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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New Shop in Town

Robin …Photo; Chris Grayson

Spotted at the old Iceland store during the week

I peeped in and the interior has had all the fridges taken out and Mr. Price type shelving installed.

In Listowel now I count 4 shops selling helium inflated balloons. We must be doing some celebrating.

Another Honour for Mike the Pies

Mike the Pies is a huge Listowel success story. It is now one of Ireland’s topmost music and comedy venues.

The latest accolade is for Hot Press Live Music Venue of the Year.

An Old One from Irelands Own

From Pres Yearbook 1988

Artwork on the back cover

Denise, one of the many talented artists in the school then .

All Grown Up

On the left is my granddaughter, Aisling. She was in Dublin at the weekend with her cousin, Charlotte. Aisling is dressed formally for her first gig as a gymnastics judge.

A Fact

The winter of 1740 was so cold that rivers and lakes froze. People, unaccustomed to these new playing surfaces, held dances and carnivals on the ice. A hurling match took place on The Shannon and a Fair on the Lee.


Looking Forward to The Races

Listowel Castle in August 2023


Football Quote

I found this quote from the legend that was Páidí O Sé in Gabriel Fitzmaurice’s book, In Praise of Football.


Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing 2023


Where the streets have 2 Names

This sign at Mike the Pies commemorates features of that end of town which it calls Patrick Street.

The presence of St. Patrick’s Hall leads people to believe that this is Patrick Street.

The proper name of this street is William Street Upper. We won’t even go into the other Patrick who gives it its name in Irish.


The Concert to End all Concerts

Jer Kennelly researched these concerts ion the newspaper archives and he found this glowing account of one held in the Presentation School in 1900.

Kerry Sentinel, Saturday, 16 June, 1900; Page: 4


On Monday evening a grand vocal and instrumental concert was held in the schools of the Presentation Convent, Listowel. From every point of view the entertainment was an unqualified success. Vocally and instrumentally, it was a treat of a very high order. There was a galaxy of talent in which local artistes were conspicuous. The audience was large, fashionable and appreciative, and handsome receipts were realised. The attendance was in itself a tribute of respect to the sisters of the community, who have by their zealous, unostentatious labours, on behalf of religion, and education, established a strong claim on the sympathy and support of the public. The programme submitted for discussion was admirably prepared and well balanced, while all the items were rendered in a most creditable style. In fact from start to finish their was not a single hitch in the arrangements. For the success of the entertainment, Mr Gibson, who presided over the practices, and conducted the concert, deserves the heartiest congratulations on the unqualified success which has attended his efforts. To those who have witnessed recent mediocre entertainments in Listowel, Monday night’s concert was a revelation of the high order of proficiency which our local artistes have attained.

The opening chorus, “Hail to the Chief” (Bishop), which was rendered by a choir composed of the artistes taking part in the concert, with Miss M. Hayes gave the audience a foretaste of the treat in store for them. ” I Fear No Foe” (Pinsuti), by Mr Gibson, was highly appreciated, while his encore contribution, “The Heart Bowed Down” (Balfe), was equally popular. Mr Hayes sang “The Warrior Bold” in dashing style, and for an encore, ” Nancy Lee,” and was as usual popular with his audience. Miss Crowley sang “The Flight of Ages” (F. Bevan), with a good deal of expression, and was warmly appreciated. The duet, “Whisper and I shall hear” (Piccolomini), by Miss Harnett and Mr. Gibson, was a pretty vocal item, which evoked a hearty encore, which was not, however, much to the disappointment of the audience, responded to ” The Last Rose of Summer,” with violin and piano arrangement, by Misses M’Auliffe (violin) and O’Callaghan (piano), was an instrumental item which was executed with & good deal of ability, and was deservedly popular. Mr. Hamilton’s fine tenor voice was heard to advantage in “The Lighthouse Keeper,” while in his encore song, ” The M’Gregor’s Gathering,” he was even more successful. Miss M’Elligott sang ” For All Eternity'” (Mascheroni), and as usual acquitted herself creditably. The violin solo, “The Broken Melody” (Van Beine), was rendered by Miss Dillon, in a charming manner—the execution being finished and sympathetic. In ” Thoughts and Tears” (Hope Temple), Mr. Wheatly Ellis sustained the popularity which he has achieved with local audiences, while in the martial Irish ballad, ” The Ministrel Boy,'” which he gave in response to an encore, he brought down the house.

The second part of the programme opened with the ” German Band Quartette,” played on two pianos by Misses Walsh, Keane, Collins and Fitzgerald, pupils of the concert schools. It was certainly one of the most popular items on the programme,  and deservedly so. The time and execution were perfect, and the rendering reflected the highest credit on the artistes, and on those who were responsible for their training. Mr. Hamilton sang “Beloved Again” (Barri), and he was compelled to yield to an encore, in response to which he sang “Beneath Your Window,” a humorous serenade, which tickled the audience immensely. Miss Harnett, who does not take part in concerts as often as the public would wish, sang the beautiful ballad “Asthore” (Trotere), with infinite taste and expression, and in response to an encore, ” Killarney,” which was rendered even in a more capable manner, and was enthusiastically applauded. Miss Creagh’s violin solo, “La Serenata” (Bragga) was a beautiful instrumental contribution, which was artistically interpreted, and an encore was imperatively demanded and acceded to. Mr. Gibson’s singing of ” Eileen Allanah” (Thomas) captivated the audience, while the “Bedouin Love Song” (Pinsute) was rendered in capital style. Miss Crowley was warmly appreciated in her singing of the “Winter Lullaby.” “The Moon has raised her Lamp” (Benedict), a vocal duet, by Messrs Hamilton and Gibson, was one of the most pleasing items, and was rendered in the most artistic fashion. The last verse was sung as an encore. Miss M’Elligott sang the ” Kerry Dance” (Molloy) in a fetching style, and was rewarded for her success by an encore, in response to which she sang ” Come Back to Erin,” which was extremely popular. Mr Ellis sang ” Last Night (Kergurf) with his usual ability, while his rendering of ” Kathleen Mavourneen” was highly appreciated. The singing of “Night, Lovely Night” (Berger), by the choir, brought a most enjoyable entertainment to a close.


A Horsey Fact

A horse can breathe only through its nose, never through its mouth.


Singers and Fundraisers

Library Road in May 2023


Annual North Kerry M.S. Busking Day

On Friday May 19 2023, Main Street came alive with music. The concert was in aid of an association very close to my heart. I apologise that I can’t include some clips of the great music here but video clips just take up too much of my precious storage space. I have pictures though.

This is a group of morning collectors and musicians. A new crew took over in the afternoon. Some of the morning people were involved in the afternoon as well.

I’ll include a few more tomorrow.



This epic cycle fundraiser in aid of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind paused in town on Monday May 22 2023.


Alice Curtayne

This is Alice Curtayne’s panel in Kerry Writers’ Museum. She is the only female writer among the great men of letters.

Alice was actually an extraordinary lady, writing on lots of subjects, many of them religious in nature. She has written on Dante (She lived for a time in Milan in the 1920s) St. Brigid (She lived in Kildare too) and she has written one novel, House of Cards which her family think is largely biographical. She wrote many articles for newspapers and periodicals like the Capuchin Annual.

She was born in Tralee. Her father was a coach furnisher and he had his business in what is now Benners Hotel.

She lectured in America before settling down and marrying a farmer whom she met when he wrote her a fan letter.

Her husband, Stephen Rynne was a romantic. They married in Tarbert on Valentine’s Day. In their garden in Prosperous, Stephen planted snowdrops in a formation which every Spring spelled out Alice.

Alice passed away in 1981. She is under appreciated even in her native Kerry. Her grandson, Niall, is doing much to bring knowledge of her to a wider audience. Some of her books have been republished by an American publisher. I bought the one on St. Brigid. I’ll review it here at a later date.


Listowel Writers’ Week, Opening Night 2023

What links these two places to opening night 2023?

Special guest on Opening Night will be acclaimed singer /songwriter Jack O’Rourke.

Jack is a storyteller in song. He was fascinated by the story of Michael O’Connor as told to him by Aiden on one of his visits to Mike the Pies.

He wrote this song

Opera on the Top Floor

Michael O’Connor, uncle of Aiden, was an extraordinary man. He was a talented artist, a collector of posters, an opera lover and a book lover. He was also a very private person. His family left his apartment over the pub very much as he left it. A visit to this place of music, art and literature inspired O’Rourke to write the song.

“…And that opera on the top floor
No one knows, it’s under lock and key
The needle hits the vinyl, I’m away on the wind
Every secret needs a sanctuary.”

I hope he sings it for us on Opening Night.

Another treat in store for us at this year’s Writers’ Week is a chance to see some of Michael O’Connor’s great collection of international graphic art in Mike the Pies.


I Love Paul Galvin

Maybe not Paul himself. I don’t know him but I love, love, love his book.

People who know me here know that I love a good anecdote or story and I love random facts. Paul’s book is full of these. I’ve only dipped into it so far. I’ve only just got it.

Who knew?

Spear throwing! sword fighting!

If, like me you love these little stories, Paul Galvin has lots of them in his great book. He is a great researcher and a great story teller.

Do come along to hear him in

The Listowel Arms at 3.00p.m. on Saturday June 3 2023


Dolly Day

DollyDay fundraiser for Comfort for Chemo and the Kerry Hospice was launched in Quanes Bar, Blennerville on Thursday evening.

Dolly Day in Listowel is on June 24 2023 and it promises to be a good one. The lady herself has been invited to attend and she is checking her calendar.

You can be part of the fun by buying your wig online Here

There are a few instructions laid down by the Guinness Book of Records people about how you should be dressed. Nothing major.


Catching Up with Friends

I met my old friend, Dolores O’Connor in The Flying Saucer on Monday. She was enjoying a hot chocolate with her sister, Eileen. When they see me with my camera they know that I will connect them with their family in the US and England. Great Listowel people and supporters of this blog.

I had a great chat with my lovely friends, Liz and Jim Dunn, in Thyme Out café yesterday. Liz is going to be our hostess at Opening Night of Listowel Writers’ Week on May 31st. No better woman for the job.



When I came to Listowel first I found local people had quite a few phrases we didn’t use over the border in my part of the country.

“Will you walk to town or will you carry the car?” asked a new friend.

The image this conjured up came back to me when I read Brian Bilston’s amusing poem:

you took
the last bus home

i still don’t know
how you got it through the door

but you’re always doing amazing stuff

like the time
when you caught that train


A Fact

The English language syllable “ough” can be pronounced in eight different ways. The following sentence includes all eight.

A tough dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully.


Winners and Victims

Blennerville by John Hooton, photo shared on Facebook


Two New O’Connor Pieces

These two newly discovered pieces of Michael O’Connor’s excellent illumination work have turned up in Stephen Rynne’s family home. Stephen’s dad was a friend of O’Connor’s and had many pieces of his work. After Michael’s death his widow entrusted much of his work in progress to his two friends, Maurice Fridberg and Etienne Rynne, who endeavoured to find a “home” for them. That search has been taken up by Stephen, son of Etienne and very soon these wonderful pieces of artwork will be back in Listowel in No. 24 The Square.


We are the Best

Two Listowel institutions returned with well deserved awards from the Irish Hospitality Awards ceremony in Dublin, Mike the Pies in the Best Live Entertainment venue and Jumbos in the Best Family restaurant categories.


Tom Doodle

Doodle Rally in Main Street

I found this essay on in a closed account. I don’t know who the author is. it’s a first hand account of the day Doodle came to town.

We were in the middle of our Leaving exam. at St. Micks when news of Doodles coming to town was announced and come hell or high water would we be denied the chance to act as guard of honour to the Doodle entourage which had been arranged by M.O.C. the late and great Johneen Keane, however to take part we had to dress as if in Mardi Gras, this to add to the frivolity of the evening and also as a disguise so the College President did not recognise any of his star pupils. I remember Bunny Dalton who was in the lead truck with the other musicians asking John B. what music would be appropriate for the occasion and the answer was as many National Anthems as you can think of. A tour of the town was completed via Charles Street and Church Street and to this day I cant forget the faces of the townsfolk who lined the streets, most were of joy and happiness and some in awe, one old woman with rosary beads went on her knees thinking it was the Papal Nuncio while another who having been attic bound for years thought that Doodle was the reincarnation of Parnell. What followed that night was the funniest night I ever spend at home and the night was recalled once again at the post performance reception of Sives Premiere in Dublin in May 59 when I met up with John B.

Quick background for newcomers;

Tom Doodle was a jape by a group of Listowel friends led by John B. Keane. The Independent Couleogous Party was a fictional political party set up by Keane and Co. Doodle was their candidate in the General Election of 1951. They ran a campaign for him complete with unlikely promises, slogans and a jingle. His campaign highlight was a monster rally in the small square.


Lest we Forget

This brutal Siegfried Sassoon poem has been shared widely lately as rows swirl online over the wearing of the poppy.


I was at Mike the Pies

By the River Feale, July 2022


I was in Mike the Pies

A lovely lady gave me a present of a ticket to see Bernard Casey. So I went to Listowel’s, and maybe even Ireland’s, most famous Comedy and Music venue on Friday last, July 8 2022, for the first time.

Radio Kerry’s Brendan Fuller was our MC for the night.

I thought he was older. He said he gets that all the time. He was in top form and he told us that he is looking forward to being a dad very soon.

Then we had Gossip and The Nephew and mentions of Foley although no reference to McCarthy, the Low Road.

Bernard Casey is very good at what he does. Considering that I have only ever seen him on the internet I didn’t know how his type of stuff would transfer to the live audience. He was even better in person. He involved his audience (Thank God I escaped that.) and he found comedy where we saw none. One table had Paula, Paula, and Paul. He loved that and teased them good humouredly throughout the set.

Three lads in “short pants” were sitting near the stage. They were in from their holiday in Ballybunion and up for the craic. He teased them about hurling and football and young guys’ stuff in general. At another table were a couple who met on Tinder and another table had a couple who were going out for a long time. Then there were the people from Duagh and Tarbert, the fellow who went to St. Michael’s, a man who cycled the Ring of Kerry last weekend, and of course Niall, the dog (You had to be there!).

It was a great night. I’d go again.

Mary, Catherine, Helen and Mary


We have a Winner

Story from Radio Kerry

The manager of Value Centre Listowel has been named Cash and Carry Manager of the Year.

Gary Moriarty took the title at the prestigious annual ShelfLife Grocery Management Awards.

The awards recognise and honour management excellence in local and convenience stores, wholesalers, and supermarkets.


The Way we Are

This book is a great one to dip into. You’ll hear yourself, or your Mammy in a few of these.


Forgive me While I boast

This is Aisling Darby, my eldest granddaughter. She is here receiving an award for “Gymnast of the Year” in her club, Douglas Gymnastics Club. People who have my book, A Minute of Your Time, can see the same Aisling, aged 9, on page 51.

I used her picture to illustrate a reflection about learning to lose.


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