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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Memories from 1974 and Looking Forward to 2023

Millenium Arch in May 2023


How it used to look

This is the remains of the first arch in 2016, It was damaged in a big storm. You will notice the the new designer didn’t bother with the things that looked like very big ball bearing between the arch and the pillars.


Wolfgang and Anita Mertens

in John B. Keane’s Bar, May 16th 2023

This is the house from which Maria wrote to Wolfgang.

Here are 2 letters Wolfgang kept as souvenirs of his visit to Writers Week in 1974. The first is from Maria Coffey who was, I think, writing on behalf of Writers Week and one from Bryan MacMahon with whom he had a long correspondence. Wolfgang was writing his thesis on his work.

Anita and Wolfgang can’t remember where they stayed which is surprising because they remember a lot about their trip.

On their last night they saw a production of The Honey Spike by the Carrick- on-Siur Drama Group and they were enthralled by it.

Wolfgang in his library has almost all of MacMahon’s published works, in English and some in translation as well.

While we were at the MacMahon statue we met Maggie and Mac Donald who were just returning from a visit to Kerry Writers’ Museum.

Brían MacMahon took time out of his busy day to welcome the German visitors. He told them a few stories about his famous grandfather and generally charmed them with his wit and friendliness.

We met Liz Dunn who gave them a brochure for this year’s Writers’ Week. Wolfgang promises to send me his 1974 programme.

We called to the Garden of Europe on the way home from town.


A 1980 Visitor

Hello Mary.

I came upon your blog while searching for “Irish Horse Caravans”.

I was a young soldier in the US Army on leave in 1980 when I hitchhiked/walked through Ireland.

I have a photo in this email, which I think may possibly be in Adare or very close to it. I was wondering if you perhaps recognize this image and the signs for the roads they reference and could tell me where this may have been.

Regards from the US, Marietta, GA
Bob Jewell

Is Bob correct? Is that Adare? I think so.



Is your name Kevin or Caoimhín?

If the answer is yes, the place for you to be is this Listowel pub on Friday June 2 in the late evening.

The first annual gathering of people called Kevin in Kevin’s is happening there.

The back story; Stephen Connolly, curator of this year’s Writers’ Week programme was, by chance, in Kevin’s on the late owner, Kevin Broderick’s, birthday and he happened to sit beside a man called Kevin. This sparked this idea; Why not have a gathering of people called Kevin in a pub called Kevin’s during Writers’ Week.

BTW you can come too if your name is not Kevin.


On the Prowl with Camera

I was in The Square on Saturday May 20 2023

I met the lovely and very talented Eileen Sheehan as she went into Kerry Writers’ Museum to facilitate a poetry workshop.

I had a lovely chat with friends, Brian and May Griffin and Mary and Seán Comerford.



The meaning of the word, good luck in finding valuable things unintentionally, refers to the fairy tale characters who were always making discoveries through chance. You can thank serendipity if you find a pencil at an empty desk just as you walk into an exam and realize that you forgot yours.

I have so often experienced serendipity at Listowel Writers Week. I have gone to a book launch by someone I had never heard of and find the writer or subject so fascinating that I can’t wait to read the book.

Let me point you in the direction of a few opportunities for serendipity coming up for us in Listowel.

I have never read either of these authors but it looks like lots of people have and loved them.

Friday June2 in The Listowel Arms

This handsome dude is well known to everyone in Kerry. As well as being one of Kerry’s all time great footballers, he is also a clothes designer and now an author.

Confession here; I considered buying this book at Christmas and dismissed it without knowing what it was about. I presumed wrongly that it was the story of how a footballer turned into a fashion designer.

I should have looked more closely and, if only to honour my weaver ancestors, I should have bought it. It’s not too late to make up for lost time.

Join me in Listowel Arms on Saturday at 3.00


I Love this One

Published in The Irish Times on Saturday May 20 2023.

I have a god daughter who I can just imagine spending her old age (which is a long way off yet) reminiscing about horses.


A Fact

A typical lightening bolt is two miles long.


A Listowel Writer

April 2023


Irish for Adults

A very unusual textbook with illustrations by Jack B. Yeats for adult learners


More from last Thursday’s horse fair


Another Listowel Poet

It is always a pleasure to be contacted by a Listowel emigrant who is discovering Listowel Connection for the first time. Such emails are less frequent now as there is a great bush telegraph that alerts Listowel people to home news.

It was a great thrill to be contacted by John Leahy and to discover that he is a poet.

Here is his email;

Dear Mary

I have just found the Listowel on Line and subscribed.

Billy MacSweeney’s article was an absolute pleasure to me, since Jack 
Leahy was my grandfather.
My dad was Sean Patrick Leahy and I still remember his brother Patsy 
Leahy who had been a successfull boxer. (I remember well, Nora his wife)
There was also his sisters Maureen (married a vet in Sligo, name of 
Gilmore, their son Connor is a accountant living in Hammersmith), Peggy 
Murphy (married the barber in the square), Margaret Bennett (moved to 
Harlow) and his younger brother Michael Leahy (Who moved to Manchester). Of course last, But not least there was  Bridie O’Donnell (who owned Leahy’s Corner shop for many years with her 
husband Michael. I would sometimes go with Michael to buy cattle and 
horses, which he would then sell at the local cattle market.

I myself am a writer living in Brighton, Google: Leahy in Kemptown

All the Best

John J Leahy


I did the Googling for you. The site is here

The Kemptown Verses

Here is John’s photo from his website;

He has led a very varied and full life as a poet, painter, songwriter, writer, musician, DJ, political activist and more.

Many of John’s poems address the issues he cares about.

Here is his lovely love poem to his wife.

My Love


We sleep, we doze and closely nuzzle
We fit together like a jigsaw puzzle

You are my collaborator for life
My partner, my everything, my beautiful wife.

There could be no replacement, always together
We are one in harmony – forever and ever,

You are soft and gorgeous like butterfly’s wings
I’ll protect you from all – monstrous things

I tried to plan, for us in advance
If I was to lose you, I wouldn’t stand a chance;

Your qualities of dignity, kindness and allure
And your opinion on others – so true and so pure

I may not be very dynamic, rich nor clever
But at least you know, I’ll stand by you forever.

You have never, never been cruel
To animals, to people, too this incurable fool,

We laugh, we love, and we totally connect
For your insight is always completely correct.

When other people will never understand
You are always kind and take my hand

I am Yin and your are Yang;
You are my woman and I am your man.

We can respond each other – without blinking
Just cos we know what the other is thinking,

Most beautiful thing ever has happened to me
My undying love, is plane to see.

Affection I’ve given, returned a million fold
Necessitated this sonnet, twixed these pages told

When time collapses, I want to be with you
For the end of the world party, just for two.the kemptown verses poem footer


A Fact

There is a Procrastinators Club of America. It’s newsletter is titled Last Month’s News.


“Commemorate me where there is Water….”

Millenium Arch in April 2023


Good Friday Walk for the Hospice

Good Friday in Listowel is always a day for sponsored walking in aid of the hospice. Participants assembled at St. Patrick’s Hall on April 7 2023.

There were bicycles, dogs, prams, fast walkers, slow walkers and every pace in between. Many were remembering a lively presence on other year’s walks. Some were remembering loved one’s lost since the last walk and there were walkers who are living with cancer, and many whose cancer journey is thankfully behind them.

Back at base, a party was being prepared for the returning walkers.

On Charles Street I caught up with a few who started late.

They kindly posed for me at the Gaelscoil gate.


Fred’s Seat

Fred Chute R.I.P. loved the river Feale. I took this photo of Fred with his dog as he walked in one of his favourite places.

This is the seat his family and friends have dedicated to his memory just a little further along that same road.

Fred was my neighbour and friend and a huge supporter of everything I did here and in print. Listowel’s streets are the poorer for his passing.

May he rest in peace.


Calling all Quizzers


Spring Horse Fair

On Thursday April 6 2023 we had a fair on Market Street, Listowel. There were a few horses to justify the name but, in fact, there were as many goats and dogs as horses. I saw no farmyard poultry but there was lots of tack, saddles and horsey knick knacks.

I won’t mention the horrendous traffic disruption with road closures still ongoing as work continues on the bypass.


Par 3 at Augusta Masters 2023

Doting dad, Rory McElroy, watches as his daughter, Poppy, gives Ivy Lowry a hug during the family Par 3 event before the Masters 2023.

Things went downhill from there. The Par 3 family day may hold Rory’s best memories of The Master 2023.

Photo shared on Facebook.


A Fact

In 1555, Ivan the Terrible had St. Basil’s Cathedral constructed in Moscow. He was thrilled with the splendid result. He ordered that the two architects responsible be blinded so that they never build anything so beautiful again. He wasn’t called terrible for nothing.


Teach Siamsa Finuge, Presentation Convent and an artistic old post box

Bridge Road, Listowel, through the Millennium Arch in March 2020


The sod was turned for the building of Teach Siamsa in Finuge in 1974

Photo shared on Facebook by Siamsa Tíre


Presentation Convent Listowel 2007

Presentation Convent Listowel

by the late Tim Griffin 2007

Below is just a snippet of a long article by Tim Griffin R.I.P which he wrote following the closure of the local convent which was so dear to him.

As with all big houses of the 18th and 19th centuries, Listowel  Convent had a well in the yard. Up to quite recently, an electric pump was pumping water from that well. It also had a Laundry and a Drying Yard for the clothes lines. There was a big garden and a bountiful orchard. There was a cow-stall and cows, which had to be fed and hand-milked. Extra feed, such as hay, straw, turnips, mangels and potatoes, often had to be bought for them in the Market Yard. 

A number of Domestic Staff were also employed, e.g., carers, cooks, cleaners, nurses, and maids. Richard Mackessy from Glounaphuca would have been one of the first gardeners and farmhands there and his son, Richard (Dick), took over from him and was there until the late 1980s. As the schools got bigger, the cattle had to be sold off. Timmie Walsh worked at the Convent, as a gardener and maintenance person, up to the mid-1990s.

The Convent Sisters used to do visitations to the local hospitals and they recited the Rosary in the nearby funeral home at removals.

Visitors were always made welcome and were provided with refreshments. There was one group of visitors that always called to the Convent – they were, of course, the “Knights of the Road” or more commonly referred to as tramps. Some of them were decent people who had fallen on hard times. One of them I knew was from Wexford, a real gentleman, who told me he would “start his rounds” in early March and finish again in late October. Convents were always in his itinerary as well as B&Bs where he would have been known over the years. A pot of tea and a plate of sandwiches were always forthcoming at the Convent and were graciously received. He told me that the allocation of the Free Travel Pass had made life much easier for him. I have not seen him in the last few years but then don’t we forget the ceaseless toll of time.

The Presentation Convent has ceased to exist in Listowel but Presentation Sisters will still be working in Listowel, continuing the work initiated by their Foundress many years earlier. After being in Listowel for 163 years, it is very sad to see the Convent go. Over that period of time, the Presentation Sisters have made a wonderful contribution to Listowel and its hinterland. The people of North Kerry owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.


A Double Post-box

Someone who knows how much I love old postboxes sent me this card recently. Isn’t it lovely?


Owen MacMahon needs your help

I have gone through all the Drama Group programmes since 1944, 

a task long put on the long finger.

However, I am missing the following
1961 -Autumn Fire – produced by John O’ Flaherty
1966- Two on a String – produced by Ml Whelan
1967 – a Letter from a General – produced by J O’Flaherty
1970 – The Couple Beggar – produced Bill Kearney

Would you be able to put on a plea on your blog in due course? 

I’ve no doubt there must be copies around somewhere. 

It would be great to a complete collection.

Thanks Owen.

Bridge Road, Listowel children, A Christmas Stccking in the 1940s and a Fire at The Races in 1959

Millenium Arch and Bridge Road


The Good Old Days?

From Patrick O’Sullivan’s A Year in Kerry


Listowel Children

These are children  (and a few adults including Michael Dowling R.I.P. )  photographed by John Lynch at parades in 2003 and years after to 2007


Christmas Lights in Dublin

 When I was in the Big Smoke to see the Haunting Soldier they already had their Christmas lights up even though it was only mid November.

And in Listowel

On Saturday Dec 1 2018, Listowel Tidy Town Committee switched on the very colourful lights on Listowel’s Christmas tree.  (Photo; North Pole Express 2018)


Fire in the Stands

Do you remember this from 1959?

Photo from The Kerryman

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