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Looking Forward to Listowel Writers’ Week 2023

River Feale in May 2023


A Fleadh to look forward to

And a fleadh to Remember

1997 photo first shared by Elizabeth Brosnan


Guided Tours of Kerry Writers’ Museum

In Kerry Writers’ Museum I met the brilliant Angeline in costume for her tour. During Writers’ Week 2023, you can book a guided tour for Saturday June 3. Booking for this is directly with the museum.

This year lots of events are taking place in our lovely library. What better place to launch a book than in this dedicated place of books. Page 13 of your brochure or Listowel Writers Week website for details.


Yes, It’s Adare

Bob Jewell wrote to us from Marietta in Georgia in the U.S. asking our help in identifying the town where he took this photo in 1980. He thought it might be Adare. I thought it was almost definitely Adare. Then David O’Sullivan and Jim Ryan did the research for us. Google street view confirms it is Adare. The signs are gone but the distinctive house in the background of Bob’s photo is still the same.


Another Innovative Event

This year Listowel Writers’ Week programme is being curated by a lovely young man, Stephen Connolly, who has fallen in love with our town.

Stephen looked at Listowel with the fresh eyes of an outsider and he has come up with new ways of bringing writers to new corners of the town.

Our performance area in The Square will be the location for Lunch Poems, a brilliant new event in association with Poetry Ireland.

Every day during Writers Week, June 1-3 there will be free poetry and a spot of lunch at 1.00 p.m. Each day we will hear two young emerging poets, we will get a short pamphlet of the poets’ work and we’ll get “a light lunch” from Dough Mamma. Their pizzas are delicious.

That’s lunch sorted for a few days.


More Busking Photos

Photos from the annual MS fundraiser in Main Street Listowel on May 19 2023


Sciath na Scol

My granddaughter Cora is the last of her family in Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin in Ballincollig, a school with a Kerry Principal, Gabriel ÓChathasaigh and a fine cohort of teachers, many with Kerry links. It’s a school steeped in the GAA. This year for the first time the school won all four competitions in its section of Sciath na Scol, football boys and girls and hurling boys and girls.

Here Cora is showing her medal to her little cousin. Better than an All Ireland to the little ones!


A Fact

Paul Galvin is in The Listowel Arms Hotel on Saturday June 3 at 3.00p.m.

A Listowel Writers’ Week 2023 event.

Our fact today comes from:


Memories from 1974 and Looking Forward to 2023

Millenium Arch in May 2023


How it used to look

This is the remains of the first arch in 2016, It was damaged in a big storm. You will notice the the new designer didn’t bother with the things that looked like very big ball bearing between the arch and the pillars.


Wolfgang and Anita Mertens

in John B. Keane’s Bar, May 16th 2023

This is the house from which Maria wrote to Wolfgang.

Here are 2 letters Wolfgang kept as souvenirs of his visit to Writers Week in 1974. The first is from Maria Coffey who was, I think, writing on behalf of Writers Week and one from Bryan MacMahon with whom he had a long correspondence. Wolfgang was writing his thesis on his work.

Anita and Wolfgang can’t remember where they stayed which is surprising because they remember a lot about their trip.

On their last night they saw a production of The Honey Spike by the Carrick- on-Siur Drama Group and they were enthralled by it.

Wolfgang in his library has almost all of MacMahon’s published works, in English and some in translation as well.

While we were at the MacMahon statue we met Maggie and Mac Donald who were just returning from a visit to Kerry Writers’ Museum.

Brían MacMahon took time out of his busy day to welcome the German visitors. He told them a few stories about his famous grandfather and generally charmed them with his wit and friendliness.

We met Liz Dunn who gave them a brochure for this year’s Writers’ Week. Wolfgang promises to send me his 1974 programme.

We called to the Garden of Europe on the way home from town.


A 1980 Visitor

Hello Mary.

I came upon your blog while searching for “Irish Horse Caravans”.

I was a young soldier in the US Army on leave in 1980 when I hitchhiked/walked through Ireland.

I have a photo in this email, which I think may possibly be in Adare or very close to it. I was wondering if you perhaps recognize this image and the signs for the roads they reference and could tell me where this may have been.

Regards from the US, Marietta, GA
Bob Jewell

Is Bob correct? Is that Adare? I think so.



Is your name Kevin or Caoimhín?

If the answer is yes, the place for you to be is this Listowel pub on Friday June 2 in the late evening.

The first annual gathering of people called Kevin in Kevin’s is happening there.

The back story; Stephen Connolly, curator of this year’s Writers’ Week programme was, by chance, in Kevin’s on the late owner, Kevin Broderick’s, birthday and he happened to sit beside a man called Kevin. This sparked this idea; Why not have a gathering of people called Kevin in a pub called Kevin’s during Writers’ Week.

BTW you can come too if your name is not Kevin.


On the Prowl with Camera

I was in The Square on Saturday May 20 2023

I met the lovely and very talented Eileen Sheehan as she went into Kerry Writers’ Museum to facilitate a poetry workshop.

I had a lovely chat with friends, Brian and May Griffin and Mary and Seán Comerford.



The meaning of the word, good luck in finding valuable things unintentionally, refers to the fairy tale characters who were always making discoveries through chance. You can thank serendipity if you find a pencil at an empty desk just as you walk into an exam and realize that you forgot yours.

I have so often experienced serendipity at Listowel Writers Week. I have gone to a book launch by someone I had never heard of and find the writer or subject so fascinating that I can’t wait to read the book.

Let me point you in the direction of a few opportunities for serendipity coming up for us in Listowel.

I have never read either of these authors but it looks like lots of people have and loved them.

Friday June2 in The Listowel Arms

This handsome dude is well known to everyone in Kerry. As well as being one of Kerry’s all time great footballers, he is also a clothes designer and now an author.

Confession here; I considered buying this book at Christmas and dismissed it without knowing what it was about. I presumed wrongly that it was the story of how a footballer turned into a fashion designer.

I should have looked more closely and, if only to honour my weaver ancestors, I should have bought it. It’s not too late to make up for lost time.

Join me in Listowel Arms on Saturday at 3.00


I Love this One

Published in The Irish Times on Saturday May 20 2023.

I have a god daughter who I can just imagine spending her old age (which is a long way off yet) reminiscing about horses.


A Fact

A typical lightening bolt is two miles long.


Gurtinard Wood, Tidy Town seat, Frank Sheehy and Finuge’s New Jersey

Remembering a popular teacher and a great servant of the GAA who died in Nigeria.

I previously published the below biography in 2013

Who was Frank Sheehy?

The question is answered by Vincent Carmody 

Frank was born in 1905 to John J.(b 1870) and Annie Sheehy.(b 1874) His father served as a drapery assistant in the Listowel and his mother was a native of Tipperary. Frank was the youngest of 4 children, with a brother John (b 1898), Margaret(b 1899) and Ellen ( b 1901).

He received his primary education at the Boys’ National School, only 3 doors up the street from his home,. After this he attended St Michael’s College where he was a classmate of Seamus Wilmot among others.

 Having achieved an M.A. at University College Dublin he then applied for and was accepted to attend at St. Patrick’s Training College 1932-1934 to complete his studies to become a National Teacher. Among his colleagues at this time was the redoubtable Sean O Síocháin, later to become a long time General Secretary to the Gaelic Athletic Association. OSíocháin, in a tribute to Frank in 1981 wrote, ‘I first made his acquaintance in 1932/1934 as a student teacher in the Primary School attached to St. Patrick’s Teacher Training College, in Drumcondra, Dublin, where Frank had established himself as one of the great primary teachers of his time. In the following years, through the thirties and into the forties, we worked in after-school hours for the Comhar Dramaíochta, in the production and promotion of plays in Irish, he as runaí and I as a junior actor and sometimes Bainisteoir Stáitse. His high efficiency, his drive and his sense of humour streamlined many a situation for amateur actors which, otherwise might have been chaotic. During the forties, as Principal of an Endowed Primary School in Oldcastle, Co. Meath, gave him a distinction enjoyed by few in Primary Education, while his period in that part of Co. Meath, which coincided with that of the incomparable Paul Russell as Garda Sergeant, transformed the town and the district into a mini-Kingdom all their own’.

He returned to his native town in the early 1950s and quickly immersed himself in the local club and county GAA scene. He became Chairman of the county board in 1953 and many would say that he indeed was the spark that ignited the Kerry Senior team to regain the Sam Maguire, the first since 1946. That year he also organised the golden jubilee of the county’s first All Ireland success in 1953 and he was also instrumental in initiating the scheme that allowed Kerry All Ireland medal holders the right to apply for two tickets whenever the county reached the final. 

He was appointed as principal of the senior boys’ school on his return to Listowel, a position he held until 1960. He served as Munster Council President from 1956-1958 and was narrowly beaten for the Presidency of the GAA by Dr.J.J.Stuart. 

In 1961 he went to Nigeria, Africa, to take up a position of Professor of Educational Science at a training college in Asaba. He died there in 1962.

Listowel sports field is named ‘Pairc Mhic Shithigh’ in his honour.


Gurtinard Walk

It is lovely to walk in Gurtinard Wood at this time of year.

This set is surrounded by wild garlic.

This new seat by the pitch and putt club hut is a gift to the town from the Tidy Town Group.


The Most Stylish team in the North Kerry Championship

When you have a fashion designer in your club…..

Photos and text from Paul Galvin on Facebook

Finishing up the Finuge senior club jerseys for 2019. Under-designed so as to promote color, meaning & identity. 

•Deep green & gold color combination. 

•Finuge Cross printed on the sleeves where 4 sides of the parish come together to play shoulder to shoulder.
•The parish map co-ordinates sit alongside to drive identity.
•Sampled 3 different sleeve lengths, went for a half-sleeve covering the bicep to the top of the elbow which I think is under-utilized in jersey design. Finished product to come

Church Street Long ago, Women in Media 2018, and Redmond O’Hanlon’s true identity revealed

Photo: Chriostóir Grayson


Church Street in the Rare Old Times

Denis Quille sent us this old photo of Church Street. Notice the thatched house, second building on the left of picture. That is where Lawlees is now.


Women in Media 2018

I told you a while back that I was at this great event and then I forgot all about it until now. This year as ever there were some great discussions. I particularly benefited from a discussion on bullying, cyberbullying and sexting Sinead Burke, a very able and impressive little person and James Kavanagh, a Snapchat, Instagram influencer were two of the star turns.

I met lots of Listowel people whose photos I took and I hope they will forgive me that I forgot about them until now.

 These ladies are not actually from Listowel. They are Limerick ladies  with Rachael English but they love Listowel.


The Good Wine ‘Til Last

The very last event of the WinM conference was not on any programme. It was like a little extra treat for people like me who stayed until Sunday and it was on the theme A Picture Paints a Thousand Words. Along with Jerry Kennelly and Michelle Coper Galvin were some of the movers and shakers in Irish photo journalism and they showed us some of the best of newspaper photos of the past while

There I am in exalted company, your humble photographer rubbing shoulders with some of the best.

Below are some of the photos they showed us. I took photographs of the monitor so the quality is not great. Most of the photos you will have seen before as they are prizewinners and have been singled out as the best of their genre.

I am truly in awe of these masters of their craft.


Who was Redmond O’Hanlon?

Do you remember last week I brought you an essay on a stranger’s attempts at grappling with Kerry idiom? That stranger from The North was none other than local man, Luaí ÓMurchú.

Vincent Carmody informed me that Redmond O’Hanlon was the pen name adopted by Luaí in his essay writing. Luaí’s son Eamon, at my reques,t filled us in on a few details, e.g. 

Who was Luaí ÓMurchú?

Who was Redmond O’Hanlon?

Luaí Ó Murchú

Luaí Ó Murchú was reared in South Armagh, but spent most of his life in Listowel, Co Kerry.  He was born on 30 May 1909 in Netownhamilton.  He was educated in Ballymoyer School (where his father was Principal Teacher), St. Mary’s College Dundalk, and Salesian College Pallaskenry. He was a playing member of St. Killian’s Football Club between 1928 and 1940, winning an Armagh J.F.C. medal in 1940; during that time he served as Club Secretary and reperesentative at County Meetings; he was a member of the Armagh team which won the Ulster J.F.C. in 1929, and registrar of Armagh County Committee in 1933.  

He joined the Civil Service in 1934, his employment eventually taking him to Listowel, Co Kerry, in 1946, where he played a prominent part in the founding and development of Writers’ Week, Listowel.  He was a founder member and first Chairman of Listowel Writers’ Week. (1971-


 A writer and broadcaster in both Irish and English, South Armagh has provided the background to much of his creative work.  Many of his stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio and Radio Éireann. Other stories have appeared in The Irish Press and in various publcations. Over the years he contributed numerous articles and reviews to newspapers and periodicals including Inniuand Comhar.  Much of his writing in English was under the pen-name Redmond O’Hanlon. He published the history of his local football club “St. Killian’s G.A.C. Whitecross” in 1996, and his collection of short storties “Journey Home” was published in 1997. He died in 1999.

“He adopted the pen-name of Redmond O’Hanlon.  Redmond O’Hanlon was a 17th century Irish Raparee who was born in 1640 at the foot of Slieve Gullion, a mountain which could be seen from my father’s home-place in Whitecross, Co Armagh.”    Eamon ÓMurchú

Count Redmond O’Hanlon (1640–1681) was a “rapparee” or guerrilla-outlaw. He is often referred to as Ireland’s answer to Robin Hood. Although born in impoverished circumstances, he was a descendant of the last O’Hanlon chieftain who was Lord of Airgíalla and Master of Tandragee Castle. O’Hanlon lands and property was confiscated when he was alledged to have been present at a fatal argument. He took to the hills around Slieve Gullion and became an outlaw, or rapparee. Many other Gaelic Irishmen flocked to his banner.

Like many dispossessed members of the Gaelic gentry, Count O’Hanlon forced the Anglo-Irish landowners and Ulster Scots merchants to pay for insurance against theft. Travellers under his protection were provided with a written pass, which was to be shown to anyone trying to rob them. Those who disregarded the Count O’Hanlon’s passes or rustled from livestock herds under his protection were forced to return the stolen merchandise, then fined, and finally murdered if they persisted.

On 25 April 1681, Count Redmond O’Hanlon was fatally shot near Hilltown, County Down. According to popular account, he was murdered while sleeping.


Redmond O’Hanlon (Sung by Tommy Makem)

There was a man lived in the north, a hero brave and bold
Who robbed the wealthy landlords of their silver and their gold
He gave the money to the poor, to pay their rent and fee
For Count Redmond O’Hanlon was a gallant rapparee

Then hurrah for Count O’Hanlon
Redmond O’Hanlon
Hurrah for Count O’Hanlon
The gallant rapparee

He had a noble big, black horse that was his joy and pride
A brace of loaded pistols, he carried by his side
He roamed the hills and valleys with a spirit wild and free
Count Redmond O’Hanlon, the gallant rapparee


‘Twas high upon Slieve Gullion that he used to ply his trade
And Squire Johnson from the fews, this handsome offer made
He said “I’ll give four hundred pounds to hang him from a tree”
But, not a man in all the land would sell the rapparee


They sent the soldiers after him to try and bring him back
O’Hanlon only laughed at them upon the mountain track
And while the soldiers slept that night among the mountain gorse
He stole their guns and rode away upon his noble horse


‘Twas back in 1681 that Count O’Hanlon died
And still along Slieve Gullion’s slopes, they speak of him with pride
And anyone will tell you from Rathfriland to Forkhill
That in the silence of the night, you’ll hear him riding still



+    R. I.P. Margaret Broderick  +

Margaret Broderick passed away suddenly on Thursday last. She was, up to her last moments, full of live. She was fun loving, lively and the heart and soul of any party. She will be greatly missed by her bereft family and by her many close friends. She is a huge loss to Listowel Writers’ Week.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam uasal.

I took this photo in Listowel Town Square on St. Patrick’s Day 2018. Margaret is with two people who were very dear to her, her husband, Fin, and her great friend, Madeleine O’Sullivan. They are on their way home from the mass in Irish that was broadcast on RTE.

Margaret was talking away to me as I was taking the picture. She was full of praise for the beautiful music and singing of Listowel’s folk group. Many of those same singers and musicians sang those same songs for her funeral mass on May 7 2018.

Margaret would have loved her own funeral. Her beloved family played their parts to perfection. She would have been so proud.

Her clearly broken hearted Fin held it together to pay tribute to his lovely wife and to thank everyone who had tried in vain to ease the pain of losing Margaret.

Guím leaba in measc na naomh di.


Wren Boys, flooding and an FCA Reunion

Goodbye to 2015

As I resume after my break,  I’ll bring you a few late December memories.

Mourners being transported to Saints’ Island Graveyard, Co Longford, for the burial of Johnny Clarke. Photograph: James Flynn/APX     (

This sad image sums up the disruption to normal life wrought by one storm after another this winter.

We were lucky to escape the worst of it here in North Kerry.

This photo was taken by David Morrissey in Mallow. That is a bus shelter completely submerged.

Killavullen, Co. Cork  (photo; Scan Productions for Cork Flood Alerts)

This is the regional park in Ballincollig. The new path which was only completed this summer and the newly developed pitches were completely covered in water.


I have written before about the costly disaster that was the Diarmuid Gavin garden in Cork’s Fitzgerald’s Park. Well, they have another costly disaster on their hands  at the moment.

This was how the “garden” looked last time I was there.

This state of the art children’s playground cost €600,000. It was opened in June with much fanfare. As you can see from the professional picture, taken by Kompan at the opening, it is designed to look like a ship. It is made almost entirely of wood and is sunken and it has seating all round. The project was co funded by Cork County Council and the Bons Secours Hospital. The playground was designed to be accessible to disabled as well as able bodied children. Today it is accessible to no one.

On Dec 29 2015 my despondent granddaughter looks on at the flooded playground…..flooded not by the nearby river Lee but by rainwater. The clever design does not appear to have any drainage, so it filled up with rainwater in the deluge we experienced in December. Now, because it is all made of wood, it will be completely compromised and probably contaminated. It may all have to come out. What a disaster!

Do I foresee another costly lawsuit?


Hunting the Wran

The wren, the wren  (wren is pronounced wran in the country)

The king of all birds

On Stephen’s Day 

He got caught in the furze.

Up with the kettle

And down with the pan

And give us a penny

To bury the wren.

Ita Hannon took a few photos of 2015 Wren Boys.

Her brother shared a few photos of troupes hunting the “wran” in days of yore:

Asdee in the 1950s 

Listowel in the 1960s


Paul Galvin, Fashion Designer, Weds Louise Duffy

New Year’s Eve bliss for Today FM presenter, Louise Duffy and Kerry footballer, Paul Galvin, as they leave St Tiernan’s Church Crossmolina Mayo where they were married yesterday. 

Pic Conor McKeown

(From: Brides of Kerry)


Cyclists in Duagh

There are strong links between Duagh and Kanturk Cycling Club. These young cyclists, members of Kanturk Cycling Club, are pictured in Duagh after Christmas 2015 by Doreen Buckley


Proposed FCA Reunion

Were you in the FCA in Listowel?

Would you like to help organize a reunion to take place on March 30 2016?

 Jim Halpin and Patsy Curtin would like to extend an
invitation to you to attend a meeting onTuesday
5th January 2016
at 20.00 hoursin the Listowel Arms Hotel.  The meeting will be discussing the upcoming event in association
with the Listowel Military Tattoo Group and hope to form a committee to oversee
the reunion.

Maybe you can’t make the meeting but would like to be involved in the reunion, Jim and Patsy are also seeking out old photos, film and other memorabilia related to the FCA in town.

Jim Halpin’s photo from 1942 shows a fine troop of men in the Sluagh Hall.


No Photos from Listowel’s Panto?

If you are wondering why I am not posting any panto photos, here is the short answer; I was asked not to.

The panto was great. I was there with my grandchildren. We, in the audience, were told not to photograph the performance, so I didn’t.

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