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: Lixnaw

Then and Now

Rutting has begun in Killarney National Park ; Photo Jim MacSweeney



This is McKenna’s Hardware today, October 2022

This is McKenna’s in the 1940s. The last time I shared this someone noticed the door on the left of the shop which was an entrance to Walshe’s. McKenna’s later bought Walshe’s and removed that door.



The painstaking work of historically accurate restoration continues on this premises on Church Street. It’s going to be beautiful.


More from the Coffee Morning for the Hospice

The Listowel Arms coffee morning was a lovely community effort. As I wandered around the room I was struck by the women whom I know to be survivors of cancer who were working hard so that others will have their cancer journey made more comfortable by the hospice, a facility we are so lucky to have in Kerry.

The morning’s event ended with a raffle for an array of lovely prizes.


A Little Bit of Local Lixnaw History

My source


Kanturk, A Champion Frog and A Plea from Ard Chúram

Listowel Pitch and Putt Course


An Accident in Kanturk

This is the ancient inscription on the Bridge over the River Dallow in my native Kanturk. My Latin is very rusty but as far as I can make out the bridge was erected by the worthies of North Cork in the 18th century. Clearly it was never intended for today’s heavy traffic.

On Friday, May 14 2021, a lorry carrying a load of pouring concrete, broke through the parapet and ended up in the river. Miraculously no one was seriously injured. The County Council and emergency services had restored the road to a functional condition when I visited on the Saturday after the excitement.


A Cairn in Lixnaw

(From The Schools’ Folklore Collection)

In Gurthenare also in the farm of Mr. Quilter there are still to be seen the remains of a monastery called Kilcara, built by St. Carthage. One of the monks (Franciscans) belonging to that monastery was murdered by Cromwell’s soldiers and tradition has it that he was buried in “Mickey’s Field” in the farm of Wm. Dowling of Kiltomey bounding Gurthenare and Kilcara. A pile of stones was raised over the grave and up to forty years ago everyone, old and young, threw a stone on the pile when passing so strong was the tradition then. Three people, two of whom are still living heard stones rattling there late one night as they were going home from a friend’s house. The noise was such as would be made when emptying a load of stones out of a car.

Told by Michael O’Connell, aged 65


Ard Churam Needs Your Help


Guhard Man and Frog

David Kissane has penned a lovely essay about a living legendary Guhard man, Mossie Walsh and his exploits. He posted the essay on Facebook. Here is an extract.

…But Mossie became nationally famous as a coach also. He coached a frog to European championship glory in 1970. Where did this happen? Well, it happened in Listowel where anything creative can happen! At the Listowel Harvest Festival of that year, Noel Driscoll from Milltown Malbay in Clare brought a European champion jumping frog to challenge all-comers. Just picture this. Market Street in Listowel during race week. Around 9pm on the second night of the Festival and the street thronged with men, women and children. The ancient autumnal celebratory atmosphere and the smell of chips, crubeens and porter (lots of porter) circulating. Music and steam rising from the amusements in the marketplace nearby and that “heaven-is-here” feeling in the hearts of all. A big Kerryness all round. A big stage and a throaty announcement “And now, ladies and gentlemen, we invite all comers to challenge the European champion frog jumper…Who can produce a frog that will jump higher or longer than this fabulous creature from Clare?” and the announcer pointed to the green gungy throbbing muscular amphibian proudly sitting in the arms of Noel Driscoll from the Banner. Big cheeeeeeeer!

Mossie was among the crowd and watched five or six people appear with various sizes of frogs. Five or six shades of green. Some with wide froggy eyes and wondering what all the excitement was about. As the excitement grew, a friend came up to Mossie with a box and said shyly “Mossie, I have a good frog here but I have a sore leg and can’t climb up and I was wondering if you would go on stage and let him jump in the challenge?”Mossie looked at the frog. The frog looked at Mossie. Mossie saw the potential in his geáits. He was tidy and dark green in colour. The frog looked at Mossie and smelled the porter from him. His aura was good.

Man and frog went up onstage, the new coach giving the frog a short rub on the way and a whisper in his ear. Up lined seven frogs. European title at stake. Nobody queried the facts or figures or records of the Clare jumper. The procedure was that the frogs were put on a line drawn on a sheet of plywood. The coaches stamped the board behind the frogs and the frogs jumped. One, two, three. Stamp. Huge roars from the crowd and frogs jump. Which they did. Except the European champion from Clare. His frogginess departed him in the Listowel headiness. Stage fright. The more his coach stamped, the less he jumped. Wild cheers as Mossie’s adopted frog leaped like Bob Beamon to the winning line. The Ballydonoghue Hare had coached a winning frog! Listowel went wild. Mossie had the winning touch. The stamp of a winning coach.

A bit of commotion as the frog jumped off the stage and hid under a woman’s skirt and a do-gooder got a left uppercut from the same woman as he tried to retrieve the frog! “What’s the new champion’s name?” John B Keane asked from the centre of the crowd?”“Guhard Man!” Mossie answered with the confidence of a Dubbie Holt, as he was presented with a prize by the winner of “The Darling Girl from Clare”.

And further glory was to follow. One evening a few weeks later, a posh car drove in to Mossie’s yard. Out came a posh-looking man. “My name is Oliver Donohoe from RTE” he said. “We would like your European champion frog to jump on the Late Late Show on Saturday night!”


Moyvane, Lixnaw, Wartime Rationing and Roddy Doyle in Listowel


Moyvane, Then and Now

The creamery now and then

Crows on Main St. then and now



Lixnaw and the Fitzmaurice clan

Kerryman 1957

If you would like to learn more…


Been There, Done That

With all the talk of food shortages if the U.K. crashes out of Europe, I thought it might be timely to look back to a time when there were food shortages in Ireland.

Above is a wartime ration book. Certain foodstuffs and other stuff like fuel were in short supply so the government issued books of coupons to people. Coupons could be exchanged for these rationed goods.

A little known fact is that the health of British children improved during the period when rationing was in force. When I see the list of goods that will be in short supply after a hard Brexit, I think we might see the same unintended consequence.

Another fact that is not widely known is that food was also rationed in Germany. This poster from 1916 illustrates, in cartoon form, the range of foodstuffs rationed there.


Fighting Words

Kate Kennelly, Kerry Co Council Arts Officer, Roddy Doyle and Jimmy Deenihan.

Roddy Doyle was in Kerry Writers’ Museum on Tuesday, September 24 2019 to promote Fighting Words, an organisation that he co founded to promote creative writing among young people. Fighting Words workshops have been running in Listowel since 2017. The workshops are held outside of a school setting, are free of charge and facilitated by adults who are not necessarily teachers. All you need to be a volunteer is a love of stories and a desire to help young people to write them.

If you would like to volunteer, contact Cara at Kerry Writers’ Museum.

Bernie and friends at Fighting Words Launch

Fitzmaurice of Old Court, Lixnaw, lartigue Theatre Company, Listowel

The Mermaids nightclub, formerly The Three Mermaids and before that Fealey’s shop


The Fall of the Fitzmaurices of Old Court, Lixnaw

The first notable date in the Fitzmaurice calendar is 1280 when the first Lord of Kerry founded a convent in Lixnaw. In 1614 The Lord of Kerry was deemed Premier Baron of Ireland. This will give you an idea of how old and how prestigious the Fitzmaurice were.

The newly formed Lixnaw Heritage and Historical Society held a great event in The Ceolann, Lixnaw on Sunday April 28 2019.

We were treated to informative and entertaining presentations and we got great insight into how the other half lived. This family owned huge tracts of land acquired through purchase and marriage, they built lots of houses here, in the UK and in France. They amassed and squandered fortunes and they had their fair share of scandal and court appearances to their name.

 Ballyheigue historian, Bryan MacMahon with Kay Caball who was one of the speakers. Kay’s tale was spiced with accounts of lavish spending fuelled by the sale of many of the family assets.

“After a gather comes a scaterer”

Rosemary Raughter gave us a presentation on the very interesting life of Arabella Denny who married into the Fitzmaurice family and redeemed it for a while. She is pictured here with Mairead Pierse of Listowel and Joe Harrington of Lyreacrompane.

Listowel folk came to hear about the antics of their Lixnaw neighbours.

Jeremy Murphy, Patrick Gilbert and Kay Caball

Kay’s book on the Fall of the Fitzmaurice is due out in November.

Below are a few Lixnaw stories from the Dúchas collection.

Tom Foley
Mrs Kate Lovett

There are the ruins of the Old Courts near my district. The castle was built by Thomas Fitzmaurice in the year 1200. It is derelict since the 1780. It is situated in the townland of the Old Courts, in the parish of Lixnaw and in the barony of Clanmauricce and in the County of Kerry. Thomas Fitzmaurice was the some of Maurice Fitzgeraldd and Maurice Fitzgerald for Lixnaw from Raymond Le (Gos) Gros. The Lady of Kerry once said there were no places worth living in but London and Lixnaw.

The Castle long ago was an important and majestic building. There were grand rooms in it with beautifully decorated offices and there were costly paintings on the walls and a beautiful, ornamental entrance. There were beautiful gardens near the castle. They gave banquets and parties at night to their friends. They gave entertainment of music and song and dance. A huge bullock and fat sheep and dozens of wild fowl were brought to the various tables

Willie B. Lawlor
Mr Beasley

There is an old ruin in Lixnaw and another in Listowel. They belong to the Norman times. The Fitzmaurice family lived in Lixnaw Castle 1215-1582. These two castles Lixnaw and Listowel were built about the same time as the castles around this district and they were destroyed about the same time also. If you go to Lixnaw the old people would show you the “Cockhouse” and the Hermitage and the “old Court”. Lixnaw was the seat of the Geraldine family in Munster. There was a young child in the Listowel castle, he was brought out dressed in rags in order to save his life. He was taken secretly to England and educated there. He was allowed back in later years and in changed times and made governor of Kerry.

Lixnaw Monument

Michael Lynch

Lixnaw Monument
The Monument of Lixnaw was built about the year 1692. It was erected by Fitzmaurice. He got married to a protestant lady called Constance Long and Fitzmaurice preverted after his marriage. Fitzmaurice was the 20th Baron of Lixnaw and the 22nd in descent to Raymond le Gros. When his wife died in 1685 his people who remained Catholics did not want her to be buried in the family tomb in Kiltomey near by. He buried her outside the tomb but this did not satisfy them fully, however she was not disinterred. Fitzmaurice did not want any further trouble so he built this Monument for himself and his successors. He and his son and grandson were buried in this Monument. Fitzmaurice died in 1687. McCarthy Mor owned these lands first and he gave them to Fitzmaurice and they later came into the hands of Lord Listowel who sold them to his tenants under the Wyndham Act of 1903.
Micheal Lynch,
Soon, Ballybunion
Note_ This Fitzmaurice 21st Baron married Anne, daughter of Sir Wm Petty of Down Survey fame, who had 50,000 acres. Her dowry was the Petty estate in South Kerry. The late Lord Lansdowne was a descendant.


An Old Lartigue Theatre Group programme


A Map of Listowel by Amy Sheehy

from the programme of the Acting Irish Theatre Festival 2019

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