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: Main St.

Young and Old

Main Street, Listowel in August 2022


People I Met

Mark and Sheila Hewitt made a welcome return to Listowel after their Covid absence.


At the School Gate

Scoil Realt na Maidine has got a new school gate.

I learned on Facebook that the gates were made and fitted by Beasley Engineering, Listowel


The Oldest Man in Listowel?

Is Peter McGrath the oldest man in Listowel? He is 95.


Neighbours at a Wedding


I Know for a Fact

Elvis Presley wore a cross, a Star of David and the Hebrew letter chi around his neck. He explained this choice of jewellery thus. “I don’t want to miss out on Heaven due to a technicality.”

Presley died on August 1977, in the bathroom of his Graceland home.


Remembering Seán MacCarthy

Main Street, Listowel


Listowel Shop in the 1930s

Galvin’s of William Street Listowel.

Another lovely old photo from the good folk at Tipperary Photos of Munster.


Pres Magazine 1991

Presentation girls pay tribute to one of our iconic local writers.


Then and Now


Listowel and Asdee Remembered

Main Street, Listowel in November 2021


Asdee Memories

I met these members of Asdee Active Retired Group in Garvey’s Super Valu. They were promoting their great collection of memories and lore.

Do you know what a losset is?

I didn’t until I found out all about it and it’s biblical connections from a lovely lady, Noreen Dineen. Noreen remembers going to school in the 1930s when there were few facilities, no creature comforts and life was tough.

This delightful book is the first draft of Asdee history. It is full of precious reminiscences, old photographs and it preserves words used locally for a generation that is fast forgetting them.

I bought this window into the past as much for the next generation as for myself.


Christmas at Listowel Garden Centre

It’s still November but this Christmas display is just the ticket to raise expectation levels for the season still to come.


Then and Now

William Street 2007



Main street in November 2021


A Listowel Fact

Listowel’s trade history began with the laying out of the market square in 1697. Fairs and markets were held regularly and Listowel was a busy town.

In 1829 the Big Bridge was built and this was a game changer. the Mail Road in 1827 and the Cork line in 1829 also made access to outside markets easier. In particular The Cork Line to Abbeyfeale and Newmarket meant a saving of 37 miles for the car men going to the Cork Butter Market. Before that they had to go through Killarney.

The railway came to Listowel in 1880. The Lartigue Railway was built in 1889


A Few more Names

In Seán Keane’s lovely old photo we already had these names

Eamon O’Connor is lying in front with his hand to his head. On his right (left in photo) is Eamon Leahy. Behind him is his brother, Tadhg Leahy, beside him behind Eamon O’Connor is Ciarán ÓMurchú. Buddy Scanlon is the boy with the towel over his shoulder. Behind him is Monty Galvin and Toddy Scanlon is behind Monty.

Since publishing the photo we have a few more memories jogged.

Gerard Leahy recognised the little boy on the right looking on at the big boys. It is Gerard himself wearing the Fair Isle jumper his mother hand knitted for him.

Ned O’Sullivan saw “Paddy Fitz of Charles Street and possibly Peter McElligott of Bedford.”

Julie Gleeson thought that Michael Brennan and Eoin O’Neill might be in the picture.


Farm tasks in the 1940s, O’Connell’s Ave. grotto and More from Storied Kerry Meitheal in Killarney

Evening in the Small Square


Out of the Blue

This is the beautifully repainted Catch of the Day. Blue seems to be the favourite colour of shop owners for 2018.


Tough Tasks on the Farm

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

Anyone who has spread fertilizer by hand from a bucket will surely agree it was a horrible task. One’s face, eyes and clothes were covered with the basic slag when finished. The worst part was the taste in the mouth as a lot of it went down our throats. Face masks were never used and our lungs must have been congested judging by the amount that went up our nostrils and into our mouths.

Another unpleasant and tough task in my youth was trying to light the kitchen fire with bad turf and wet sticks on a cold frosty morning. Without the fire there was no heat whatsoever in the house and no way of boiling the kettle for a sup of tea.


The Grotto

I love it when this happens. I take a picture and I post it on here. It evokes a memory for someone or someone goes and looks up the history and they share it with us here in Listowel Connection. It’s a bit like how Facebook used to work.

Marie Nelligan Shaw wrote; “Remember well when the grotto at the junction of O’Connells Avenue was blessed and dedicated. The yellow house on the right of the photo was occupied by a lovely lady named Mrs Collins. She took very good care of it while she lived.”

And Jer Kennelly found this;  

Kerry Champion 14 August 1954

Consecration of Listowel Shrine erected at O’Connell’s Avenue, Listowel. Erected by voluntary labour. Statue and railings were donated. Subscriptions were mainly from the residents, all the organising committee are from the Avenue. (See paper for full report, blessing on Sunday next)

Kerry Champion 21 August 1954

Beautiful Grotto at O’Connell’s Avenue was blessed by P J Canon Brennan, P.P. V.F accompanied by two curates Frs Dillon and Moore. Windows in the avenue were also decorated. 

Kerry Champion 1928-1958, Saturday, September 04, 1954; Section: Front page, Page: 1

Bishop’s Visit to Listowel

Most Rev. Doctor Moynihan, Bishop of Kerry visited Listowel on Friday evening last and went to O’Connell’s Avenue to see the Marian Year shrine which has been erected there. His Lordship was accompanied by Canon Brennan who blessed the shrine on August 16th last.


Storied Kerry

Storied Kerry is the brainchild of Frank Lewis. He gathered together a meitheal of Kerry people to start this new story in the life of Kerry on Saturday, October 27 2018.

The stories told  on Saturday were all excellent. They were told in the old style with a one person storyteller and an attentive audience. Above is master story teller, Seán Lyons, who regaled us with a Halloween appropriate tale, set in a graveyard. It was a story about motivation. If you fall into a newly dug grave at Halloween there is no better motivator  to get you out again than meeting up with the previous occupant.

Storytellers, Batt Burns and Frances Kennedy were there.

Part of the North Kerry contingent, Frances, Joe Murphy and Mary Kennelly

Frances told us a tale of smelly feet and smelly breath in her unique and always entertaining style.

Frank and Joe share a funny moment.


Ireland’s Fittest Families

For people reading this who don’t live in Ireland, Ireland’s Fittest Family is a reality tv show on RTE, in which families of four adults compete against each other in gruelling army boot camp like tasks. Each week one family is eliminated until we are left with Ireland’s fittest family. The families are mentored by well known retired sports personalities.

The Listowel connection is the involvement of Roibeard Pierse and his three children in this year’s contest.

The programme started airing on TV on Sunday October 28 2018 and the Pierse family which the programme calls The Pierses did very well.

The photo above is from the programme’s Facebook page and below is what they say about The Pierses;

From Kerry, the Pierses are making a bid for a win for the Kingdom. Father Riobard (50) works as a solicitor and is a keen runner, focusing on 5ks. He also co-founded the Listowel park run and is the manager of Cliona’s Listowel Emmets u16 ladies team.

His son Oran (20) became the U18 Munster Cycling Champion in 2016. Has also won the Senior Kerry Road Race League and raced internationally for the Munster Team.

His brother Ciarán (18) Plays Gaelic football with UL freshers team and Listowel Emmets seniors. A good leader himself, he captained Listowel to victory in the minor county league in 2017 and has played in two All-Ireland finals in the community games. Cliona (15) does one better, having taken part in the All-Ireland community games finals five years in a row in athletics, Gaelic football, soccer and futsal twice. She also plays soccer with the Listowel Celtic team. 


A Tender Moment

This has to be one of the nicest photographs from the recent presidential election. I dont know who took it.

In the horrible bruising campaign for the Presidency of Ireland in 2018, when even the candidate’s dogs were dragged into the carnage, Sabina Higgins was the loyal, dignified and loving presence by her husband’s side. She is everything I would want in a first lady.

Rathea Listowel and San Sebastian

Listowel’s changing face


Do you remember this?



Built in 2000, destroyed by a storm in 2014


The following article was published in the Rathea Irremore journal a few years ago


 Yarns from Rathea

Dan Lyons
of Rathea was better known as The Major, possibly to distinguish him from his
near neighbour, Anthony Dan Lyons, sometimes referred to as Spec, who was a
great poet with many compositions to his credit. I would hope that poems by the
latter may be resurrected and be printed in this or some other local journal,
thereby getting a new lease of life.

it is with a few yarns concerning the Major, I’m now going to deal with. He had
a tidy farm of good land. He kept about eleven cows, no bull. I suppose he
would only keep ten cows if he had kept a bull. When a cow would come around,
he would rope her and take her about a half a mile down the road to the Yankee

after many years and he was getting older and possibly getting tired of
jostling with recalcitrant bovines along the road down to Kirby’s bull, he
surprised everybody by setting off for Listowel Fair one morning. There he duly
purchased the worst, smallest and cheapest bull in the fair. It would seem that
economy in financial matters was one of his strong points.

home with the bull in tow, he walked proudly into the yard. His wife came out
to view the purchase. It seems she got a bit of a shock when she laid eyes on
the acquisition. However, she, it seems rallied quickly, and proceeded to
berate and scold The Major with considerable volume and at great length, for
buying such an article. “Sure the calves off him will be no size,” she
finished, breathless. Seizing his opportunity the Major spoke out in his own
defence. “What do you talk about woman?” he said, “no calves off
him because he is small, Paddy so-and-so is only four feet ten, and hasn’t he
two sons in the guards.”

The Major
and his wife reared a large family. They were very brainy. One of them, Simon
by name, joined the Franciscan Order, was ordained and in due course attained
considerable status in same. He was the author of several books on religious

The Major
was very fond of playing cards. Cahill’s was the house for the game. Either he
was a bad player, or unlucky, or both, for he seldom won a game and arrived
back home without a copper in his pocket. Now when Simon, whose name in
religion was Father Adrian, would come back yearly on holidays, he would
accompany his father to the card game, and being a good player, or lucky, or
both, he’d finish the night in possession of a heap of coppers. Being a
Franciscan, and forbidden by the Rule of his Order to keep money, he’d hand it
over to The Major. The latter would pocket the money with a self satisfied
smile, turn to Fr. Adrian and say: “Simon you’re the first one of your
cloth that wasn’t a robber”.


                        John Joe


More from my continental holiday

My January holiday in the Basque country taught me lots of things about the Basque people. They have one of the oldest languages in the world. It bears very little or no similarity to any other language. The above tableware is decorated with the local Basque symbol.

There are 7 Basque provinces straddling the Pyranees between Spain and France. Navarre is the biggest.  Basque people are fiercely proud of their language and traditions. I’ll tell you more about that anon. Today I want to tell you about my trip to Spain.

Ciboure is very near to the Spanish border. It is the custom locally for people to take a trip across the border to San Sebastian on a Sunday afternoon. When in Rome….

We took the train from Hendaye. There was no acknowledgement of a border. We just travelled from one town to another with no feeling that we had passed from one country to another except that now the train station names were in Basque and Spanish rather than Basque and French.

San Sebastian was an eye opener!

I never in all my living life saw so many fur coats.

I am reliably informed that Spanish people live in small apartments and live most of their lives outdoors. Certainly it would seem that donning your fur coat and promenading on the front in San Sebastian on a January Sunday is the done thing for Spanish ladies of a certain age.


Back home: Some Artistic window displays at Lynch’s of Main St.

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