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 Races 2019 Page 1 of 2

Listowel Races 2019 and Kerry Hospice Coffee Morning in The Listowel Arms

Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

My young visitors picked some of my apples for me before we headed to the races.

My house guests, Sean and Killian Cogan and Seán and Clíona McKenna met up with Mary Moylan in the Small Square.


Photos I took on the Friday of Listowel Races 2019


More from Kerry Hospice Coffee Morning on September 19 2019

Apologies for all the shadows. The sun was strong.


Names for girls…Take 2

Hope I’m right this time

Front row Ann Gleeson
Mary Keane,Noreen Scanlon,Noreen McSweeney,Geraldine Flaherty
Angela Breen,Bride Given, Kathleen Kenny
Maisie McSweeney, Eileen Scanlon

Vintage Day at Listowel Races 2019, Killarney Jostle Stones and Culture Night 2019

All over for another year

My lovely boys gone back home after a few days in Kerry.


Vintage Recycle Upcycle Day at Listowel Races 2019

The tent was full. There were some lovely outfits on show. The mens’ competition seems to have attracted many more entries this year.

The organising committee on behalf od Listowel Tidy Towns were busy interviewing the entrants and hearing their stories.

The winner (on right )and first runner up


Enjoying the Races and the Sunshine

Agnes and Jimmy were enjoying the Saturday race meeting.

An unusual and tragic event at the races. This is so sad for the owners and all associated with this poor horse.


Jostle Stones Again

They have them in Killarney too. I’m getting a great thrill out of my blog followers spotting these for us around the country.


Church Street Girls in 1958

Miriam Kiely has been in touch with the last name.

Eileen Sheridan sent us this photo and she had all the names except one. Here is the caption as Eileen had it;

It is summer 1958 and these are the girls

Front row Ann Gleeson

Mary Keane,  Noreen Scanlon, Noreen McSweeney, Geraldine Flaherty

Angela Breen, Eileen Guerin, ? ,Kathleen Kenny

Maisie McSweeney, Eileen Scanlon

Miriam thinks that the girl between Eileen and Kathleen is Bride Given, who lived with her family in the Garda Station.


Culture Night 2019

Listowel had lots of music and singing on Friday September 20th. Ard Churam choir and the local Comhaltas musicians were all playing their part.

I was in the Small Square giving out free poems on behalf of Writers’ Week. 

It’s a sign of the times that  some people couldn’t believe they were free and were reluctant to take them at first.

Then there was the other little issue of being mistaken for a Jehovah’s Witness.

Two scenarios I had nor envisaged when I volunteered for the job.

Marie, Catherine  and Éilish were my fellow poetry distributors

One of the poems which was chosen by Writers’ Week literary adviser and poet, John McAulliffe was called Corner Boys. This time it was not John B. Keane writing about this urban phenomenon but Bryan MacMahon.

MacMahon’s Corner Boys were ex soldiers mostly. They had seen awful things and glorious things

…”the sun behind a minaret….`

I sympathised with them as I too stood stood on Main Street.

“Here the lonesome Kerry winds

Shriek up along draughty streets,

And how around the corner 

Where the corner boys are growing grey

Dreaming of sunny skies.

Woodford Pottery, Listowel Races 2019, Progress on The Greenway and North Kerry success at The Ploughing

Hands of a Master Craftsman

 Pat Murphy throwing a pot at his Woodford Pottery Studio in Sept 2019


Saturday at The Races

Saturday September 14th 2019 was a gloriously sunny day on the island. The big screens were in place to show the All Ireland Football replay between Kerry and Dublin and the Tidy Towns inspired fashion event was taking place.

 The judges were out and about mingling with the racegoers in vintage gear. In my photo the judge is in white and the lady on the far left was chosen as the winner. The rules said that your outfit had to be genuinely vintage and to have been upcycled by you. You had to wear a headpiece. This elegant lady fulfilled all these requirements.

The lovely ladies from Oonagh Hartnett’s were offering us sweets, some timely advice on sun protection, a squirt of perfume and entry into a raffle.

Another judge checking out the vintage of this lady’s garments.

 My lovely former neighbour, Anne Leneghan, came second in this smashing suit which someone else had worn to a son’s wedding. Anne had up-styled it with pearls from a broken pearl necklace and she had pinned down the lapels with a pair of pearl earrings. She was wearing her 90 year old mother’s going away hat and her lace gloves.

The always stylish Betty Stack with her daughter Maria and their friend, Anne Leneghan.

 Noelle and her friends were studying form when I interrupted them.

Gemma and Mairead Regan gave me a tip they got “from some fellow on the way in”. It won.

 Rose Wall was accompanied by her handsome son.


Good News on the Greenway

This is the report from the council meeting:

A dedicated team in Kerry County Council is to be appointed to progress two greenway projects to completion.

The status of the North Kerry Greenway was discussed at the monthly meeting of the Listowel Municipal District.

Councillor Mike Kennelly called for all resources to be put in place to get the multi-million-euro greenway from Listowel to the Limerick border over the line.

The Fine Gael councillor pointed to bureaucracy with Government departments with such projects.

Listowel MD Manager, Joan McCarthy told Cllr Kennelly that nobody is dragging their heels on the project adding that it is protection of public funds and not bureaucracy.

Kerry County Council says a senior engineer has been appointed to oversee both the North Kerry Greenway and the Tralee to Fenit Greenway; a team will be appointed shortly to progress both projects.

Work on the north Kerry project is expected to begin later this year and will take 18 months to complete.


Michael Guerin, Listowel


Upcoming Events


The Ploughing

Photo: Radio Kerry

Daniel Burke from Causeway and Derek O’Driscoll from Ballyheigue, who both claimed an All-Ireland title at this year’s Ploughing Championships

I’ve never been to “The Ploughing” but I’m told it’s possible to spend days there without seeing a plough or a ploughman. It’s a place for shopping, socialising, entertainment and education. I was delighted to see that these young men have got back to what it’s all about, celebrating the skill and art of ploughing.

Church St. Girls in 1958, Races 2019, a Funny story about the Harp and Lion and Stack’s Arcade is repainted

Well known Facade remodelled

Stacks Arcade was repainted recently. It looks absolutely smashing, modern and stylish.

Below is McKenna’s big window during race week 2019.


Anthem of the ICA

This song used to be sung at all ICA gatherings. I wonder if it still is.


Snapping the Fashion at Races 2019

Lorraine and her mother model Lorraine’s beautiful hats.

The lady on the far left, Mary Kelliher was the winner on Ladies Day.

I dont know all the names in these photos but I’m sure you’ll recognise the local ladies


Another gem from Eileen Sheridan

It is summer 1958 and these are the girls

Front row Ann Gleeson

Mary Keane,  Noreen Scanlon, Noreen McSweeney, Geraldine Flaherty

Angela Breen, Eileen Guerin, ? ,Kathleen Kenny

Maisie McSweeney, Eileen Scanlon


Some Anecdotes from Vincent Carmody

Mary,   yournice study of the Harp and Lion and of Martin of the Chute family painters dynasty reminded me of a number of stories, the first, recalled to me by John B himself.

The feature has three phrases,

Latin: Spes Mea In Deo, My Hope is in God

French: Maison De Ville,   Town House

Erin Go Bragh:  Ireland Forever.

One time, when he was quite young, he said, a number of American tourists had walked up Church Street, they were admiring McAuliffes plaster work, this particular day they stood outside the Keane families front door, looking across the road at the Harp and Lion. As they tried to decipher the various languages on the plaster work, the young John B. came out his own front door, one of the Americans sensing that the young man would have the inside information as to the meaning of the phrases, said, hey son, can you explain the meaning of the language on that piece across the road. Of course, the young Keane, sensing that a dollar tip might be in the offering, stood out on the pavement in front of the visitors and with typical confidence, said,

The Latin translation is, I am a Lion,

The Franch means, I have eaten Rhubarb, 

And with a great flourish he said, Erin Go Bragh means, don’t stand under me. 

John B. told me that the visitors gave him a standing ovation and not one but two dollars.

The Chute family have been Listowel painters and sign writers  since the 1800’s,

Bryan McMahon once recalled, he was traveling in the west of Ireland one time, and stayed for a day in the town of Gort, as he went around the town he came across a painter on a trestle, painting a house front, Bryan stood, watching the tradesman, after a while the painter looked down, recognising the Listowel man, he shouted down, Master McMahon, am I as good as the Chutes of Listowel. 

Our Listowel master craftsmen, Pat McAuliffe, Paddy Whelan (The Cement God, Galvin’s old home at the corner of The Square and Bridge Road is a great example of his work) and the Chutes are known nationally.   


Monica Garner, A Strange Souvenir of the Papal Visit and some of the colour of Listowel Races 2019

Raceweek 2019

Huge crowd on Wednesday for The Kerry National

 There were all kinds of modes of transport employed for The Races. I went to the course on shanks mare.

You could run into local people and famous people on The Island.

Speaking of transport, apparently, in other nearby countries, you can customise your numberplate to make any kind of statement about yourself.



This is NOT fake news. This award wining play is coming to St. John’s on next Thursday , Sept 19 2019 at 8.00p.m.

Richard Walsh is from Ballybunion. Come out and support one of our own.

Nominated for Best Performance & Best Production, Dublin Fringe 2018

Do you believe everything you read in the news? Are you a sceptic? A conspiracy theorist? Gullible? Did you come down in the last shower? 

When there are more than 3 million articles written about the events of any single day worldwide, how do we begin to know which of them to trust? And should we challenge authority? Can doing so lead us closer to the truth, or farther away?Join a performer, a drummer, and a writer as they attempt to uncover the real events of one day that were reported in the local, national and international news. 

If knowledge is power, then why do we now, with more access than ever before to information, feel less in control? Oneday is a high energy performance that playfully examines our unraveling and chaotic relationship with the news. 


Does Anyone remember the Mackessy family?

Monica Garner has been in touch and I’m hoping someone can help her with photos or stories of her parents and grandparents.

I love reading the emails that you produce, they bring back happy memories for me too, even though I have lived in England nearly all my life, I’m now 66 years old.

My Mum was Mary Mackessy before she married my Dad John Ryan in Listowel in 1951.  Dad was from Tipperary

I can always remember going on holidays to visit my grandparents Michael and Catherine Mackessy , they lived in a small house on Convent Street just across the river from the racecourse.  My Grandmothers name was Catherine Patt before she married and went on to have 8 children although sadly 3 of them died.  

My Mum, Mary was the eldest and  worked at the convent until she married, then moved to live in England with my Dad. Then came Josie who worked in the offices of the local haberdashery shop. After marring Andrew Hartnett they also  moved to England and settled here until my uncle died at a young age.  Josie then moved back to Listowel and lived in Charles Street with her 4 children.

The next sibling was Christie who lived with his parents and worked as a carpenter making the wooden traps that went behind the pony and traps.  He worked in a large shed in the garden overlooking the river – such happy memories.   Richard was the next child (known as Dick).  He worked at the Covent and became the head gardener after his Father died. He always lived in the family house on Convent Street, having never married.

The youngest child was Margaret (known as Peg) she went on to marry Sean Kirby, also from Listowel.  They moved to England and had 2 children.  Eventually they moved back surprise, surprise  to Listowel where they opened a bed & breakfast on Convent Street, living there until they passed away.

My grandad worked at the convent and was the head gardener until my uncle (Dick) took over after his death.  My grandmother worked at the convent as a cook.  I can also remember an uncle (John Martin) who lived opposite my grandparents, I think he was the brother of Michael, my grandfather.  I can also remember an Aunt Alice (O’Conner) who lived in O’Connell Road/Avenue.

While typing this it has brought back so many happy childhood memories.  

My daughter is composing a family tree for my Grandsons and it would be great if anyone can give me anymore information about these wonderful people.


Believe or Believe it Not

“Papal Visit Loo Seat. This is a memento of Pope John Paul ll’s visit to the Phoenix Park in September, 1979. The week before the big day, we went with my father to see how the preparations were going. The new Papal Cross was impressive but as teenagers we were far more intrigued with the construction of rows and rows of long drop toilets by teams of carpenters. No portaloos back then! Oval shapes were cut at regular intervals from plywood benches large enough for a bottom, but not so large as to lose a small child. Plywood walls were erected to form cubicles and doors were added later. We took home this oval cut out and it has been used ever since as a breadboard or pot stand, not lavished with care but well used and certainly a family treasure. On the day of the papal mass in 1979, we revisited the toilets. The queues were massive, but we were very relieved with the facilities.”

Thanks to Helen Bacon

Like this post? Well you will love the National Treasures book!!! Order it now by by visiting:



This is me receiving the final draft of my new book from Paul Shannon at Listowel Printing Works.

My new book you ask?

Yes, it’s called A Minute of Your Time and it’s a collection of my reflections as broadcast in the Just a Thought slot on Radio Kerry. The reflections are accompanied by photographs.

It’s a lovely full colour hard back book which will be launched in St. John’s, Listowel on Saturday October 19 2019. You are all welcome.

If you can’t get to St. John’s you can pre-order it by contacting me at

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