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: Liz Dunn

WW1survivor, John Moore, Café Hanna , Young Adult Bookfest 2018 and Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine

Photo: Jim MacSweeney


A Soldier of the Great War and many other wars as well (and with a Listowel connection)

On the centenary of Armistice Day, Tom Dillon, who is our local war expert, gave an entertaining and educational talk on some local aspects of WW1.

Present at that lecture was another local historian, Martin Moore. Martin had contributed some of his family memorabilia to the exhibition that accompanied the talk. On Facebook I found that he had talked to his dad on Armistice Day about the family hero of the war.

Here is what Martin wrote on Nov. 11 2018

“First World War ended 100 years today, one of the greatest conflicts of humankind. This was remembered tonight at a most dignified event organised by historian Tom Dillon and hosted by Cara. It was nice to sit down with my dad who is nearly ninety years. His uncle John served with the New Zealand forces in those eventful years ..from Gallipoli, Egypt and France. He survived the War even though wounded in 1917. One of the lucky ones. John Moore’s army life brought him to the 5 Continents and he was decorated by the King of Serbia along the way!! 

Remembered on this day by his family”

Martin Moore’s picture of his father, Michael holding photographs and medals of his uncle, John.

It sounds to me like there is material for another history talk in that man’s life. 


Lovely Old Photo

(Taken by Johnny Hannon R.I.P.)

I’m sure there are people who immediately recognise these ladies.


Listowel Food Fair 2018

Listowel Food Fair is going from strength to strength. This year I had lunch for the over 50s in Allos, brunch in Café Hanna, a demonstration of Lithuanian cooking in Scribes, the food trail to Jumbos, The Listowel Arms, John B.’s and Lizzies and on Sunday I enjoyed the craft and food market. I only got to a faction of the many events organised for this year’s event.

If you like getting dressed up, there was a gala dinner in The Listowel Arms with a kind of Oscars of the food world. There was a grand opening too and all kinds of talks and demonstrations. If you missed it this year be sure to put it on your list of marvellous festivals in Listowel for 2019.

I met Carol and Phil at the brunch in John R.’s Café Hanna.

Cliona McKenna was my dining companion.

This was the super menu. We both had the eggs Benedict and pancakes, me blueberries, she red velvet.

Here is Billy McSweeney telling me yet another tale.


Listowel Writers’ Week Young Adult Bookfest 2018

This marvellous one day event began life a s part of Listowel Writers’ Week June festival. The timing was not ideal for secondary school students who were usually doing end of year exams at this time. It was decided to change the date and this new stand -alone one day event took place for the first time in 2017. It was such a success that this year’s event sold out in jig time.

On November 16 2018 over 800 secondary school pupils, mostly Transition Year and Fifth Year students gathered in Listowel Community Centre for a feast of educational and entertainment.

Máire Logue is seen here commissioning two of the outdoor volunteers for their traffic duties. As you can appreciate buses and cars had to be marshalled into position to make sure everyone got to the venue safely and on time.

John Kelliher took this photo of the outdoor crew, Jim Dunn, Mike Lynch, Rose Wall and Tom Dillon. They did a great job in fairly showery and cold conditions.

 Liz and Elma were busy directing the audience to their allocated seats.

Seán McCarthy and Joanna O’Flynn helped early arrivals to take a selfie.

 Eilish Wren and Mairead Costelloe were busy meeting and greeting.

Rhona Tarrant was MC for the day. Here she is looking over her notes on the running order.

Teachers, Mary Twomey and Gerard Tarrant were enjoying the day.


Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine 2018

Saturday morning November 17 2018 and Eason Listowel gets its first drop of Ballydonoghue Parish Magazines

The people behind this magazine have brought us another cracker. Parish magazines are becoming a rarity. It’s hard to find dedicated people to collect the stories, take the photographs, edit, proofread and lay out the journal. And then they have to launch and distribute it. Its a mammoth task. I take my hat off to the great people who keep Ballydonoghue Parish going year after year.

Each year’s publication is eagerly awaited by the Lisselton diaspora. Postage charges have gone through the roof and it means that to buy a magazine and post it is now costs the bones of €30. I beg you to continue sending it. It means a lot to people missing home.

I caught up with the delivery detail again as they made their drop in Flavin’s of Church Street.


+ R.I.P.  Weeshie Fogarty+

Photo: Radio Kerry

An International Award for Listowel Documentary Maker. A Poem of a Still Born baby

St. John’s Listowel, October 2018


A Well Deserved win for a great documentary

A good story, no matter how old or how local can have universal appeal. This has been proven by the recent choice of Conor Keane’s Shame, Love in Shame for an international award.

Here is what RTE says in its Facebook page;

We’re delighted to have just won 1st prize in the International Radio category (across all genres of radio) at the 65th Premios Ondas in Spain. Over 300 entries from across the globe competing in radio, Tv and music. Our winning documentary was entitled ‘In Shame, Love, In Shame’. Huge congratulations to Conor Keane (Narrator & Producer) and Liam O’Brien (Producer).
The awards ceremony takes place on the red carpet of Liceu Theatre in Barcelona in front of 2,500 guests on November 14th.
Listen back to our newest award winning doc!

You may remember that St. John’s presented the documentary to us on Culture Night and we got an opportunity to hear from the people behind the retelling of this tragic story.

Brina Keane and Eileen Roche in St. John’s on Culture Night 2018. Both Brina and Eileen feature in the documentary.

On stage in St. John’s, Dr. Mary MacAuliffe whose balanced  in depth knowledge of the times in which this sad story is set gave us the historical context for the tragedy, Eileen Roche, first cousin of Peggy McCarthy, one of the two tragic victims in this story, Conor Keane narrator and producer of the documentary and Tony Guerin who fictionalised the story in his drama, Solo Run.


All Ireland Wren Boy Winners

Majella McGregor shared this lovely old photo on Facebook. It evoked many happy memories. Wouldn’t it be great is someone could name them all.


Is This The Saddest Poem Ever?

I didn’t do a great job of photographing it from the newspaper


The Charming old Building that houses Ballybunion Library

The Ballybunion Library building was once St. Augustine’s (Church of Ireland), a single-storey Gothic Revival style church. The walls are of snecked limestone with Portland stone dressings. The entrance is through a projecting porch.

What’s interesting is that St. Augustine’s was originally built at Rattoo, near Ballyduff in 1879. However, after the Church of Ireland structure at Ballybunion was knocked down in the 1950s, it was decided to move St Augustine’s to Ballybunion. It was actually dismantled stone by stone, transported and reconstructed on the current site in its exact original state.  



………In with the New

At Listowel Writers’ Week AGM in The Seanchaí on Tuesday, Oct 23 2018, Catherine Moylan (right) took over the chair from outgoing chairman, Elizabeth Dunn.

Catherine described herself as “a child of Writers’ Week” Since childhood, Writers’ Week has been the highlight of Catherine’s year. She loves books.  She loves reading.  She loves Listowel. Above all, she loves the festival that is Writers’ Week. She will be a great chairman.

WW1 Poem, people at Ladies Day 2017, some timeless Kerry humour and Culture Night 2017 in Listowel

Photo: Chris Grayson


A Poem from The Trenches of WW1 is uncovered

This photo and story is from The Irish Post

The photograph was taken at Cornelius’ home at 40 Shannon Street in Bandon after his return from the war.

It shows the O’Mahoney family posing for the camera in front of their humble Co. Cork home – their graceful mother sat wearing a smile, exuding pride.

A MOVING poem written
by an Irish soldier during World War One has been unearthed in an attic in
Britain over a century on.

Peter ‘Derry’ McCarron was
clearing the house of his late mother in Kendal, Cumbria when he discovered the
poem within a stack of old documents.

The verses were written by his
great-uncle Cornelius O’Mahoney, who was born at 40 Shannon St (now Oliver
Plunkett St) in Bandon, Co. Cork in 1889.

Cornelius was 26 when he fought
in the Dardanelles, Turkey in 1915 for the 1stRoyal Munster
Fusiliers – who lost over a third of their regiment during the Great War.

His beautiful poem – titled
simply ‘The Royal Munster Fusiliers’ – was dedicated to the “memory of our dear
comrades who died in Seddul-Bahr, April 25 1915.” It reads:

‘They are gone, they are gone

Yet their memory shall cherish

Our brave boys who perished

And crossed over the bar

O’er their graves now the wild hawk

Doth mournfully hover
In that lone weary jungle

Of wild Seddul-Bahr

In the highest of spirits they

Went through the Dardanelles

And scattered their rifles

O’er the hills afar

Not knowing their days

On this Earth they were numbered

When the regiment arrived
In wild Seddul-Bahr

Shot down in their gloom

And the pride of their manhood

But God’s will be done

’Tis the fortune of war

With no fond mother’s words

To console their last moments

Far, far from their homesteads

In wild Seddul-Bahr.

May they rest, may they rest

Unhallowed in story

Tho’ their graves they are cold

Neath that lone Turkish star

Yet their presence is missed

From the ranks of the Munsters

Our heroes who slumber

In wild Seddul-Bahr.’

Following the Royal Munster
Fusiliers’ disastrous campaign in the Dardanelles, Cornelius O’Mahoney’s unit
was redeployed to the Western Front after a humiliating retreat.

“It was a case of out of the
frying pan and into the fire,” Derry, who was delighted to discover his
great-uncle’s moving stanzas so many years on, told The Irish Post.

“Cornelius thankfully survived
the Western Front and most of his family went to England after the warFollowing
the Irish War of Indepencence, the Irish Civil War and establishment of the
independent Irish Free State in 1922, The Royal Munster Fusiliers were

On June 12 of that year, five
regimental Colours were laid up in a ceremony at St George’s Hall, Windsor
Castle in the presence of HM King George V.

Nevertheless, the regiment chose
to have its standard remain in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

The Royal Munsters won three
Victoria Crosses in total during the Great War.

“Cornelius died in Shanakiel, Co.
Cork in the late 1950s. His youngest son John Joe stayed in Bandon and died
only around 15 years ago,” Derry said.

He added: “I found his poem among
old documents when we cleared my mother’s house in Cumbria. It was a beautiful

Derry kindly provided The
Irish Post
with a picture of a young Cornelius with his mother, two
brothers, and two sisters taken almost a century ago.


He who loves himself will never be short of admirers

Picture shared by Banksy on Twitter. Words of wisdom from an old sage.


More from Ladies Day 2017

I spotted Yankee Doodle making his way among the crowd.

Mary O’Halloran can be depended on to look stylish and beautifully co ordinated and groomed.

Our own Donal Lynch with some well dressed contenders.

This lady had half a bird on her head for the jazzy hat competition.

The style on the stage was matched by the style in the audience.

 Junior met an old friend at The Races

Joan and Caroline Kenny were at The Races with Helen Holyoake of Houston (and formerly Listowel)


Vincent Doyle sent us a laugh

This great story was recorded in 1938 by a Moyvane lad, William Kiely. 

Humour is timeless.


Culture Night 2017

I was not in town for Culture Night this year. I was in Tralee. I’ll tell you about that tomorrow. But I have curated a collection of photos from Facebook, describing the great night I missed.

Listowel Writers’ Week took a leading role in Culture Night activities of Friday September 22 2017. They organised Poetry in Locomotion in collaboration with the Lartigue Monorail and they held the Listowel launch of Fergal Keane’s book of love and war in The Listowel Arms.

Other events for Culture Night were held in St. John’s and The Seanchaí.  Finuge held its own very popular event. All in all, l a great night! I won’t miss it next year.

The watermarked photos are by John Kelliher. The others were taken by Máire Logue.

Artists in residence at Olive Stack Gallery

Audience for Fergal Keane’s launch of his new book, Wounds

Invited dignitaries for Poetry in Locomotion

Daughter Pippa joined Liz and Jim Dunn for the evening’s activities.

Meanwhile in Finuge the audience gathered to watch themselves and their neighbours in old archive films.

Last minute preparations before he releases his book to a very appreciative audience.

Fergal Keane with local poet and author, Gabriel Fitzmaurice

Holding the fort while Olive is in Paris

Listowel literary royalty,  first cousins, Joanna, Billy and Fergal

Fergal Keane with the best organiser of a literary event, Máire Logue of Listowel Writers’ Week

Poets and poetry lovers at The Lartigue

Meanwhile across the square in St. John’s, Vicar Joe was hosting a sell out concert with Sean Keane

Seán Keane fans enjoyed a great night. They are already looking forward to his return.

Meanwhile in The Seanchaí…..

Darkness into light 2017 in Listowel

We Walked the Walk

“Smile though your heart is aching

Smile even though it’s breaking….”

Maud Fitzmaurice, Cliona Cogan, Billy Keane and Eleanor Ryan

Jim and Liz Dunn with Máire Logue

All around me on Saturday morning May 6th
2017 at 4.00 a.m. on Listowel racecourse were smiling faces.  Listowel has always lent great support to
Pieta House and to any agency that helps people who have suffered because of self-harm.
Many of the early risers on the Island were thinking back to that awful moment
engrained forever in their memories ; the moment when they heard the
unbelievable news that someone they loved had died by suicide.

A Tarbert choir was on hand to raise our

Cora O’Brien, director of Pieta House, Tralee, sings along with the choir

“Lean on me when you’re not strong,

I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry
on”  we sang as we tried to convey hope
to the sad and lonely souls who sometimes feel very alone.

Tom McElligott

People brought their dogs and their
children. “We are there for you “ was the message. You are never alone. It’s
okay to say you are not okay.

“Hope for the sunshine tomorrow after the
darkness is gone.”

Hundreds of us set off to the strains of
Walking on Sunshine.

We made our way along by the racecourse to
the candlelit bridge and there in the water was the stark word, Hope, reflected
in the waters of the Feale.  Some stopped
to take photos, some caught their breath as they remembered other waters in
another places.

We walked on along the well-stewarded route
through the Square and down Bridge Rd. to the Arch and into the Silent Mile. An
eerie silence fell on the previously chattering hoard. The only sound was the
birdsong as we walked the road beside the Garden of Europe, a path the
organisers had lit with candles and decorated with wind chimes.

We turned the bend for home at Cahirdown and
we walked the eerily deserted streets of our fair town. Many windows were
decorated in support. Candles flickered and everwhere posters and T-shirts whispered
the message of hope, You are not alone.

Up William Street we went, some tiring a
little, others getting their second wind. We rounded the roundabout at the John
B. Keane Rd. and we were in the home straight. There was one more jolt in store
though. Along the railings at the back of the preschool were several banners
with the names of people who should be here with us. This is what it’s all
about. We are all walking and praying that no one who is here today with us
will be named on that banner next year. This was a stark reminder that we were
not on a merry morning jaunt. We were here on a deadly serious mission to try
to stem the tide of suicide.

“Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice

Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.”

We ended our walk back at base, at Listowel
Racecourse where so many of us had so many happy September days. As we returned
home we hoped for the sunshine tomorrow. 

We had done our small bit to help
Pieta House deliver its twin aims of  Hope and Consolation.

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.

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