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 listowelconnection@gmail.com

Tag: Listowel Library Page 1 of 3

Old Library and Young Ladies

Tarbert; Stephen Brennan

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Carnegie Library

Listowel’s Carnegie Library

Denis Quille found this old photo of The Bridge Road. In it, on the right hand side, you can see the remains of the old library.

Quick recap on the history of that building.

In 1910 local leaders recognised the need for a library in town. They passed a motion at the UDC meeting to approach Lord Listowel for a site. They proposed to approach The Carnegie Trust for money to fit it out and then to pay for the upkeep from an extra penny on the rates.

The story dragged on a bit with approaches to Crosbie, Lord Listowel’s agent, to the Carnegie trust, a bit of a local kerfuffle when a Cork firm got the contract etc. until 1915 when the library or Hall as it was known was finally opened.

Listowel’s own Carnegie Hall was the town hall, a concert venue, a classroom and meeting room as well as a free lending library.

It thrived and served the people of the town well until one Sunday night in 1921 at the height of The Troubles, the building was gutted by fire. Fearing that the dreaded Black and Tans, who were on their way to town, would set up headquarters there, the local IRA burned the building. The UDC records as well as the books and equipment were all lost. A notice posted on the burned out shell claimed that the IRA had saved it from “the army of occupation”.

The ruin of the building remained on Bridge Road, a grim reminder of a troubled time until it was eventually levelled to make way for a store.

Derry Buckley who knows Bridge Road well has done a bit of research for us.

Derry has circled the houses which were built by his grandfather.

“Jerry Buckley, my Grandfather built a house, and then lived in it while he built another. He moved home to the next house as he went along, Dad was born in 37 Bridge Rd. in 1932. The twins who died were born in another then Beatrice and Toddy in the corner house 51 in 1938. The end houses which are in the photo 53 and 55 were built after this so pic is about 1940.”

Another piece of evidence that the photo is younger than I thought is the presence of electricity wires. Listowel had electricity before rural electrification. 

The below quote is  

Listowel Electric Light and Power Co. Ltd. was in operation before 1927. It supplied 336 homes and businesses in 1929, and was acquired by ESB in September 1929. 

 Source: ESB Archive

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Old Photo from the Pres Class of the early sixties.

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Ladies Day 2022

There was a prize this year for the most creative hat. I have a suggestion for next year. I think there should be a prize for the best hat made by an amateur. I saw lots of brilliant hats which were works of art but really didn’t stand a chance competing against the professionals.

Barbara Mulvihill looked so good in a hat made by her mother.

The model’s Mammy made this one too.

This Galway lady told me she made her own chapeau.

This creation won the prize on Ladies Day 2022. It was worn by Breda Butler, from Thurles, Co. Tipperary. She bought her canary yellow headpiece from milliner Cathriona King to compliment her dress from Kimono in Newcastle West,

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Winter’s on Its Way

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Our Library

Carnegie on Sunday Sept. 4 2022

Have you wondered why this building is called the Carnegie Free Library?

Andrew Carnegie was born in Scotland but grew up and rose to fame in America. At the time of his death in 1919 he was the richest man in America. He made his fortune in steel.

Andrew Carnegie is most famous today as a writer and a philanthropist. He built swimming pools and laboratories in the U.S. He built Carnegie Hall.

On this side of the world he is best known for his free libraries. He was a believer in the value of education and one plank of widespread free education was access to books.

Carnegie set up free public libraries all over the English speaking world. Listowel was one of the many towns that applied to the Trust, securing a library for the town.

As you can see from newspaper cuttings of the time (sourced for us by Dave O’Sullivan) there was a bit of a local spat that delayed matters somewhat.

The first library was built in Bridge Road.

Denis Quille sent us this photograph a few years ago of the library building on Bridge Road after it was burned down during The Troubles.

The present building that bears Carnegie’s name is no longer a library. Our new free public library is located in the Courthouse Plaza. It is part of the National Free Library service. Carnegie is still commemorated in the name of the fine building in Church Street.

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John B. Keane’s Sive

John B.’s famous play is said to have roofed more churches than any other. This refers to its popularity with rural amateur groups.. It is still popular with audiences today.

Back in 1958 when the play was in its heyday and winning accolades all round it, John B. got a local art teacher to paint a mural on the wall behind the bar in John B.’s. The picture was of the final scene in the play, Sive. Liam Scuab comes into the kitchen where Sive’s foster parents are preparing for her wedding the next day. In his arms Liam has the lifeless body of the drowned girl. It is a dramatic moment in the play shocking in its portrayal of the consequences of the actions of all the other characters. Every one on the stage had, through inaction or action brought about Sieves tragic death.

Katie Lucey as Sive in a re enactment of the final scene in Sive.

On Aug 25 2022, the artist, Moira Keane returned to John B.’s pub.

Billy invited her back to sign her work 53 years after she originally painted it. The local drama group re enacted the final scene from the play. We had a great night. It was great to be back at pub theatre after a long absence.

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Passing of a Pet

R.I.P. Dinny. I don’t think I have ever mentioned this fellow here before. He was my brother’s 15 year old house cat who passed away last week. The home place isn’t the same without him.

When I called yesterday, I saw this thoughtful card from the vets that looked after Dinny as he came to the end of the road.

Small things mean so much that they are not small things at all.

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Summer’s Over

All back at school after a great summer. Time is flying by.

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Kells Bay Gardens, Turf cutting and Awards for dancers and musicians

Beautiful Kells Bay Gardens




Kells Bay Gardens is a beautiful sub tropical forest park on The Ring of Kerry. It is a truly magical place with dinosaur sculptures carved from fallen trees, forest paths, moss laden trees and rippling streams all nestled in a saucer surrounded by hills.



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Well done Balydonogue Dancers and Listowel Pitch and Putt


Cathaoirleach of Listowel Municipal District Cllr Jimmy Moloney, presenting Ballydonoghue CCÉ Dancers, 

Aoibhín Lyons Captain, Órla Mahony, Sarah Murphy, Audrey Ryan, Molly Linnane, Edel Dillane, Shauna Carey, and Grace Heffernan, Cian Horgan, members of Listowel Pitch ’n Putt Club, Grainne Toomey, Sara Allen at the Kerry County Council Annual Awards, at the Great Southern, Killarney on Friday night. Also included is Cllr Mike Kennelly, Joan McCarthy, Manager Listowel Municipal District. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan

( I took the photo and caption from Facebook. Apologies to the people whose names are missing)

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All Ireland Turf Cutting Competition

The first All Ireland Turf Cutting Championship was held on 21st April 1934 at Allenwood, Co. Kildare. From the late 1600s to the end of the 19th century around 6 to 8,000,000 tons of turf were cut each year for home heating and sale. The industry in the 1800s mainly produced moss peat for animal litter and some briquettes. However by the early 1900s the amount of turf cut each year had fallen to around 3,000,000 tons. 

The turf cutting championships were organised as part of a campaign to increase the amount of turf cut and reduce the imports of coal. Eamon De Valera and other Ministers attended each year. The competitions ran from 1934 until 1939. When the war started everybody went back to the bog so the competitions were no longer needed. This photo shows the wing slean competition in 1934.

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LISTOWEL LIBRARY IS HOSTING AN OPEN DAY 

On Saturday 29th February. there will be a library tour at 11.00 am and 3.00 pm. Each tour will include a presentation on Online Resources so people should feel free to bring along their devices and we can answer any questions.  Also : every Saturday morning at 11.00 am we have Storytime & crafts for Smallies  –  For queries  068-23044

Coin Holder, The Sacrament of Confirmation, work at the library plaza and Writers’ Week 2019 draws nearer

Irish Wildlife Photography Competition Finalist

Pine Marten; Kenny Goodison

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Remember These?




This is a handy coin purse. They were given to customers to mark the introduction of decimal coinage. That was in the good old days when banks gave little nick nacks to customers, money boxes, calendars, diaries, pens etc. 

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The Swallows are late this year


Mike and Sue Nilsson are great supporters of North Kerry in general and Listowel in particular. They spend part of ever year here. It is their second home. They are back just in time for Writers’ Week and the visit of our President to present our Tidy Town accolade.

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Gifts of the Holy Spirit




The sanctuary in St. Mary’s with the Confirmation altar cloth

These gifts are in addition to the seven big ones…..wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. ..

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The Library Plaza

Lots of work going on here. I’ll keep you posted. You would never guess we are expectoing a very important visitor.

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Listowel Writers’ Week 2019



Nearly there now!

Maria, Sinead and Máire  took a minute away from their busy lives to pose for me as I waited for my Ard Curam concert tickets on Wednesday.

Listowel Writers’ Week 2019 opens in The Listowel Arms on May 29th. There is a great festival in store so get booking before it’s too late.

My friends were planning their week when who should pop by but Catherine Moylan , this year’s chair of Listowel Writers’ Week accompanied by Liz Dunn, last year’s chair. Who better to advise  one on the not to be missed events?

And then this happened…….

The Listowel Writers’ Week team won Gold at the Kerry Community Awards in Killarney last evening, May 16 2019.

William Street, Nolan’s, an overdue library book and more from the 2019 Parade

William Street, Listowel

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Pat Nolan’s, Charles St.

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St. Patrick’s Day 2019



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A Patient Dog at Lidl, Listowel



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Caught on Camera


I was snapped taking a penalty against Elmo. Thank you Listowel Celtic!

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It was Roses Roses all the way






Denis Hegarty was having a whale of a time in New York on St. Patrick’s Day posing with mayors, Roses, gardaí and all

Mr. OShea and Tara who has family in Tralee

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Truth is often Stranger than Fiction



Local media this week were all agog about the return to the public library of a book that was overdue by 50 years.

Like all good stories this one is not without an ironic twist. The book was a biography of Andrew Carnegie, the founder of the trust that funded Listowel’s and other libraries around the world. Our library used to be known as The Carnegie Free Library and thanks to funding by the Carnegie trust the library service was free for years and years. Maybe the borrower thought that the books were free too.

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Meanwhile in Rattoo on March 17 2019




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Just a Thought



My last week’s Thoughts from Radio Kerry are at the link below.

Just a Thought

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