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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A Fascinating Fact, Athea, Entente Florale and another guided walk to look forward to

The Square, Listowel, July 2019


Molly in Ballybunion

She loves the seaside.


Water level was very low last week. That is not the case this week.

The back of the castle by Carroll’s Yard


Fascinating Fact

The animal that has saved most lives is not your faithful dog, your trustworthy steed or even your brave carrier pigeon. No, that honour goes to the horseshoe crab.

An extract of the blood of the horseshoe crab is used by th pharma industry to test that drugs, vaccines and medical devices are free from dangerous microbes.

The blood of the horseshoe crab has no haemoglobin, which uses iron to carry oxygen. Instead it has haemacyamin, which uses copper. Their blood is blue. They are not killed for their blood.  The crabs are gathered by hand and brought to the lab alive. 30% of their blood is harvested. They quickly recover and are returned to the water. The blood is freeze dried and shipped around the world.

 Horseshoe crabs can endure extremes of heat and cold and can go for a year without eating.



Athea is a beautiful little village. In summer 2019 it is more beautiful than ever. Its history is laid out in a well told story in blue plaques around town. Here are a few.


Entente Florale in Listowel

The judges are in town today. Listowel is looking beautiful. Seven European countries are taking part in the Entente and local Listowel shopkeepers have decorated their windows in the theme of these countries.

Perfect Pairs Irish theme

Utopia’s Netherlands window

Olive Stack’s Gallery is so so beautiful, full of flowers and mosaics and lovely things.


Come and Join a Guided Walk of Listowel

On Saturday next, July 27 2019, I will be leading my second (and last) guided walk. Why not come along and tell me a Listowel tale or two.

The guided walks continue for the summer starting from Kerry Writers’ Museum at 11.00 on Saturdays.

Tennis players in action, A Mystery Box, Olive Stack Gallery and Thumbing in Kerry in 2012

Keen photographer, Chris Grayson, is often out and about with his camera. He has a fascination for old abandoned houses. He lets the picture tell the story. It is often a very sad one.


Coming to the end of the Tennis Photos

I have really enjoyed bringing you these photos of young people now in their thirties and forties, a cohort who dont often contact me re Listowel Connection. I hope they have enjoyed reliving their tennis days through Danny’s photographs.


A Mystery Box

While walking on Charles Street the other day, I spotted this box attached to a road sign. Does anyone know what it is?


When an Artist has a Shop

Isn’t this so stylish?


Thumbing A Lift

In the good old safer days, thumbing was an accepted way of getting from A to B. Many motorists were obliging and usually stopped for a hitch hiker.

Recently in The Leinster Leader a journalist called Robert Mulhern recounted his exploits with this method of getting around. Here is an extract from the piece which tells of his experience in Listowel…

Travelling from London to Listowel for the races in 2012, I realised upon landing at Kerry Airport that there was neither a bus nor a train to Listowel, or anywhere else it seemed.

It was a beautiful late September evening, so I stood out the front of the terminal considering my options, when a woman I’d been chatting with on the plane recognised me and stopped.

“I’ll drop you to the cross, about five miles away,” she said. “You’ll get a lift easy enough from there.”

When we got to the cross, the first car I hailed pulled in. It was a jeep actually.

“Where ye for?” said the driver.

“Jet O’Carroll’s,” I told him, “near the Main Street.”

On the drive in he told me he was the general manager of Listowel Racecourse.

Then he dropped me right to the door of Jet’s, and threw in some complimentary tickets for the next day’s racing.

Of course this way of getting around is long out of fashion.

But I’ve long thought that, with its low carbon, energy efficient stamp, this thumbing lark is the very transport solution that would be front and centre of any environmentally conscious transport strategy.

Robert Mulhern is a London based journalist contracted to RTE’s The Documentary on One. To contact him, email

A Tribute to a mother, visiting artists, a Potato Party in Athea and Eugene Moriarty cycles in his 21st Rás Tailteann

Photo taken at The Gap of Dunloe  by Chris Grayson


A Strong Lady Remembered by a Loving Son

Last Sunday, May 13 2018 was Mothers’ Day in the U.S. and Noel Roche wrote this tribute to his lovely Listowel mother. R.I.P. Madge Roche.

Pregnant 21 times, 3 Miscarriages, Gave birth to 18 Children, Lost 3 Children at young ages. Raised the remaining 15 [ of which I’m the youngest] and took care of my invalid father who came down with Rheumatoid Arthritis shortly after I was born.  He spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair [ I never saw him walk]. She did all of this without washing machine, dishwasher or hot water and I NEVER heard her complain Ever. We did not have a lot but she made sure we always had enough. That my friends was a Mother…That was My Mother…The Greatest Woman I ever knew. So to You Margaret [Madge] Roche I say.
Happy Mother,s Day in Heaven.


Visiting Artists in Olive Stack’s Gallery

These ceramicists are best friends from Belgium and Germany. They are creating beautiful things in Olive Stack’s Gallery. Below are some of their creations.They are breathtakingly beautiful.


Michael and Breda Moore with their son, Martin before Martin’s talk to Listowel Historical Society on St. Michael’l’s Graveyard


Foreign Experts who Developed Bord na Móna

( photo and story from Bord na Mona Living History)

Immediately after the Second World War, Bord na Móna recruited some foreign peat experts to help with the development of the industry.

Dr. John Hennig, who was appointed as records office in 1946, had left Germany because of the Nazi regime and had a remarkable grasp of foreign languages. He helped acquire the ever increasing flow of foreign peat handbooks, scientific papers and patents that became available when the war ended and indexed, translated and made them available not only to Bord na Móna staff but to Irish industry in general.

Kotri Hangelaid had been general director of the Estonian State Turf Company before the war and had been responsible for the large briquetting plant at Tootsi which was built in 1937. He carried out milled peat research for us when he was appointed as a peat technician based in the Experimental Station in Newbridge. In 1951 he reported on the suitability of Oweninny, Co. Mayo for milled peat production. He also translated Russian publications.

Konrad Petersen worked in the peat moss industry in Latvia before the war, after the war ended he ended up as a refugee in Sweden where he met Bord na Móna Managing Director, Todd Andrews. Andrews offered him a job which he accepted. On arrival in Ireland Petersen was appointed manager of the Kilberry moss peat factory in Kildare where he spent the rest of his working life. Peterson is second from left in the photo.

These are just some of the foreign workers who contributed to the development of Bord na Móna.


Potato Party in Athea 100 years ago

You’ve heard of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. If the caption on this photo is true it would appear that Athea has a similar society 100 years ago


Beidh an Rás ag teacht go Lios Tuathail

Photo; John Kelliher

This is Eugene Moriarty with his family at the An Post Race finish in Market Street in 2013.

Eugene is still cycling and on Tuesday next he will ride into town with the Rás Tailteann.

Eugene will be riding in this race for his 21st time. This is a remarkable achievement in

 a gruelling sport.

Rás Tailtean is due in Listowel in the afternoon of Tuesday May 22 2018. This is stage 3 of the 8 day race. When they arrive in town the cyclists will have been cycling all day from their early morning start in Tipperary.

They will overnight in town and they will set out again at 8.00a.m. on Wednesday.

Bridge Road,Scoil Realta na Maidine and some visitors

Beautiful Kerry

Derrycunnihy photographed by Catherine Moylan in Winter 2016


Bridge Road

Mike Hannon’s photos show how Bridge Road used to look.


Scoil Realta na Maidine Fundraising

On April 14th, 15th and 16th we are hosting a fundraising/reunion event with something to suit everyone.

We are looking for old school photos to include in a timeline display which can be seen during our Easter Weekend  celebrations at Scoil Réalta na Maidine. You may like to take part in our 20k walk along the Feale from The Cashen in Ballyduff to Listowel (this can also be done in relay). We are also looking for people to help with stewarding and general organisation or you may sponsor a walker (sponsor cards are available from the school).

On Sunday we will have a reunion of the ever popular and exciting Town League, featuring the Country, the Boro, the  Ashes and the Gleann. There promises to be a great party atmosphere with food, stalls and live music.

If you can help in anyway please contact Bernie (087 2140645), Brian (087 2396085 or the school office 068 21994

All help will be greatly appreciated

Source: The Advertiser


A Thank You Meal

I know people are grateful to me and appreciative of all the work I put into bringing you Listowel Connection. I know because people send me emails, letters and cards. Some people pray for me or thank me in person and I’ve had the odd cuppa paid for by a grateful blog follower.

Last week I had a first. A lovely couple from Maine in the U.S. who only know me as their blogger bought me lunch in Allos during their recent holiday in town.

Here I am with my hosts, Patty and John Faley. Patty’s grandfather came from Listowel and both she and John are in love with the place. This was their 16th trip to Listowel. John describes their attraction to Listowel as a blessing and a curse. Since their first trip to the town of Patty’s ancestors, they have never seen another part of the world. Every holiday is spent here. They love everything about Listowel and John B.’s is their local when they are in town. Something tells me that they they may fulfil their dream to retire to Listowel in the not too distant future.

Such lovely people would be an asset to us.

While we were in Allos, we met Alice and Elaine Sheahan who just might be related to Patty since they too have a Faley/Fealy ancestor.

Patty bought this sign in Craftshop na Méar on one of her many visits and now it hangs proudly in her Maine home.


New Artist at Olive Stack’s Gallery

Damien Stack introduced to Amy, the first artist in residence of 2017 at Olive Stack’s gallery. Amy’s first creative endeavour since coming to Listowel is the Feale fish hanging in the window behind her in my photograph. Her fellow artist in residence, Caroline, had popped out when I popped in but look out for her drawing classes starting shortly.

William St., Olive Stack’s visiting artists and a visitor from Chicago

Artists at the Olive Stack Gallery

Here are the two artists, Jen and Diane who are currently in residence in Olive Stack’s. They look a bit frozen in their own photo taken on one of their many tours of Kerry. Damien Stack has given them the lowdown on the history of Listowel and North Kerry.

They are giving classes and doing some painting as well. ~You can read all about their adventures in Jen’s blog or  Here on the blog of the residents. 

Here is a sample from Leaving Cert results night last week which they spent in John B.’s

“We ended a very productive day with our favorite pub theater at John B Keane’s.  It is the anniversary of Mary Keane’s passing, but the show went on, “shop face” for everyone.  Mickey MacConnell played a song new to us, “The Leaving.”  Here in Listowel, young men and women receive results of exams today which will determine their futures, many of them leaving to pursue higher education or apprenticeships. Today, my son moves into his dormitory at the University of Florida, and Mickey’s song had me in tears from the first line.

But there were many lighthearted moments as well, including a gregarious Australian whose accent was lovely but a bit confusing amidst all the brogue, a muralist from New York who was enjoying her first taste of Guinness, and a fantastic performance from “The Field” in which the actor, playing the bishop, had Diane and I nearly confessing to a fictional murder.

I’ve rambled on a bit in this blog today.  But let me leave you with this:  we’ve been to pub theater time and again, sometimes to hear the same bits and songs.  And with each telling, the stories get better, the jokes are funnier and the songs more moving.  Because we are changing – becoming a part of the landscape, a part of the story, and because we now know (almost) all the words.  This place has changed me, and I am so grateful.”


Then and Now


Reproofing underway here

L and M Dry Cleaners on William St.

What was Elegance on Lower William Street.


Brigid fell in love with the place of her Kerry ancestors

Before I fell ill, I had had a lovely communication from Brigid Braden from Chicago. Brigid was coming to Kerry to connect with her Irish roots and she was spending a half day in Listowel, researching her Maher line.

Because she is a lovely lady and she appreciates what I do, she invited me to lunch with herself and her family in Allos. I was delighted to accept her invitation and I was looking forward to my treat.

“The best laid plans of mice and men gang oft agley”. Burns never said a truer word. On the day of the proposed meeting and lunch I was laid low in a Cork hospital……BUT…….Brigid didn’t forget me. Here is an extract from her recent email;

“I wanted to share with you what a tremendous trip we had to Ireland.  I have fallen head over heals in love with Listowel.  I am without a doubt that this is where my ancestors are from when I arrived we all found such love for the town and its people.  We were welcomed with open arms to the farm where the Mahers from 1825 were found farming in the Tithe Applotment books.  The most wonderful lunch at Allos and attended beautiful mass at St. Mary’s. The kids just loved the Seanchai museum and Castle.  Our only sadness was missing you that day and I did think of you often while I was there.  It was thanks to you that I felt familiar and comfortable in Listowel. It is such a blessing to be able to get that from you. Listowel Connection really works!  Before I left the town, I was planning my return.  It was just a few short hours.  And I can’t wait to come spend days and truly soak the town into my soul. 

I’ve attached a picture of my little family, Mike my Husband, Myself Brigid and two of our children, Michael James and Mary.  We are missing my 3yr old JJ. But I promise he will be back with us soon.  And I promise we will be taking you to lunch, celebrating your good health and Listowel!   All my best wishes and thanks to you.  Cheers, Brigid


“Oh, for the touch of a vanished hand

Or the sound of a voice that is still.”

Michael Guerin Listowel Races 1991

The link above will take you to Michael Guerin’s lovely memories of Races 1991 captured on film and remastered by Michael himself. You will want to watch it a few times to identify all the well known local faces, so many of them gone from our streets. R.I.P.

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