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: Mike Lynch


On Church St.


Remembering Past Writers’ Weeks

This is a lovely photo from a few years ago of Writers Week stalwarts, Billy Keane, Noreen Buckley, Nora Relihan and Mike Lynch.

Writers’ Week 2022 will run from June 1 to June 5 2022


Another Dan Keane Limerick


Rural Electrification

This is the book I am currently reading. It is a beautifully written story based in Co. Clare.

I grew up listening to stories of The Shannon Scheme and the coming of the electric light, so the neighbourhood depicted in the book is not as alien to me as it probably is to most of today’s readers.

Then in my trawl through my stash old old school magazines I found this apt essay,


Ard Churam needs your help

Fundraising is central to both sustaining and growing the facilities and services on offer within Ard Chúram. As a beneficiary we have been afforded a wonderful opportunity to raise capital as we strive to pay for our purpose build facilities which represent a haven of support for our clients, their families and their carers.

It is for that reason we are seeking your support; we are asking you to choose Ard Chúram Dementia Centre as your designated charity and pedal it out for us on Saturday, July 2nd. 

If you can help you’ll find al the details on the Ard Churam Facebook page.


The Famine in North Kerry: Writers’ Week 2013

Listowel and The Famine

One of the marvellous aspects of Writers’ Week is the variety of activities on offer. Friday May 31 2013 was our day for learning all about the Famine in Listowel. Below is a photo of some of the crowd gathered at the Listowel Arms to take part in a walk led by John Pierse, Michael Guerin and Kay Caball. This walk was to take us to places of interest connected with the Great Famine. We were lucky to be in the company of three “experts” in various aspects of Listowel in Famine times.

I’ll share with you a few of the more shocking facts I learned.

  • In the worst week of famine times, 66 people died in the workhouse in Listowel.  Many more died on the roadside, in their houses or in the fields.
  • The workhouse was so overcrowded that every shed and outhouse was pressed into service as an auxiliary workhouse and many more of these auxiliary workhouses were set up in the locality.
  • The people were starving, yet the river Feale was teeming with fish.
  • 3,000 people are buried in Teampall Bán graveyard. We know the names of only 3.
  • There is another Famine Graveyard at Gale.
  • The 4 Presentation Sisters did extraordinary good work sheltering, feeding and clothing the starving. Their role is often ignored by historians.
  • The present hospital chapel was part of the dining area of the workhouse.
  • Prostitutes and their children were segregated from other women and children in the workhouse.
  • The Famine lasted longer in North Kerry than it did elsewhere. It went on into 1850 and 1851.

Michael Guerin
walkers approaching the Presentation Convent
Kay Caball
in the grounds of the old workhouse


Later on Friday May 31 2013 we continued with our Famine education with a seminar in The Plaza. If we had local experts in the morning, we now had local, national and international experts in an excellent forum, ably chaired by Mike Lynch.

Left to Right: Thomas Keneally, Kay Caball, William Smyth, Mike Murphy and Mike Lynch

The Moloney family out in force to hear one of their own do us all proud as she took her place among Famine scholars.

Between 1845 and 1852 over one million Irish people died. At least 250,000 fled the country. The authors of the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine have done us all a great service in making this truly awful episode in our history more real for us. Their maps have gone some way toward explaining why so many people died and toward explaining what determined if you would die, leave or survive.

We, the descendants of Famine survivors owe it to our brethren to remember them.


Here are some of the people who slaved away behind the scenes at Writers’ Week .


This is Edmond Harty of Dairymaster. This weekend he is in Monte Carlo in contention with 49  others for the title International Entrepreneur of the Year.

Go néirí an t-adh leis.

A few changes

What a motley crew?

A group of priests, a bishop, County Council engineers, Garda
Superintendent and BnM staff on a visit to Mountdillon bog in Co. Longford in 1951.


I received the following email from Karen Semken is Sydney

Hi there,

I’m involved with the irish orphan memorial in sydney. In relation to your questions i can advise the following:

A Margaret Stack arrived on the Thomas Arbuthnot but records have her from Innestymon, Clare. I have some information on this orphn by a descendant. She also had a sister Mary who came out in 1858 (but not part of the Earl Grey Scheme)

Mary Griffin arrived on the Thomas Arbuthnot – not the Tippoo.

Please check the database on our website for more info.

We are currently in the process of preparing a lot of ‘stories’ from descendents for upload to the site.

Regards, Karen

( I’m looking forward to reading the stories.)


ESB Networks are digging up outside the church. I don’t know what it’s all about though.

Meanwhile here are a few developments inside the church.

It’s November, that time of year when we remember our departed loved ones.

The ramp to the altar tells us something about the ageing profile of our clergy.


 This is how Bank of Ireland, The Square, Listowel looks now. The queue by the windows is for the 2 remaining tellers. The Express banking booths are how we do business for ourselves now.


Jer took his video camera to Moyvane festival a few weeks ago. His clip includes Vintage Day, the craft fair and rehearsal for the play.


On Tuesday last I was listening to Radio Kerry when I heard Mike Lynch’s “Footprints”

I thought that the piece was so interesting that I asked him if he would send it to me in print form so that I could share it with you. 

Here is the first extract.

Footprints for November 2012 (1)

1.         The
Irish Land Question – The Kerry Peasantry

(Kerry Evening Post, 24 November 1880)

The Land
Question was the burning topic of the early 1880s, and in order to better
understand the issues involved, the London Standard newspaper sent a
special correspondent to Kerry to see the issues involved.  As an introduction, the writer noted:

peasantry of Kerry posses all the best physical characteristics of the Celtic
race.  Tall, sinewy, and active, they
seem the class from which the pioneers of an advancing colony might be
selected.  Their women are comely and of
good physique, and are used to all kinds of laborious field work.  I know of no prettier sight than the children
of the national schools at play.  These
schools are dotted all over the countryside, and you can see from three to four
hundred boys and girls, bare-footed and often bare-headed, with clear, healthy
faces and blue eyes, scampering about the hills in this inclement climate,
forming a picture that lives long in the memory.”

He repeats
the well-known story of how turf was brought to school by the children, and
adds “One carries a piece of lighted peat, another trudges along, a turf under
each arm, and lastly comes the master, a sober, earnest-looking man, who will
tell you with pride how many of his pupils have taken places in the Civil

In relation
to the people themselves, “The peasants are, unfortunately, suspicious to a
proverb; they are averse to giving direct answers, but when asked a question
will reply by putting a hypothetical case, beginning with may be or it
might be
.  They are, finally,
much given to putting their condition in the worst possible light, if they
think to gain anything by it, and of displaying a certain aggressive demeanour,
if those with whom they converse express a contrary opinion”.

correspondent notes that a gentleman long-time resident in Ireland had said to
him that “nothing is so difficult to ascertain in Ireland as the truth”.  This motto came back to his thoughts as he
interviewed a raggedly-dressed young man who gave him a long list of
grievances, and told how he was close to destitution and forced to work on Poor
Law Relief Schemes just to survive.  The
correspondent’s driver informed him that the same man had almost £200 in the
banks at Killarney!

journeying on to Cahirciveen from Sneem, the writer was forced to stop at a
forge for shelter during a storm.  His
conversation with the smith (also a farmer) went as follows:

Writer:           Mr
D Corkery, who owns this property, is a fair landlord, I believe?

Smith:              May be he is, and may be he’s not.

Writer:           The soil doesn’t seem very fertile
about this place?

Smith:              Faith, a snipe couldn’t shelter on the most
part of it.

Writer:           What’s your rent and valuation?

Smith:            Me rint’s five pounds and me
valuation’s three pounds ten shillings. 
It’s a great dale too much rint we pay.

When the
correspondent put it to them that a small rent decrease would do little for
them, his driver said “These poor people, yer honour, could make a pound or two
go farther than you could make twenty”.



“Permission to speak ,sir?”

Don’t panic; don’t panic!

“When we was fighting the Fussy Wuzzies…..”

RIP a great comic actor, Clive Dunn.


Local news from councillor Jimmy Moloney

Maintenance works in place on the N69 form Ballygologue Cross to Tim Kennelly Roundabout. A new storm drain is being put in place and footpaths are being replaced on both sides of the road. Minor diversions expected. Works expected to last 6 weeks.


Route C has been chosen for the town bypass.

The bypass road will leave the Listowel Tralee road about a mile outside the town.

The new  bridge across the river  will be just at the town side of the dam, cross over behind Forge Rd  and onto the old rail tracks. It will join up with John B Keane Rd at McKennas Yard. There may be slight alterations when they do environmental studies ect.

You can view the map on Jimmy’s page

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