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 Writers Week 2014 Page 1 of 4

Flavins of Church St. the last of a kind, 1908 in Listowel and a Listowel connection to Florida

Is Time Running Out for the Owner Occupied shop?

This is Joan Flavin in her shop, Flavin’s of Church St. Listowel, one of the last of an endangered species: the shop run by the owner who has his/her home upstairs. 

Coinnigh do shiopa is coinneoidh do shiopa thú. This Irish proverb says “Keep your shop and your shop will keep you.” Not any more I’m afraid.

There are only about 3 such shops left in town.

  A Flavin has traded in this spot since 1880.

Market forces are working against the small newsagent. By the time the news gets to the paper now it is old news. I have heard a newspaper described to a child as “that big paper thing your grandfather is reading while you are catching up with the news on the internet.”

I love a newspaper myself, not so much for the news as for the features, the puzzles and, of course, the photographs. I would hate to see small local retailers like Flavins leave our streets. They are what adds the local colour and individuality to our town.

And lest I start a rumour, Flavins is open for business seven days a week and Joan is determined to keep the family tradition going for a long time yet. She deserves our support.


John Ross for Jewellery ………..         and a head of cabbage?

Junior Griffin ponders on changed times as evidenced in two advertisements from 1908.

adverts that appeared in the “Kerryman” on Dec. 12th, 1908 are as

For younger
people it is worth noting the poultry prices.  Those were the days when
there were 240 pence to the pound; 12 pence to the shilling and 20 shillings to
the pound.  The shilling was denoted as “s” and the penny was “d”. There
was a half crown coin which was worth 30 pence and eight of these made up a
pound.  So as one can see from the above advert, a full goose, which in
those days was more popular than the turkey, could be purchased for 2s and
6p  The turkey price was 7d per lb.(pound)

The advert,
John Ross, Jeweller, Listowel, Yes that is the same John Ross who has always
been associated with Tralee.

A native of
Aberdeen, John Ross came to Listowel in 1899.  For some reason Listowel
reminded him of his native Aberdeen and he set up business in William Street as
noted on the 1911 census. A qualified horologist (watch and clock maker) he
soon built up a respected reputation as a purveyor of exquisite jewellery.

Who knows,
maybe John Ross played Badminton in Listowel.

He sold his
Listowel business in the late 1930’s and moved to Tralee where at one time he
had no less than three shops and a farm from which the produce was also sold.

information received from his great-grand daughter was that one would find
jewellery, watches and clocks on one side of the counter and just a few feet
away one could purchase, potatoes, cabbage and carrots.

Such was the
norm for business in those days, a little bit of everything.


” Such stuff as Dreams are made on”

This is Sarah Murphy, Montessori Teacher, Artist, Art Therapist and Author.

Sarah is passionate about children. She paints them, teaches and helps them and her latest venture is an unique book concept. Her book, What if? is meant to be read by an adult and child together. The text and pictures are a conversation starter. Sarah explores common scenarios like what would happen if I ate too many sweets or if my ball rolled on to the road. The adult and young child talk together about what is the best course of action and the consequences of making a wrong decision. The idea behind the book is that when the real life situation comes up the adult and child go back to the book and revisit the conversation. Simple but effective.

So where does Minnie Mouse come in and what is the Listowel connection? I’ll answer my second question first. Sarah launched her book at Listowel Writers’ Week in 2014.

Sarah on the far right  with Listowel friends, Mary Salmon and Eileen Moylan.

Sarah at her workshop in Craftshop na Méar on May 31 2014 as part of Listowel Writers’ Week fringe programme.

Sarah with some of the young artists.

Recently Sarah was on holiday in Orlando, Florida and she visited Disneyland. She bought a book in the Disneyland book kiosk and she fell to chatting with the shop assistant.

Sarah told her about her book. The shop girl contacted her boss. Now they have agreed to stock What if? in the Disney store in Florida.

If you are lucky enough to go to Disneyland, be sure to look out for Sarah’s book in the bookshop.


Another One Gone

It is sad to see this once very busy and popular public house closed.


Sounds Good but not True…or so I’m told

Writers’ Week 2015 again and an extraordinary lady

Above is Liz Dunn in her Alice in Wonderland costume for The National Children’s Literary Festival at Writers’ Week 2015.

I have reached the conclusion that retired English people, some of them with no Irish blood in them, are the salt of the earth in many Irish rural communities. I encounter English people and hear English accents in every organization I join. Some are here because they have fallen in love with an Irish emigrant but many, like Liz, have fallen in love with Ireland and the way we live here. Many have become “more Irish than the Irish themselves.”

Liz Dunn of Athea is the human dynamo behind The National Children’s Literary Festival at Writers’ Week. I have seen her work throughout the year as she led a committee of volunteers to the great festival that was the children’s programme at this year’s Writers’ Week. She, literally and metaphorically, rolled up her sleeves and got to work. She always went the extra mile. I could exhaust every cliché for hard work and I would not have got to the essence of Liz.

She, with the help of a committee and children’s co ordinator, Maria McGrath, put together the programme for the festival. Then Liz got to work selling it. She drove around the countryside distributing brochures, she visited schools, made countless phone calls and she networked like billy-o. All of this before the festival began. It was then she came into her own in earnest.

Liz chats to committee member Antony Garvey and WW chairman Seán Lyons.

Liz lit up Listowel Community Centre with her cheerful good spirits, her bustling motherly presence and her unfailing courtesy and patience when these qualities were wearing thin in others. Liz’s childlike enthusiasm for every single event and her relentless positivity were infectious.

Will we ever forget her “festival wardrobe”? Liz was the Queen of Hearts or The Snow Queen as the occasion demanded. As soon as she donned her costume (designed and made by herself) she entered into the role and carried it off with energy and credibility.

with Xistance volunteers

Liz was usually the first in the Community Centre in the morning and one of the last to leave in the evening. She carried us all along on a wave of her unflagging energy and enthusiasm.

Whether she was meeting and welcoming authors or getting down on the floor with the children, Liz was the the soul of charm and affability.

Liz reading to a group of students on the historical walking tour of Listowel.

When Liz left her native England to settle in Athea, Limerick and Listowel Writers’ Week gained a treasure.

If I sound like I am in awe of this lady, it is because I am.


Photos from some of the children’s workshops



Creativity with Derek Mulveen

Story writing and illustration with Sheena Dempsey and Bruno

Siobhán with the hat she made in the hat making workshop

This is only a small taste of what went on in Listowel Community Centre during The National Children’s Literary Festival 2015.

“A Year ago on this very Day”

Opening Night  Listowel Writers’ Week 2014

My first pic shows the packed ballroom in The Listowel Arms for Opening Night 2014. Then a flavour of the charming mix of local people and celebrities that makes Writers’ Week so intimate and so global at the same time.

Paul Durkan
Colm Tóibín
Mark Piggott
Bert, Paula and Vincent never miss an opening night

 Eliza Buckley whose singing charmed us all.

Victoria and David making the Writers’ Week video.


Where Fun and Frolics were to be had

Listowel Community Centre, venue for  The National Children’s Literary Festival at Writers’ Week. This year again, the children’s programme will be centered in the Community Centre.

Take a look at these photos from last year (2014) . An even better  programme of children’s events is planned for this year.


Development at Cahirdown

(photos; Marie Moriarty)

And in May 2015 this development is going on at Cahirdown  beside the An Post Centre. It’s a new service station, I’m told.

Success stories

This is the Life!

Saturday morning was a beautifully crisp November morning in Ballybunion. Mike Enright was out early fishing. He captured these stunning views as the sun rose. He also got some amazing flounder and bass.


Billy O’Connell of Lixnaw, Co. Kerry

Billy O’Connell hails from our very own Lixnaw. He now lives in Huntingdon Beach in California. He is in the news because he has been recently elected to public office.

His Facebook biography says this;

Billy O’Connell is the Founder and current Executive
Director of Colette’s Children’s Home, an emergency shelter and transitional
housing program for homeless women and women with children. Founded in 1998,
Colette’s provides a safe home and nurturing environment where women and
children receive the supportive services necessary to gain independence.
Colette’s is a hand up, not a hand out. Under Billy’s dedicated leadership,
Colette’s has housed and served over 3,000 women and children helping them
break the vicious cycle of homelessness.


Another Success for our Causeway neighbours

Smiling faces from Team Dairymaster after winning the Eurotier Gold Medal for Innovation for our Swiftflo Goat Rotary Milking Parlour at Eurotier, Hannover last night!   ( Photo and caption from Dairymaster website)


Tony O’Connor, Equine Artist

Tony O’Connor is from North Kerry. He is descended from a line of blacksmiths and he has a love of horses bred into his DNA. The above images are from his 2015 calendar which is available from his White Tree Studio


Well worth another Look

A Great Listowel weekend in June 2014


Beautiful Christmas Creations from the Crafters at Craftshop na Méar, Listowel

Places of worship and out and about during Writers’ Week 2014

Did we ever think we’d see the day……..?

Cisco lorry outside St. Mary’s which is now a building site.

Weekday masses for Listowel’s Roman Catholic faithful are now said in the old Church of  Ireland St. John’s church. Local people are enjoying the irony. Once upon a time local children believed that if they set foot inside this building they would be turned into goats.

A friend of mine told me that her mother, who was a Catholic, had to receive a dispensation in order to attend weddings and funerals of her husband’s family in this church. He was a member of The Church of Ireland.

Changed times indeed!


Kathy Taylor who loves Listowel and follows this blog from afar sent me a link to her church and her pastor who believes in the therapeutic and holy power go gardening


On the streets with my camera

I met Beta O’Brien strolling with  friends on William St.


 Shop Windows during Writers’ Week

Walking through Listowel’s streets during Writers’ Week is like a literary odyssey. Shops and businesses enter into the spirit of things with book related displays. 

The following are a few windows I noticed during this year’s festival.


These lovely ladies were on the streets at the weekend doing some market research.

Vincent Carmody met up with Seamus Hosey while he was out perambulating his twin grandchildren.

Seán Lyons was nabbed for a signing of his hilarious Travels with my Tan

Page 1 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén