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: Pittsburgh

An August 2015 Thursday in John B.’s and another win for Sonny Bill

Pub Theatre in John B.’s

My father died when I was seven. My mother wore no colour but black for a full year. The radio was only turned on to hear the news and weather forecast. We had no television. There was no music in the house. We went to town only for shopping once a week and to go to mass on Sundays. Laughter and shouting or halooing was discouraged. Anything by way of enjoyment was absent from our lives for a long 12 months.

Thank God things have changed and we now know that keeping the lost loved one’s spirit alive and present to us is much more healthy than constantly reminding ourselves of an absence. We are now encouraged to remember the loved one and to live, laugh and enjoy ourselves as normal.

In the week of his mother’s death, Billy Keane put on the “shop face” and “hoored it out” as best he could on Thursday night last. Thursday night is pub theatre night in John B.s. Billy banned any sad talk but inevitably the night was tinged with sorrow for the lady of the house.

I was there on Thursday evening with Fran Blyth and her family. Fran is the great granddaughter of the poet Thade Gouran.  Michael, Alexis and Sean are his great great grandchildren. They had come from England to connect with the homeland of their ancestors and to sample life in North Kerry.

 They were all thrilled to pose with Billy and even more thrilled when he recited The Yorkshire Pig, one of Thade Gowran’s better known works.

Billy brought a chair from the kitchen and placed it in the bar and asked us to leave it free for “someone” who would be with us in spirit tonight. She was with us alright and we all felt her gentle soul was still close to home.

Mickey MacConnell opened the night with his new version of the Ballad of John B. He has tweaked his original lament for John B. to now include Mary.

Billy read a lovely love poem his dad wrote for his mam in the first flush of their young love.

Fran was delighted to learn that Gabriel Fitzmaurice, who was in to read some of his poems, has a Thade Gowran ballad, The Dawning of the Day, in this repertoire. If he had had his guitar he would have sung it.

David O’Sullivan was a convincing bishop. In an extract from The Field he exhorted us, under threat of interdict, to reveal to the police everything we knew about the murder. By the end of the sermon we were all ready to sing like canaries.

Claire Keane Fennell sang Kielty and later Over the Rainbow.

The English visitors were enthralled.

Another Keane was making his own record of the proceedings.

Billy’s good friend, Con, sang his song accompanied by Mickey MacConnell. 

We all joined hands and sang the John B. Keane anthem, The Black Hills of Dakota.

Billy gave a big build up to another young man who sang a different anthem.

Billy did his best to remember the words of Thade Gowran’s Yorkshire Pig as he introduced Thade’s great great grandson to sing the anthem from Les Miserables.

Sean’s singing coupled with his boy band good looks won him quite a few fans on the night.

My video of Sean singing is HERE The quality of the video is fairly poor. The quality of the singing was never in doubt.


Framed Posters in Behans


A Kerry Football Cup in Pittsburg

The U.S. Midwest division of the GAA had a great stalwart in Tom O’Donoghue of Listowel. They honored his many years of dedicated service in the promotion of Gaelic Games in Pittsburg by awarding the Tom O’Donoghue Memorial Cup to the winners of the Midwest Division Football Championship. The cup was played for on Aug 8th and 9th. 2015 and Tom’s eldest son, Thomas, presented the cup to the winners


R.I.P. Robert Moloney


Sonny Bill’s latest triumph

First in his class and reserve champion at Limerick Show on Sunday last…..Good Boy, Sonny Bill!

Craftshop na Méar, a teacher contract and St. Patrick’s Day of yesteryear

St. Patrick’s festival in Pittsburg

In Pittsburg they do our national holiday in style. On the far left is Hannah O’Donoghue who is Miss Smiling Irish Eyes. Hannah’s grandad was one of the O’Donoghue’s of Tannavalla and she is very proud of her Listowel heritage. Listowel can justifiably be proud of her too as she has a very impressive cv for such a young lady.

Next to Hannah in the photo is Pat O’Brien, parade chairman and a frequent visitor to Listowel where he stays with Nora Sheahan.

Hannah with her proud parents, Patty and Jack O’Donoghue.

Patty with St. Patrick

 with her two proud Listowel aunts, Maggie Cloonan and Eileen Curran

with her lovely niece, Ruby O’Donoghue.

Hannah will be visiting Ireland in August to take part in the Maid of the Mourne festival and after that she will be coming with her Dad to visit the Listowel branch of the family.

Methinks I see a future Rose of Tralee contestant or two here.


St. Patrick’s Days  of Yore

To whet your appetite for this year’s Listowel parade here are a few photos from former years


Craftshop na Méar gets ready for the national holiday 2015

Karen and Viveca dress the shop window for St. Patrick’s Day.


St. Patrick’s Day blessing for tomorrow

Lucky stars above you,

Sunshine on your way,

Many friends to love you,

Joy in work and play-

Laughter to outweigh each care,

 In your heart a song-

And gladness waiting everywhere

All your whole life long!


In Ohio in 1923 Teachers truly had something to complain about!


New Kid on the Block

Frances O’Keeffe welcomes Jean Thomas to Craftshop na Méar


The photo of Keane Stack’s from Vincent Carmody’s book brought back happy memories to many people. Hilary Kelly remembers the barley sugar sticks and Cathy Dunne remembers Mr. Keane Stack in a bowler hat and from Liam Murphy in the USA came this memory;

” More of long ago memories recalled,  from the age of four to fourteen I wore prescription glasses that were filled by Willie Keane- Stack. I remembered young John B behind the counter on right when you entered the shop and getting  from a tall jar “Barley Sugar” that as I recall was only sold in chemist shops. But have clear memory of them when I went with my late father there early 50’s.”     

Horgans of North Kerry: Railway people in Pittsburgh

Today has dawned bright  and dry in The Kingdom. It’s a “Good morning, God” rather than a “Good God, morning!” sort of day.

My story for you today was sent to me by Jim Horgan of Pennsylvania. Again it’s a story of an emigrant who prospered in the U.S. but who never forgot his Irish roots.

Andrew Joseph Horgan was born in Glenderry, Kerry on 5-December 1876 to John Horgan(1843-1921) and Johanna O’Sullivan (1842-1944) of Lisselton.  Andrew was the 3rd of 8 children and emigrated to America in 1901.  Ultimately, five of the eight children went to Pittsburgh and three remained in Ireland.  Andrew arrived on the SS Cumric to Ellis Island on 23 April 1901 with his cousin Michael.    He made his way to an uncle in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and found work at the Glenwood Shops of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  He worked alongside his cousin Patrick (1877-1956), son of Michael Horgan(1850-1908) and Julia Savage (1850-?) from Tralee. On 12—April 1904 Andrew married Catherine Brosnan daughter of Daniel Brosnan (1830-1890) and Ellen Sheahan (1838—1917) from Islandanny, Duagh.  In 1910 Andrew was promoted to supervisor, but left the B&O during the railway strike of 1911.   He then went to work on the Monongahela Connecting Railway until his retirement.  His sons, Andrew Jr. and Timothy worked on the same railroad for 40 years each.  I am currently in my 37thyear on the railroad, and my son Patrick is a 4thgeneration railroad man, having started a few years ago.

Andrew and Catherine had the following children:

1 John (1906-1906)

2 Helena (1907-1918)  died in the flu epidemic

3 Johanna (1909-1909)

4 Andrew Jr. (1910-1985)

5 Mary (1913-1985)  married Andrew Stana, 1 child

6 Rita (1916-2001)  Married Thomas Kerin 5 children

7  Timothy (1918-1974) married  Ann Marie Roscoe 4 children

8 John (1919-1987) Married Erma Heiles 6 children

In 1939, Andrew Jr. married Helen Sheehan (1915-1985) the only daughter of John Joseph (Paddy) Sheehan (1881-1965) of Ballyheigue and Katherine Shine (1878-1953) of Gurtomasillihy, Moyvane.

They had 4 children, of which I am the youngest.  In 1978, I married Bridget Creighan, daughter of William Creighan and Mary Teresa O’Donoghue, daughter of Denis O’Donoghue (1898-1974) of Duagh and Hannah Molyneaux (1903-1986) of Behins. 

Andrew Horgan and Katherine Brosnan now have 91 descendants who were born in America.

Jim tells me that he has met some of his Irish cousins, but he is always happy to meet some more of his Irish family.

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