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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Closure of a Beloved North Kerry Business

Listowel Town Square March 2023


Deireadh Ré

End of an era in Lisselton

(Pictures from Bridget O’Connor)

Behan’s Lisselton

On Sunday evening March 5 2023 Behan’s of Lisselton closed the shop door for a final time and held a final hooley for family and friends (a.k.a. customers).

The till is silent, the meat hooks are empty, the shop coat is hanging limply. An old way of life, a Lisselton institution, is no more.

My association with Behans goes back to when Jeremiah ran the shop in the 1980s. We had a family to feed and we did something that was so common then. We bought a chest freezer and filled it with food, mainly meat.

Behan’s offered a bespoke butchery service like no other. When the meat had been slaughtered and hung, I would go to Lisselton and stand at Richard’s elbow while he cut the joints of meat to my requirements and I bagged them for freezing. I learned so much in those bagging trips, for, if truth be told, while I was there to tell Richard how I wanted the beef cut, it was in fact Richard teaching me the best way of organising my meals. and Richard was always full of good advice. He was the most patient of shopkeepers.

As you can imagine, this operation took a few hours so meanwhile the business of the shop went on in front of us. The meat counter was at the back of the shop.

The shop was like a rambling house. Everyone knew everyone else. Jeremiah was always up for a chat and positively encouraged customers to hang around and swap news and pass away a bit of the day. The atmosphere was just so warm and welcoming. You could get a tip for a horse or a hound. You would learn the state of the bog and the situation with cutting or footing. The price of cattle and news from The Mart was exchanged.

Jeremiah always read the newspaper and was well up in global news so he held his own on many topics. The health of neighbours was a regular topic as well as local marriages and deaths.

Then Mrs. Behan would bring the cup of tea and the slice of cake. The tea was always presented in a china cup and I was made to feel like a VIP guest rather than a customer.

Getting the meat for the freezer at Behans was never a chore. It was a trip to be looked forwarded to and enjoyed. It was part of a way of life that is now just a memory to me….a lovely few hours in the company of lovely people.

My family have grown and flown.  The chest freezer is banished to electrical recycling heaven. I have not been to Behans for years. A new generation of Behans has grown up in the intervening time. And now the door has closed on that happy place.

The affection of their many customers and friends is evident in my friend, Bridget’s, photos which she so kindly shared with us.

Forgive me if I shed a tear for those happy bygone days when I was privileged to be part of a retail legend. Behans were a  rare breed of business people when the customers were treated like a valued friends.

I wish Richard and Geraldine a long and happy retirement with plenty of family time to enjoy.


The Murder of Seán O’Brien

This very unusual grave memorial in St. Michael’s cemetery, Listowel has an interesting story behind it. According to people who know these things, Sean O’Brien’s remains are no longer interred here but have been removed to his native Cork.

Here is the story from Mike Mc Grath in last week’s Corkman.

Seán O’Brien

One hundred years ago this week Charleville man Seán O’Brien was murdered by Crown forces at his hardware shop at Main Street Charleville in a reprisal attack. Here local historian and genealogist Evelyn O’Keeffe, who is chair of Charleville Heritage Society, researched the details and recalls the terrible event, and its aftermath.

‘Terrible Fate of Well-known Charleville Shopkeeper’ was the headline 100 years ago this week when Sean O’Brien, a hardware merchant was murdered. 

Sean died from his wounds as his wife and young daughter bore witness to his terrible end.

‘At 8.30pm there was a knock on the door. The Tans came into the town looking for blood that night, a Volunteer attack earlier that day on an RIC patrol in Charleville had maddened the Tans.

‘They went to the home of Seán O’Brien. The Tans knocked at his door, and Seán, without opening the door, enquired what they wanted, and the Tans’ reply was to fire several volleys through the door and they also threw some grenades through the fanlight. It was an extremely brutal murder, for his body was ripped asunder. He died seven and a half hours later.

‘Seán was president of the local Gaelic League and was a committed Irish-Irelander. He was elected in June 1920 to the Urban District Council on the Sinn Féin ticket and was the unanimous choice for chairman.

Funeral of Seán O’Brien

O’Brien’s funeral prompted an ugly scene. During his funeral procession on 4th March 1921 ‘two military officers approached the clergy, who were in front, and asked them were they not aware of the fact that the Republican flag which covered the coffin was not permitted in accordance with official regulations. One of the priests pointed out that the ensign was wrapped around the remains and secured to the lid, and that the coffin should be opened if they insisted on having the flag removed. After some controversy the military officers decided not to interfere further’.

‘Seán took an active interest in all aspects of life in Charleville and the turnout at his funeral was huge, being a member of the Kilmallock Board of Guardians, Cork County Committee of Agriculture, and was always ready to volunteer his services to resolve labour disputes. He enjoyed the respect and esteem of all classes in the town, including those who did not coincide with his political views.’

May he rest in peace.


Now and Then


The White Abbey

This lovely image of Presentation Convent, Listowel was sent to us by Margaret McGrath who has fond memories of visiting her aunt, Sr. Gemma, who lived there.


White Abbey, Kildare

Kildare town has a white abbey and a black abbey. The black abbey is now in ruins but the white abbey is the friary church of the Carmelites and is a busy parish church. The Carmelites came first to Kildare in 1290. They have suffered many vicissitudes since, with their various churches over the years burnt and pillaged. The most recent edifice was built in 1885 in the Gothic style.

It was there our lovely little Aoife was christened.

Everywhere I looked, the altar, the walls, there were St. Brigid’s crosses, a reminder that I was in the land of the matron saint of Ireland in her special month, February.

This church is famous for it’s stained glass rose windows.

This particularly elaborate window, partly obscured by the organ, features the prophet, Elijah, the spiritual founder of the Carmelites. He is surrounded by images of other saints.

The church features many statues and grottos.

It appeared to me to be a place of old fashioned devotion. It is obviously very dear to the people who worship there, beautifully maintained and decorated. It is a haven of peace and tranquility in a hectic world. I will definitely return there when I am next in Kildare.


Couldn’t resist sharing this one

“Look Grandad, we’re on my Nana’s blog.”



I feel sad to see this important premises in the corner of The Square has ceased trading.


Troubled Times

From the Irish independent of March 1921 and shared online by “Historical Tralee and Surrounding areas”

Historians have provided context. The Crown Forces had wind of the word that an ambush was being planned near Rathmore. This engagement eventually took place at Clonbanin.


Moloney’s. A Letter from Listowel in 1897, Gurtinard Wood and Art in The Square for Listowel Visual Arts Week 2018

Baby deer photo by Chris Grayson


Moloney’s Garage, Market Street

Moloney’s of Listowel had the Ford dealership when many Irish people and particularly Munster people drove a Ford. Ford had an assembly plant in Cork.

Same building today


A Letter from Kerry

This story is brought to us by Deborah Cronin. This is what she wrote;

My great grandfather, John J. Fitzmaurice, was from Listowel.  He was born in 1861 to James Fitzmaurice and Mary Dee.  John J. went to Chicago where he became a police officer and Detective. Eventually John married Deborah McAuliffe of Croughcroneen.   I am attaching a letter from James to son John written in 1897 that I thought you might find interesting.  Also attached are photos of John J. & Deborah.

It tells of a reliance on tillage farming, oats and potato harvest are of concern and there is also that blind faith in God to provide despite the evidence that there are hard times ahead. There seems to be a bit of trouble with a Mrs. Stack but it’s not too clear what that is.


Gurtinard Wood

The walk through the woods is leafy and inviting these days.


Listowel Visual Arts Week 2018

Listowel Visual Arts Week is a great addition to the plethora of festivals now taking place in Listowel. For one week, everywhere we looked there was Art on display. The festival was blessed with glorious sunshine and doubly blessed with generous artists and art collectors who shared their talents and treasures with us.

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the work of Athea based artist, Jim Dunn. He is responsible for the two enviable murals depicting Athea people and Athea life that adorn the village.

During Listowel Visual Arts Week, not only did we get to see Jim’s work, we also saw Jim at work. We saw how he does it and we even got an opportunity to “help” him create a masterpiece.

Jim paints with his right hand and in his left he holds a maul stick as an aid to keeping his hand steady.

You may recognise the local amateur artist painting a piece of the artwork.

I took these photos on day one. The painting went on for three days. So I’ll bring you more tomorrow.

Listowel Races, Pride of Place 2015 and a traditional thatched cottage

Race week in Listowel and an All Ireland Final to look forward to

Listowel is festooned for Race Week but football is not too far from people’s minds.

Meanwhile on The Island…..

(Photo; Bridget O’Connor)

The weather is spoiling everything.


More Photos from the Pride of Place judging

All of these local people were in The Lartigue Museum for the judges visit.


Looking Lovely!


“Fond memory brings the light

Of other days around me”

Photo from The Capuchin Archives

By the roadside, Croagh Patrick, County Mayo, c. 1910

An image of a traditional thatched cottage at the base of Croagh Patrick, a mountain and an important site of pilgrimage in County Mayo. It is climbed by pilgrims on Reek Sunday every year (the last Sunday in July). The photograph dates to about 1910 and was taken by Fr. Angelus Healy OFM Cap. (1875-1953) who was known as the ‘Guardian of the Reek’ in honour of his long association with the pilgrimage. This association lasted from 1906 to 1949, during which he climbed the mountain forty-two times missing only two years, in 1919 due to a railway strike and 1922 due to the Civil War. (Image Identifier: CA-PH-1-51).


Jimmy Moloney shared some more photos from the family album with us.

Gurtinard House

This is a group taken on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1954.

Jimmy’s grandmother is in the middle of the first row.  I’m not clear if the rest are Listowel people.

This is a De Valera rally. Jimmy is not sure if it is in Listowel but thinks it is. Dev certainly has a lot of support.

This is an old picture of Moloney’s garage.

The Big Bridge

The house in white beside the church was later knocked down in order to extend St. Mary’s.

An old postcard of the river Feale

A date for the diary:

On Friday next in The Seanchaí NKRO will officially launch our website. Come along and see what we are at. Everyone welcome.


The mood in town at the weekend was darkened by news of the untimely death of Dr. Louis O’Carroll.

Only one week ago he was one of the stars of this fundraising event for Writers’ Week. By all accounts he was in fine voice as he held the audience enthralled with his renditions of  John B. Keane’s Sweet Listowel and Bryan MacMahon’s haunting My Silver River Feale.

Louis was known for his generosity to his local town. He launched his cd  in St. John’s in a fundraising concert for Listowel hospice.

Here is a link to a youtube clip from that event

Go ndéana Dia trócaire air.

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