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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Back to School

Daffodils and tulips in Market Street

A Welcome Back

I was back in my old workplace earlier this week. I was in very prestigious company. Cora Staunton and I were the inspiring guests invited to be part of the school’s celebration of International Women’s Day. We are pictured above in the school’s new library.

Wouldn’t Sr. Benedict be so proud to see reading centralised in her old school?

The new library is colourful, well stocked and inviting. I am honoured that my two humble offerings are now on the shelves here.

The main business of the day took place in the hall. Cora and I were interviewed on stage.

The audience was attentive and appreciative.

A moving poem was delivered by Taylor Lynch. In a day away from Mother’s Day, Taylor’s poem in honour of her late mother was dignified and poignant.

Everything Wasn’t Perfect. 

Everything was perfect. 

Until it wasn’t. 

Your sweet smile, 

And loud laugh. 

Your buoyant nature. 

How birds sang, 

As you walked. 

Your hair danced, 

In the wind. 

You were perfect. 

A mother’s love, 

There’s no compare. 

Imprisoned into darkness. 

A hospital grey. 

Taken from us. 

“Paradise” you said, 

“I’m going there”. 

Four short decades. 

Freed from life, 

like a bird. 

Now your name 

Is a word, 

Carved onto stone. 

Everything was perfect. 

Until it wasn’t. 

Taylor Lynch 


In a break in our interviews we had music, poetry and song from some of the very talented pupils.

A lovely event…thank you girls.

One for the Diary

From Pres. Yearbook 1988

Ah, happy days in the tuck shop.

Water from the Well

This vignette of life in rural Ireland in the 1940s and 50s is from the late Jim Costelloe’s lovely book, Asdee in the 1940s and 50s.

Thanks for the memories, Jim. Rest in peace.

In the days before group water schemes were introduced to rural areas, domestic water was sourced from wells and pumps. If the water supply lasted through the summer and into October it was the sign of a good spring. I well remember trips to the local well with a white enamel bucket and trying to move the green moss on the surface of the well water so that it would not get into the bucket and make the water in the pure white bucket appear dirty.

Getting clear water into the bucket was a skilful job, between trying to avoid the green moss on the surface and the “dirt” at the bottom of the well. How wonderfully cool and refreshing a mug of water was straight from the well. There was always a mug beside the well and we often drank from it during those warm summers that we seemed to get long ago.

A Fact

In 1999 the founders of Google tried to sell it to Excite for $1 million. The offer was turned down.


Market Street

Raised bed on Market Street in August 2023


Our New Public Convenience

Our new public toilet is less conspicuous than the old one and less costly. It is also more user friendly. It is in the same location as the old one.


Jet OCarroll’s of William St. or Pearse Street

This popular bar is located at 32 William Street.

Or Uimhir 32, Sráid an Phiarsaigh. It is one of the quirks of Listowel that the street names in English hark back to times before independence. The same streets have Irish names that honour the signatories of the declaration of Independence.


A Poem for late August 2023

Leaving (July 1st, 1966)

by John McGrath

Seventeen, no fear, no hesitation

A young boy smiles and wipes away his tears

July morning, Ballyhaunis station

His mother cries and curses emigration

That takes away her boy of tender years

Seventeen, no fear, no hesitation

Young mind filled with hope and expectation

The rhythm of the rails is all he hears

July morning, Ballyhaunis Station

Boarding school a feeble preparation

For Sixties’ Manchester, a web of snares

Seventeen, no fear, no hesitation

Climbs on board his future with elation

Anticipation ringing in his ears

July morning, Ballyhaunis Station

His farewell kiss a meagre consolation

She turns away as through the glass he peers  

Seventeen, no fear, no hesitation

July morning, Ballyhaunis station


An August Visitor

Carine loves Ballybunion.

She was impressed by this litter picking initiative.


Can you help a Listowel Emigrant?

I would love to get a copy of A Gift of Ink. I vividly remember listening to Eamon Keane’s magical voice the night it first broadcast. I am a neurologist in Newport Beach California but born and raised in Cahirdown, a mile outside the town. My 14 brothers and sisters lived in the Soldiers Cottages ,a gift of the British government to its WW1 veterans. My brother Louis was in love with his town and was immersed in every aspect of Listowel life. He died too soon but he died in the place closest to his heart.

I wait for your blog every week. It makes me feel connected to the past and to family. Please let me know how to access or purchase A Gift of Ink. I will be very grateful
Dr Philip O’Carroll

(A Gift of Ink is no longer available to buy but maybe someone who has a vinyl copy could copy it to cd for Philip.)


A Fact

Bedouin feasts, celebrating weddings or other significant life events may include roast camel.

Whole roast camel is a delicacy in Dubai restaurants. A good sized camel can feed 80 to 100 people.

Whole camel stuffed with a sheep’s carcass, which is stuffed with chickens, which are stuffed with fish which are stuffed with eggs is not a thing.

This is a myth.


More from 1997

Market Street, Listowel on Tuesday Mar 8


Two related pieces of Good News

Mayor of Listowel Aoife Thornton, Kerry Rose Édaein O’Connell, Joan Flavin of the Community and Business Alliance with, front, Trevor Horan of the Community Centre and Alliance chairperson Rose Wall launching the Listowel Community Rose selection.

(photo and caption : The Kerryman

On March 31 2023 in The Listowel Arms Hotel the selection of our community rose (there are 8 in all) will take place. These 8 will compete to replace Edaein O’Connell as Kerry Rose.

Co-ordinator and Festival Director Suzan O’Gara said. 

“In the spirit of supporting local and creating a positive community buzz in each of these locations, we are inviting all interested young women between 18 and 29 years of age, and young men aged 21 to 31, to send in their application forms via as soon as possible to ensure they’re on time to enter their local Community Rose selection events.”

Funds raised by Listowel Community Rose selection will be shared with the community centre to help with refurbishment expenses following the recent fire.

The second piece of good news


The Moving of the Dandy Lodge

Dandy Lodge in 2020 before the Pitch and Putt Mural was painted

The Dandy Lodge was built in 1875. In 1997, when it had fallen into disrepair, it was taken down, moved and rebuilt stone by stone in the town park.

Tom O’Halloran R.I.P. who lived nearby was a citizen journalist before the term was invented. He took the following photos of the demolition in progress on his doorstep. His family are now sharing them with us.


A Forgotten Food Fact from 1916

I told you this before. You have probably forgotten it. I certainly had.

Bovril operated a distribution warehouse at Eustace Street, Dublin. In the aftermath of the Rising there were grave food shortages, caused mainly due to the forced closure of bakeries. Many Dublin people were starving. Bovril was distributed free to the citizens to ease their hunger.

(Fact learned from Ireland’s Own)


Listowel Emmets


Adopting a Native American Child in the U.S.

Apropos of yesterday’s story from 1952, Kathy Reynolds wrote;

I have long had an interest in Native American culture maybe first because of Sunday afternoon cowboy and Indian films on RTE as a child but really because of a visit to petroglyphs at Monument Valley in 1988. As we looked at these ancient petroglyphs 2,000 or more years old the Americans around us on hearing British accents could only talk of our long history and the USAs lack of history. They saw no merit in Native American history. This was underlined as we toured the Navajo Tribal Park when our guide said how much he enjoyed taking Europeans around as they appreciated the history will the Americans only saw them as a curiosity.

In case you have forgotten yesterday’s letter here it is;

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Seely, 

Thank you very kindly for your donation of 10.00 for my little Indians. Yours is the first invitation that was ever extended to one of our papooses [Native American children] to come and spend the vacation somewhere. We have a few little boys and girls who have noone at all interested whether they live or die or come and go. 

I would send a little boy of six years or older or a little girl whatever you prefer. These Indian children are very little trouble, especially the one I have in mind. If you really mean it, I will see that we get him ready; you may have him any time you desire. I am not making any inquiries about you, because it takes a good person to make an offer as you did.

Please, let me know. 

With kindest regards, 

Father John

The Fr. John was Fr. John Pohlen of Tekakwitha Indian Mission in South Dakota.

“The boy that Malcolm and Suzanne Seely wound up adopting is now 71 years old as of March 2018. Dennis Isaac Seely told us in a phone interview that he was an infant in 1946 when he was forcibly taken from his mother, a Dakota Sioux woman living on the Lake Traverse Reservation in Sisseton, close to the North Dakota-Minnesota border:”

Kathy sent us the link to the whole sorry story;

Thank you, Kathy, for opening our eyes to this awful chapter in the history of Native American people.


Kerry Candlelight

Early morning in Portmarnock in Winter 2021…..Photo : Éamon ÓMurchú


That was then and This is Now

What a difference a year makes, in Listowel street names?

Information from Vincent Carmody’s Snapshots of an Irish Market town.



We used to call them glassy alleys. They certainly looked like glass but I dont know if they were made of glass really. They were certainly smooth and colourful and in my childhood very much the domain of boys.

Gender stereotyping was rife in my youth. Boys didn’t play with dolls. Girls didn’t play with guns or marbles.


Our Perennial Christmas Song

Christmas is a time for ritual. Part of Listowel Connection ritual is the inclusion of this song at this time of year. Master MacMahon used to teach it to his Fourth Class boys in Scoil Realta na Maidine.

The Kerry Candlelight


I am standing here in Euston, and my heart is light and gay,
For ‘tis soon I’ll see the moonlight all a-dance on Dingle Bay.
So behind me, then, is London, with the magic of its night,
And before me is a window filled with Kerry Candlelight.


‘Tis the lovely light of glory that came down from heav’n on high,
And whenever I recall it, there’s a teardrop in my eye.
By the mountainside at twilight, in a cottage gleaming white,
There my true love sits a-dreaming, in the Kerry Candlelight.


She’ll be waiting by the turf fire; soon our arms will be entwined,
And the loneliness of exile will be lost or cast behind,
As we hear the Christmas greetings of the neighbours in the night,
Then our hearts will beat together in the blessed Candlelight.


Now the train is moving westward, so God speed its racing wheels,
And God speed its whistle ringing o’er the sleeping English fields,
For I’m dreaming of an altar where, beside my Breda bright,
I will whisper vows of true love in the Kerry Candlelight.

Bryan MacMahon


Cancel Culture Gone Mad

Image from a card I received yesterday

“Ireland should remove the British royal insignia which can still be seen on some post boxes, according to Sinn Féin councillor John Costelloe.

In an interview on Newstalk Breakfast, the Limerick councillor said Irish post boxes should reflect modern Irish life…..”

Thus began an article by Olivia Kelleher in Breaking

“Oh no, please don’t,” say I.


Don’t Forget!


A National Treasure

Kevin Lane alerted me to the story in The New York Times and Jim Ryan helped me find the RTE coverage of it.

Here is the link to the Rte story: Rare footage of Cork and Kerry discovered

The discovery of the rare films was initiated by Mícheál Ó Mainnín, a farmer and fisherman from Baile an Fheirtéaraigh (Ballyferriter), as he sought to verify memories his grandfather had shared with him about “the American with a camera”.

“My grandfather, Mick ‘Neilí’ Ó Mainnín, remembered this man coming around. He was collecting birds, eggs and other animals. He became very popular in the area as he had plenty money and was giving out money to anyone who brought him birds.

“My grandfather told me about a day they were fishing in Inis Mhic Uibhleáin (Inishvickillane) and they met ‘the yank’ on the island. He had a movie camera with him and he took a film of my grandfather, my granduncle and the Daly brothers.”

Using the family story as a starting point, Mr Ó Mainnín began the task of identifying the curious “American” in the hope that his films may have survived.

The film was shot in 1925 and 1926 and features events and people in Cork and Kerry. It is lovely.


North Kerry

Market Street, Listowel, December 2021


Ads for North Kerry Businesses

From Shannonside Annual 1958


A Christmas Window…Behan’s Horseshoe

One of these bunnies is a bit on the Kildare side. Maybe he overindulged in The Horseshoe.


A Poem

Today’s poem is by Éamon ÓMurchú. It arose out of a recent hospital stay.

Fear Turns to Awe

Thirteen years 

of fear and trepidation

Change in the space of two days 

To Gratitude  and Admiration

Everybody here Displays




Professionalism –

putting the patients first 

in all they plan and do

Front of House staff 

give warm and reassuring welcome

While in the pre-op room 

frenzied yet consistent attention to detail

Plan Prepare and Reassure

In the Operating Theatre 

one witnesses 

albeit briefly 





and Skill Sets 

that know no bounds

And there is the Patient’s room

where the Night Nurse

caring, patient, encouraging 

with kind demeanour makes a sleepless night 


-the patient coping 

by looking forward to her next visit and chat

And the Day Nurse –

Kind comforting reassurance

coupled with

firm but sensitive directives

which hasten recovery and healing

People gifted kind unique

We owe them; let’s not forget that

All personnel here share 

a humanity and concern for life 

in all its manifestations – 

so exemplary,

so necessary 

in our world today  

Conversion is their trade

Fear into awe

Worry into relief

Darkness into light

Sadness into joy

These people 

are of the same stock as you and me

Vulnerable and proficient

Deserving affirmation

Let’s not be wanting in our response

Let’s praise, applaud and celebrate

In deed and word

Joining them in their healing

Thus making a better world

Éamon Ó Murchú 



Which Crest?

A blog follower needs help from O’Connors or anyone well versed in heraldry.

She wishes to know which of these family crests is the correct one for her Kerry O’Connor clan.


Costing a Fortune

Mattie Lennon wrote a letter to The Sunday Independent. When he saw it in print he was surprised to see that someone had done the Math and came up with the answer to the question he posed.

I’d love to know did he arrive at the correct answer. It looks a bit big to me. I know that there are a few mathematicians among followers of Listowel Connection. Your help is needed.


One for those with a Limerick Connection

Vincent Carmody has produced another triumph. In this latest book he has been joined by his good friend, Tom Donovan to produce a pictorial account of Limerick commercial life between 1840 and 1960.

The book was launched in Limerick on November 30th.

Left to right in St. Mary’s Cathedral at the launch were Tom Ruddle, Deputy Mayor of Limerick, Tom Donovan, Vincent Carmody and Jimmy Moloney, Mayor of Kerry


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