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 Sobieralski

All Souls Day. Kefir, Dublin Footballers and some Australian tourists

Today is All Souls Day. Traditionally it is the day for visiting the resting places of our dead loved ones. It is a day for remembering those who have gone before us.


The Square, Listowel in Autumn 2017


New Local Health Product in Town

Elaine of Halo Health introduces customer, Carine Schweitzer of Cork to a new Moyvane product, Kefir Milk.

“What is Kefir ?” you ask

Wikipedia has the answer;

Kefir or kephir (/kəˈfir/ kə-FEER),[1][2] alternatively milk kefir, or búlgaros, is a fermented milk drink that originated in the Caucasus Mountains made with kefir “grains”, a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter.[3] It is prepared by inoculating cowgoat, or sheep milk with kefir grains.[4] Traditional kefir was made in goatskin bags that were hung near a doorway; the bag would be knocked by anyone passing through to help keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed.[5]

Its health benefits are numerous and if even half of the claims are true we should all be drinking it.


Something to Look Forward To


Australian People with a Listowel Connection

This is what Fáilte Ireland refers to as “the shoulder season” between summer and Christmas. This time of year is a popular time for our friends from down under to visit us. Last week I met two families who have grown to love Listowel and Ireland because of some lovely welcoming local people.

Berenice and Lionel came to Ireland first to trace family and to meet Jack McKenna who is a cousin. They stayed with Kathy Walsh at Gurtinard House. They had a great time. It was Race Week but Billy Keane found them a seat in his packed pub, John McKenna took time out to show them the family connected locations his mother Sue had told them all about in a long and productive visit. They fell in love with Listowel and resolved to return.

Gurtinard House on their first visit was a work in progress so they were anxious to see what progress Kathy had made. They were well impressed with the changes to the house and garden.  They came this time during Storm Ophelia. Kathy lit a fire and they sat around like old friends and reminisced. Their trip to Ireland took them to locations all over the country, including a visit to prospective in-laws in Mayo.

These Australian visitors whom I met with their friend and mine, Mary Sobieralski, in Scribes had also explored Ireland, North and South. They are Trish and her granddaughter, Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane is on her grand tour. She has been all over Europe (a spell in Turkey was her favourite) and then her Gran joined her for the last leg in Ireland.

Why Ireland?

They came to visit Trish’s friend, Mary . Mary and Trish met over twenty years ago when Mary and her late husband, Wulf, toured Australia. They have stayed in touch ever since and Mary visited Trish in Australia when she went there on a holiday with her son a few years ago.

These two stories are proof, if proof were needed, that lovely welcoming people like Kathy and Mary are our unsung tourism ambassadors.


Brogans Boys Before they were Famous

Well, maybe one of them was already famous .

Photo: Kieran Cunningham on the internet


KDYS Halloween Parade 2017

There was a greta turnout for this year’s Halloween parade on October 31 2017. The weather was perfect for it.

Preparing for Christmas 2017, Marie Shaw and a Wedding in Germany and Painted Ladies in John B.s

Two St. Johns’

St. John’s Tralee

St. John’s Listowel


Looking Forward to Christmas 2017

Great things are planned for Listowel at Christmas 2017

Local elves have been at work preparing a surprise for us all. The polar express will bring Santa into town this year and he and Mrs. Claus will meet North Kerry Children at the Lartigue Museum.

Keep an eye out for updates on this page;  North Pole Express


Marie Shaw remembers her Christmas in Listowel in the 1950s


A Wedding in Germany with a Listowel Connection

This is Mary Sobieralski of Listowel pictured with her son Mark on the morning of his wedding.

Mary loves Listowel where she spent her youth and happy years of retirement with her late husband, Wolf. But Mary’s smile is broadest when she is in the company of her lovely sons and their families in Germany. This photo of Mary’s family was taken later on on the day of Mark’s wedding.


A Most unusual fundraiser in John B.s (text and photos by Mattie Lennon)

Mattie Lennon sends us this account of a great night in John B. Keane’s Bar, Listowel.

Billy Keane and Mattie Lennon in John B.s


By Mattie Lennon.

Good painters imitate nature. (Cervantes.)

Hard to argue with that but some painters  tell the story of the most poignant aspects of nature.

   John B. Keane’s pub in Listowel has been home to ventures various and unusual in the past half century but on Thursday 12th October there was a new departure.   There are two body-painting events organised (for Dublin and Cork) during November, by  Bare-to-Care,  to raise awareness of breast cancer.  Ken Hughes and Eimear Tierney came to Billy Keane with an idea for a publicity event; breast painting!  Three brave women volunteered to bare all.  Ann-Marie Quigley who travelled from Portrush,  Bex Tolan originally from Donegal  and Siobhan Heapes from Cork all had had serious health issues.  All three women spoke honestly and openly about their   terrible experiences.   Anna had a double mastectomy and her partner, Jade, died from ovarian cancer in 2008.  Bex won’t ever be able to have children because of previous painful medical conditions and Siobhan Heapes had breast and ovarian cancer.

  Billy Keane is an established author and one of our great Irish journalists.  His writing, about his own life, has, in my opinion, saved lives.  With Billy the devilment is always close to the surface and while Ken Hughes was the event organiser Billy opened proceedings on the night with, “I want to make a clean breast of this.” 

   Three artists, Stephanie Power, Ruth McMorrow and Ciara Patricia Langan, in the words of Billy Keane,”Formed a bond with the human canvasses.”      

   Tennyson wrote of how,” . . .blind and naked ignorance delivers crawling judgements unashamed . . ”  

    “Naked” and “ignorance” were side by side in John B’s on 12th October; One couple got up and left. The female said to Billy, “What would your mother  and father think of this? They are turning in their graves. “  I know what Billy’s parents, who both died of cancer,  would think.  They would think that thank God they had reared a son who is doing something to highlight that dreadful disease.  There was certainly no whirring sound in Listowel cemetery that night .  John B. and Mary were not spinning in their graves.  And Billy Keane was too well reared   to reply to such an ignorant comment.

    Bare to Care Dare will take place in Cork on Saturday November 11th and in Dublin on Saturday November 18th. Hundreds of women will come together to celebrate their bodies, their breasts and above all to support each other. To tell their own cancer survival stories. To be proud and celebrate their new post mastectomy or reconstructed breasts. To lighten their spirits while going through treatment right now. To tick something off their bucket list. To laugh and have fun, to share and to support. Those that have lost loved ones to cancer will bare all in memory, to show their thanks to the support the Irish Cancer Society give every day to thousands of women all over the country.

   Eimear Tierney, Spokesperson   told me, “From our perspective, we were thrilled that Billy agreed to get on board with the charity and publicize our campaign. We were elated when he suggested a promotional event in John B’s. It’s hard to describe the atmosphere and spirit of giving and camaraderie that Billy created that night. Not only did he manage to raise awareness and promote the campaign, he and the guest performers  captured the whole ethos of Bare to Care. The volunteer canvasses were made to feel brave, beautiful and vital by every person that attended the event. He promoted our Bare to Care events as planned but he also provided a safe space for the girls to share their stories and celebrate their womanhood and survival.   We are in awe of Bill’s talent and generosity and we couldn’t possibly have found a more worthy and appropriate advocate for what we are trying to achieve with these events. We hope that it has inspired women to be brave and register for one of our two events.” (Eimear may be contacted at;

 Anna-Marie had an eagle painted on her front but not everyone knew.  One woman asked, “Where did she get that beautiful top with the eagle on it?”  Of course she was in Kerry so the answer came like a shot, “Penney’s.”  Where would you get it.

I’ll leave the last word to Billy Keane, “  I learned a lot over the last few weeks. There is so much going on in women’s  bodies.  We need a national conversation, education and more  bare, brave ladies.” 

   Billy insists that the pole in the centre of the bar is there to support the roof and there will be no pole-dancing in the future!

 There was no turning in graves

Stephen Roche, Michael O’Hehir and April Horse Fair and Katherine Switzer

Then and Now

Dublin 1987 and Stephen Roche is paraded in triumph throughout the streets after his historic win in the Tour de France.

2013 Stephen Roche is still cycling. Now his peleton is charity cyclists.


The voice of summer Sundays… Micheál O’Hehir R.I.P.


More from Thursday’s horse fair


When I visited the Society of St. Vincent de Paul shop on Friday  I found that Mary Sobieralski had brought along her sister in law, Ulla Weck to help out for the day.


The year is 1967. The place is Boston.

 Stewards and runners are trying to evict this woman, Katherine Switzer, who was attemping to run in the race. The rules said that only men could run a marathon back then. Katherine ran the full race and finished: the first woman to officially complete a marathon.  As a result of her gesture, the American Athletic Association banned all women from competing in competitions with men. It took until 1972 for women to persuade the authorities to allow them to compete alongside men. Katherine Switzer won The Womens ‘ Category of the New York marathon in 1974.

Next week, on April 15th Katherine Switzer will attend the Boston Marathon for the 46th consecutive year.

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