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: Mamie Gunn

Nurses, a Dog, a Mart and a shark

Bryan MacMahon statue in the grounds of Kerry Writers’ Museum


Ballylongford Thanksgiving

Photo; Helen Lane

Beautiful harvest thanksgiving altar in St. Michael’s.


Dog walking….Advice from your pouch


More Titbits about Irish Nurses in Britain

Nursing in Ireland was held in higher regard as a career than it was in Britain. Places in nurse training were harder to get and usually there was a fee to be paid.

English trained nurses were accepted into Irish hospitals and worked side by side with Irish trained staff.

An Irish trainee nurse in an English hospital was very often expected to work on a ward on her first day in the hospital. It was very much a learning by doing type of training. It wasn’t until the 1960s that auxiliary nurses and nurses aides were employed. Before that nurses did all the washing and cleaning as well as nursing duties.

Prospects of rising to the rank of Matron in an Irish hospital were slim. Top jobs were always reserved for nuns. In Britain too, matrons were usually unmarried. the long unsociable hours and hard work were thought unsuitable for a married woman.


A Treasure from a Charity Shop

I paid €5 for this in the Listowel Irish Wheelchair shop.

The book has stunning photographs by a lady called Kathleen Jo Ryan. She also co edited the book. It was published in the US in 1985.

There are essays by John B. Keane and Bryan MacMahon, Caoimhín ODannachair and others. I will give you a flavour of these soon.

Look at these lovely Listowel photos…copyright Kathleen Jo Ryan. These are photos of photos in a book but you can appreciate that the images are brilliant;

Listowel Mart


A Fact

The phrase “raining cats and dogs” originated in 17th century England. During heavy downpours many unfortunate cats and dogs drowned and were washed down the flooded streets giving the impression that it had literally rained cats and dogs.


I gave you false information last week. Loreto Weir informs us that sharks can get cancer.


Athea, Holy Pictures, 1954 in Pres.and someone is planning a 75th birthday celebration.

Seamus Mulcahy, Blarney Camera Club’s entry in The Rebel Cup photography competition


Away with the Fairies

When I was in Athea with my grandchildren, we visited the ducks on our way to Fairy Mountain.

Fairy Mountain was looking well. Bluebells and daisies were in bloom.

A new bug hotel has been constructed on the site of the old one which was vandalised last year.

Cróga, the fairy who takes away all your worries was burdened with the concerns of three little girls.

As we walked up the hill to the graveyard, we reminded ourselves of the legend of the giant and his mother. The graveyard in Athea is in a lovely hilltop location.


Holy pictures and
The Rosary in the 1950’s

(from Jim Costelloe’s Asdee, A rural Miscellany)

In rural houses most kitchens had religious
pictures decorating the walls and pride of place went to the picture of the
Sacred Heart. This had the names of all the household enrolled on it and was
authenticated by a priest. “ I will bless the house in which the picture of my
sacred heard is exposed and honoured,” was the statement accredited to Our Lord
in the picture. Also on the wall was the Sacred Heart lamp, a small paraffin
oil lamp with a red globe and the women of the house ensured that it was always
lighting. Inside the door at eye level was a holy water font and people leaving
the house always blessed themselves from it. The Rosary was recited every night
after the supper and every member of the family gave out a decade. If they did
not have a rosary beads they used their fingers.

(Jim Costelloe’s memories are finding a resonance with many people who are reading them on the blog. Marie Shaw remembered the old mass as well and she wrote;

“Loved reading about Mass in the fifties. My husband Joe and I were married at the last Latin mass in Holy Cross parish in Brooklyn NY on November 28th 1964. The next day was the beginning of the mass in English so I will never forget when the change occurred. I still miss the Latin as I was a member of the choir in St. Mary’s as a teenager. Some memories never fade and are forever precious.”


Convent Girls in 1954

Back Row: Eleanor Leahy, Eileen Barrett, ? McCarthy, Celia Carroll, Rose Healy-Fitzmaurice, ?Walsh, Marie Neligan (me), Doreen Stack, Nora O’Keefe, ? Enright.

Middle Row: Kathleen Fitzgerald, ? Noonan (not certain about that name)Margaret Sheehan Mary McElligott, Phyllis Horgan, Kathleen Dunworth, ? Beasley, ? O’Keefe, Maeve Moloney, ?Murphy, Dympna Hillard.

Front Row: Nora Barry, Margaret Horgan, Eileen? Lynch, Noreen Mahoney, Geraldine Reidy (an american girl visiting Listowel), Patricia Hartnett,Marie Buckley, Terry Buckley and of course Sr. Dympa

Marie Shaw sent me this photograph with these names and I posted it in 2014. Recently Helen O’Connor sent me this;

“My sister, Delia Walsh, 6th from Top L – beside Marie Nelligan (sender of photo).  Delia married Peter Spellman and lives in Manchester.  Her grown up family lives there too. Delia and her husband come home every year to Listowl/Ballybunion.  She remembers most of her class in picture but doesn’t know where they are now. 

Eileen Barrett (neighbour of Delia Walsh), 2nd top from L married Connie Leahy and continued living in Listowel, but unfortunately died a few years ago.”


Presentation Secondary School is celebrating its 75 th Birthday

This is a photograph taken at a a reunion of the class of 1968. “The Convent” is giving a shoutout to those and all its other old girls. We are looking for your photographs of your days in secondary school. Your memories of school trips, operettas, debates, retreats etc., etc. are sought for a planned anniversary publication.

If you would like to contribute to this project, check out this Facebook page and send us a message.

Presentation 75


The Bodhrán Maker’s Wife and Her Transport

Noreen Buckley alerted me to this photo which was being shared on the internet. It shows Bridge Road, Listowel and a young Mamie Gunn making her way home.

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