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: Margaret Dillon

Christmas Crafts

St. John’s, Listowel Nov 2022


Crafting Revival

I love to see enterprising young people practicing old crafts. Ballylongford was the place to be on Sunday November 20 2022. The Community Centre was jammed with beautiful things and lovely crafters.

My daughter in law, Carine, was delighted with her purchases from the Mulvihill family stall. She is holding the unique willow wreath which she plans to put on her door. She also loves the flower picture she got for her kitchen.

This engaging young lady was rocking an equine theme with lightweight horseshoe ornaments for every occasion.

I remember a time when every bride carried a horseshoe as well as her bouquet.

This is what the internet says about the horseshoe as a symbol of luck;

Although the origins are not exactly known, it is believed that the horseshoe became the symbol of luck when the eighth century Chaldeans thought its crescent shape represented various moon goddesses thus protecting against the curse of the evil eye.


Remembering Childhood Christmases in Listowel

Margaret Dillon kindly answered my call. Here is her account of childhood Christmases in pre digital days.

These days Christmas is heralded by a marathon of Festive adverts which start earlier each year. Back in the 40’s and 50’s we didn’t have Television so we weren’t subjected to that constant bombardment. Nevertheless we had full and plenty of all the Christmas essentials. Listowel was a busy bustling town back then, the shops were full of all sorts of goodies. Of couse as children we were only interested in the Toy shops particulary Fitzgibbon’s and Walsh’s corner shop. Walsh’s window had a nodding Santa  which was a great attraction.  We couldn’t contain ourselves on Christmas morning as we opened our presents. Santa was a wonder then and he still is to all children. 

On the home front , the  decorations were put up  across the ceiling from corner to corner. The Holly was put behind the pictures and most important of all the crib was put on the sideboard or windowsill. The cake and plum pudding were already made. While Mam was making the cake we made our wishes as we stirred the mixture. A few days beforehand a goose ( for the New Year celebrations) and a flitch of hairy bacon to go wth the turkey arrived from our Clare relations.  My mother and the neighbours Mrs Hickey and Mrs Brennan bought  the live turkeys in the market,  Mrs Brennan did the killing and we plucked our own, making sure to keep the wings. They served as dusters around the range and grate for the rest of the year.

The big shop was done shortly before the big day in John Joe’s and the  reward  for our business during the year was the Christmas box. This was like a mini hamper containing tea, a pot of jam and maybe an Oxford Lunch cake. The drinks order of minerals, bottles of Guinness and a bottle of Sherry  arrived from John R’s in a large timber box.  

Of course Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the Christmas hymns “Away in a Manger” or “Angels we have heard on High” Or the Christmas songs “Jingle Bells” , “Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer” and Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”  Adeste Fidelis was sung at  Mass on Christmas Day After Mass we stayed back to visit and welcome Baby Jesus in the crib. During the holidays we paid regular visit to the cribs in the parish church and the convent chapel.


Boyeens to Men

My lovely boyeens spent a lot of time in Listowel as children. They always surprise me with their recall of things we did together on their Kerry holidays.

Killian on the Greenway in Nov 2022


Folklore in The Library

Tom Dillon was his usual entertaining and informative self in Listowel Library last week when he filled us in on the origins of place names.

Placenames are in danger of being lost as we move to Eircodes.

Tom told us that the fishermen had names for various parts of the Feale. Now that fishing is no more these names are in danger of being lost.

I did not know this until Tom told us but wags in Tralee have invented a new place name. They call the Corrib Oil station the Mini Barack Obama.


Christmas Market 2022


a Jubilee Nurse in 1912, a Visit to Duagh Pottery and a photograph to evoke memories

Litter Picker

Photo: Philip Karina, Mallow Camera Club


The Jubilee Nurse

The title Jubilee Nurse comes from the The Queen’s Jubilee Institute which was the body that first appointed and funded these district nurses.

Kerry People  Saturday, February 03, 1912; 

Women’s National Health Association 



Mr. D J Flavin, J P. C.U.D.C. was moved to the chair and the other members  present were: Miss Lamont (Organiser): Mrs B. Foran, V.C., P.L.G., hon. sec. ; Mrs Raymond, Mrs J H Pierse, Mrs  W McElligott, Miss B Buckley, Messrs. B Johnson, Manager Bank of Ireland; D H Leane, L.P.S.I. ; and P. Breen, St. Michael’s College. The hon. secretary read her report to the meeting which was considered very satisfactory after which the necessity for the appointment of a district Jubilee nurse was discussed. Miss Lamont explained the rules under which a Jubilee nurse takes-up the position, and stated the salary of such a nurse would be £90 a year.

Mr. Johnson said they commenced to collect the town and said they had collected in one street about £50, there being no refusal but one. The people he should state met them in the most generous and sympathetic manner possible, and he had no doubt whatever that they would be always in a position to meet the salary of the nurse.

The Chairman asked Miss Lamort what, would be the area  to be covered by the nurse.

Miss Lamont said the nurse  would take in a radius of about three miles from the centre  of the district, but, of course, in exceptional cases she would not confine herself to that radius; she might go four and even five miles from the centre. Her duties primarily should be concerned with the poor of the district, but in exceptional cases and where she was at liberty to do so, she could give her services to the better off people who of course, would be obliged to pay for such services. The nurse would at the same time, be always subject to the directions and advice of the doctors as to the patients to attend to, and she hoped the medical gentlemen of the town would sympathise with the movement.

Mr. Johnson said he knew that as far as the dispensary medical officer Dr. Dillon was concerned he would, he assured him give all the assistance in his power. Mr. Leane said that Dr. O’Connor, he was sure, would do the same. 

Mrs. Foran asked if the nurse could be sent to cases of infections disease Mrs. Lamont: Yes, in exceptional cases, but while attending such a case she must be kept away from the ordinary cases. Of course she knows a good deal herself what to do, and how to act in such circumstances. Chairman : I am sure she won’t be  overwhelmed with too much authority. (Laughter).

 Mrs. Foran : If we had a nurse when the  present epidemic broke out it would have possibly prevented it. Because instead of having the patients nursed by their mothers, the nurse would have at once known that they were suffering from a contagious disease and have them separated at once.

(Discussion continued and suggestions and advice was sought on who to appoint to the position.)


More Pottering About at Easter 2018

While my young visitors were with me we visited the newly opened 

Duagh Pottery 

This is a small 2 man or one man and one woman operation in the heart of rural North Kerry. The beautiful flora of this idyllic location is the inspiration for many of the unique, quirky colourful pieces produced bt Maggie and Mac.

Maggie showed us how she makes her beautiful tiles using bits and pieces she finds in the kitchen and incorporating vegetation from the nearby meadows.

Duagh Pottery is an adults only operation but Maggie allowed my boys to have a go just so I could see how its done. Duagh Pottery offers a very different kind of day out for a small group in its Pottery Experience Day. All the details are on the website

Duagh Pottery

This is a tile made by Maggie in her studio in Duagh for her son’s kitchen in London.

Above are some of Duagh Pottery’s beautiful  creations

Maggie and Mac are two more talented artists who have relocated to Kerry and continue to contribute and enrich the life of our community. 


One Night in 1959

This photo is one of several that were given to me by Mike Hannon so that I could share them with you. Mike came upon these when he was clearing out his Uncle Johnny’s house and he knew that some people would love to see them and to relive the happy memories.

I recognised Junior Griffin and Margaret Dillon in this one and I asked Junior to fill me in on the the others. Here is what Junior wrote;

Left to Right…(later Judge) Brian McMahon; myself; Olly Kerins, Margaret Dillon, Joan Sharry (nee Griffin). That photo was taken in Ballybunion and I’m almost certain it was in 1959. Olly’s mother was housekeeper to Canon Peter O’Sullivan  who was our P.P  here in Listowel and came around late 1953. Olly’s eldest son is Liam Kerins who is the current manager of the Tipperary senior football team. Olly and his wife Eileen are now based in Tralee for many years. My sister Joan was married to Jack Sharry of Colbert Street who was himself an uncle to Margaret Dillon. Joan and Jackie settled down in Coventry, indeed next October will be the 10th anniversary of Joan’s death. Jackie pre deceased her.


The icon of The Holy Family in St. Mary’s, April 9 2018

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