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: Mario Perez

St. Patrick’s Day 2018 in Listowel, March 18 in Ballybunion and my “Thoughts” from last week

Some Listowel Folk on their way to mass in St. Mary’s on March 17 2018

Tim O’Leary was helping with the church gate collection. He had a few words in Irish for one and all.

Dr. Olive Pierse was resplendent in green.

This beautiful piece was given to her by her husband, Robert on her 80th birthday. I think you’ll agree it’s beautiful.

You’ll recognise lots of local people here, all very kindly allowing me to preserve memories of this day for future generations.


On the Wild Atlantic Way

On March 18 2018, we wrapped up well and headed for the beach.

Mario had been out since early morning working on a very important commission.

Looks like Daniel and Majella are taking in Ballybunion on their road trip. They were grand marshalls at the parade in Millstreet and they came on to Kerry afterwards. I didn’t stick around to greet them.

The weather was freezing cold and there was scarcely a soul on the beach.

As you can imagine, Molly loved having the place to herself.

Not a living soul in sight.


Just a Thought

Last week it was my privilege to give the Just a Thought reflection each day on Radio Kerry.

If you would like to listen to the reflections they are online for another week.

Just a Thought

St. Patrick’s Day 2018…the preparations

St. Patrick’s Weekend 2018 in Listowel

What a weekend we had ! It will take me a day or two to bring you all my photos.

On March 16th 2018 the scene was set. The schedule was up in The Square. The sun was shining and we were all set.

The shop windows were decorated.

We were not just having a parade. We were welcoming the Rith runners to our town. These runners had set off from Belfast at the beginning of Seachtain na Gaeilge, carrying with them a baton which held a message of support for the Irish language from President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.

Our green clobber was in order and we were looking forward to the big day.

Finesse window was decorated with messages of support for everyone involved in all the festivities.

At St. Mary’s a full rehearsal was in progress. The folk group were in fine voice. I had always known that they would do us proud on the big day but when I heard them in rehearsal I knew that they would exceed all expectations.

The first of my visitors arrived bringing Molly (their new dog) on her first visit to The Kingdom.


Listowel Folk Group

One of the Listowel highlights of St. Patrick’s Day 2018 was the programme broadcast from St. Mary’s. It includes mass in Irish and some lovely footage of Listowel with yarnbombing for International Woman’s Day and an introduction by Owen MacMahon.

The music of Listowel Folk Group was heavenly and everyone involved did us all proud. The link to the programme is live until April 16 2018

Mass for St. Patrick’s Day 2018 from St. Mary’s Listowel


Helping the Beach Artist

No trip to Listowel would be complete without a trip to Ballybunion. My girlies were delighted when Mario allowed them to “help” him sculpt his St. Patrick’s Day beach artwork.

What Mario Perez does is amazing and Ballybunion is so lucky to have him.

Athea is avenged and the Irish Hospitals Sweepstake remembered

A Stonechat

Photo: Graham Davies


Lord Listowel’s Needlework

I apologise that I have no date for this snippet


Revenge for Athea

This crucifix stands near the gate of Athea’s graveyard in an area called Templeathea. The temple in the name refers to a church which once stood on this site. This church was burned during Cromwell’s time in Ireland and all the local people who had sought refuge within were burned. 

I had an account of this atrocity on this blog a while back. In response, my friend, Nicholas, sent me this.

“Your mention of Cromwell, in your Athea piece reminded me exhumation from Westminster Cathedral of the mortal remains of three one-time heroes of Old England.

I came across the following account of the post-Restoration  digging up from their  graves in Westminster Cathedral, posthumous beheading and ghoulish abuse and hanging of the bodies of the following three enemies of the murdered King Charles 1st. Couldn’t happen to more deserving fellows!

Cromwell, Ireton and Bradshaw hanged from the Grave. 

From a manuscript entitled “An Abstract of the Reign of King Charles the First”

“…and the 30th of January, being that day twelve years from the death of the King, the odious carcases of O. Cromwell, Major Gen. Ireton, and Bradshaw, were drawn in sledges to Tyburne, when they hung by the neck from morning till 4 in the afternoon. 

Cromwell in green searcloth, very fresh embalmed. Ireton, having been buried long, hung like a dried rat, yet corrupted about the fundament. Bradshaw in his winding sheet, the fingers of his right hand and his nose perisht, having wet the sheet through. The rest very perfect, insomuch that I knew his face when the hangman, after cutting off his head, held it up. Of his toes I had five or six in my hand, which the prentices had cut off.

Their bodies were thrown into a hole under the gallows, and their heads were set up on the south end of Westminster-hall.

Cromwell died September 3rd 1658; Ireton, November 9, 1651; Bradshaw, October 31, 1659.”

Athea was avenged!!


Do you remember the Sweep?

If someone was being a bit “flash with the cash” in my day, people would say ” He must have won The Sweep. But what was the sweep.

Joe Harrington sparked my interest in this precursor to the National Lottery when he sent us the below sweep ticket.

 The sweep was a raffle run in conjunction with major horse races. It was ostensibly set up to raise funds for Irish hospitals but like so many of these “charities” it became mired in controversy amid accounts of directors of the lottery creaming off huge expenses and even salaries and the hospitals getting a meagre percentage of the funds raised. Tickets were sold through agents, most of them in the U.S and Canada.

This was the iconic image of the “nurses” drawing the winners from huge draw drums and the tickets being verified by an army officer.

Joe also found the hilarious account in a book called Insane and Unseemly by John Saville.


A Novel Proposal

On Ballybunion beach in January 2018…..artist Mario Prez

Mario Perez celebrates the Choctaw Nation

Photo: Ita Hannon


A washboard

This was once the latest in laundry technology. Who needs a gym when one has one of these to work out on.


 Beautiful Ballybunion

On April 1 2017 I took a walk in the sunshine along Ballybunion beach and along the cliff walk. Very often when material for the blog is drying up and I feel that its all getting a bit repetitive, something happens to restore my faith and give me the impetus to carry on. Such an encounter happened to me as I left my car. A lady I didn’t know approached me and introduced herself as a blog follower. She told me that her uncle had written a memoir of his childhood and growing up in Asdee in the 1940s. She promised me a copy of the book. 

She was as good as her word.

 I grew up in the 1950s so many aspects of our upbringing were the same. I look forward to bringing you more reminiscences from Asdee…A Rural Miscellany. 

Thank you, Anne Marie Collins

As I made my way to the beach I saw that Mario Perez, Ballybunion’s beach artist, was at work.

Mario cut a solitary figure as he painstakingly created yet another work of art.

I approached him and Mario kindly took time out to let me photograph him and to explain what his latest artistic creation was celebrating.

The event he was commemorating was the generous act of the Choctaw Nation to help alleviate the suffering of the Irish people during the Famine.

Here is an account from Irish Central;

On March 23, 1847, the Indians of
the Choctaw nation took up an amazing collection. They raised $170 for Irish
Famine relief, an incredible sum at the time worth in the tens of thousands of
dollars today.

They had an incredible history of
deprivation themselves, forced off their lands in 1831 and made embark on a 500
mile trek to Oklahoma called “The Trail of Tears.” Ironically the man who
forced them off their lands was Andrew Jackson, the son of Irish immigrants.

On September 27, 1830, the Treaty of
Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed. It represented one of the largest transfers of
land that was signed between the U.S. Government and Native Americans without
being instigated by warfare. By the treaty, the Choctaws signed away their
remaining traditional homelands, opening them up for European-American
settlement. The tribes were then sent on a forced march

As historian Edward O’Donnell wrote
“Of the 21,000 Choctaws who started the journey, more than half perished from
exposure, malnutrition, and disease. This despite the fact that during the War
of 1812 the Choctaws had been allies of then-General Jackson in his campaign
against the British in New Orleans.’

Now sixteen years later they met in
their new tribal land and sent the money to a U.S. famine relief organization
for Ireland. It was the most extraordinary gift of all to famine relief in
Ireland. The Choctaws sent the money at the height of the Famine, “Black 47,”
when close to a million Irish were starving to death.

Thanks to the work of Irish
activists such as Don Mullan and Choctaw leader Gary White Deer the Choctaw
gift has been recognized in Ireland.

In 1990, a number of Choctaw leaders
took part in the first annual Famine walk at Doolough in Mayo recreating a
desperate walk by locals to a local landlord in 1848.

In 1992 Irish commemoration leaders
took part in the 500 mile trek from Oklahoma to Mississippi. The Choctaw made
Ireland’s president Mary Robinson an honorary chief. They did the same for Don

Even better, both groups became
determined to help famine sufferers, mostly in Africa and the Third World, and
have done so ever since.

The gift is remembered in Ireland. The plaque on Dublin’s
Mansion House that honors the Choctaw contribution reads: “Their humanity
calls us to remember the millions of human beings throughout our world today
who die of hunger and hunger-related illness in a world of plenty.”

When I came home I checked in with Mario’s Facebook page and here is his finished sand picture. It represents the seal of the Choctaw Nation. It took Mario six hours to craft this perfect piece.


When the Pope Came

Photo from a Facebook page devoted to photos of old Dublin


John B. Keane Memorial in the Garden of Europe


Easter 2017 at Scoil Realta na Maidine

They had a big weekend of fundraising at the boys school. I took a good few photos of the marathon and half marathon runners and walkers. I’ll post them next week.

Meanwhile Ned O’Sullivan spotted his young self in some photos on display in the school.

Family, Lily’s and a few more from December 11 in The Square

Well done, Ballydonoghue, North Kerry Champions 2016

(photo: John Kelliher)


Kindness at Christmas 2016

Nancy Kelly’s eyesight is failing but she loves the internet. She also loves to surprise people with an unexpected phoncall, card or greeting. She loves Listowel and Ballybunion and she truly appreciates those of us who bring her images and news from her home in North Kerry. 

Above is the lovely surprise her new internet friend, Mario Perez, created for her on the beach at Ballybunion.


Blackbird in the town park in December 2016.


Family Events at Christmas

I had a ceremony of Light, Christmas Concerts and a end of term drama show on my most recent trip to Cork.

My girlies in the Church of Christ our Light, Ballincollig for Róisín’s Ceremony of Light.

Cora was the very best sheep in her Seó na Nollag at Gaelscoil Uí Riiordáin

Killian played carols at the concert for residents in Rosenalee Nursing Home.

Róisín was an urchin in her drama class’ end of term show.


Another New Business Opens in Charles Street


A Pizza and an Elf walked into the Square

A few more photos from Dec 11 2016 in the square for the Coca Cola trucks event


What I’m Reading and What I’m Listening to

While I’m reading Pat Given’s poems I have this lovely album playing in the background. It features all of the artists who appeared on this season’s Late Late Show and all the proceeds go to St. Vincent de Paul.


Christmas Day Swim

Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue will be organising their usual swim on Christmas Day. If you don’t feel brave enough to take the plunge you could drop by and contribute to their bucket collection. They do great work.

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