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: Pierse Walsh

Doors, Nash’s Well and Billy MacSweeney and the Christmas Goose.

Garden of Europe, Listowel

Photo: Charlie Nolan


Some Listowel Doors

“We have our exits and our entrances…..”

These doors are off the beaten track and so not as aesthetically pleasing as doors on the street.


Another Holy Well

(Story from the Dúchas folklore collection)

There is a holy well in the farm of Ml Nash, Rossmore, Tahilla. This well is there hundreds of years & may still be seen. There is the following folk tale told of it still.

Long ago, when priests were not allowed to say Mass, a priest was going to say Mass across the bay (Kenmare Bay, which is here three miles wide). He saw a crowd of Protestant soldiers coming after him. He got on his horse & struck him with the whip & jumped him over the three miles of water which flows between Tuosist (in Ivera) and Rossmore Island (in Iveragh.

When the horse “landed” he struck his hooves on the rock & the sign of the cross appeared.

Rossmore Island County Kerry from Mrs Ml Nash.


A Face to a Name

My daughter, Cliona and I went to Café Hanna in John R’s for brunch on Saturday November 10 2018. Eggs Benedict for breakfast on a Saturday morning is not our usual repast but it was the weekend of Listowel Food Fair (The Food Fair was brilliant but my report on that will have to wait til next week.)

There we met Billy MacSweeney. Cliona took the photo of me with him. She is not so good with the zoom button. I took him with his friend and former neighbour Pierse Walsh.

Billy is a great supporter of Listowel Connection. Recently he wrote entertainingly of his wanderings around the town and trips to the bog with Jack Leahy. I knew there were many more stories where they came from and sure enough, Billy proved to be a very entertaining breakfast companion.

He told us the story of a mad Christmas goose who nearly never made it to the dinner table. She broke a window in Church Street on her way home to be fattened for the Christmas dinner and the owner of the window threatened to confiscate her as payment for the damage to his property.

Billy told us about the turf shed concerts with some of the finest Church Street talent on show, and he told me a great story of a Knocknagoshel lady who played a vital role in World War 2. All will be revealed next week.


Flora Sandes

I mentioned this lady last week and wondered if she were related to the Sandes of Collis Sandes fame or the notorious landlord who gave his name to Newtownsandes. I have been informed by several people that she is indeed from the same family and she is related to Elise Sandes who set up the Soldiers’ Homes as well.

Flora is descended from the Sandes of Sallow Glen. She led a life of service and adventure and she is the subject of tea biographies.

Visitors, Locals and Dunkirk, a Listowel Connection to the Florida Rose

Ita Hannon took this super shot of Tarbert Lighthouse.


Enduring Love

Couples coming and going in Listowel last week


Aileen Returns as a Visitor

Thirty years ago a recently qualified young teacher made her way to Listowel to take up her new teaching post in Presentation Secondary School, Listowel.

Aileen Hayes did not arrive in town on a bike but when she returned recently and we visited the Lartigue she posed with their bike.

 These volunteers were on duty on the day we visited.

During the six years she lived in Listowel, Aileen took part in several Lartigue Theatre productions. Martin Griffin was a star of these shows. She met him on her return visit in his new role as stationmaster of the Lartigue.

When Aileen arrived in town for the first time in 1978 she was dismayed to find that there was no accommodation to be found. The fleadh cheoil was in full swing and every bed in town was occupied. Aileen and her dad were wandering the streets in despair when they ran into Bryan MacMahon. They told him of their plight. Bryan invited them into his home and he made a few phone calls on their behalf. Bryan found Aileen a bed for the 2 nights until things had quietened down and the fleadh crowds had departed. Aileen never forgot the great man’s kindness to her in her hour of need. She got to know The Master better when she came to work and live in town and whenever she ran into him in the street he always stopped for a chat and a catch up. So, on her recent return visit, Aileen was happy to pose for a photo with her first Listowel friend.

We took the tour of the castle with Dianne Nolan.

Aileen was fascinated by the reworked confession boxes in St. Mary’s. She hadn’t seen anything like this before.

We visited the Garden of Europe.

When she lived in Listowel, Aileen lived in Church St. in a house owned by Pierse Walsh. Pierse invited myself and Aileen for a coffee and a scone in his lovely welcoming Café Hanna and they reminisced about times past and the changes in both their lives in thirty years.


When a whole generation was wiped out…

Dunkirk  ………Despite staggering
losses, the airmen clambered aboard their woefully outclassed Fairey Battles
and Bristol Blenheims again and again to embark on doomed missions to stem the
German advance.

culminated on May 14 when the RAF launched a series of desperate raids around
Sedan to aid their French allies and attempt to destroy key bridges being used
by the Germans.

results were catastrophic.

Of 71
aircraft, 39 were shot down, the worst reversal of its type in the history of
the RAF.

operators Michael Millar, from Dublin, and William Nolan, from Rathkeale, Co
Limerick, both died that day in Fairey Battles; wireless operator Patrick
Aherne, from Youghal, Co Cork, went down in a Blenheim.

continued to go out.

Five days
after Sedan, pilot officer Jimmy McElligot, from Listowel, Co Kerry, took his
Fairey Battle out to bomb targets in the Ardennes.

As he
carried out the mission his aircraft was swarmed by no less than six Me109

putting up stiff resistance, the result was inevitable.

battle came down in a wood, and Jimmy died from his injuries.


Sr. Roch Kissane

The Kissanes are gathered this weekend to celebrate their family. This illustrious clan are to the forefront in business and education today. Their ancestors were farmers who, from a farm in North Kerry,  send its offspring far and wide to be leaders of their communities in the U.S. and Australia.

One of these famous offspring was Sr. Roch Kissane.

It was my great privilege to meet Sr. Roch in her later years..a truly extraordinary woman.

This is Sr. Roch with her sister in religious and real life,  Sr. Chrysostom. A huge tragedy that befell Sr. Roch early in her life in her new home, Australia, was the tragic death of her sister. Hannah Kissane was drowned while swimming at a beach near their convent. A local man and his son who were in the water nearby made valient but vain attempts to save her. That man was also drowned. His son kept in touch with the Kissane family and came to visit them years later when on a trip to Ireland.


It was Roses Roses All the Way

On Tuesday last, Aug 15 2017,  I was planning on taking my young visitors to their favourite Kerry visitor attraction, The Kingdom Greyhound Stadium.

This was no ordinary night at the track as the Roses were to attend. We got to town early and learned, by chance, that the Roses were due at the Rose Hotel at 4.00 p.m. We took a stroll through the park, which was looking resplendent in preparation for the festival, and we called to look at the new mural.

Along the way I told the boys something of the history behind the festival. I told them the two sad stories, of Mary the inspiration for the song and of Dorothy, the 2011 Washington Rose who died so young.

 We headed back to the hotel in good time to get a good viewing point for the entrance of the lovely girls. The Texas delegation had a huge charm offensive going on. They plied us with flags, badges and keyrings. My two young charges were sorely tempted to change allegiance. I had to remind that the Florida Rose was the Rose with the Listowel connection.

The Texas Rose’s dad, Mr. O’Lopez himself gave every child a token  and soon he had a crew of local children holding his big banner and waving Texas flags. In the battle of the fans, Texas won hands down.

The Carlow Rose wiped away a tear as she spotted her crew with their massive banner. The girl in front of her in my photograph is Teresa Daly from Kanturk who is the Chicago Rose.

There was something unsettlingly military about the uniformed ranks of young men forming a guard of honour as the Roses entered.

The Roses also wore a uniform of red dress and black shoes.

Family and friend cheered and applauded.

Then we spotted her. Our very own Listowel connection, Elizabeth Marince, proud granddaughter of Tom O’Donoghue of Tannavalla, delighted to be back in Kerry doing her Listowel family proud.

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