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: Mary McElligott

St. Michael’s, Ballybunion, St. Mary’s in Lent and a Covid 19 poem

Peppercanister Church, Dublin

Eamon ÓMurchú took this great photograph recently


“All you that have your eyeballs vexed and tired

Feast them on the wildness of the sea”   Keats

Marie Moriarty took these photos in Ballybunion yesterday


St. Michael’s staff 1979

This photo was published a commemorative book to celebrate the centenary of the school.

May all of those who have passed away rest in peace.



While we are in partial lockdown due to the global pandemic, Covid 19, people may not have been visiting the church as much as usual. Here is the lovely display for Lent 2020.


Hard Times in North Kerry in 1881

Kerry Sentinel 06.05.1881, page 3 (Edited Version)

Important Meeting of Lord Ormaithwaite’s Tenantry in the parishes of, Listowel, Ballydonoghue, Newtownsandes, Lixnaw, Irremore and Ballybunion were at a meeting in the Land League Rooms in Listowel. They decided that 25% over Griffith’s valuation was a fair rent. Mr George Sandes the landlords agent refused the offer and offered an abatement of 15%, he agreed to meet Lord Ormaithwaite and let them know his reply in a few days.

The cases of the eviction in Gunsboro of Broder and Kissane, who were uncharitable put out on the road at the end of their working life, had the sympathy of all tenants.

Priests in attendance Rev. M O’Connor , P.P. Ballybunion; Rev James Burke, P.P. Newtownsandes, Rev James Casey C C. Listowel; Rev F Cremin, C.C. Lixnaw; Rev. M. Godley, C.C. Ballybunion; Rev F. Carmody, C.C. Newtownsandes, and the rev B. Scanlon, C.C. Duagh.

Priest of the Listowel Deanery held meeting and deplored the evictions on the property of Mr. Gunn Mahony and absentee, a dying man, father of large family was flung on the roadside without any shelter. North Kerry was tranquil, but it is with horror they contemplate the future, if  the evictions of law abiding and industrious people, continues.


An Ode to St. Patrick in This Time of Crisis

St Patrick’s Day 2020

By Mary Mc Elligott

Please come back St Patrick

And bring us loads of bleach,

Soap and disinfectant

And sanitizers, yes, one each.

Back then, we thought snakes were bad,

For the Irish, a pure curse

But now in the year we have

The story is much worse.

Corona is the reason,

A scary dangerous Virus.

It’s in all the Televisions,

The papers and the wireless.

It spreads with a cough or sneeze

Or even talking to a person

And forget about a handshake.

It will only make it worsen.

If you can bring supplies,

Include some kitchen rolls

Don’t bring any toilet paper

As we all have loads and loads.

Also to be safer,

Leave your cloak and staff at home.

We’ll provide a set of scrubs

‘You’d get destroyed in bleach and foam.

We’re not out this year

But we’re not too far away.

We’re indoors and we’re praying,

That you’ll kill the bugs with spray.

We’ve even closed our Pubs,

Paddy’s day, a disaster

But we’re willing and we’re able,

If the Virus goes much faster.

You saved us many moons ago.

You’re held in high esteem.

Irish eyes will all be smiling,

When we’re out of quarantine.

We’ll be dancing and a lepping,

Down the streets, with marching bands.

Oh, a little reminder when you’re coming,

Don’t forget to wash your hands.

Vintage Day at Listowel Races 2018 and a new Alzheimers Day Centre planned for Listowel


A Touch of Glamour from Times Past

Anna brought a touch of US chique to the restyle recycle event at Listowel Races.

Tis young lady favoured a tan palette for an outfit that would look as well today as in a bygone era .

Maria had a story.  She was wearing a themed outfit. The theme was Ballybunion during race week in Listowel.  It is customary for people who overindulge at Listowel Races to go to Ballybunion for a seaweed bath the morning after the night before.  Maria’s dress was the green black colour of the black rocks and her lacy sleeves were a sea weedy black. On her head Maria wore one of her own millinery creations. This one was particularly inventive. It involved collecting and drying out seaweed, fashioning it into a hat and painting the finish product. It was definitely the best and most creative piece of the day.

This man was rocking an upcycled ploughboy look. He wore a grandfather style shirt,  an old trousers and a flat cap. He brought a pitchfork as a prop to set off the look. It’s certainly a lot easier to win a prize in the men’s section of this competition!

Kieran and Imelda, members of the Tidy Town committee looked on in fascination.

The men are usually the ones to bring a bit of levity to proceedings.

This year the token “stag”  was present but he was reluctant to take part.

This outfit was worn by lady who was born in the wrong era. She loves vintage fashion and chooses it over modern stuff every day.

Proof, if proof were needed, that style is timeless.

Marlyn dressed herself for the competition in clothes from the IWA shop. She looked magnificent in her floral dress and red jacket and her vintage shoes were perfect match for her outfit.

Jean is one of these ladies who would look good in a binbag. For this event she sourced this beautiful royal blue dress on eBay. She teamed it with white accessories and she could have worn it any day and looked a million dollars.

This lady from Duagh looked perfectly turned out for a day at the races in browns and tans…timelessly stylish and worn with confidence and ease.


Jackie Moore, Whitesmith

I posted this photo from the Johnny Hannon collection some time ago with the heading Jackie Moore, Pipesmith. Now I’ve learned something new from an old neighbour and friend of this craftsman.

Jackie was not a pipesmith but a whitesmith. A blacksmith takes someone’s design and makes it. A whitesmith designs and makes his own design from scratch. A blacksmith works with iron, a whitesmith usually with lighter metals such as tin.


Remember those who can’t Remember

Listowel is soon to have a new Alzheimer’s Day Centre. Planning is granted and it is hoped to have it up and running by 2020. Below is a photo of the site. Are Churam is in the background.

Here is a poem  on the theme of growing old from local poet. Mary McElligott


Help me save my memories, 

Each day I’m here with you.

It won’t take up all your time, 

As I only have a few.

Don’t ‘correct’ or ‘fix’ the gaps,

Just let me rattle on.

Feel free to move me on a bit,

If my story is too long.

Help me to keep myself, 

From disappearing down a hole. 

Save me from destruction,

As my body leaves my soul.

Show me my old photographs,

You can talk about my dog.

Help me dip around a bit,

If my memory needs a jog.

They wrote up ‘my story’,

The first week I came in.

It’s to help me remember me.

Now where do I begin?

I know I can’t remember much, 

Not too sure about this place

But I don’t feel so worried, 

When I see a smiling face.

If I’m ever feeling frightened,

‘You might see it in a frown’,

Come and sit beside me

And in time I’ll settle down.

Help me to be myself,

The best that I can be.

Remember who you’re looking at, 

The one and only…………ME.


Remembering Christopher Hennessy…A Short Life Well Lived


Positive Ageing

Joe OMuircheartaigh posted (on Twitter) these photos of his uncle, the legend that is Micheál Ó Muiurcheartaigh, abseiling in Dún Síon, west Kerry

Cherry Blossom Time the park, The Lartigue commemorated and Living History in Bridge Road

This lovely tree grows in  Listowel Pitch and Putt course in the town’s park.

What a great amenity this park is. The people of Listowel are truly blessed.


Listowel’s Lartigue Railway is celebrating 130 years since it First Ran

To coincide with Listowel History Festival, the good people of Lartigue Museum held a remembrance ceremony to commemorate 130 years since this unique train first ran between Listowel and Ballybunion. Steve Kelly was the official photographer and these lovely photos and lots more are available to purchase from him.

 Some of the volunteers with Jimmy Deenihan. Jimmy has always held this project dear and has supported it in every way he can, including donating the proceeds of his memoir.

Local historian, Michael Guerin, who spearheaded the effort to preserve everything to do with The Lartigue and the mainline railway in Listowel.  He played a huge part in the restoration project and making sure that this valuable part of Listowel’s history is never forgotten.

The beautifully constructed replica locomotive and carriages. A trip on this train should be on every Listowel person’s bucket list.

As part of the commemoration, the local writing group read some of their compositions. Mary McElligott very kindly shared her poem with us.


Closing my eyes to the whistle,

A door, bangs towards the back,

My train’s moving off slowly,

To a tune, yes a clickety clack.

It’s five o clock in the morning,

I dream as I sit half asleep,

I start to think of all travellers,

Worldwide, as they smile or they weep.

People travel for reasons,

After weekends, returning for work,

Commuting, often long journeys,

From Tralee, Belfast or Cork.

People travel for reasons,

To Dublin ‘Up for that test’,

No one suspects that they’re worried,

As they hold that fear in their chest.

On trains, before, people chatted,

Some people talking nonstop.

Now they’re all on their I Phones,

Or clicking away, on laptops.

Ear phones are strung from both ears,

As music, goes direct to the brain.

Sadly, I can’t change their channel,

As I suffer their ‘beat’ on my train.

I continue to doze and reflect,

On the men who laid all these tracks,

Of lives lost stretching our travels,

Duffy’s Cut and those graves with no marks.

As Amtrak worked near Philadelphia,

They unearthed a history untold,

Irish workers off on their travels,

What happened, a story unfolds?

It is thought, their conditions were dreadful,

As they slaved and starved and got sick,

Cholera swept through the encampment,

Halting them there, on that trip.

Buried, their deaths unreported,

Their families, in Ireland not knowing,

Tracks lead away from their graveside,

As the wheels of that train kept on going.

I can remember Tubrid School as a child,

The tracks ran directly out back.

C.I.E. ran a train for the races

Oh the excitement to see a train on that track.

Listowel, didn’t have trains anymore,

Obsolete, long replaced by a bus

But that week, that journey re enacted,

Oh the style, all the glamour and fuss.

I reflect and remember the stories,

Of the Lartigue and how people would go

To Ballybunnion, their ‘city’ stopover

And how uphill, their train went so slow.

People would get out to push then,

To give the old engine some help.

When passengers returned to their seating,

I can imagine how they must have felt.

Two calves were put in a side car,

Required to balance one cow,

 The calves travelling back, separated,

Or if together, offset by a sow.

Great thought went into each journey,

As it hung, in the balance that way.

Just think of the fun for those travellers,

But sure that was all back in the day.

Oh to fly Ryan Air to Dublin,

We’d be there in the blink of an eye,

Fasten seat belts on for the landing,

Not near Millstreet, ready to cry.

I decline an offer for coffee,

As catering, pass through the car.

I keep onto my money for Dublin,

Sure at this stage it’s not very far.

Once more I reflect on a journey,

Where trains travel into a hole,

Clipped under carriage for safety,

Transporting to all of us, coal.

But one image I have are those journeys,

Those travellers that never came back,

Packed into those trucks in huge numbers,

To a tune, yes a clickety clack.

Unknowing, they travelled for days,

With children often lost in the crowd,

Tracks leading into cold stations,

Soldiers, shouting out loud.

Their Religion marked them for travelling,

Tracks lead right through the gates

But St Peter wasn’t there waiting,

No Satan stood with his mates.

Auschwitz, Sobibor and Belsen,

Some of the names that we know,

Thousands and thousands of people,

Across Europe, all on the go.

Why did this ever happen,

How could one man pull along,

All his people and thousands of soldier?

How could they all get it so wrong?

As trains travel all the world over,

We hope that never again,

Will the horrors of history be repeated,

For wars that no one will win.

I think back to a time and I smile,

My son on his knees by the door,

Thomas the Tank running on batteries,

His tracks laid all over the floor.

How safe he was ‘on his travels’,

His world at home with his mom.

Why did those years go so quickly?

In a flash, life has moved on.

Our lives start off as a journey,

We roll on, keeping on track.

We may get derailed at some junctions

But the trick is to never look back.

We hope that we travel on safely,

With a ticket to get through the gate,

So book early online and then you’ll be fine

As tomorrow it may be too late.


Living History at Listowel Military Festival

On Bridge Road on Sunday May 6 2018, the flags flew and the sentry boxes were up.

 These three were manning the gate.

This is the last year that the Listowel Spitfire will be in Listowel before it travels to a more permanent home in a museum.

Dan Shine, an old FCA man, brought his grandchildren to see history exhibits.

These are some of the reenactors who were there.


Pres Girls 1950/51

 We’re still looking for old photos and memories of Presentation Secondary School.  Please hand them into the school or send them by email or post. The forthcoming publication will only be as good as you make it.

Knitters party, Tidy Towns Unveiling, Wren boys part 4 and some photos of local people

Knitwits Christmas Party in Scribes

Una Hayes and Maureen Connolly

Patricia Borley and Mary Boyer

Katie Heaton and Anne Moloney

Helen O’Connor and Pat Barry

Peggy Brick, Kathleen McCarthy and Una Hayes

Jane Anne Sheehy, Eileen O’Sullivan and Eileen Fitzgerald

Maria Leahy, Anne Moloney and Joan Carey


New Kids on The Block

This business  has opened at the corner of William Street and Charles Street in the premises that used to be Jerome Murphy’s


Sunday December 11 2016 at the Unveiling of the Tidy Towns’ Sculpture

At 5.00 p.m.we turned our backs on the Coca Cola truck and headed across the Square to the island outside The Listowel Arms for the unveiling of the sculpture to celebrate the work of Listowel Tidy Towns Committee in bringing glory to town. Readers of Listowel Connection already knew what the piece looked like but the committee covered it up again for the big reveal.

Kerry County Council and the Enterprise office had a hand in funding so Aoife Thornton gave the first speech on their behalf.

Canon Declan O’Connor, P.P. Listowel blessed the piece and blessed the work of the Tidy Town committee.

Ta da! There it is.

The artist, Darren Enright stood proudly among the onlookers as his work was praised.


That was then; this is now

When another sculpture was unveiled in The Square in December 2010 we had snow on the ground

This year the sun shone and we had temperatures of 13 and 14.


A Few More People I photographed on November 25


North Kerry Wren Boys by Wm. Molyneaux in Shannonside Annuals

Part 4

We had great times with the
same Wren, so we did.  One St Stephen’s
Day I was out with Coolkeragh.  They were
a good crowd.  We were travelling on,
whatever.  I don’t know that anyone of us
knew the names of the people where we were at all. 
But still is was a good place. 
Well, any torn down house or anything, we’d say to ourselves that we
wouldn’t go in there at all.  

So this
house, anyway, we crossed it.  It was a
small little pokeen of a  house.  Myself and the player were talking.  We said to ourselves we wouldn’t go in there
at all-you know.  There would hardly be
no one there at all- poor looking. “Cripes,” says I (as if I had the knowledge)
“ “I imagine,” says I, “but I see an old woman walking around
the house, and now  that old woman might
only get insulted.  We want nothing from
her,” says I, “but she might get insulted if we didn’t go into with
the Wren.”  “Well, by God, that’s
right, Williameen.  “We go in

In we went.  This poor little woman was inside.  A very small little house entirely.  She had a few coals down.  I went up to the fire, myself and the player.  He was Willie Mahoney over in Coolkeragh and
a good player he was.  The Dickens, I
went up.  I was inclined to
“hate” the tambourine over the coals. 
There wasn’t as much fire there as would heat it.  Stay, I told him play away.  He played away.  He played, I think, a hornpipe.  God he was a good player!  We were at it for a bit, and with that,
whatever look I gave, there was the poor woman and the tears rolling down her
face.  “Stop, let ye,” says I
to the crowd.  “Stop, let ye, there
must be something wrong here.  Will ye
stop!”  I turned around to the old
woman: “well, poor woman,” says I “there must be something wrong
with you or with someone belonging to you. 
And if we knew anything like that,” says I, “we were not going to come in at all” says I “if
we knew what we know now….  When we see
the tears in your eyes we wouldn’t have come in at all….

At that she started, at the
top of your voice: “Yerra,Wisha, Weenach!oh!oh!OH!..It isn’t any dohall I have
at all about the Wran Boys!….Yerra, Wisha… husband, Tom….he’s inside in
the Listowel ‘ospital with a sore leg. 
And, and if Tom was here today, wouldn’t he be delighted to see the fine
crowd of fine respectable Wren boys that made so much of me as to come in here!
Wait a fwhile ‘til Tom ‘ll come home and if I don’t be  telling him that…..oh!oh!oh! and she went on
at the top of her voice.

I turned around to the crowd:
“lads,” says I, “have ye much money around ye? “agor, we have”
says the captain,  we could have up to
about five pounds, (it was early in the day) “Are ye all satisfied to give
this poor woman,” says I, “half of what ye have?  The day is long” says I, “and
we  will make enough to maintain us
through the night.”  And they said
they were agreeable.  The cashier was
just starting to pull out his purse and off she started again: “oh!  No! 
No!  Wait awhile now and I must
turn around and give ye something.  She
had long stockings on her, and she stuck down her hand in one of them-down,
down, and then she got hold of something and she started pulling and pulling
til she pulled up a big cloth purse-as sure as I’m telling you there would a
quarter sack of male fit inside it!  And
I couldn’t tell you what money was inside it. 
Up she pulled the bag anyway and reached a shilling to myself.  “No, ma’am,” says I, “put that in
your own pocket.”  Then she started
again: “oh!  No!  No! 
No!  If you don’t take that now,
decent boy!  Oh,Yerra  Wisha 
after what ye had done for me! 
Yerra, Wisha, the best friend I ever had in all my life would not do
what ye’re after doing for me.  That the
Almighty God and the Blessed Virgin Mary may save and guard ye! Bless and
protect ye! And that you and yer crowd might be going around on the Wran,”
says she, “ for the next 100 years without a feather ou of ye.”

That happened, for a God’s
honest fact.

(more tomorrow)


Home Alone

A Christmas poem from Mary McElligott


‘What will I do Mrs Claus?”

Santa rubbed his head.

He really was exhausted.

His legs felt like lead.

His head was pounding,

He was frozen to the bone.

Mrs Claus was too busy

To listen to him moan.

He was like this every

I suppose you’d say,

She’d listen, support and

Take out his long sleeved

Christmas Eve was looming,

Three more sleeps to go.

Was it his age? She

Gosh, t’was hard to know.

Mrs Claus was high

Changing sheets and beds.

Five hundred elves was no

The last time she counted

One hundred stayed all

But in October that count
went up,

Hard work for Mrs. Claus,

To get it all set up.

She cooked and cleaned
their dorms.

She worked out their Rota,

24/7 their job,

Hard, juggling that quota.

She loved it though, being

Loved caring for the

They were like their

When they didn’t have any

Some poor elves were

In the North Pole for a
whole twelve weeks.

She often saw tears

Down their little cheeks.

She had one big job to

She did it through the

It was she who got the
elves their gifts,

Brought them their
Christmas cheer.

She made several trips
down south.

There was a great service
from The Pole

But her favorite place to

Was a place called

It was so tidy and clean,

So pretty, down by the

And even more beautiful at

What with all those blue
lights in the dark.

She’d buy all their gifts,

Hats, scarves and gloves
for the elves.

She’d pack them in huge

Leaving a bit of space for
a few bits for themselves.

She loved Christmas Eve,

Santa gone, the elves in

She’d open up her cases,

Deliver gifts as she’d
quietly thread,

Up and down, between the

One hundred in each dorm,

Over and back until the
cases were empty,

Finishing up near dawn.

They all get a Christmas

50 Euros and of course,
some sweets,

After all it was Christmas

And you’d have to give
them treats.

She’d only just be gone to

When Santa would land in,

She’d leave out coke and

Waiting for him, dozing.

‘How was it Santa?’ she’d

‘Everything go all right
with the reindeer?’

“Absolutely perfect Mrs

Thanks to you. Merry
Christmas, my dear.”


Friends Reunited

I had a lovely morning meeting with some old friends recently. Some I met by arrangement and some by chance. It was delightful to renew old acquaintance at the end of 2016

I first met these ladies when we were all teenagers. Heres to the next time, Jill, Assumpta, Eileen and Peggy. 

Little did we think back in the 1970s that we would sit in The Malton, Killarney in 2016 discussing the merits of free travel.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén