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: Pat Given

Races, A Poem, a Postbox and Smithing in Ballylongford

In The Garden of Europe


Listowel Races, Sept`. 2021

Listowel native, Niamh Kenny won a prize for her beautiful hat. It complemented her outfit perfectly.

Wllie and Jackie Mullins in the winners enclosure.

The ever stylish Mary O’Halloran was one of the Ladies Day finalists. She did a moving interview with Celia Holman Lee. Mary loves Listowel Races and comes every year.


Talking Poetry

John Given and Jimmy Deenihan are finalising plans for the publication of John’s father, Pat Given’s, next book of poems.

Here is a poem from Pat’s last anthology. It was reproduced for Poetry Town.


Post Box on College Road, Cork

This lovely post box is on College Rd. Cork near the junction with Highfield Road.

I had occasion to be in the Bons. The paper shop in the hospital was closed. I made my way to what in my day used to be Flirty’s shop and post office. It is now a Daybreak. There I made a discovery.

Students don’t buy newspapers. I was in the shop at 8.30 a.m. and there was only a handful of papers available.


A Tinsmith at Work

At the Ballylongford Blacksmithing Fair Sept. 25 2021


Badminton, Youth Culture and a Pat Given poem

In Listowel Town Square


Badminton in The Community Centre, Sunday January 16 2017

The man himself wasn’t there when I called to the community centre but his seat was reserved for him.

These three, James Sheahan, Margaret Healy and Mark Loughnane were busy running the show.

The prizes looked very impressive. Also very impressive was the collection of trophies in the County badminton photo which was on display.

Listowel’s winning Division 4 team.

This brother and sister had come all the way from Valentia especially for the tournament.


Bop It

This is my grandson playing Bop It. You’ve never heard of Bop it? Well, that’s only the start of it. I learned a lot about young people’s culture during my sojourn in Cork at Christmas. Let me share some of what I learned with you.

In this photo my three granddaughters are wearing JoJo bows.

Never heard of those? Jo Jo Siwa is a young girl with a You Tube channel and she is super at marketing. Every young girl in Cork seemed to be wearing these.

While we’re on the subject of Youtube sensations, have you seen this man?

He also has his own Youtube channel and his Pineapple Pen song (It’s hardly even a song, more of a jingle) is a viral hit. It was the audience participation song at the panto in The Opera House and, I kid you not when I tell you that every child in Cork knew it.

Do you know about the Musically app? Very young children are using this to make music videos and to lip synch and share their compositions with their friends.

And then there are Vines.

“A Vine is a download-only short-form video hosting service where users could share six-second-long looping video clips.”   Wikipedia.

Here endeth today’s lesson on Youth culture. I hope your head isn’t too addled.


A Poem

Helios; A Cork dog with French connections


by Pat Given…from his anthology October Stocktaking

When I returned after one
week’s absence

Such rapture greeted me!

Now, some would say such open

Of affection is vulgar.

Others say; anything so

Smacks of pretence.

But I say to the first,

Show me one other who greets
me so,

To the second,

Deceit is not in the nature
of a dog.


Quarant Ore

Quarantore was the practice of 40 hours exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. It was celebrated in Listowel with a procession through the convent grounds. As people’s memories of this annual event are being stirred, I am getting a clearer picture. We have the priest surrounded by altar boys, communicants strewing rose petals, nuns in their cream cloaks which were worn at funerals and other solemn occasions, Children of Mary and, now, according to Anne Dillon who remembers participating in the procession when she was in sixth class, all of the girls from the primary school. 

Wouldn’t it be lovely if someone could find an old photo of this occasion.

St. Bridgit’s Duagh, A Poem by Pat Given and some old photos

My Favourite Art Galleries

My favourite art galleries are all free to enter and they hold some of the finest frescoes, mosaics, woodwork, statuetry and architectural features you will see anywhere.

We, in Listowel, need to look no further than our own St. Marys

Recently I visited Duagh’s St. Bridgit’s. It is lovely compact little church beautifully looked after by the local congregation.

There is a collection box in the hallway for used stamps and for old Christmas cards.

St. Bridgit’s has many many statues, pictures and some beautiful stations of the cross which were sponsored by kind donors.


A Poem from Pat Given’s October Stocktaking


Pat Given

I’ll tell you what it is to

A philosopher. To be able to

A personal feud of lasting

And smile on your tormentor
after all.

To follow ambition with
unswerving intent

From youth to middle years
and onward still,

To know at last it’s

And yet remain impassively

To make it mere routine to

That one day soon –too soon-
you must forsake

The loved ones that your life

And when the culmination
comes, not break.

This is a philosopher, as I
would think,

And, oh how far short of it I


Listowel Photos from the 1940s

I’m returning now to some old photographs which have featured here before. The story is that a Galway photographer came to town in the 1940s and he positioned himself on William Street across from McKenna’s Corner and he photographed everyone who came within his orbit.

Years later, this photographer died and his family discovered all the old photos among his possessions. They sent the photos to Bryan MacMahon in Listowel. When The Master passed away his son Maurice undertook to try to identify the people in the photographs. We have had some success with a few of them but a few have remained elusive.

Margaret (Dillon) Ward has been diligent in the pursuit of the identities of these local people. Ned Sweeney has helped her to identify the people in three photos. I have also posted again a man whose identity still eludes us. As they say on Crimecall, its a good likeness. Someone must know him. Of course he might not be a Listowel man at all. Like the photographer, he might just have happened to be in town on that day.

David Bunyan of Convent Cross

David Bunyan and John Allen

Ned Faley and Jimmy (Salmon) Roche

This man’s identity is still a mystery to us. All we know for certain is that he walked outside McKenna’s one day in the 1940s.

a Kingfisher, Washday blues, Rattoo Tower, Gaelscoil rebrand and Convent Memories

This kingfisher was photographed by Timothy John MacSweeney on the river Blackwater near Kanturk in Co. Cork.


The Bad Old Days

This is a picture of a washtub and a washboard. This was the washing machine of your mothers.

I dont know any man who ever washed clothes in one of these.

Picture it for a minute and count your blessings.

Monday was washday. There was no running water so water had to be brought in buckets from a water barrel in the yard. The water was boiled in a Burko, if you were lucky, or a big pot on the range or over an open fire if you weren’t. The boiling water was then transferred to the washtub. The clothes were scrubbed on the wash board, using a big bar of Ivy or Sunlight soap. There was rinsing, blueing an starching to follow.

Washing was a day’s work and hard work at that.

Now don’t you feel privileged to live in present times?



Photos; Bridget O’Connor

Rattoo Tower

A Poem by Pat Given from his anthology, October Stocktaking

A slender pencil pointing to
the skies

I see you there. The story
that you wrote

Erased by time, by men

But still you stand and still
you tantalise.

The leather books compiled
upon this site,

Are no longer legible to
human eye.

But you, clear stylus still,
endure to write

Their meaning on the
uncomprehending sky.

To all who pause and
contemplate this scene

These silent stones become a
speaking tongue

Of God and man and Christ

And toil transmuted when for
Heaven done.

O Tower, to each succeeding

You preach more eloquently
than printed page.


Beatha Teanga í a Labhairt

For a language to live it must be spoken

Gaelscoil Lios Tuathail has rebranded


Convent Memories

Whenever I mention the convent or post a picture of it on Facebook, it always prompts a flood of memories. 

Not everyone is on Facebook, so here are a few recent comments;

Sr Dympna must be turning in her grave. Not a lady to turn lightly without ‘having a word’ with the Man on High. (Kay Caball)

Great memories of this little church, first confession etc . (Máire Logue)

What a waste! Sr Dympna loved the gardens, with the help of a man named Mackassey. I remember walking around the gardens following the Priest with the Blessed Sacrament all of us in our white dresses. It was Corpus Christi. We had another name for it. Does anyone know what it was ? (Maria Sham)

About 15 of us started our school days there. It was known as Babies and High Infants. Sister Claire and Sister Consolata. with Sister Frances keeping a very close eye on us. The down side was when we went to the boys school into 1st class we got a very frosty reception. It is so sad to see this beautiful building going to wreck and ruin. (Jim Halpin)

What a pity, such a beautiful church  and left there to rot. Wanted to get married in that church but it was bought before we started planning  (Catherine Nolan)

These are just a few samples of the many responses to the pictures. I think Liz Dunne’s comment summed up how everyone feels about the convent: 

 So sad to see it falling into decline – I wish I had the pennies to save it!

October Stocktaking launch, Wrenboys Long Ago and West Limerick Journal

Millenium Arch and Bridge Road after Neodata


Pat Given’s Book Launch

It was November 3 2016 in St. John’s Listowel and a very popular retired teacher, Pat Given was launching a collection of poetry in aid of the North Kerry Literary Trust. In retirement, Pat Given is still contributing to the literary heritage of Listowel, a town he adopted when his family moved here from Mayo in the 1930s.

Pat and his wife, Lisha, are regular patrons of St. John’s so it was fitting that this should be the scene for the launch of  his anthology.

It was Jimmy Deenihan who encouraged Pat to publish another collection of his poems. Pat had previously published 2 anthologies but he had been silent for many years. Jimmy knew that he was still writing daily so he determined to help him to get back into print. The result is October Stocktaking.

Jimmy was the MC for the night and joining him on stage were four of Pat’s past pupils who had gone on to success in literary and dramatic endeavours.

Joe Murphy recalled Pat’s great Greek language and history lessons. Learning by rote was a feature of  education in the 20th century and Joe could still decline a Greek verb and rattle off the dates of Greek battles after a gap of nearly forty years.

Billy Keane was a pupil in later years and he remembered Pat with fondness. Pat and John B. Keane grew up as part of that great gang of boys in Church Street. Billy read the poem which gave the book its name, October Stocktaking.

Gabriel Fitzmaurice donned the old school tie and took us back to the heyday of St. Michael’s. He recalled inspirational teachers and memorable classmates. He indulged his love of sonnets by reading one of Pat’s.

Christian O’Reilly was there to represent the younger generation of Pat’s pupils who remember him more as a teacher of English than of the classics. Christian is a very successful playwright and TV and film screenwriter and he was happy to return to his native Listowel to celebrate with his former English teacher.

John Mc Auliffe, poet and Reader in Modern Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Manchester, is also a part pupil. He was not in St. John’s for the launch but he contributed a testimonial to the book as well.

We all know that St. Michael’s College was not a bed of roses for all of its pupils but it did provide a classical education to compare with the best schools in the land at one time in its history. These bright, successful past pupils form a very loyal old boys network and it was well in evidence on December 3 in St. John’s to thank and celebrate with a gentle giant of St. Michael’s academic history, Mr. Given.

Pat posed for photos with Lisha, Seamus, Peter and John and his extended family.


Humans of Listowel Bank of Ireland

Nov 25 2016 in Listowel Community Centre


What I’m Reading

Christmas time is a great time for annual local history journals. This one is new to the scene and is a great read…probably also a collectors item, a first edition

You will spot a few faces familiar to Listowel people at the launch of this magazine.

Photos posted by Eamon Doody


Christmastime in Kerry Long Ago

This account of Wrenboys is taken from an account by WM. Molyneaux in Shannonside Annuals.

With Tambourines and Wren

Wm. Molyneaux

I was questioned one time by
the BBC one night behind at Cantilons. 
They sent me word “can you 
come to Cantillons the same night to give them any information I had
about the Wren.  I promised I would.  I went back and They came.  There are just three of them come-one of them
was a publican inside in the town of Listowel, John Keane.  But I didn’t know the headman at all of the
BBC.  And that was the man that was
questioning me.  The way he questioned me
was-he asked me what I knew about the Wren. 
He asked me how long I was going with the Wren boys.  I answered him and I told him “I’m
going, sir,” says I, “from boyhood to manhood”.  “What were you doing,” says he,
“in the Wren?”  “I used to
tip, Sir,” says-“I was a drummer.”  He asked me what class of a drum-“was it
a big drum or a tambourine?”  I told
him I drummed either one or the other of them. 
He asked me had I got a tambourine. 
“No sir,” says I “I’m out of them” “well, we’ll
get you one,” says he they went and they searched the same night and they got
a tambourine for me as any case and the BBC man asked me what would I drum.  I told him I’d drum reels, jigs, marches, or
hornpipes.  He asked me what special tune
used we play going with the Wren.  I
answered him and told him it was the Wrens hornpipe.  He asked me could I hum it.  “I will,sir,” says I. There was no
music there but the tambourine.  I drummed
the hornpipe and it was taken down. 

(more tomorrow)


Coca Cola Trucks in Listowel

Niamh Stack snapped the Coca Cola truck being towed by  Listowel Transport tractor cab as it left town on Sunday night, December 11 2016. Apparently they needed the help of Listowel Transport as the big American tractor that was attached to it in the Square is not really great for manoeuvring it on Irish roads.

Damien Stack shared this photo on Facebook as Listowel bad farewell to the truck that brought so much excitement to town for one day only on Sunday December 11.

Damien O’Mahony is the local hero who made it happen. It was because of his putting of the case on 2FM for a stop in Listowel that the bandwagon rolled into town. 

From mid morning till nightfall families queued for a taste of the magical experience. We got a can of Coca Cola, our photo taken with the truck and a virtual reality sleigh ride, all for free. A Gospel choir set the atmosphere and 2fm broadcast live from The Square.

In the afternoon the Love Listowel activities kickstarted the street party. Traders mounted a Christmas Market, a céilí swung into life on William Street (which was temporarily reclosed for the party) and local actors played out a scene in McKenna’s window.

The town was jam packed with happy people, full of Christmas good spirits. The word I heard often was  “proud”. For one day everyone was proud of the town, the town’s people and everyone’s ability to put on a show.

All roads lead to Listowel and the Coca Cola event.

As dawn broke over Listowel on Sunday December 11 2016, people realised that, like a Santa in the night, the truck had arrived in town and had taken up position outside St. John’s in The Square.

At 12.00 noon Damien declared the show open and the first families stood on the plinth for their photo.

 While in the queue you could play ice cube Jenga.

When you got to the top of the queue, you stood on the step and obeyed the elves instructions to smile and pose. The snapper snapped and within seconds you had a lovely souvenir photo to take home.

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