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: nuns

Nunday through the lens

Due to popular demand, Monday’s post is coming to you a day early.

There will be no post tomorrow.


Excitement was building to fever pitch all week. The whole town was behind the O’Brien family and looking forward to a good day on Saturday.

Betty McGrath had one of the more imaginative window displays but lot of businesses took on the nun theme for their windows.  Fair dues, all!!!!

By 5.30 the town was a sea of black and white, with all roads leading to the sports field.

The weather was begin to spit rain as we headed out.

We had to wait for our 3 unlikely looking postulants

There were a few familiar faces who had taken the veil for the evening and a lot of un nunlike behavior on display.

Cogans en famille

Cora O’Brien directing proceedings

Friar John having a laugh

Brenda, Maura and the little sisters of the bookshop

Nora Relihan, Helen and Róisín Kenny, Sr Maisie and her postulant

Noreen Brennan and sisters in every sense of the word.

Checking the iPhone

Are my seams straight?

Betty McGrath has a word in the ear of the reverend mother.

Patsy Kennedy looks every inch the part.

Jer Kennelly shared a great video of the event.

In case there was any doubt, the record was well and truly beaten. Listowel on June 30 2012 had over 1400 people dressed as nuns in the same place at the same time. Look out for us in The Guinness Book of Records.


Don’t forget that it was all done to raise awareness of  the tragedy of suicide and the work of

Pieta House

Eucharistic Congress, Bona fide travelers and nuns

Jer Kennelly went to the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.

Here he is with Dana.

Jer also found this video of the 1932 congress

(8.30 a.m. I have to make a big appeal to my email followers here. I made a big booboo with this post. Instead of putting in the link to Jer.’s youtube video and pictures of the congress, I mistakenly put in a link to Jer’s email telling me about the photos etc. I will have to investigate if this opened my listowelconnection account to everyone. If so, I will have to delete that account and start again. While I am sorting it, I will have to appeal to you all to delete the mail with this link. M.C.)

(9.30 a.m.  Looks like all is well T.G. Normal service is now resumed.)


Remember our Gleasures of The Square?

George features in this story from 1901 as recounted by the County Archivist, Michael Lynch, on the Footprints section of Kerry Today on  Radio Kerry, December 2011.

… On the same
day, (Dec. 2 1901)  at Listowel Petty
Sessions, George Gleasure, publican, The Square, was charged with a breach of
the Licensing Act on 1 November 1901, in that he allowed a man named Lyons to
drink on his premises after hours.  Two
other men present on the premises were deemed to be bona fide travellers and were not summoned.  The case was eventually heard on 23 December
– it was adjourned from the earlier date due to the fact that evidence of Mrs
Lyons and the 2 relevant police constables was in direct conflict,
necessitating a call forward of the 2 travelling customers for their evidence
to be heard – Magistrate Mr Gaussen explained the rules with regard to bona fide travellers, and their
entitlement to be served drink after hours. 

He said
that it was wrong for publicans to assume that so long as a man lived 3 miles
from where he was caught that he was entitled to a late drink.  This was only one of the essentials of a bona fide traveller.  Such a person had to prove that he wanted the
drink to travel (perhaps the origin of “one for the road”?).  A publican should ask where the person had
slept the night before, and what brought him to his place (i.e. to establish bona fides).  Failure to do so could result in a summons.

In relation
to the Lyons case, Mrs Lyons testified that she had asked Gleasure to allow her
husband to stay on the premises until his agitated state had passed.  This state was the result of his earlier
having had his cattle legally seized from him. 
She also stated that she had not seen him since about 6.00pm that
evening prior to arriving at Gleasure’s. 
This was directly refuted by evidence given by Mr Matthew Behan, public
house & hotel proprietor, who stated that the Lyons’ had been on his
premises from 8.00 to 10.00.

Nolan and Aylward stated that when they entered Gleasure’s, they found a tray
with 3 glasses on it, indicating that al 3 present had been drinking.

With the
various conflicting and contradictory evidence, the majority of the magistrates
hearing the case voted to dismiss.

Since this
case had taken up (not to say wasted) a great deal of legal time, the next
person up was always likely to suffer! 
This was 12 year old Michael Broder, charged with procuring money by
false pretences – 3s. each from Mrs Elizabeth Loughnane (publican &
shopkeeper, Church Street) and Mrs Margaret Thornton (a farmer’s wife,
Curraghtoosane).  On 11 December, Broder
had represented to both ladies that Miss Potter (Church Street shopkeeper) had
sent him to collect the money.  Mrs
Thornton had asked for a written request from Miss Potter, which Broder brought
to her (forged) on a return visit.

He pleaded
guilty, and his father (Edward Broder) undertook to repay the money.  Magistrate Gaussen, no doubt frustrated by
the previous case, ordered that young Broder be given 12 strokes of a birch
rod, and cautioned him to be more careful in the future.

Different times, indeed!


Ah, that takes me back to the glory days of Irish soccer and to the innocent times of call boxes when we had to make an effort to make a telephone call.

Today’s youngsters can’t imagine a time when you could walk around free, with no one having any idea where you were unless you happened on a call box and you had change or a call card and you chose to ring them and tell them. 

Happy days!


Nunday in Listowel, June 30th 2012

Let me remind you again of the fundraiser for Pieta House. It is promising to be a landmark day in town. Don’t miss your chance to be part of it. It was never so easy to take the veil. Anyone, male or female over 10 years of age can participate.

Call in to Finesse, John B. Keane’s, Easons or Christy’s, pay over your €20 and register. You will get your nun’s habit and your registration receipt. You can also register online  and collect your outfit on the day. Then come along to the sports field, Frank Sheehy park, home of Listowel Emmets on Saturday June 30th at 5.30 your habit and veil and wearing sensible black “nunny” shoes and join in the fun. Don’t forget to bring your receipt. They will need those to be verified in order  to break the record for the most people dressed as nuns in the same place at the same time. 10 minutes apparently counts as “in the same place at the same time” for Guinness Book of Records purposes.

I’ll be there with family and friends in tow. See you there!

These are the kind of nuns you will see on June 30th.

You won’t see these kind of nuns. This is a picture of Benedictine nuns working on a bog in Mayo in the 1920s


May day mayday

The location looks familiar but who are these motley crew?

The men are Cornelius O’Sullivan, Kieran Barry, Conor O’Donoghue, Cormac Heffernan, Pat O’Sullivan and Gerald Forde.

 Padraig Nolan took the photo to publicize the May Day high jinx in Listowel. There will be vintage everything on that weekend including a swing dance in The Listowel Arms. Vintage dress is optional.


Calling all graduates of UCC

Dr Michael B. Murphy


University College Cork

is pleased to invite graduates and friends to

A Lecture Evening & Reception

To Celebrate UCC’s Connections with County Kerry

A Great Kerry Academic & Public Man: President Alfred O’Rahilly, UCC

by Professor John A Murphy, Emeritus Professor of History, UCC


Reflections of a UCC Graduate

by Dr Denis Brosnan, Founder Kerry Group Plc

with guest of honour,

Mr Jimmy Deenihan TD,

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

from 7.30pm – 9.30pm

on Monday, 28 May 2012

in St John’s Theatre, The Square, Listowel, Co. Kerry

A Reception will follow the Lecture at 8.30pm

Please forward this email to any UCC graduates you know who may be interested in attending.

RSVP by 22 May 2012 (as numbers are limited.

Please include your home address)

To:   Ms Caroline Waters, Development & Alumni Office, UCC


Tel:  021 490 2040

Looks like we could be in for a good night.  

Read more about Alfred O’Rahilly here


My Cork roots are showing  bit lately!! But I have to mention this young lady. I know that people like Joanne shun the label “inspirational”.  Joanne is playing the hand she was dealt, but boy! is she playing those cards well:

“Cork teenager Joanne O’Riordan, who was born with no limbs, will travel to the United Nations in New York today to address the ITU conference.

Joanne, 15, is to give a key note speech to the International Telecommunication Union on how technology has helped her advance her life through both education and the social environment around her.

She is the only person with a disability to be invited to this exclusive conference entitled “Girls in Technology”.

Some of the world’s leading women in technology will also attend the event which Joanne hopes will empower others to realise the importance of technology in their lives.

The Irish Film Board has granted Joanne’s brother Steven O’Riordan and 2000 AD Productions in Galway funding to produce a documentary charting his sister’s extraordinary life story.

The working title “No Limbs No Limits” is to highlight the positive and lasting effect on how people perceive those with disabilities in Ireland and beyond.

Mr O’Riordan’s debut film, “The Forgotten Maggies”, was a documentary charting the human rights issues surrounding the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland.”


Remember these?

Nuns in Tralee in 1952 – location unknown


“If everything you try works, you are not trying hard enough.”

This is a quote from Gordon Moore, founder of Intel. I read it today in an article from Tom McEnery. The article is  here and it is well worth reading as it contains much food for thought.

Where have all the flowers gone?

It’s December 21st. The weather in Listowel is balmy, mild and damp and I have just been listening on the radio to a past pupil of mine describe how she is going to spend her first Christmas in Australia, far away from her native Listowel. I fell to thinking back to the fifties of my youth when some of our brightest and most hard working were living in immigrant communities in England and the U.S.

Since famine times, emigration has been part of our culture. It has connected our little island to the big world. It has enriched our knowledge of the world and our gene pool. I don’t deny the great heartache and loneliness it has caused but I acknowledge the positive effects it has had on us all.

I am now retired and so have time to join lots of local clubs. I am struck by the number of people I encounter who have spent many years abroad.  They now live in Listowel and its environs and are the backbones of these groups.  Some are returned emigrants; some the descendants of emigrants; some have very little Irish in them at all.  They all contribute to the fabric of the rural Irish community they now call home.

Enough philosophising!

This is Presentation Convent Listowel. Over the years it housed many powerful women. The contribution of these women to Listowel life is largely forgotten by historians.

Doesn’t this old photo take you back? This was when nuns were nuns. I recognise Sr. Gemma and Sr. Cyril but the rest are unknown to me. I’ll seek out their names today.

This photo was taken in 1994. By then nuns had become sisters and were allowed a certain individual identity.

Today there is no-one in the convent. The remaining sisters are scattered and a way of life is no more.

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