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 4

Big Developments planned for Listowel

Con Dillons in July 2023


Big Changes Planned

According to a story in Kerry’s Eye, Listowel is due a windfall of €900,00 to bring “three transformational projects” to planning stage by 2024.

  1. The re-establishment of Listowel Town Square as the cultural heart and economic centre of Listowel.
  2. Positioning of Listowel as a hub of activity tourism in North Kerry
  3. Establishment of a state of the art enterprise centre space for remote working.

“The Public Realm Plan also aims to enable Listowel Town to transition to a competitive, low carbon, climate -resilient and environmentally sustainable economy.” John Kennelly, Listowel Town Manager.

Three more concrete parts of the plan are

Development of the Neodata site as an outdoor activity hub

Turn the Ball Alley into an outdoor performance space. (This is not part of the plan but I think that maybe when no one is performing there it could be used to revive handball)

Reimagining Kerry Writers’ Museum


Bike Stands

Especially for the folk coming into town via our new greenway, but for local cyclists as well, bike stands are popping up all over.


Memories, Memories

Eleanor Belcher’s story continues…

There were  several families in the Small Square who were part of our ‘gang’ . Gertie Kennelly and I started school together. She cried so much that she was brought home for another year. Her father used to stand outside the shop  and tell me  on my way home from school that all my father had to do was  to say ‘put out your tongue ‘ and ask for £1.  

There were the Sheehy boys across the road who were very much part of our childhood. Jerry was the comic lover. The Galvins, Mercedes and Monty were at the Central Hotel with its ‘Erin go Bragh’  plaster relief. They had two older half brothers who lived in the USA and came home occasionally bringing amazing gifts for Merc and Monty. There was an icecream machine in Galvins and getting a cone from there was a huge treat. 

There were not many cars , Mr Galvin had one similar to Mr McElligott.  The road ran on the opposite side of St John’s church then. We played outside all the time, ball games and ‘picky’ and hopscotch on the footpath.  . Rollerskating became very popular as we got to about seven/ eight and on halfday Mondays we had races along the main road. Maura Fealey was the star.! A picture of us rollerskaters appeared in the Kerryman and was used to illustrate a Kerryman book of photographs to capture the 60s which was published some years ago. 

(Thank you, Dave O’Sullivan for finding the photo. And he found the other one referred to in the caption as well.)


A Familiar Face in a Familiar Place

I ran into Kay Landy in The St. Vincent de Paul shop on Saturday July 22 2023. Kay was a stalwart of that shop and of the local Vincent de Paul society for years. It was lovely to see her looking so well. She was accompanied on Saturday by her daughter, Breda.


A Fact

Greg Norman won the British Open Golf Championship at Tunberry in 1986.


Changes in The Square

William Street, April 2023


Changes in Listowel Town Square

Some things in The Square have remained the same for centuries. Somethings are very new.

We have free Wifi.

We have a defibrillator

We have an outdoor public seating and dining area.

And we have 2 EV charging points.


St. Mary’s at Eastertime


Shortlist announced

These are the novels shortlisted for the prestigious award of Kerry Book of the Year at Listowel Writers’ Week 2023. The Kerry sponsored prize is a very generous €20,000. The winner will be announced on the opening night of the festival on May 31st 2023.

You can pick up a quick taster of this year’s programme in shops around town or on the website. The full programme will be available shortly.

Visit the website to book tickets for events or to volunteer to be part of this year’s festival.

Listowel Writers’ Week


Listowel Pitch and Putt Club celebrating 50 years


A Doting Grandad

My Aoife’s grandad is a gardener and an outdoor person. He found a new use for his wheelbarrow recently.


Coming to Writers Week 2023

Joseph O’Connor’s latest book tells the story of a Kerry World War 2 hero, Fr. Hugh O’Flaherty.

At 3.00 p.m. on Sunday June 4th you can catch Joseph O’Connor in a Writers’ Week 2023 event with Richard Ford.


A Fact

In 1945 a computer at Harvard malfunctioned while it was being tested. When the lady who was working on it at the time investigated she found a moth had got into one of the circuits and she removed it. Ever since, when something goes wrong with a computer, it is said to have a bug in it.


Biden, A Lorgadawn and other stories

Lower Church Street in April 2023


Friday Market

Our Friday Market in The Square has been slow to get back on its feet after Covid. There were only three stalls there on the April Friday I visited. Hopeful we will soon see the market back to full strength and maybe even with a bit of music.


Trees on Listowel Pitch and Putt Course


President Biden, A Listowel Connection

I’ve posted this before but it is timely to post again.

Eamon OMurchú in 1974 is seated on the steps of Capitol Hill with Senator Joe Biden.

Here in Éamon’s words is the story behind the picture:

During the summers of 1974, 1975 and 1976, it was my pleasure and privilege to act as  Group Leader on Summer Teacher Programmes to University of Delaware, U.S.A. Teachers from first-level, second-level and third-level from Irish Schools, Colleges and Universities participated in these programmes on Comparative Education.  A central element of these programmes was that we stayed at weekends with host-families.  It was my privilege to stay with a family in Wilmington each year – and I am ever since in very close contact with that family.  Another element of the programme was a five-day stay in Washington D.C., during which we visited the White House, the Capitol, the Irish Embassy, the Kennedy Centre, Arlington Cemetery and other locations of importance and of interest. 

It was also my privilege to greet Ted Kennedy on the steps of the Capitol in 1975 – and I also have a photograph of that occasion!

Through these teacher programmes many Irish teachers during the 1960s and 1970s had the opportunity to visit the United States during the summer, study at American Universities, stay with American families, learn about the American educational system and way of life, while at the same time bringing to America the rich cultural heritage of music, song and literature here in Ireland. We used every opportunity to do this.  The man who spearheaded these programmes was Mr. Stephen Daly of ITP Travel, Terenure, who, sadly, is no longer with us.


In Tralee

I took this photo recently of The Kerryman building in Tralee. What a lovely old streetscape, well preserved.


A Lorgadawn Hurler in Kilbaha

(From Kilbaha School in the Schools’ Folklore Collection in the National Library)

One day below in Mick Hanrahan’s field there was a hurling Match and a lorgadán came out of the ditch with a hurley, and he sided up with one team and it was him that was hurling all the time, so the two teams said they would play the lorgadán and as fast as he would hurl the ball he would have it hurled again before it would reach the ground so it was him that won. Then they all gathered around him to catch him but when they were near him he leaped over their heads and went nto the ditch.

This tale was told to Patrick Kennelly to Patrick McMahon


A Fact

Leonardo da Vinci was one of the most extraordinary people who ever lived. He was a painter, sculptor, architect and engineer.

He was the first to record that the number of rings in a cross section of a tree trunk reveals its age. He also discovered the the width between the rings indicates the annual moisture.

His party trick… he could write with one hand and draw with the other at the same time.

He could also bend iron with his bare hands.

Extraordinary or what?


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.


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