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

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Launch of Mary Lavery Carrig’s Haiga , Listowel St. P. shop and some folklore

Dogs in Banna; Bridget O’Connor


People at a Launch

Here are a few photos I took at the launch of Mary Lavery Carrig’s exhibition which is currently hanging in St. John’s, Listowel

Childhood friend, Declan Downey launched the exhibition.

Jim and Susan are artists and came to lend their support.

John McGrath was Mary’s teacher back in the day.

Art lovers and artist, Mary, Matt and Maeve Mooney

Family, friends and neighbours were in St. John’s to support.

Máire Logue was our hostess and Mary provided us with a sumptuous feast. There was food for the body and soul in St. John’s on Feb. 1 2020.

I have never before got a chocolate covered strawberry at a launch! Thank you, Mary


A Charm, a Cure and Unhappy Priest

A Tale from a Rathea child in the Schools’ Folklore Collection

Mickey Hussey was a native of Banemore. He was a charm setter. He was a small man with a hump. He used to be going round with an ass and car. He was well liked by everybody.

He always obliged his neighbours as far as he could. One night there was a woman living in Gleannaléime and she was very bad. A varicose vein bursted in her leg. The priest was sent for and he only gave her a few hours to live. After the priest was gone her son made for Banemore to Mickey. 

Mickey was not inside he was at Jerr Finnerty’s house. The son had only such a limit of time and he told his story to Mickey. Mickey went out and brought in two dog-briars. He split them into two and set them apart in the table. As he was saying the words the briars were drawing close to each other. And at that moment the cock flew out through the coope and crew three times up in the table in front of Mikey. There was neigbours inside and they got in dread when they saw the cock. And Mickey said you amadán if he didn’t do that sure my work would be no good. 

Before the son arrived home the Mother was alright. Next morning the priest came and he was surpised when he saw her. So they told him their story and he became very angry. He said he would excommunicate him from the Church if he would not give up this work. All Mikey said was “I saved her life and let you save her soul”. When the Fennertys went out the cock was dead outside the door.


Vincent de Paul Shop Makeover

Listowel’s St. Vincent de Paul shop looks twice the size since its recent revamp. It still has all the same lovely smiling faces to greet you when you shop there. It’s open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.

Above are just some of the friendly hard working volunteers. I’ll have to call in again to catch the rest of them.

Garda Station, a poem, Mat the Herder and some local ladies

Listowel Garda Station in January 2020

The burning of Listowel police station in the Civil War, Aug 1922.

Republicans held Listowel. They burnt the police station as Free State troops advanced on 3 Aug 1922. . Courtesy of Vincent Carmody. 

This building was restored, and today is the impressive Listowel Garda station, Church St.

(photo and caption shared on Facebook by Historical Tralee and Surrounding Areas)


A Poem from Noel Roche


Girls’ Night Out

Snapped in Allos last week, Aimee, Maria, Eilish, Máire and Sinead


Mat the Herder 

From Rathea in the Schools Folklore collection

Mat Sheehy lived in the townland of Gurtaclohane in the begining of the nineteenth century. He was commonly known as Mat the Herder. He was a stout firm man and had great arms. Another great man lived long side him by the name of Sean O Leary. The two of um used to go to Cork once a fortnight with firkins of butter in a horse & car.

 At the same time there was a great fighting man in Cork. One day the Buffer of Cork challenged any man to fight him. Mat came up to Leary and said that it wouldnt take such a great man to beat him. “You better keep your tongue in your pocket” said Leary dont he hear you. At that the Buffer heard him and challenged him to fight and handed him a black torn stick so they took at it. 

The Buffer was giving him great strokes in the head but they were taking no effect out of him. In the finish Leary said to Mat in Irish “Tóg íseal é” to take him low. At that Mat struck him across the ribs and brought him to the ground and the Buffer said to Mat “You’re a good man. I was never beaten before”. The Cork people said they would give him his hat full of gold if he shouted as a Cork man but he said he would not saying “I am a Kerry man and I’ll shout for no other County but Kerry”.

Mat had fourteen heifers grazing in the mountain owned by Stephen Galvin at present. He had a big dog. His dog was called Bully and he used to be always minding the heifers for fear they would be stolen. One morning as the ground was covered with snow Bully came came barking to the door and made signals to Mat that the heifers were stolen. 

So the two started out in search of them. They tracked um as far as Limerick and there they found um between two glens. They went about turning the heifers home when ten men attacked um to take the heifers of um so they started fighting and he beat the ten men but he would never do so without the dog. When five of um would come in front of him and five more behind him the dog would jump up and ketch um by the cape of the coat and bring um to the ground and in that way he beat the ten men and brought home his heifers to Gurtaclohane

Soon after a great man from  County Limerick heard about Mat so he said he would have a trial out of him. He picked two good sticks one for himself and another for Mat. He enquired from house to house until he came to Mat. As soon as Mat saw him he got in dread of him so he said he was not Mat the Herder at all but he’d carry him to Mat’s house. But that if he’d like, himself would fight him but that Mat (M) should be present at the fight. 

Mat was indread to attack him alone without Leary with him for Leary was a better man than himself. If he beat him himself Leary would have an other chance and if Leary beat him Mat would still hold his good name. When they landed at Leary’s house Mat had a private talk with him and Leary said to him not to be in dread. Then they started fighting and no one of um was getting the upper hand for a half anhour. It was getting very hot then and Mat was getting two much of it Then Leary told him in Irish not to draw at all but to keep up his guards and that he would get tired. Mat did so and stroke by stroke the other fellow was failling. Then all of a sudden Mat struck him across the ribs and brought him to the ground so Mat held his good name and gave up fighting at the age of fifty.

Liam Ó Duilleáin
Gortacloghane, Co. Kerry
(name not given)
Gortacloghane, Co. Kerry
The actual handwritten version states 
“ó m’athair a fuaireas é seo.”

A Christmas wreath, some shop windows and Colourful Spirits exhibition

A Kerry Donkey: Chris Grayson


Cured, you say? Caused, more like!

Photo from Facebook


Some Christmas windows


 Tae Lane


A Christmas Wreath

My lovely daughter in law, Carine, treated me to a wreath making workshop in The White Horse in Ballincollig. Even if I say so myself, we made some lovely creations.

My Christmas wreath 2019


John Paul 2 Cemetery

I put my Christmas wreath on Jim’s grave. The cemetery was looking lonely in the winter sunshine.

The burial ground is expanding rapidly with a whole new section opened up recently.


Colourful Spirits Exhibition in St. John’s

I took the following photo s at the opening evening but the pictures will be there for the month. I’m delighted with my purchase. I’ll leave it hang for a few more weeks but I’ll have it in my home for Christmas.

Viveca Amato’s Santa greeted us at the door.

I think most of the Spirits who were exhibiting are in one or other of these photos. The group does have a few more members but their work is not in this show. The paintings are lovely. Well worth a visit. These artists do commissions as well so if you like someone’s work you could talk to them about doing something more special to you.

This mixed media picture is very eye catching.

This is me with my painting and the artist who painted it. Máire did a bad job on the photograph. I’ll have to take it again when I get it home.

Máire bought Jim Dunn’s Mad Hatter.   ‘nough said!

New Director at St. John’s, Church Street girls, Owen Family of Ballyhorgan Cycling and the Crown Jewels

Wildflower meadow at Ballincollig Regional Park


They’re Changing the Guard at St. John’s

Máire Logue is the new artistic director of St. John’s Arts and Heritage Centre, Listowel. I photographed her in St. John’s with Joe Murphy, the retiring director.


Church Street Girls

Eileen Sheridan shared a photo memory

Clementine Crowley Ann McSweeney, Gertie Kennelly, Mary OSullivan, Eileen Scanlon, Ann Ryan

Mary Fitzmaurice Mary Walsh , Eileen McSweeney,  Alice Gleeson.

Sadly three of the girls have passed away.


Owens of Ballyhorgan

Harriet Owen with Tom Fitzgerald and Jimmy Deenihan in The Listowel Arms on one of Harriet’s frequent trips to Kerry to reconnect with her family home in Lixnaw.

Harriet sent me a short version of her family history which I published in Listowel Connection. John Stack of Kildare and formerly of Duagh was interested to see that an Owen had married into the Ellis family of Abbeyfeale. Ellis was a family John had encountered when researching his own family as these Ellises were his mother’s people’s landlords.

He sent us a newspaper cutting


Resurgence of Cycling

In our cities nowadays you have to be struck by the numbers of people cycling to and from work. I took these photos on Cork’s Grand Parade recently. There seems to be bicycles everywhere.

The bike scheme stand was almost empty.


The Theft of The Irish Crown Jewels

A friend lent me this book. The story of the disappearance of the Irish Crown Jewels and its disastrous consequences for North Kerry is a fascinating one.


In Dublin Yesterday

Kerry has survived to fight another day. I don’t know if the supporters nerves will survive another one, though.

Listowel in Summer 2019, Changes at Writers’ Week and a Tarbert picture revisited

 Lovely Listowel Pub

Tanker’s Bar on Upper William Street


Entente Florale Entertainment

On the day the adjudicators were in town, while watching the entertainment I met my old friend, John O’Connor of Tralee who was working in town.


Treoir magazine


Máire’s Last Day

The end of an era for the dream team; Eilish Wren and Máire Logue who managed so many successful Writers’ Week festivals are pictured in their office in Kerry Writers’ Museum on Máire’s last day in the job before she moves on to pastures new in St. John’s Arts and Heritage Centre.


Meanwhile in Tarbert, a reenactment

And here it is the photo you have all been waiting on… 34 years later!! Josephine, Kenneth and Thomas have recreated the photo. Remembering Derek always RIP x

Picture and caption from


Old O’Connor House at Curraghatoosane

On July 30 1019, we, Listowel people were allowed to visit the site of the old cottage unearthed during excavations for the new bypass.

The house was a thatched cottage of mud construction and it stood on this site until the 1950’s. We know from the census that 6 adult people lived there in 1911.

There was great interest among local people to see and hear how people lived in the 1800’s

Shards of pottery were uncovered, probably plates and bowls.

The archeologist told us that this design is Scottish.

Paddy Keane remembered that olive oil came in phials like these.

This is what remains of an Infant of Prague statue.

The artefacts included a thimble and some buttons. The daughter of the family was a dressmaker, according to the census.

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