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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Cruinniú na Cásca 2017

Writers’ Week and The Seanchaí do Cruiniú na Cásca 2017

Monday April 17 2017 and we, in Listowel, were privileged to make a piece of history. We took part in the first annual Easter Monday 1916 commemorative event.

Photo: Eilish Stack

In the town park another piece of history was being made. The politicians were attending the official opening of the 1916 commemorative garden. I would have loved to be there as I have watched this beautiful space develop week by week and I really love it. 

I chose instead to go the literary route and take a walk by the river with Gabriel Fitzmaurice and other poets, singers and thespians.

We started at The Seanchaí. When I arrived at 10.45 the early birds were already arriving.

I was greeted at the door by Liz Dunne, chair of Listowel Writers’ Week and Máire Logue

Gabriel Fitzmaurice, our guide, was ready to start.

We started with a dramatic interlude from Vincent and Evangeline, two of the best interpreters of the work of John B. Keane, even though they are Limerick rather than Kerry actors. They are more Kerry than the Kerry people themselves.

There was a large and very appreciative attendance.

Owen MacMahon had the audience in the palm of his hand as we paused for a while on the bank go The Feale.

David Browne gave a spine chilling rendition of the songs of Carthalawn from John B.’s Sive.

 Even the younger members of the audience were enthralled.

We walked along the river walk and under the big bridge to where Mickey McConnell and Billy Keane were waiting to entertain us.

Then it was on to the Garden of Europe and more songs and drama. Evangeline and Vincent had us in stitches with a scene from Big Maggie. Owen sang a song of peace from Gary MacMahon.

At the graveyard, Claire Keane sang, Paddy MacElligott performed and a trio of singers and dancers entertained us.

On to the 1916 commemorative garden with its newly unveiled plaque.

Then back to The Seanchaí. Job done.

Listowel, Saint Yves, Meeting Rory Gallagher or Shane Lowry

Main Street, Listowel


When Kerry’s Eye did local supplements


As I was going to St. Ives

I met a man with seven wives

Each wife had a cat

Each had a kit

Kits, cats, man and wives,

How many were going to St. Ives?

I thought of the riddle when I read the above plaque on the wall of Pierse and Fitzgibbon, Solicitors, Market Street, Listowel.


Plus ca change, plus c’est la même chose

Meeting your idol is always a special thrill.

Jim Deasy shared this great picture with Random Cork Stuff. It shows Rory Gallagher stopping on the Shakey Bridge to sign autographs for these delighted teenagers.

Joanne Riordan got the opportunity to attend the Irish Open Pro am and she got to meet some of her idols, Niall Horan and Shane Lowry.

People don’t bother with autographs anymore. They take a selfie.


In John B.s for the Pub Theatre

Local people lined up to congratulate Nora Relihan on her outstanding performance in John B.’s on Thursday May 19 2016.

Mickey MacConnell and Wayne Tarren provided the musical entertainment after Nora’s performance.

Sweets from Listowel, Paper Dolls, A Town Council and Retirement is just what the doctor ordered

The old Sweet Factory

Above is an old postcard of Listowel with the old sweet factory to the far right.

Vincent Carmody recently posted on Facebook the pictures below of an old sweet tin he has in his possession.  Underneath is the history he posted.

The tin box is an original from Listowel’s sweet factory which traded from the old mill building, which occupied the site where Carroll’s Hardware providers is now located. The mill, a fine, six floor, cut stone building, was originally owned and operated by the Leonard family of The Square. It was powered by water from a millstream, which ran from near the old ball alley to the mill. The mill closed in the mid 1800’s, despite an effort by John Latchford of Tralee to buy the property. He subsequently build a mill back in Greenville.

The building served for a time in the early 1900’s as a creamery, this was owned by George R. Browne. He also had a creamery at his property at Cahirdown. He had in his employment an Englishman, Thomas Armstrong. When Brown decided to sell his interest in the business, it was purchased by Armstrong. Shortly afterwards, Armstrong went into the manufacturing of ‘Irish Cream Toffee Sweets’ 

The tin carries the initials N.K.M on the cover, with North Kerry Manufactory at the side, however with a play on the initials, the legend “Nicest Kind Made” also appears on the cover.
There is not much information on the business, however, we know that after a period of industrial unrest, Armstrong closed the factory in 1921. The Mackintosh sweet company bought the brand and continued making these sweets at Rathmines Dublin, under the brand name,’The North Kerry Manufacturing Co Ltd’


One for the Girls

Do you remember these?  They used to come with Bunty. You cut them out, pasted them on to card and dressed and undressed them until the tabs fell off.  Memories, memories……


Listowel Town Council 2008

Photo: John Kelliher


One Happy Retiree

I ran into John Halkett in The Seanchaí as he was enjoying a relaxed morning coffee.


A Hug from a Flower

Mickey MacConnell posted this photo on the internet. On a recent trip to Dublin he met up with Liam O Maonlaí of The Hothouse Flowers


Junior Griffin

Junior  with his old friend, Liam Healy

Junior is the third youngest and the only surviving member of his family. He was born in
1936. He attended school in the old boys National School and he remembers the
building as an old cold unsanitary place. He went to school barefoot but that
was by choice rather than necessity. He loved the freedom of running around
barefoot although the frequent cuts and bruises were unwelcome.

The teachers he remembers are Bryan MacMahon, Mrs. Crowley,
Mrs. Griffin, Tadhg O’Flaherty, Jerry Walsh in 4th class, Michael
Keane in 5th and Jim Hayes in 6th.

Junior went to St. Michaels’ for one unhappy year. He has
memories, which are shared by many of his contemporaries, of a harsh, controlled
regime where corporal punishment was the order of the day. Fr. David O’Connor
was the college president and he ruled with a rod of iron.

Junior remembers a day when he was in first year and several
boys were late for school. Fr. O’Connor came into Junior’s classroom and asked
all the boys who were late to stand up. Seven boys stood. Fr. Davy fixed the
first boy, the one farthest from Junior who was last in the line, with his
stick, in a manner reminiscent of Pats Bacach in Sive, and asked him why he was late. He said he had to go to the shop to buy a
message for his mother. The next boy claimed his bike was punctured. As Fr.
O’Connor moved from boy to boy, Junior realized that all the excuses he was
thinking of offering were being used up. To this day Junior can relive the fear
and terror he felt as his doom approached. He blurted out the truth. “I slept
it out, Father.”

Junior had got the right answer. Fr. O’Connor decided to
leave them all off because he had found one honest boy. Junior was the hero and
his deed became the subject of the rest of the lesson on the importance of

Despite this one good experience, Junior was terrified to go
back to the college after the summer holidays. His mother understood his
unhappiness and enrolled him in the tech. This was a much happier experience
for Junior. He has great memories of Paddy Drummond, an excellent Maths.
teacher. The regime in the tech was a caring one and kindness and encouragement
feature prominently in Junior’s memories of his second level education.

Junior told me an interesting fact; Seamus Wilmot taught in the St. Michael’s in 1924 and a
little known fact is that his future wife,  May Scanlon taught in Listowel Vocational School. She taught carpentry, and they met through a shared interest in badminton.


Not exactly an election poster…but close

John B.’s, Cahirmee 2015 and Listowel people on The Shannon in 1959

All the Fun of the Fair

Finbarr Crean took some great photographs in Buttevant at Cahiramee Fair 2015.


St. Patrick’s Hall, July 2015


A Night Out in Listowel

Look at that famous person in a photograph with John Relihan!

Thursday night is Theme Night in Allos. This dining experience is very popular with Allos patrons and you’d never know who might turn up there on any given Thursday.On Thursday week it was Duagh’s most famous chef who was dining out with his family…and he recognized me!

This young man is going places so I predict we’ll be hearing more of him in the future. The brilliant and extraordinary event he brought to Duagh last August will Iive long in folk memory.

 You can relive it for a moment here   Duagh Summer Festival 2014

Barbecue at Duagh Summer festival 2014.

John’s next big adventure is the Big Grill Festival in Dublin’s Herbert Park from August 13 to August 16 2015.


John B.’s

 After Allos, we headed across town to John B. Keane’s for a night of music and drama. Mickey MacConnell was our musician and singer for the night.

Paddy McElligott was there to provide the drama.

 David O’Sullivan was not officially on the bill but his song which combined Percy French’s ode to the West Clare Railway with our own Lartigue went down a treat.

Maura MacConnell was enjoying the craic.

Kathy Walshe enjoyed Paddy’s dramatic rendering of John B.’s account of a hurling match in the churchyard.

Sean and Deirdre Lyons were enjoying the entertainment.

Paul Manning was a special guest on the night.

He was reunited with his old friend for a song.


From The Advertiser


Do you live in Australia?

Do you play or wish to watch GAA games?

If the answer is yes to both questions the below site has a list of all the G.A.A. clubs in Oz

The Irish in Oz


A Big Milestone

This is my 1,000th. post.

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