil.

I broke my father’s spade and thought on Time,

the sullen stone that one day breaks us all.



Stop Press, Stop Press…..Listowel is going to be Gorgeous

I just got the most marvellous email from Maeve Queally.

Listowel Characters

Listowel Characters is a project that was conceived when we were developing the brand.
We wanted to leverage what we are known for as a town and bring it together in one creative project. Colourful Unique Shopfronts / Signwriting / Literary HeritageTo create a Literary & Visual Treasure Trail
The objective of this project is to work with local and national talent to create a visual narrative of the literary heritage of Listowel. We want to make it accessible to the public and to reinvigorate the streets of the town with bold, colourful and thought-provoking artwork.
Each artist/sign-writer is assigned a wall to work on. The Artist/Signwriter would then choose a quote or excerpt from the works of a North Kerry writer to create a bold, colourful, typographic mural in their chosen style. We worked with Writers’ Week to come up with a shortlist of quotes.
We have secured 3 walls so far and have engaged the following Artists/Signwriters:Martin Chute – Listowel – (He will be commencing his wall in the early Autumn)Garreth Joyce  – from Cork has been assigned the old ESB Wall and it is in progress. His work is experimental and modernCormac Dillion – from Dublin is starting his work on Kays Wall on Charles St next week. His work is in a more traditional style of sign writing.
The project is lead by The Listowel Business & Community Alliance and is being supported by Kerry County Arts and Creative Ireland.
It’s a really exciting project and hopefully will bring tourists into town when the greenway is open next year. If you want to know any more please feel free to get in touch.
Best Regards,Meave

Lads, I’ve looked at the work of all these signwriters and we are so lucky to have them agree to work on the town. The place will be transformed, I tell you. We’ll be the envy of the country. Let’s hope we don’t get notions.

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