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 listowelconnection@gmail.com

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Remembering Anita

Gap off Dunloe by Chris Grayson

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A Schoolday Memory

As you know I’ve been revisited my old school yearbooks, trawling for “content”. I suppose it was inevitable that some of the memories would be sad ones. So many colleagues gone from us.

Then in this old treasure I came across a poem that took me back to a Tuesday I will never forget.

That Tuesday, after the long weekend, Anita should have been sitting at the back beside her friend Gretta in my first class.

We were all in shock. It was my first experience of the death of a pupil and for many of her classmates it was their first experience of death. The Leaving Cert. didn’t seem to matter so much anymore.

Anita was fun loving and artistic. She had so much to live for.

Whenever I hear Garth Brooks’ The Dance I am back in the church in Lixnaw on a bright May day when no one felt like dancing.

May Anita rest in peace.

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Kildare in February

February is St. Bridget’s month. What better place to be than Kildare , the home of Bridget.

This is the statue of Brigid in Kildare Town Square.

This is the lovely Heritage Centre where a nice lady told me all about the town and its history. This is also the place to buy a few souvenirs and find out what’s on.

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Where are the other Twenty Three?

Sing a song of sixpence…last week I snapped this solitary black bird at Mike the Pies.

From the internet some crow facts;

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For the Chop

I heard on Radio Kerry that some of the trees in Childers Park will have to be cut down or relocated to accommodate the Greenway and for health and safety reasons. I walked that way on Saturday but I couldn’t see any sign of which trees have to go. The work starts today, Monday February 14 2022. I’ll keep you posted.

While I was in the park I was delighted to see a rugby game in full spate. Looks like the old normal is back.

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Old RTE Guide, Larry Gogan, The Far East and Mike the Pies

Listowel Castle



Winter 2019


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Old RTE Guide

The very first RTE Guide 1962

Back then we had one channel for a few hours every day and when a programme was gone it was gone, no catch up, no recording or player. Programmes were in back and white. We thought we were made up.

Photo from The Journal

Take a quick trip down memory lane with me…Charles Mitchell, Don Cockburn, Wanderly Wagon, The Fugitive, Rawhide, Living with Lucy, The Cosby Family, Quicksilver, continuity announcers, Film board of Canada cartoon fillers, Is dona linn an briseadh seo, Nighthawks, Seven Days etc.etc.etc.

This week we lost Larry Gogan. Larry never appeared much on TV but he was a voice from my childhood.

Recently we’ve lost Gay Burne, Brendan Grace, Marian Finucane and now Larry. It feels very much like the end of an era.

Marty Whelan, Larry’s friend, shared this old photo of 2fm DJs. I recognise Larry, Marty, Philip King (front right ) and Gerry Ryan but I dont recognise the 2 in the cars at the back.

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Magazines in Schools

My talk of The Imeldist has opened the floodgates of memory for many. While I’m yet to find someone who remembers The Imeldist people tell me that they remember The Far East, The Africa and The Messenger (which I think is still going strong).

Anyone keep any of these?

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Mike the Pies on January 9 2020

I don’t think Martin got the opportunity to do any more painting over Christmas but I’ll keep you posted if there are any changes.



Christmas at The Listowel Arms, A Poem, Mike the Pies shopfront update and A Book Launch

Listowel in December 2019

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The Listowel Arms at Christmas 2019

It’s all red and green in The Listowel Arms this Christmas. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming. It’s just another gem in our lovely Christmassy town.

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Kerryman of the Year

 by Noel Roche of Chicago and Listowel

To my brother, Tom, who makes me proud

He was born in 1945 on the third day of July

Another child for Dick and Madge, a little baby boy.

Rumour has it he was late, they thought he wouldn’t come at all.

When he finally did come out, he was soloing a ball.

Just like all the other boys, he always loved to play.

It seemed he was a natural when it came to GAA.

His heroes were the Kerry teams, those men so big and bold.

His dreams were that someday he would wear the green and gold.

And wear the green and gold he did in 1963.

He won an All Ireland medal and became a hero to me.

Soon he moved to England and left Kerry behind.

“Twas his body that left Kerry, Kerry would not leave his mind.

Tom can talk of anything under the heavenly sky

But when he talks of Kerry he has a twinkle in his eye.

If you want Tom to help, all you have to do

Is throw in the word Kerry and he will be there for you.

How much does he love Kerry?  To him its not a game

Tom has got a daughter and Kerry is her name.

And now I’m here tonight to cheer

As they name my brother Tom, Kerryman of the Year.

There is no better man and I will tell you why

When it comes to Kerry, Tom is do or die.

And if you cut him open this sight you would behold

There is no red inside his veins. His blood runs green and gold.

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Mike the Pies


Mike the Pies shopfront is still a work in progress.

Here is where Martin is at but there’s lots more to do. It will be mighty.

Martin Chute, signwriter, at Mike the Pies on Saturday December 14 2019.

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Launch of The Very Best of Billy Keane



A book launch is a lovely family time. It’s a time to make the people who love you proud. There was a lot of love in the room of The Listowel Arms Hotel on Sunday Dec. 15 2019.


Launching the book were Gabriel Fitzmaurice and Jerry Kennelly, here with Billy’s able assistants, John Keane and Billy O’Flynn.

Billy chatting to his William Street neighbour, Catherine.

Liz and Jim Dunn were buying a few Christmas presents.

Laura Shine read one of the newspaper columns from The Very Best of Billy Keane.

Old friends turned up to support Billy.

Fellow author, Emma Larkin, took time out from the St. Seanan’s celebrations to lend support.



Proud family, Elaine, John and Anne listen as Gabriel reads from The Very Best of Billy Keane.

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Another New Barber on Church Street


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Lunch in Lizzie’s


We are so lucky in Listowel to have so many excellent cafés and restaurants. For a festive lunchtime treat there is no better food and value available anywhere than in Lizzie’ s of William Street.

Helen Moylan, Celebrity chef Lizzie Lyons, Miriam Kiely, exiled in Dublin but constantly drawn “home” to Listowel and your blogger, Mary Cogan.

I had the Christmas pie of buttermilk-brined turkey and ham topped with puff pastry, followed by the flourless chocolate and almond dessert;  delicious food and great company on a gloomy wet Listowel afternoon.

Mike the Pies, Old Drama Group photos and a daft Christmas story from the Dúchas collection

St.Mary’s at Night, Christmas 2019

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A Kerry Christmas Childhood

Garry MacMahon

Now I cannot help remembering the happy days gone by,

As Christmastime approaches and the festive season’s nigh.

I wallow in nostalgia when I think of long ago,

And the tide that waits for no man as the years they ebb and flow.

We townies scoured the countryside for holly berries red,

And stripped from tombs green ivy in the graveyard of the dead,

To decorate each picture frame a hanging on the wall,

And fill the house with greenery and brighten winter’s pall,

Putting up the decorations was for us a pleasant chore,

And the crib down from the attic took centre stage once more.

From the box atop the dresser the figures were retrieved,

To be placed upon a bed of straw that blessed Christmas Eve,

For the candles, red crepe paper, round the jamjars filled with sand,

To be placed in every window and provide a light so grand,

To guide the Holy Family who had no room at the inn,

And provide for them a beacon of the fáilte mór within.

The candles were ignited upon the stroke of seven,

The youngest got the privilege to light our way to Heaven,

And the rosary was said as we all got on our knees,

Remembering those who’d gone before and the foreign missionaries.

Ah, we’d all be scrubbed like new pins in the bath before the fire

And, dressed in our pajamas of tall tales we’d never tire,

Of Cuchlainn, Ferdia, The Fianna, Red Branch Knights,

Banshees and Jack o Lanterns, Sam Magee and Northern Lights

And we’d sing the songs of Ireland, of Knockanure and Black and Tans,

And the boys of Barr na Sráide who hunted for the wran.

Mama and Dad they warned us as they gave each good night kiss,

If we didn’t go to sleep at once then Santa we would miss,

And the magic Christmas morning so beloved of girls and boys,

When we woke to find our dreams fulfilled and all our asked for toys,

But Mam was up before us the turkey to prepare,

To peel the spuds and boil the ham to provide the festive fare.

She’d accept with pride the compliments from my father and the rest.

“Of all the birds I’ve cooked,” she’s say, “ I think that this year’s was the best.”

The trifle and plum pudding, oh, the memories never fade

And then we’d wash the whole lot down with Nash’s lemonade.

St. Stephen’s Day brought wrenboys with their loud knock on the door,

To bodhrán beat abd music sweet they danced around the floor’

We, terror stricken children, fled in fear before the batch,

And we screamed at our pursuers as they rattled at the latch.

Like a bicycle whose brakes have failed goes headlong down the hill

Too fast the years have disappeared. Come back they never will.

Our clan is scattered round the world. From home we had to part.

Still we treasure precious memories forever in our heart.

So God be with our parents dear. We remember them with pride,

And the golden days of childhood and the happy Christmastide.

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Mike the Pies in December 2019



I love the new look.

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Old Listowel Drama Group photos

Below is a great collection of old Drama Group photos that Maeve Moloney has sent us. We have no details of names or even the name of the play/plays or the year they were taken. We need your help.

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A Dúchas Christmas Memory



Garret Stack went to confession Christmas Eve and he was to go to communion Christmas morning and the clock stopped during the night and he got up and went away thinking it was very late and when he was near Newtown he met a priest and he knew him and that priest was dead and he came down the road and went into Mc. Cabe’s and it was only one o’clock and he stayed there until morning.

Written by Con Shine, Kilbaha, told by his father John Shine.

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A Minute of Your Time



 My photograph shows Diana having a quick look At A Minute of Your Time in O’Mahoney’s Tralee. This is the latest outlet to sell it.

It’s sold out in The Friary Bookshop, Killarney but it’s available nearby in The Dungeon. Eagers and O’Connors also have copies.

It’s proving popular as a Christmas present, suitable for young and old.

 Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this new venture.



Mike the Pies, Martin Chute, Mistletoe and Macroom

Wintry Listowel in December 2019

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Mike the Pies Rebranding



Mike the Pies has been painted green for as long as I can remember. All that’s changed in December 2019. This popular music venue, where half of Listowel would rather be, is now a sophisticated black.

There I was walking on Upper William Street when I spotted the sea change.

Returning later I saw Mr. Signs himself, Martin Chute, painting the new sign.

Doesn’t his I look a bit like a glass at this stage?

Spotting his friend, Eileen Worths, Martin stopped for a chat.

I was anxious not to distract the master at work. But the ever affable signwriter took a minute to greet me.

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Mattie’s Letter takes a Tongue in Cheek Swipe


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Uh! oh! The Mistletoe



( from Raymond O’Sullivan on Facebook)


When the kissing has to stop!

Mistletoe is a symbol of love, affection and friendship. It is also considered lucky and a protection from evil spirits and the devil, The origin of these associations goes back to Norse mythology and the legend of the goddess Frigg, wife of Odin, and their son Baldur – too long for a FB post. Google it! Suffice to say that Frigg’s tears transformed into the berries on the mistletoe, and, on the resurrection of her son from the dead, she was so overjoyed that she blessed the plant and vowed to kiss everyone who passed beneath it.
So the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe goes back a long way, though nowadays it is confined to the Christmas period. Some accounts say the proper procedure is that a berry is plucked from the plant each time a couple kisses and when all the berries are gone, the kissing has to stop. Ah, the bashful days of youth!
In the light of the almost daily charges of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual approaches in the workplace and elsewhere, this long-established tradition of kissing under the mistletoe must be in grave danger of being discarded. We can only hope that the coarse conduct and boorish behaviour of some, including those in high places, does not jeopardize this age-old, innocent Christmas custom and consign the blameless mistletoe to the compost heap of history.

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Spotted In Macroom



Like Listowel, Macroom has retained much of its old character. When I stopped there for a spot of lunch lately (I highly recommend The Castle Hotel) I took a stroll around and spotted these gems.


A veritable old curiosity shop

Next door was a draper’s shop which still hangs the merchandise outside the door.

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An Appeal



Next year, 2020 Listowel Writers Week will celebrate its 50th birthday. I’m planning to post some photos of memories of the festival down through the years. So I’m appealing to my Listowel Connection family to help me out.

If you have a memory or a photo you would be willing to share please drop me an email.

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