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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Winners and Victims

Blennerville by John Hooton, photo shared on Facebook

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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.

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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.

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Tom Doodle

Doodle Rally in Main Street

I found this essay on Boards.ie 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.

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Lest we Forget

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

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I was at Mike the Pies

By the River Feale, July 2022

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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