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: Miriam O’Callaghan

Drone photos, Women in Media 2019 and Joe O’Carroll R.I.P.

Birds’ Eye View of Listowel

John Kelliher has been sharing some fabulous drone photos of listowel in lockdown. Here are two.


Women in Media 2019

Wasn’t I delighted with myself to be in the company of two of Ireland’s greatest women in broadcast media.


Today’s Poem

Dear Old Shannon’s Shore

by Jerry Histon (1886-1975) Dirreen and Clounmacon. He is best known for the lyrics of “The Lovely Banks of Blain” and “The Vales of New Dirreen”

Sent in by his grand daughter Noreen Neville O Connell

I once stood on Queenstown harbour,

On a bright September’s eve, 

I saw some sights that grieved me,

As a ship was going to leave;

 Some  handsome boys and girls were going,

 Some may return no more,

And they left their place of birth behind,

By the dear old Shannon’s shore.

By the dear old Shannon’s shore,

Where the foaming tide does roll,

And the shamrock clings to every rock,

By the dear old Shannon’s shore.

I saw a pair of lovers,

As they stood there hand in hand,

They made their vows together,

In their own dear native land.

 I heard him say “Goodbye love,

I must cross the ocean wide,

But when I will return,

Will you promise to be my bride?

It may be months, it may be years,

But I’ll come back a stór, 

And we’ll live in peace and happiness,

By the dear old Shannon’s  shore.”

I saw a grey-haired woman,

As she bid her son goodbye,

Her face it wore a look of care,

As the tears stood in her eyes;

She said: “goodbye, God bless you,

Will I see you any more,

As you leave me broken-hearted,

 By the dear old Shannon’s shore?”

As that ship left Queenstown harbour,

With that Irish exile band,

Who  were going to seek a fortune,

In a far off distant land.

But wherever they may wander,

Old Ireland they will adore,

And they will always think of ,

Their rustic roots and home

By the dear old Shannon shore.


Remembering an Old friend and a Happy Reunion

Mary , 

Sad to hear the passing of Joe O’Carroll last week in Willeseden , London,

 I was a few years ahead of Patsy and Joe in Tullamore National School.

The Carroll family lives next door to where the School was and owned the field the school was on.

I came across this photo of me , John-Anthony Hegarty, Patsy Sullivan and Joe O’Carroll of Tullamore . This photo cost me a £1 back then , it was taken in Tim Kennelly Bar while the Sam Maguire was in Listowel during race week.

There was a guy in the corner of the bar next to the Sam Maguire with a Polaroid Camera and it was £1 to have your photo taken, and I still have the photo . I want to send my condolences to the all O’Carroll family in Willesden London and Tullamore. This only  came about because I was home on holiday that week . 

If I remember correctly Tim , Geraldine and Eamon Kennelly were serving that day and the Bar was packed.

John-Anthony Hegarty , Patsy Sullivan , Joe Carroll of Tullamore

In Tim Kennelly’s with Sam Maguire during race week 1978.

John Anthony told me that Margaret O’Carroll (mother of the late Joe) was the first lady to learn to drive in Tullamore. She used to drive her Ford Anglia on the bog road beside Hegarty’s house and John Anthony’s dad used to look on in amazement to see a woman driving.


It is now possible to put messages of condolence on These messages are a poor substitute for face to face contact and hand shaking that is so much part of Irish funeral rituals. In these extraordinary times such messages offer some crumbs of comfort to the bereaved family and friends who are denied the consolation of an Irish funeral at their troubled time.


A Kilflynn Teacher penned a Kerry anthem in 1903

Kerry People Saturday, November 21, 1903

“Kerry Diamonds”! “Kerry Diamonds
From -your setting rich and rare,
Shedding rays of dazzling brightness
On our Kerry homesteads fair.

” Kerry Diamonds “! ” Kerry Diamonds “!
Well, you’re worth the paltry price,
Even though of love a labour.
You are sold at sacrifice

“Kerry Diamonds”! “Kerry Diamonds”!
I shall cherish you for aye,
Hoard you up amongst my treasures,
Careful of your every ray. 

“Kerry Diamonds”! “Kerry Diamonds”!
You are brilliantly ‘reset’;
Many hours were spent in ‘cutting,’
May they be rewarded yet.

” Kerry Diamonds”! “Kerry Diamonds”! –
Precious Christmas gift you’d be
To our Kerry boys and girls
Here at home, or o’er the sea.

“KerrOn whatever shore you shine,
You will take them Kerry’s blessing,
You may also take them mine.

—Katie ‘ M. Pierse, N.T. Kilflynn, 17:11:’03.


Quintuplet Kerry Lambs

Quintuplet births to a ewe are one in a million. Here the ODubhda brothers from West Kerry help Mammy sheep to display her lovely family.

Photo and story from Seán Mac an tSíthigh on Twitter

More from The Green Guide., Living Literature, Dublin Kerry Association


More from the Little Green Guide of 1965


Living Literature  at The Seanchaí

This is Angeline, the actress, with Jerry, the John B. Keane fan before the start of our Living Literature Tour on Saturday July 21 2018

We were in The Seanchaí for a tour of the rooms dedicated to North Kerry Writers. If you get a chance to take this guided tour, I’d highly recommend it. Angeline, our guide, was full of enthusiasm for the work of the featured writers. She sang, played, recited and acted to bring to life the work of the various writers. She was brilliant and we all greatly enjoyed the tour.

 In the room dedicated to Bryan MacMahon she told us the story, recounted in The Master, of Bryan getting a young mahout to bring a baby elephant to the school. This seems really extraordinary to today’s young people but a photo in the John Hannon archive shows a parade of elephants through the town to advertise the arrival of a circus.

Elephants on Market Street photographed by Johnny Hannon.

Paddy stepped up to the plate to play Byrne to Angeline’s Big Maggie in the excerpt from the John B. Keane Play.


Dublin Kerry Association

I missed this one earlier in the summer when Fr. Anthony Gaughan was presented with an award and the Kerry gang in the capital came out in force

Fr. Gaughan with Miriam O’Callaghan and Keelin Kissane


Seán Keane in Finuge

The highlight of the Seán Maccarthy Memorial Weekend was Seán Keane in concert Neil Brosnan was there and he met Brendan Kennelly with his sister and niece.

Photo; Neil Brosnan

 This photo and caption are also from Neil Brosnan on Facebook.

Sean McCarthy ballad competition sponsors, Mike and Sue Nilsson, with prizewinners: Joe Harrington, 1st, Caroline O’Callaghan, 2nd, and myself in 3rd place 


Yesterday, August 5 2018 in Listowel

April Walk for Scoil Realta na Maidine and Women in Media 2017

People at Work by Mallow Camera Club

Photo: Mary O’Sullivan


A Family Walk in the Park, April 2017


More Walkers at the Scoil Realta na Maidine Fundraiser


Women in Media 2017

I only got to two events last weekend as I was busy, busy, busy.

 Women in Media takes place in Kilcooly’s Hotel in Ballybunion.

The line up of high profile ladies is beginning to look familiar but they do always deliver  food for thought.

Katie Hannon very ably chaired the panel discussion on the topical subject of truth in the media

 Dearbhail MacDonald was a pannelist.

 I photographed the same Dearbhail on Sunday after she had accepted the Mary Cummins award. She was absolutely thrilled with her award, to the point of saying that she appreciated it more than any other award she had received and she has received many.

Mandy Johnson was there.

 Steve Carson was a late addition to the panel. He was attending with his wife, Miriam O’Callaghan.

There are always more then 2 sides to every story, we were told. And then there is a back story.

Journalists should always tell the truth and shame the devil, whatever or whoever the current devil may be.

If you tell a lie often enough, it gets harder and harder to refute. Mandy Johnson told us that when she worked in politics, parties had a team whose sole  job was rebuttal.

In this era of fake news and spin, checking and rechecking is ultra important but checking and rechecking costs money.

Miriam told us that who is telling the news is important. People trust RTE to tell the truth. She said that when Primetime went recently to Blacksod to cover the tragic drowning of 4 rescue personnel, they got a great reaction. Viewers like to see the location of the action and they like to see their news bringers empathise with local people.

(Aside: This might explain why we saw Kieran Mulooley at the gate of Ashford Castle at the weekend. He told us basically that he knew nothing of the story. He didn’t know if Rory McIlroy was married yet or what the wedding dress looked like or who turned up and who didn’t. He said he’d know the wedding was over when he saw the fireworks. He knew they cost €50k but then we all knew that. He interviewed a few local people who didn’t know anything either but like himself had come for a gawk. News!!!!)

This is Katie Hannon’s hand. If there was ever a symbol which identified anyone, it has to be Katie’s unpretentious Bic biro.

Super needlewomen and Gender Quotas

These ladies with their teacher, Priscilla Sweeney, are doing a needlecraft course under the VEC in Listowel Family Resource Centre. When I visited them on Friday they were working on their Listowel quilt project. The ladies are taking well known images of Listowel and working them into a patchwork quilt.

Each pupil keeps a journal of the project. The journals themselves are works of Art. Here is one example of such a journal.

Another of their patchwork projects is a life-sized two dimensional horse. Here is an account, from the journal, of the processes involved in that project.

A sample of patchwork
The completed horse
Each student made their own smaller horse. This is Angela’s.
The process

On Friday Priscilla had brought another piece for the students to work on. It was a clown bag suitable for laundry, toys or anything that needed tidying in a child’s room


Gender Quotas: Does the end justify the means?

This is Edel Clancy of the 50/50 Group and she argued the case for gender quotas in politics  at Women in Media Weekend in Ballybunion. Mary O’Rourke and Mairead MacGuinness were her “opposition”.

Edel told us that:

  •  There has never been fewer than 85% men in Dáil Eireann.
  • Since the foundation of the state there have been only 12 women in cabinet.
  • Ireland is in 92nd. place in the world in terms of representation by women in parliament.

The facts are irrefutable. Something has to be done to correct this imbalance. Gender quotas is a blunt instrument to get us over the initial hurdle. In time, like Denmark, we won’t need them.

Mary O’Rourke and Mairead MacGuinness offered no argument as convincing as these statistics. 

I’m for gender quotas and I’m glad that political parties will, in future, be fined if 30% of candidates are not female.


Some people I met at the weekend

Bernie Carmody and Jackie Goddall
Bernie Carmody and me with Miriam O’Callaghan
Jimmy Deenihan, Katie Hannon, Deirdre Walshe and Mary Dundon

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