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: Maid of Erin

Easter 2023

The Big Bridge on an April Sunday in 2023


Then and Now


My Easter Visitors

Grandchildren grow into teenagers and have their one interests and commitments so finding time for Nana is now a bit more difficult. Cora and her Mammy brought Molly for a welcome visit.



First I must tee this up with a story.

A. C. Bradley is probably the most renowned Shakespeare scholar ever. He was required reading when I was in college and he was the absolute authority on Shakespeare’s tragedies. An anonymous student wrote the following;

I dreamt last night that Shakespeare’s ghost

Sat for a civil service post.

The English paper for that year

Had several questions on King Lear

Which Shakespeare answered very badly

Because he hadn’t read his Bradley.

Now I’m going to do a bit of Bradleying myself as I interpret for an artist I never met and read something into a work that the creator may not have intended.

This simple artistic installation on Olive Stack’s window says Easter to me. The stone is rolled back and the tomb is empty. Jesus is risen.

Thank you.


Winner alright

Remember this:

Dave O’Sullivan, our super newspaper researcher found this;

Are any of them still with us and do they remember their win?


A Fact

China has a population of over a billion. It has only 200 family names.


Listowel Players 1996

Praying for Peace with the People of Ukraine

St. Mary’s Church by Éamon ÓMurchú


A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer’s Assistant

Jer Kennelly found an old play programme.


1930s Listowel

8 Church Street Listowel , Co. Kerry

Photo copyright; Tipperary Studies Photographs of Munster Shops


From Presentation School Yearbook 1991


Some Famous Faces at Writers’ Weeks Past

Com Tóibín and Brendan Kennelly R.I.P.
Fergal Keane
Catherine Moylan and Graham Norton
John McAuliffe
Joe Stack


Historic Listowel, Maid of Erin and a Beauty with a Listowel Connection

Ballybunion Kayaking Tours


Armel Whyte spotted this one on Facebook


Two Historic Listowel Buildings Changing Hands

This house on Church Street was once the home the Wilmot family. Séamus Wilmot went on to become registrar of The National University of Ireland. This house was also the home of the legendary Babe Joe Wilmot.

Correction: Martin Moore tells me that this was not the Wilmot home. It was further down the street. This was the home of sisters, Aggie and Peg Mulvihill. Apologies for misleading you.

The Central Hotel/ Maid of Erin was sold recently. The facade of this premises is one of the most iconic in Listowel. It features one of the best known and loved examples of the stucco work of Pat McAuliffe.


Living the Champagne Lifestyle

Caitlin Carmody is the daughter of Kevin and Christina and granddaughter of Vincent and Kathleen.

Caitlin is studying Physical Therapy in the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois.

Caitlin is also a part time model and her recent photoshoot with photographer Roland Lim is featured in Imirage magazine.

Caitlin is the cover girl.

Here are just a few of the photos of this stunning beauty with a very strong Listowel connection.

Cover, Imirage October 2021


Killarney Story with a Kanturk Connection

Killarney Today had this story about father and son, Pat and Luke O’Neill who each scored a goal for Killarney Celtic in a recent match.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and the tree once grew in Kanturk.


Central Hotel, the next Sonny Bill, Looking after the potatoes in Asdee and a Meitheal to launch Storied Kerry

William Street Upper


Maid of Erin, Main Street

This building in Listowel’s Main Street has one of Pat MacAulliffe’s best known works on its shopfront. Hardly a day goes by without some tourist stopping to photograph this symbol of Listowel.

Below are some of the details on this intrinsically Irish stucco.

Irish wolfhound

Shamrocks and celtic knot work surround the slogan which translates as Ireland forever.

A round tower

Under the rising sun the bare chested maid is resting on an Irish harp, the official symbol of Ireland. The rising sun at “Fáinne Geal an Lae” is an often used republican symbol of the dawn of a new day for Ireland. A warrior woman as in Dark Rosaleen or Caitlín Ní Houlicháin is also a frequently employed symbol for a free Ireland.


Do You Remember Sonny Bill?

If your answer to the above question is no, move right along, please. Nothing to see here.

If the answer is yes, Sonny Bill was that beautiful horse that they had at my home place in Kanturk and who was eventually sold on to an English buyer. He is now enjoying a stellar career across the Irish Sea.

This beautiful foal, seen above running with his mother, is Sonny Bill’s last full brother. Sadly, their dad has passed away so there is a great weight of expectation on these young shoulders. 

He is still with his birth family but will be coming to his new home soon at the EPA stable . It’s not really possible to tell if he will be as good as his brother but watch this space and I’ll update you if he begins to realise his potential.


 Looking after the Potato Pit

The following extract is taken from Jim Costelloe’s great rural memoir of Asdee in the 1940’s and ’50s

The potatoes were stored in long pits in the kitchen garden beside the house when I was young. There were Kerrs Pinks and Golden Wonders for human consumption in a small pit, but the long pit was of Aran Banners for the farm animals and the domestic fowl. These pits were covered with straw and rushes to protect the potatoes from the winter frost. With the coming of Spring growth, the potatoes began to sprout and if left untouched they would grow long stalks, get soft and lose their nutrition. To prevent this from happening they would have to be turned. The work was done by hand and it entailed stripping the cover off the pit and rubbing the sprouts off each potato individually before repitting the whole lot.

The job is always done on a day following a night of grey frost. That was always a sunny day with a bit of drying and also, there was generally no threat of rain. Down on one knee handling thousands of potatoes on a frosty date is not the most exciting of jobs. The cold east wind and the damp semi hard ground added to the discomfort. The only exciting thing about it was the stripping of the rushes and straw where we suspected rats were hiding. The scurrying of the rats and our attempts to kill them with pikes  are memories now. How those same rats would destroy a pit of spuds if left unhindered is amazing. Rodine was a rat poison in those days and was very effective.


Storied Kerry

Storied Kerry is a movement you will be hearing lots more about from now on. It is a drive to preserve and celebrate our stories, all our stories and all forms of story telling to all kinds of audiences.

On Saturday last, October 27 2018 Frank Lewis, the founder of Storied Kerry gathered together a Meitheal in Killarney to get this show on the road.

This man is Rory Darcy, a school principal, a philosopher, a story teller and, as we discovered later, a marathon runner.  Rory welcomed us to his school, St. Oliver’s national School, Ballycasheen, Killarney.  St. Oliver’s has pupils from many different countries on its rolls. It welcomes and celebrates them all. There were flags of all the countries behind Rory as he spoke to us and he told us of an initiative started in St. Oliver’s and now practiced in many Killarney schools were the parents of the children, some of them from refugee centres help out with meals in the school and the children get to talk to and interact with a diverse group of parents as well as fellow pupils.

Behind Rory also there was a fish tank. This tank is a kind of symbol of what St. Oliver’s stands for. There are fish of all shapes, colours and sizes in the tank. There are big bubbles helping to keep them alive. These are big acts of kindness but there are also lots of tiny bubbles, standing for small little acts we do to help each other out. The story of St. Oliver’s was a lovely way to start the day.

The next treat for us was a performance from Siamsa Tíre’s seminal show, Fadó, Fadó. It was pure magic. I’m definitely going to see the full show the next time it’s on in Siamsa.

The dancing and singing told the story of the meitheal oibre who came together to reap the harvest as it was done by our ancestors long ago.

This multitalented performer edged his scythe with a whet stone. He also played the fiddle and sang the most moving rendition of “Ar Bhruach na Carraige Báine” I’ve heard in a long time.

This man brought the corn to thresh.

This implement is called a flail and it was used to beat the corn from the ears.

Every action was accompanied by dancing and the rhythmic music of the farm work as well as more traditional music played on the fiddle, the accordion and Uileann pipes.

A familiar face in the front row.

( more from Storied Kerry tomorrow)

Jan 9 2013

John Kelliher took this lovely photo of St. Mary’s at Christmastime.

My closer shot shows our new sign with mass times and contact details.

This road sign seems to have taken a bit of abuse over the holidays.

I’m including this photo of The Maid because I know it is an evocative icon for many.


News comes from Jim Horgan in the U.S. of a gathering event in the planning.

Calling all Horgans, Creighans, Shines, Brosnans, O’Neills, O’Reillys, Masons, O’Donoghues, Mulvihills, Molyneaux, O’Sullivans and any other cousins that I may have overlooked!

The Horgan gathering is a go! Check out our web site at:

The festivities will be based around the Listowel area from September 7 to 13, 2013.

We are looking for ideas and volunteers to help get some events organized.

Hope to see you in Kerry!


This photo from The Examiner shows Cork’s Patrick Street at Christmas in 1961.


Lauren Davis who wrote originally to ask me to help her by translating any Irish in the blog, fills us in now on her Listowel connection.

“My great-great grandparents were James Burke Carroll and Katherine (Kate) Dowling. We don’t know much about James except that he was from Listowel. Kate born in County Cork. She was supposedly born the night of the “Big Wind.” I’m not sure this is right as her birthday is given as 2 Jan. 1839 and I’ve read that the Big Wind was Jan. 6-7, but maybe everyone figured that was close enough? James and Kate sailed from Cork to America on 3 July, 1870 as newlyweds. 

They lived a few years in Penn Yan, Yates Co., New York, where my great-grandfather, Michael Edward, was born. The family later moved to the wilds of Maricopa, in Arizona Territory. This must have been quite a change from the green fields of Ireland! We think they came out West following a brother or cousin who was in the Calvary stationed at Fort Lowell, (which later became Tucson.) The Carroll’s became a pioneer family in the rugged Southwest. That’s as much as I know about them so far, but would love to learn more.

Thanks again for keeping up the Listowel Connection. It’s wonderful to have such a personal, friendly way to learn about our Irish family roots.

Happy New Year!


Maybe there are people reading this who can fill Lauren in on the Carroll side of her tree.


This article with an emigrant’s view of Ireland is from The Irish Times.

James Taplin (41), Dubai: “The emigration issue is less raw this year” 

Saying goodbye to my wife and kids in Westmeath to return to Dubai after Christmas this year was much easier than last, as the day this article is printed they will be moving out here to join me in the United Arab Emirates.

We went to visit my sister and her children on St Stephen’s Day, an annual tradition, to watch the racing at Leopardstown together. Apart from that, we had a quiet Christmas as my father-in-law is unwell.

The thing that struck me most during this visit was how much my daughter Cara’s speech had developed since I last saw her in August. She’s two, and speaking in full sentences now. It took her a while to get used to having me there in person. Every time I turned on the computer she pointed at me as if to say, “you should be in there”. Daniel is five, and he was delighted to see me.

There is an air of resignation in the country now that is very noticeable. The fight has gone out of people, which I was saddened to see. I brought up the budget a few times in the pub, and no one wanted to talk about having less money in their pockets next year. At this stage, most people only have the energy to put on a brave face.

The emigration issue is less raw this year than last. The media are still looking for the sob stories but, generally, emigration is another fallout from the recession that people have accepted.

This year has been an expensive one, with plane tickets and visas for the family and paying for schools, but I am much better off mentally and physically in Dubai than I was back in Ireland with no work.

James Taplin moved to Dubai for the second time in 2011, where he works for a sports equipment supplier.


Today in Irish history


The first
students began their studies at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland’s first


Arthur Griffith was elected Taoiseach of Dáil Éireann after Eamon de
Valera stepped down.

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