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 Heatwave a century ago and a Look at Listowel Primary Care Centre today

Grotto at O’Connell’s Avenue

O’Connell’s Avenue Grotto


From Sr. Consolata’s Scrapbook


One Hundred Years Ago

Listowel was basking in sunshine on June 16 1921 according to this old newspaper unearthed by Dave O’Sullivan.

Could History be about to repeat itself?


Listowel Primary Care Centre

Listowel Primary Care Centre is a purpose built medical services facility in Greenville.

I have never been to the primary care centre. My friend was visiting the dietician and I asked her to take a few photos.

In this photo you can see a section of the old stone wall that divides the centre from the community hospital.


Living Her Best Life

This is Delia O’Sullivan in David Morrison’s picture. This image was used by The Jack and Jill Foundation as part of their fundraising Art sale.

You can still buy the cards as part of a pack on the Jack and Jill website.

Delia chose another picture from the same session for the cover of her new book of creative pieces. The book includes some of Delia’s prizewinning essays as well as new work.

Why the onion? I discovered on reading Delia’s book that her mother called this vegetable an ingin. I thought my mother was the only one who pronounced onion thus. Anyone else encounter this weird pronunciation of this everyday word?

John McGrath was responsible for introducing me to the work of this heartwarming and amusing writer. John has done invaluable work in encouraging and mentoring local writing talent.

I’ll be bringing you a few of John’s own poems soon.


Nicknames, Covid 19, The Bridge to Nowhere and The Spinning Wheel Restaurant

2016 just before Bailey and Co. opened


Listowel Small Square with the Spinning Wheel Restaurant where Footprints is now


Fighting the Surge

Mike O’Donnell’s cartoons celebrate the bravery of our frontline medics.


Back to the Bridge

Do you remember the old story here about the bridge outside Duagh that was built at huge expense and then lay idle for years? This tale sparked Joe Harrington’s interest and he did a bit of digging…

Hi Mary. As you outlined last week Mr Flavin MP questioned Balfour about Duagh Bridge in the House of Commons in 1898 as to why the bridge built in 1891, seven years previously, was not available for public use. Interestingly, the bridge is mentioned in a list of tenders for road maintenance in the Kerry Evening Post of November 16, 1892 where it was referred to as a “new bridge”. The Grand Jury of Kerry had erected the bridge at a cost of £3,496 10s. Gerard Balfour, the Chief Secetary, acknowledged that; “…no proper crossing has been provided by the railway company at this point. The grand jury, …state they have no power to employ a person to look after the gate… I am advised there is no legal provision under which the railway company or the grand jury can be required to provide a crossing, and the Board of Trade inform me they have no power to intervene.” 

Mr Flavin tried to ask why the Grand Jury had used ratepayer’s money to build a bridge without first sorting things with the railway company, but he was ruled out of order.

The railway line existed before both the new road and Duagh Bridge over the Feale, running from Foildarrig to Lacka East, was put in place.  Why the Waterford and Limerick Railway Company did not agree to a level crossing to facilitate the opening of the new connecting road and bridge is not clear. The reasons may have been the high cost of constructing or staffing the crossing or, as Mr Balfour said, there was no legal compulsion on them to do so. 

Interestingly, the Limerick & Waterford Railway Act was passed in 1826. It was the first Act authorising an Irish Railway Company, but it wasn’t until May 1848 that the Company began to build their rail network.  The line from Ballingarrane Junction (two miles north of Rathkeale) to North Kerry was opened in December 1880 so, when it came to the question of a level crossing for a new road, the Railway company had ‘squatters right’ so to speak. 

Two years prior to Mr Flavin’s unsuccessful representations to government the Kerry Evening Post of March 11, 1896 carried a report on the proceedings of the Grand Jury and its efforts to deal with the problem of the ‘bridge-to-nowhere’. A report stated, in the absence of an agreement with the Railway Company on the construction of a level crossing, the cost of a bridge over the railway line would be £700 and it would cost £1,000 to carry the road under the Railway line. 

Moving into the next century the Kerry Evening Post of August 9, 1902 reported that the County Surveyor urged the Council to approve the works regarding the approach road to the ‘railway bridge at Duagh”.  At this stage it seems the Railway Company had agreed to build a bridge over the railway line but the Surveyor “had not yet heard from the company as to when they will proceed with it”.   The work on the approach roads required the taking in of one and quarter acres of land. Lord Listowel claimed compensation at the rate of £22. 10s per Irish acre and two of his tenants, William Stack and Daniel Keane, claimed £90 and £60 respectively for the loss they would sustain. The total claimed by the tenants for the one and a half acres would be around €20,000 when updated to today’s money values! The Council also had the option of compulsory purchase. 

So, it seems Duagh Bridge carried no traffic for the first twelve years of its existence – a possible world record! The nearby railway bridge that was eventually built to allow traffic to proceed no longer spans a railway line – instead it will offer a fantastic view of the North Kerry Greenway which will pass under it.  This railway bridge and the nearby Duagh Bridge makes yet another interesting story for the many visitors who will traverse the Greenway in the future.


A Kerry Story from The Examiner

Story and photo from The Irish Examiner

Former Kerry hurler John ‘Tweek’ Griffin has topped the poll to find Ireland’s most iconic sporting nickname.

Griffin, who retired in 2017 after 15 years in the Kerry senior jersey, just held off another Kingdom legend Tim ‘Horse’ Kennelly by less than 100 votes.

In a 2018 interview with the Irish Examiner , Griffin said he has no idea where the nickname ‘Tweek’ originated, though he recalls it had already stuck by the time he was in first class in school in Lixnaw. 

Kerry football great Kennelly won five All-Ireland medals, earning the ‘Horse’ tag due to his formidable strength from the centre-back position.

Making up the top five polled were Cork hurling powerhouse Diarmuid ‘The Rock’ O’Sullivan, former Cork City star Liam ‘The Conna Maradona’ Kearney, and ex-Kilkenny hurler Martin ‘Gorta’ Comerford.

Munster rugby duo John ‘Bull’ Hayes and the late Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley also feature in the top 10.

It’s clear the poll particularly captured imaginations in a certain pocket of North Kerry, turning into a head-to-head between local rivals Listowel Emmets and Finuge/Lixnaw.


A Poem from Noel Roche

Noel is a recovering alcoholic. His road to recovery had many painful twists and turns. He acknowledged some of them in poetry.

This is a  sad poem of relationship breakdown


Listowel Primary Care Centre

John Kelliher photographed this facility from start to finish.

Listowel Primary Centre, Writers’ Week in 1983 and Evictions in 1881

Listowel Primary Care Centre in February 2020

The Primary Care Centre looks finished, landscaping done and all.


Listowel Writers’ Week Committee 1983

In Writers Week we’re looking back at 50 festivals and the people who helped run them. Here is the 1983 committee. Apologies to the two ladies whose names I can’t remember.

Front Row: Kieran Moloney, Helen Kenny,  ? , Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Marjorie Long, Maurice Lonergan, Maureen Beasley

Back: Margaret Reidy, ? Mairead Pierse, Louise Griffin. Madeleine O’Sullivan, Michael O’Connor, Mary McGillicuddy, Joe Murphy, Nora Relihan,Anne Kennedy Truscott (née O’Rourke), Mary Cogan (hidden) Noreen Buckley and Padraig Kelly


Evictions in North Kerry in 1881

Kerry Sentinel 06.05.1881, page 3 (Edited Version)

Important Meeting of Lord Ormaithwaite’s Tenantry in the parishes of, Listowel, Ballydonoghue, Newtownsandes, Lixnaw, Irremore and Ballybunion were at a meeting in the Land League Rooms in Listowel. They decided that 25% over Griffith’s valuation was a fair rent. Mr George Sandes the landlords agent refused the offer and offered an abatement of 15%, he agreed to meet Lord Ormaithwaite and let them know his reply in a few days.

The cases of the eviction in Gunsboro of Broder and Kissane, who were uncharitable put out on the road at the end of their working life, had the sympathy of all tenants.

Priests in attendance Rev. M O’Connor , P.P. Ballybunion; Rev James Burke, P.P. Newtownsandes, Rev James Casey C C. Listowel; Rev F Cremin, C.C. Lixnaw; Rev. M. Godley, C.C. Ballybunion; Rev F. Carmody, C.C. Newtownsandes, and the rev B. Scanlon, C.C. Duagh.

Priest of the Listowel Deanery held meeting and deplored the evictions on the property of Mr. Gunn Mahony and absentee, a dying man, father of large family was flung on the roadside without any shelter. North Kerry was tranquil, but it is with horror they contemplate the future, if  the evictions of law abiding and industrious people, continues.

Meeting of influential Listowel people, about the water supply, £1,000 spent on works, at present quite useless, they are going to the Board of Guardians to complain.


River Feale in stormy February 2020

Turfcutting, A Tall Tale and Listowel Primary Care Centre

Photo: Bridget O’Connor


Shlawns or Sleáin

This poor man when he was breaking his back cutting turf in some midland bog sometime in the last century never dreamed that one day he would be famous on the internet.

The sight of him working his slean and Kate Ahern from California with a totally different method of turf cutting prompted Vincent Carmody to share a few thoughts with us about his experience of this implement.

“….I was going to to explain to you about the different type of Sleans, however I desisted, as people would say, Carmody thinks he knows everything !!. However,as  I have been involved in helping, cutting, and saving my families and my own turf since the 1950s up to the present day, you might say I have a little experience.  


The type that is used up the country is called a breast slean, is is amenable for a one or two man exercise, with this slean the cutter has more control and can deposit the cut sod up on the bank in one movement. If needed, he could have a second man spreading the cut turf on the bank, With the one used in North Kerry, you had the cutter, who cut the sod which fell forward off the slean, the breancher ?  He was positioned in front of the sleanman, he would pike the sod up on the bank as soon as it fell from the slean, Then, in North Kerry fashion, a third man, overhead on the bank, he was known as the spreader, would spread the turf as far out on the bank as was required by however deep down in the bog hole they were cutting. 

A lot of people would cut the turf down to the mud. The depth of bogs varied, Shallow bogs might be only 2 sods deep, whereas, in the likes of Lyre or up the midlands, the bank could be, 8, 10 or even more sods deep. “



Listowel Primary Care Centre Update

I took this photo  last week. It looks like the building of this huge facility is nearing completion.

This picture gives you a better idea of where the Primary Care Centre is located.


Away with The Fairies in Rathea

Years ago a man and his wife and daughter who were living in Rathea were coming home from town in a horse and car. Himself and his daughter was sitting in front and his wife was sitting behind. They came on to Pike glasha where the horse took a drink. 

When they were coming up the hill he missed his wife from behind him and he says “God help me my heart is broke from her”. She was in the habit of getting the falling sickness. He knew there was no use in looking for her for he always said that the good people had something to do with her. 

He came home cráite and he told a few of the neighbours that his wife was missing and they came to the house to spend the night with him. About midnight the door opened and in walked his wife with a riding switch in her hand and they all knew that the riding switch didn’t belong to the house nor any of them never see it before. She faced the ladder that was near the dresser and went up a few steps and put the switch on the top of the dresser saying as she did so “Gearoid’s pony won the race tonight”. With that she fell into one of her fits and when she got out of it she said “My cure is over in the holy water stone in the Teampaillin if anyone has courage enough to bring me a drink of water it will cure me. 

The only one that consented to go was her daughter and a neighbouring boy. Away they wint and they couldn’t make out the stone. The daughter wouldn’t come home without the water and she called a neighbour living near the Teampaillin and he came and his dog followed him. The dog happened to run on before them. When they were nearing the stone he was struck and ran away

yelling and they found the stone and got the water. She brought it home and gave it to her mother and she got alright. Some of the water fell on the daughter’s hand she rubbed her hand to her eye and she was blind for the remainder of her life in that eye and the two men that were with her one of them got a sudden death and the other one was crippled for life.

Seán Treannt
Rathea, Co. Kerry
Rathea, Co. Kerry

Glenteenassig, Europe on William St. and Listowel Primary Care Centre and Knockane


Photo Credit:  Gosia Wysocka on This is Kerry


Clounmacon GAA


Polish Restaurant

Sometimes I regret not putting dates on photos. Listowel people will recognise this as Lower William Street and the premises that is now Lizzy’s little Kitchen. For a short time this restaurant was a Polish restaurant called Europe.


Entrance to new Primary Care Centre


Hidden Treasure

This is from the Dúchas folklore schools collection. I’m including the original manuscript because the handwriting is so beautiful.

This is what it says in case you are finding it hard to read. Cnochán is Knockane.

There is a hill in the townland of Listowel and it is called the Cnocán. This is a fairly large hill and it covers about two acres of ground. It is composed of a mixture of sand and clay. It is supposed to have been drawn in bags by the Danes. The hill is situated midway between two Rivers – the Feale and the Gale and according to local legend the Danes drew the sand from both rivers on their backs. At the south end of this hill which is about twenty feet high there is a beautiful well continually overflowing with clear water and which never runs dry even in the most prolonged periods of drought. But the most remarkable thing about this hill, is that it was raised up in the middle of a flat boggy plain and was supposed to command a view of the River Feale and the River Gale.

B. Holyoake
Listowel, Co. Kerry
Michael Holyoake
Listowel, Co. Kerry

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