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: New Kingdom

Garden of Europe in Autumn, Zingy Zest, Upcycle, Upstyle Alternative Fashion Event 2018

Photo: Mike Enright


“Puck may be famous and Galway be Grand……”

but Listowel is officially Ireland’s tidiest town.

Here are some photos of a jewel in Listowel’s crown, the unrivalled unique Garden of Europe. It’s one of the seven wonders of Listowel. There were at least forty shades of green there when I took these photos on September 25 2018, the day after Listowel’s win in the Tidy Town Competition.

The colour, the variety, the height and majesty of these trees is spectacular. If you visit Listowel and you leave without visiting The Garden of Europe then you’ve seen Hamlet without the Prince.


New Eatery Opened in Time for Listowel Races 2018

Zingyzest at Leahy’s Corner is the latest iteration of this shop.

This fast food and take away restaurant is a bit jazzy and out of keeping with our lovely old heritage square but they tell me that the Indian food is nice so they are getting the most important thing right.

The New Kingdom  is looking well.


Alternative Fashion Event 2018

It’s taken me ’til now to get around to posting photos of this great event, Vintage day on the Saturday at Listowel Races 2018 is run by Listowel Tidy Town Committee.

 Friends, Joan and Miriam were by the parade ring picking winners.

 The DJ was beautifully turned out for the event.

 Cathy and friend were getting in the vintage groove.

What a contrast! These two stylish outfits are from different eras.

If there was a prize for the best vintage dressed couple, Marlyn and John had it in the bag. John went on to have a well deserved win in the best dressed man competition.

My friends, Anne and Maria looked absolutely fabulous. I’ll tell you more of the story of their outfits later on in the week.

Frances is looking in awe at Maria’s hat. Maria collected seaweed from Ballybunion beach, dried it out, painted it and fashioned it into this gorgeous hat.

 Isn’t Anne lovely in her little vintage hat and fur stole?

Louise Stack won the competition in her vintage kaftan and homemade hat. Again, pity there wasn’t a competition for best turned out couple.


Plant Identified

Margaret Dillon recognised the plant that is so attractive to butterflies. It’s a Sedum.

St. John’s, New Kingdom and a 1965 Guide to Listowel

Morning in Gurtinard Wood


Stained Glass Windows  in St. John’s


New Kingdom July 2018


Aileen Skimson remembers her Roots

Aileen Skimson, Née Greaney, lives in a  small town in Canada. Her father grew up in Listowel and Aileen remembers with fondness her three visits to his hometown. She kept the “official Guide” she bought on her very first visit at age 12 in 1967. She is now downsizing and came across the brochure in her clearout. She thought of us and she sent me the pictures to share with you. 

The story then got a bit more complicated. Aileen sent the pages as pdfs and i cant manage them for the blog so I asked her to take photographs of the pages but that didn’t work out either . So the following photos and the others I will be sharing in the next while are brought to you thanks to the kind offices of Dave O’Sullivan who is a great friend of our blog.


Sunset from Cnoc an Óir

liam Enright took these in July 2018


Trees,  Penfriends and Schoolboys

Yesterday I told you about the absolutely magnificent trees on Listowel Pitch and Putt Course. I often walk by the course and I am always in awe at the beautiful trees. 

Neil Brosnan got in touch with a story about the trees. This is what Neil wrote on Facebook;

“I recall our St Michael’s and St Mary’s classes planting some of those trees, along with our counterparts from Listowel, Ontario, C1971. The Canadian red maples were to mark our pen-friendship since fifth class in primary school.”

According to Neil, Dick O’Flaherty, their fifth class teacher at Scoil Realta na Maidine in 1965/66 got a letter from his counterpart in Listowel, Canada asking if they could initiate a penpal friendship with the boys. Neil himself was a bit miffed because he got a boy penpal.

A delegation from Listowel in Canada came to town in 1971 and among the many events that were organised for that visit was a tree planting in the Listowel Pitch and Putt course.

I wonder does anyone have a photo of that or even a story from the pen friendship days.


Replacing the Street Lights

When a street light  in Listowel blows now they replace it with an LED one.

Kerry Ancestors, New Kingdom and Road Works on Main Street

The trees are in their autumn beauty

The woodland paths are dry

Under the October twilight

The water mirrors a still sky.  

W. B. Yeats

Rose hips by the river Feale

Trees in Listowel Pitch and Putt course

Autumn fruits


Are you searching for Kerry Ancestors

Every now and again I am contacted by people who are researching their family history and are planning a trip to Kerry to find their Kerry roots. i always send them first to the website of Listowel native, Kay Caball. Kay is a recognised expert on genealogy and she has a particular interest in Kerry families.

Kay’s  website My Kerry Ancestors is the very best starting point. There you will find lots of tips and links to help you to do the search. If you hit a stone wall, there is no better person than Kay to help you circumnavigate it.

Kay’s latest blogpost is a must read for anyone planning to visit to continue a search that is well under way. The more work you do at home before you set out for the emerald isle, the more productive will your visit be.

I’m reproducing here that great piece of advice from one who knows, in the spirit of, if you learn from the mistakes of others, then you are less likely to repeat them.

“To-day I would like to give a few hints to any Kerry descendants who have an idea or who are even at the planning stage of coming to Kerry to walk in the footsteps of their ancestor who emigrated from there, probably in the 19th century.   I get a large number of online enquires from the United States, Australia New Zealand and Canada from great and great-great grandchildren of Kerry emigrants who are passionate about visiting, finding the ancestral home if possible while here and ‘walking the land’ where their forefathers were born and reared before leaving, never to return.

Many descendants have done some research, many have done no research but all have the same impression – that somehow there are records in Kerry that will allow them to find the elusive family and associated townland.  This year in particular, I have had a number of emails from descendants arriving in the next week and hoping that all will be revealed during the visit. This is not the case and I hope this blog to-day will set the record straight.

The first bit of research should be done at home and you need to start this research at least six months prior to the proposed visit to Kerry. ‘At home’ means in the records available in the U.S., Australia or New Zealand or wherever the emigrant settled. You need to come with a parish or townland of origin.  I would like to quote from

Seek to discover the immigrant’s Irish origins using U.S. (Australian/Canadian etc) records. Consult family papers, parish registers, vital records, censuses, naturalization papers, passenger lists, probate records, city directories, local histories, and many more historical documents. Every community where the immigrant lived created records that may provide meaningful information. To begin your U.S. records search on, start here


Fitzgerald tomb, Molahiffe

To-day I want to give you an example of the right way to go about this.   Peggy Nute whom I will quote, has given me permission to record her research and visit which was very successful – what every genealogy visitor would like to achieve.

Peggy initially contacted me last March asking me to take on a commission to trace her grandfather  John Fitzgerald.    She had very little information except an older relative had stated that ‘John Fitzgerald was from Cty Cork and came to the USA as a young boy of 14-15’.  However his marriage certificate 20 Sept 1866, when he married Frances Ellen Barnett in Charleston, Mass., stated that his parents were listed as William Fitzgerald and Mary Connors from Ireland’.  Peggy believed herself that ‘all family records point to the fact that he was from Tralee and born Sept 1845’.

I started by accessing baptismal records for Counties Cork and Kerry but I also took on board the fact that the (a) port of embarkation in 1860 could have been Queenstown and many descendants looking at shipping records assume incorrectly that Co. Cork is the home location of all passengers and (b) the date of birth recorded at death is never exact – it could change by up to as much as 8 years.

After an exhaustive search of both Irish and U.S. records and much emailing back and forth to Peggy for further clarifications, I identified the elusive John Fitzgerald, baptised in Killarney on 17 September 1843.  Identification of townland and land records followed.  William Fitzgerald, John’s father was occupying land in the Parish of Molahiffe in 1853.   All of this research and clarification process took up to six weeks.   Peggy then made plans to visit, booked her hotels in Killarney, booked a driver, Helena,  to take her to Farranfore and to visit the surrounding townlands.

Peggy and her husband eventual arrived in August and the visit was an outstanding success. Arriving in Firies and making local enquiries led them to the Fitzgerald family of Gowlane.  They were received most hospitably    They were treated to tea and members of the family then took them to Molahiffe graveyard and showed them the tomb of their Fitzgerald family.   Peggy got phone numbers of other older Fitzgeralds in the parish who were not home at the time and she intends contacting those also.

So it takes time, research at home and well-laid plans to locate accommodation for a few days ‘on the ground’ of  the target parish.   I continually tell descendants that Irish people and particularly Kerry people have no problem at all with genealogy tourists turning up in villages asking questions, one contact will lead to another and another, tea or something stronger will be part of the search experience and you will find your roots and feel part of the great Kerry diaspora.”


New Kingdom Facelift

 Pity about the fada over the wrong A


Road works on Main Street


Deserved Recognition for Radio Kerry

Radio Kerry has been named Local Station of the Year at the PPI Radio Awards

Your voice in the Kingdom also took silver for Innovation and bronze in Best Short Feature for the ‘Just Once’ series. 

Plus, Weeshie Fogarty has been honoured with a bronze medal in the Sports Broadcaster of the Year category! 

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