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 Town Square Page 1 of 3

An Obituary, a Joke and More

Knockanure church at Easter 2022 by Jer Kennelly


John Molyneaux R.I.P.

David Kissane’s Tribute to the late John Molyneaux concluded

On one particular occasion, my father hadn’t finished the Western he was reading and I went into the college on Saturday Western-less. Scared stiff and I had forgotten the name of the book! If you failed to bring back the book, Mr Molyneaux would ask you what the plot was and who the main characters were. He was not pleased if you weren’t reading these Westerns. Around he came to each desk to collect the books. I could sense a cloud coming over my desk as I struggled to remember the name of the book I hadn’t read! “Well, Kissane, what book have you been reading?” he boomed as I fumbled in my school bag under the desk for the book that wasn’t there. A thick, deep dark silence followed. My fate seemed obvious and inevitable, a feeling so very of those times. Red-cheeked and broken, I called out the name of the only Western I could remember, “Something to Hide” and added with embarrassment, “I think my father borrowed it!” A smile from the teacher and a titter around the class. He passed on but when he was distributing the Westerns a few minutes later for the coming week, he read out the titles so that the students would put up their hands to choose which one they wanted. “And we have one left” he said with a smirk, “Something to Hide”! A dead silence permeated the class and I was ready to sink down through the ground. He allowed the moment to expand as the class awaited an execution! But it was Saturday and all he said was “Kissane, I think you have something to hide all right!” and dropped the book on my desk as the bell was rung outside the door. The great escape.

I read every Western after that and began to manage the complexity that was John Molyneaux.

School days are happening days and very soon after starting in St Michael’s College, the sporting side of John Molyneaux revealed itself to us. It was then his dimensionality was fully experienced. First it was football. With Johnny O’Flaherty, there was a dynamic duo who were charged and innovative in training methodology and intensity. The two Johns taught the full forwards (I was corner forward) to get possession of the long balls sent in and, instead of turning, pass it quickly to the half forwards rushing in. It worked in the Dunloe Cup final against St Brendan’s Killarney in 1970. High ball in from Jerry Kiernan at centre field landed in my hands and I could hear John Molyneaux’s imperious voice on the sideline saying “To Carroll” and before I knew it, I had let the ball into Eamonn O’Carroll’s hands – he was like a jet plane when in flight – and the net was rattled. And the referees were not safe from a Molyneaux-boom if he considered that the whistler was incorrect in his blowing! Total engagement in everything he was involved in. That was the Molyneaux way.

And of course there was athletics. In the mid-1960s, John Molyneaux was the driving force behind the formation of a BLE club in Listowel, assisted by Pat Kiernan, Michael Crowley and Johnny O’Flaherty. St Michael’s College benefitted hugely from the club, and from having the club personnel on the staff. Jerry Kiernan and co were generated. Along with Kiernan, John O’Connell, Pat O’Connell, Eamonn O’Carroll, John Hartnett (our own classmate from the class of ’72) and Gerald Leahy were the young stars of the times. It wasn’t just running…the O’Connells and Hartnett were jumpers of the top calibre. John O’Connell won the All Ireland Colleges gold medal in Santry in June 1970 with a leap of 43 feet 11 and a half inches in the triple jump. There was a broad smile on John Molyneaux’s face that day and for years after. Kiernan’s career is well known and it took Eamonn Coghlan to best him in the All Ireland schools 1500m in 1971 but Jerry was soon to run into legend. Athletics fires lit by John Molyneaux burned for a long time.

From doing running on the football pitch, sometimes without the ball, I was asked by Johnny O’Flaherty to run cross country but compelled by John Molyneaux to compete. And track too and there was the 17 mins something I ran in the 1971 North Munster 5000m to snatch a silver medal at my first North Munster schools attempt behind Mick O’Shea. Hopes were high for the mystical quest of the Munsters but inexperience allowed me to look back a few times on a hot afternoon in Rockwell College track and I got a good look at the leaders pulling away from me. I was bereft. Immediately after the race, John Molyneaux approached me and suggested, with that glint in his eye that “we’ll have to provide you with blinkers the next time, Kissane!” Ice broken. Lesson learned. 

But while dreams were shattered that Rockwell day, a love affair with athletics had begun. It was a treasure John Molyneaux and John O’Flaherty gave me for life. 

On a fine June evening in 1972, our class walked past the budding apple trees outside St Michael’s College for the last time as students. The past had happened and the future was there for the taking. There was no formal goodbye to the teachers but it did dawn on us that something special was being left behind. And special people too, like John Molyneaux.

When the Leaving Cert results reached us in the burning August 1972, there was an A beside Latin on the paper. Vital for college and a grant. My after-vision of John Molyneaux increased even more and his name was mentioned in the celebrations that followed in a Birmingham night club. I even took Latin a subject in first year in UCC but the lectures there never reached the pitch of Mr Molyneaux’s classes and it was jettisoned for second year. 

The next time I met John Molyneaux was in 1979. A fair few of the class of ’72 were also teachers now, scattered all over Ireland. The Clarence Hotel along the Liffey in Dublin and a meeting of the Dublin-based past pupils to assist with the centenary celebrations of the college. St Michael’s had been opened in 1879 in the recycled building that was the Fever Hospital. We never knew that while in the college as students!

John Molyneaux led the committee members who met us that rainy night in Dublin. A chat about how we were faring and it was only then we realised how proficient John Molyneaux was at golf. He was promoting the centenary golf event to be held later. In fact that year, 1979 he was a member of the Ballybunion Golf Club that won the Jimmy Bruen Shield in Portrush. An All Ireland winner. The first team from Kerry to win the honour and John was a key member along with such golfing names as Seán Walsh and Gerry Galvin. The college centenary celebrations were a huge success. Of course they were, with a committee man as effective as John Molyneaux on board.  

Our paths were to cross again when I returned to Kerry as a teacher in 1984. I was representing Tarbert Comprehensive School on the Kerry Colleges Football Board and there was John across the table at my first meeting. A different John now, settled into age and not at the top of the class in front of me. Was still my past-teacher though and he regained his past visage as we got to re-know each other. He was proposing to start a “Silver Circle” fundraising scheme for the Colleges Board. This was something he had been a big fan of and had recruited his students to get involved in over the years. It brought out the sales acumen in many students and accentuated their business skills. It entailed selling lines but with a commitment of a month or so by the punters and an incentive of a percentage stake by the seller. Jerry Riordan from Dromerin was particularly adept at it during our years in the college, partly because the Riordan family had a shop in Dromerin and had a consistent supply of customers. 

John retired in 1990 after a long stint at the profession. He had a long and productive retirement too. He was to be seen in The Town Park (aka the Cows’ Lawn) where he had spent the many happy hours coaching and training footballers and athletes. And he could be seen down by the Feale also. That’s where I met him on that day I last laid eyes on him. 

When a relation, colleague, neighbour, teacher, friend passes away, it is felt by all who are or were acquaintances. When we are shoving on in years, their deaths mean an empty place in the world we know, the irreversible change that lessens what it means to live. That was the feeling I got in the church in Listowel a few weeks ago on the day that John Molyneaux was laid to rest. When Canon Declan O’Connor told the congregation that John Molyneaux was the only son of an only son, was born and died in the same house in Charles St in Listowel and was a hard-working parent and husband, as well as an energetic, resourceful and innovative community and club man, it seemed strange that we hadn’t known some of these facts before. As students we had known only a fraction of the man he was. 

But many people who are gone still continue to grow in our existence. In our after-image of them, we often understand the whys behind the whats. Some of these people indeed become legends. John’s positivity for everything makes him eternal. As John Milton said “Hope proves a person deathless”.

John Molyneaux. Semper Invictus. Always undefeated.


A Laugh for You


Junior Infants

Junior Infants in Presentation Primary School from the 1983 School yearbook.



Our Outdoor Dining and Performance Space

The promise:

Kerry County Council has received funding to provide a covered outdoor meeting, dining, and performance area at the existing pedestrian area in the Square in Listowel.

It’ll comprise three 7×7 metre covered structures on steel frames, LED lighting, as well as seated benches and picnic benches.

The story so far

I don’t like to be negative about a new initiative but I’m disappointed. The covers are more for ornament than use. They may protect you from the sun but they won’t keep out the rain or the wind.

However the project is not finished yet. There are lights to go in and the seating to be restored.


Looking Back

Listowel Town Square, early morning, January 26 2022


That was then; this is now


Pres. Yearbook 1990


In Rath Luirc

Charleville Heritage Society and Charleville Men’s Shed are responsible for this newly erected memorial to townsmen who fell in The Great War.


A Problem, A Bookmark and a Landmark

Outdoor dining in Thwe Square


Two Beautiful Bookmarks

Eamon ÓMurchú has sent us photographs of two beautiful bookmarks, the work of Bryan MacMahon, poet and Michael O’Connor, artist.


A Problem Solved

(with the help of a good teacher)

Do you remember a while back I complained that my blogposts were showing up minus the sidebar and footers in tablets and phones. I blamed WordPress.

A bad tradesman blames his tools.

Jim Ryan, formerly of this parish and follower of Listowel Connection, came to my aid and gave me the Ladybird version of how to solve my problem. In solving that problem Jim has also solved another issue that has been bugging me (and probably my followers, although they don’t complain). When I post a “memory” on Facebook, the link takes you, not to the post in question, but to the most recent post. This “problem” has been with me for the whole ten years of my blogging life. Now, thanks to Jim, I’ve solved it.


Sean Walsh of Killelton Ballylongford with Noel Doyle at Carrigafoyle


St. Batt’s Well

I visited the holy well in Coolard on Sunday last. It is a haven of peace and quiet and birdsong.

This is the well. While it is dedicated to St. Batt. Much of the symbolism and the devotional rounds are more reminiscent of a marian shrine.

It is traditional to leave tokens attached to the bushes to symbolise the petitions being prayed for at the well.

It is significant that this year along with rosary beads, flowers, holy pictures and statues there are face masks hanging from the branches.


When You’re Born into a Book loving Family

Aoife’s first book!


Handball and Brightening Air, William Street and Newtownsandes Creamery and Some Writers’ Week Windows

Listowel Town Square, May 2021


Another on on the Move


Listowel Handball Alley June 1 2021


Brightening Air

Ten Days of incredible arts experience in surprising locations June 11 to 21 2021.

Listowel’s turn is on June 18 and our surprising location is the handball alley. We are part of In the Magic Hour series of dance and interview events in handball alleys around the country. Only a limited number will be able to attend the free event because of Covid restrictions but we can all see it online on June 19.

In tandem with these arts in the alleys events Coiscéim sent a project manager around the country collecting the story of handball in Ireland. My appeal encouraged a few people to talk to her and share their stories and over the next days you will be seeing lots on Listowel Connection about handball and handballsers.

Junior Griffin has compiled a history of hand balling in Listowel and most of the information that follows if from Junior.

It would appear that the site for the alley was given by Lord Listowel and the alley built in the early years of the twentieth century. The front wall of the alley is part of the big bridge. Wire netting was placed on top of this wall to prevent the ball going out on to the road above. The side walls had a railing on top. This railing was part of rail track of the `Lartigue. The Lartigue closed in 1924 so we can assume that the ball alley was built shortly after.

In a message written for the match programme to celebrate the opening of Frank Sheehy Park on May15th 1960, Seamus Wilmot, Registrar of the National University of Ireland, wrote ” When I recall the Listowel I knew before the First World War, two places come immediately to my mind, The Ball Alley and The Sportsfield….

They were the only two places where we enjoyed freedom, unrestricted in the case of the Alley, conditional as to the Sportsfield….”

This newspaper story tells us that the court was upgraded in 1954.


Newtownsandes Creamery staff

Old Newtownsandes creamery staff


Some Writers’ Week Windows

The theme of the children’s festival was Out of This World

Matt Mooney’s poetic tribute to the late John Lynch beautifully illustrated in Lynch’s Coffee Shop window.


I was Forest Bathing

It was great to be part of a live event at Listowel Writers Week 2021. Forest bathing was badly named on this occasion because we weren’t in a forest and we weren’t bathing ins the usual sense of the word.

We were in Listowel’s Garden of Europe and we were bathing in the feast for the senses in this beautiful spot.

We were “high on our own supply”, mindfully concentration on our 5 senses and letting nature heal us. This was a guided experience and most enjoyable and renewing even if I was well outside my comfort zone.

Saturday June 5 2021 Guided Forest Bathing in Garden of Europe as part of Listowel Writers’ Week 2021.

Feeling Creative after my treat for the senses I wrote this little poem

A Sense of Place

I am in Kerry, a carpet of green and gold before me.

I am in Europe, Schiller and all that is best in Europe to my right.

The Holocaust and all that is worst in Europe to me left

All around me is all that is most beautiful in Nature

Forty shades of green to see,

Birdsong to listen to

Scents of flowers

A taste of summer all around

Here I can touch all that is beautiful in Creation.


Exciting Times in Pres. Primary School, Listowel

Girls from the Presentation Primary School were delighted to be invited by the office of the Minister for Education, Ms Norma Foley to be involved in the launch of the BLAST initiative for schools. This took place on Friday June 4th in Listowel.The girls had a lovely experience and enjoyed their chat, while remaining socially distanced, with the minister. It certainly looks like an exciting programme for schools, one which the Presentation Primary Listowel will certainly be participating in.


Listowel Connection First with the News!

Straight from the horse’s mouth

I met Lizzy slaving away to be ready in time for the grand opening. She really really really hopes to open in Church Street on June 15 2021. The extra good news is that she will have outdoor seating for 40 patrons in her new place. Lots of food related news from Church Street lately, all good.


Observing the Pieties, Tidy Town Folk and a Fox Photo on my Trip to Kanturk and a library in Kildare

Long Tailed Tit

Photo by Pauline Doran , finalist in Irish Wildlife Trust’s Photography Competition.


Observing the Pieties

The following poem by the late Gary MacMahon was given to me by his brother, Owen. It is a great run through of all the old traditional practices in Kerry long ago. Thankfully many of these customs are still preserved here.

Observing the Pieties

Garry MacMahon

I confess I’m a creature of habit, as down life’s road I go

Observing annual rituals is a must for me, and so

Before the crib at Christmas Eve I kneel with all the clan

And on the feast of Stephen go to Dingle for the wran.

Then for sweet St. Brigid’s Day a straw cross I have made

To hang upon the threshold whereon it will be laid.

In the house of my Redeemer I chant a hymn of praise

My throat criss crossed with candles on the feast day of St. Blaise.

Shrove Tuesday I eat pancakes dipped in honey from the hive

And thank the Lord that yet I live and another year survived,

And when the long gospel is read before the end of Lent

Home I take the blessed palm and breathe its sacred scent.

On Good Friday I buy hot cross buns and before the day is past

Gather cockles from the sea shore and keep the old black fast

And then on Easter morn I rise to see the dancing sun come forth

Not forgetting Patrick’s Day between, as the shamrock I still sport.

The coming of the swallow, the awakening of the earth

The promise of a primrose I await with bated breath,

And lest ill luck should follow me and give me cause to grieve

I never bring whitethorn to the house upon May Eve.

June bonfires once I lighted on the feastday of St. John

A custom all but vanished as relentless time moves on.

July sees me hit for Milltown and Willie Clancy in the County Clare

In Marrinan’s pub I pay my sub and a song or two sing there.

And then its Munster Final time and the piper must be paid

To Thurles, Cork, Killarney the pilgrimage is made.

Again I fetch my fishing rod before the season’s out

Take the time to wet a line and coax elusive trout.

To the Pattern of the Virgin, from thence on to Puck Fair

The Races of Listowel come next and I’m certain to be there.

Dew drenched fields provide me with mushrooms gleaming white

While plump and juicy blackberries for my sore eyes are a sight.

When comes November of the souls and all the leaves are shed

Will you light a candle then for me as I do for the dead?

You’ve heard an old man’s story, each word I swear is true,

Be blessed thrice, take this advice I now implore of you

Don’t turn your back on dúchas or on history’s learned lore

And pass it on before it’s gone and lost forever more.


Working Hard on our Behalf

I met these hard working tidy towners on Tuesday May 7 2019. They were still working hard when I came out of my meeting.


Slow Mail in Moyvane in 1894

Kerry Sentinel Saturday, January 13, 1894; Page: 3


A move has been made by the inhabitants of Newtown and the surrounding district with a view of inducing the Post Office Officials to accelerate the postal service between Listowel and Newtown. At present letters posted in Listowel for Newton have first to go to Limerick, then to Tarbert, and from thence by foot to Newtown. The roundabout could be easily avoided by running a mail car direct from Listowel to Newtown, and it is to be hoped that the Post Office may recognise the benefits which the adoption of the change would effect, and the desirability of connecting Listowel more immediately with the surrounding districts.


Reynard, Up Close

This brave fellow stopped to pose for me  at my old home in Kanturk last week.


Kildare Town Library

I was in Kildare for the weekend and I took the opportunity to deliver some Listowel Writers’ Week brochures to the libraries round about. This is me delivering to the Kildare Town librarian, Orla.  Orla loved the programme and resolved there and then do to her best to come to the festival.  She is really knowledgeable about books and loves reading. Her library runs four book clubs!


Listowel Town Square, May 13 2019

Upgrade works have started. Should only take a few days.

Vicar Joe photobombed my picture.

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