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: Michael Carney

Blasket Island Man, Bailey and Co. opens and wedding season in Moyvane

Rattoo at Sunset

We have had some stunning sunsets recently. Bridget O’Connor captured this one in Rattoo, Ballyduff.


Gone, Unfortunately

One door closes, another opens.

Danny Russell’s Bailey and Co. opened on Tuesday August 30 2016 and I was there. As you would expect from the very stylish Danny this emporium is a whole new shopping experience for Listowel.

Firstly the retail space is huge. Huge mirrors at every turn increase the feeling of spaciousness. The fittings are what I would expect to find in an upmarket city store. Do drop in and take a look for yourself. AND you dont have to sell a child to buy some of the gorgeous outfits. Danny has some affordable dresses as well.

The very gentle and affable Mary Boyle, formerly of Changes and Strictly Come Dancing is in charge of it all.

Here are a few photos I took on opening day. You will spot a few familiar faces also popping in for a look around.


A Great One from Moyvane Village on Facebook

Mrs Goulding’s class from 1989. Amazing that 4 of the people in the photo would get married this month – Deirdre O Callaghan, Susan Groarke, Mary Quinn and then Frank Nolan gets married on Saturday.

Back row L-R

Mrs Goulding, Catherine Lynch, Deirdre O Callaghan, Anne-Marie O Riordan, Christopher Kiely, Gerard Fitzmaurice, James Kennelly, Kevin Roche, Mary Fitzmaurice

Third Row L-R: Olivia Mulvihill, Kayrena Hanrahan, James Sheehan, Caroline Hughes, Susan Groarke, Paul Lynch, Carmel Collins, Michael O Connor
Second Row L-R
John Michael Walsh, Linda Foley, Timmy Hanrahan, Frank Nolan, Thomas Hanlon, Elaine Foley, Mary Quinn, John Lynch
Front Row L- R Ellen Sheehan, Billy Lynch, Breda Dore, Thomas Greaney


Post Box on Upper Church Street


Remembering the last island man

This is the late Micheál Carney who passed away around this time last year. The photo was taken on his last visit to his childhood home, An Blascaod Mhór. He was accompanied on this visit by his U.S. family. They posted this photo to remember him and that emotional journey home.

Cole Moreton put together a great tribute to 

The last Island Man


The Barber’s Pole Cork Style

I spotted this barber’s pole in a barber’s window on Washington Street in Cork.


A Céad Lá ar scoil

My youngest granddaughter heading out to big school on her first day

Christmas 2015 and some Kerry diaspora scattered across the globe

Christmas Day Swim in Ballybunion 2015

(photo; Ballybunion Prints)

 Grace Flahive and her father, Mike Flahive. Christmas Day 2015 was Grace’s 24th Christmas Day swim for Ballybunion Sea & Cliff  Rescue and Mike’s 30th.


Theresa Flavin was in Listowel for the holidays


The Listowel Diaspora in Oz

The following greeting came from Brian Grant in Australia;

“Merry Xmas from the descendants of Ellen Wilson of Listowel who came to Australia on the Thomas Arbuthnot (Earl Grey scheme) and John Brick of Listowel who came by here by other means. They married on the Victorian Goldfields.

35 degree Celsius here on Xmas day in Mitcham in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne.

My Grandson Archer, Daughter Cassie, Me, Son Chris, Daughter Madeline and Son Kieran with youngest Son Lachlan absent.” 


An Irish Retirement in Springfield, Massachussetts

They are the stereotypical children of Irish emigrants to the U.S.  Michael Carney and Brendan and his sister, Mary O’Halloran are retiring from the police force after 32 years service.

Michael Carney is the son of the last native of the Blasket Islands to pass away. Michael Carney, senior who died last year, was born on the island in 1920 and retained a lifelong grá for An Blascaod Mhór. It was the tragic death of his younger brother without priest or doctor to attend him that was the final straw that precipitated the evacuation of the remote and inhospitable island where generations had eked out a meagre living.

Michael senior left the island and went first to Dublin and from there to Springfield in Massachussetts where he became a part of the very strong Irish diaspora, many with west Kerry roots. 

Brendan and Mary O’Halloran

Michael Carney


Do you know the muffin man?

This photograph from the internet is of a muffin man in London in the 1920s. I don’t know if he lived around the corner .


Santa in Listowel in the 1950s

Noel Roche posted this photo on his Facebook page. Noel is on the right. He was visiting Santa (who is wearing a mask) in Listowel in 1950s. Noel thinks that the other boy’s name is Barry O’Brien from Market Street.

Peig Sayers; a Listowel connection

This book has been much in the news recently. The co-author, Michael Carney, is the last person born on the Great Blasket, the only inhabitable one of the 6 islands, to write an account of life there. The Blasket islands have been uninhabited since 1953. Only 10 native islanders survive and all are very elderly.

Michael Carney was born on the island in 1920 and lived there until he was 16.

I read a review of the book by Darragh MacManus and that review has spurred me to read the memoir itself. When Mike was growing up on the Great Blasket , the island people had no post office,  no shop, no car, no electricity, no phone, no running water, no church, no doctor or nurse, no horse, no proper roads, no machinery and no pub .  They literally had nothing.

It was the tragic death of Mike’s brother, Séanín, which led eventually to the complete evacuation of the last remaining 22 citizens in 1953.  In 1964 just before Christmas, Seainín ÓCearna contracted meningitis. The weather was too bad and the sea too rough to get him to the mainland or to bring a doctor from the mainland to him.  His preventable death and the subsequent delay in getting to the mainland for a coffin was the impetus the islanders needed to put pressure on the DeValera government to relocate them.

Mike says ” Some people cannot get the island out of their system. I think about it every day and still dream about it every night. I am an islandman at heart and will be until the day I die.”


People often marvel at how Listowel has produced so many writers. Even more extraordinary is the number of writers produced by one small isolated island off the west Kerry coast. The Great Blasket at its peak  had only 176 inhabitants in 1916.

The most famous of the chroniclers of life on The Blasket was Peig Sayers.

This rare photo of Brendan Behan and Peig was posted online by a Michael Murphy.

Recently I discovered that a Listowel family have a close family link with Peig.

In her biography, Peig describes 2 periods she spent “in aimsir”,  i. e. working as a servant girl. The first of these tréimhsí was spent  with a family in Dingle. Peig describes her time in the Curran house with affection. The bean an tí, her boss, was kind to her and  she loved the children, particularly Seáinín.

Now for the Listowel connection. This Curran family is the family of Anne Moloney of Cherrytree Drive. Unfortunately, Anne has no photo of herself with Peig since she was very young when Peig died, but she secured from another member of her family this photo of Peig with them.

1936 approx.

Standing back L to R : Mary Curran ( Anne Moloney’s grandmother) , Ogie Mehigan ( Anne’s first cousin) Eileen Scully nee Curran (Anne’s mother)

Seated L to R: Fr Morgan Curran and his sister Sr Felicitas Curran ( Anne’s uncle and aunt)  Peig Sayers, “Auntie” Ciss Mehigan nee Scully

Front L to R : Gussie Mehigan, on Peig’s lap, John Scully ( known by Peig as Seáinín) ( Anne’s eldest brother)

We’re not sure who the boy with his back to us is!

Since Anne was not born when Peig was in her family home, her memories of Peig are as an old lady. Peig Sayers spent the last years of her life in Dingle hospital. We know from her own account that Peig had “galar an tabac” and was once reduced to filling her dúidín (clay pipe) with tea when she was gasping for a smoke and no tobacco was to be had. But our Peig was no saint. She was also fond of a drop. Anne remembers being sent up to the hospital with a naggin of whiskey that some kind benefactor had bought in Currans for Peig.

While the search for a photo of Peig with the Curran family was going on, Kay Caball, Anne’s sister in law, came up with a photo of Peig with the Moloney family of Listowel.

Back L to R

Micheal O Guithín, Peig Sayers, Dan Moloney

Front L to R

Unknown, Margaret Moloney

The photos were scanned and sent by Maeve Moloney, Anne’s daughter, and she tells me that she has been motivated to re read Peig’s story.

Maeve found the following interesting titbit in Wikipaedia:

The book was for a long time required reading in secondary schools in Ireland. As a book with arguably sombre themes (its latter half cataloguing a string of family misfortunes), its presence on the Irish syllabus was criticised for some years. From 1960 the Irish population was urbanising, a process that led to the “Celtic Tiger” economy in the 1990s, and Peig’s tales of woe in rural surroundings confirmed to many students that Irish was a language of poverty and misery, while English was considered the language of science and commerce.


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