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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On the Road with Barbara

Grotto in O’Connell’s Ave in August 2022


Mallow Train Station

I snapped these recently in the train station.

Here’s a random question for people who travel by train. Have you ever thought that the man who recorded the announcements in Irish sounds very like Gabriel Fitzmaurice? “Táimid ag teacht isteach i nGabhal Luimní. Seachain an bearna le bhur dtoil.”


Round Ireland Trip

Part 3 of Barbara Kissane’s coach tour

On the 7th day of this trip was the start of my 10 day tour titled, The Wild Atlantic Way Experience.    Ireland is an addictive place to visit-beautiful, stunning and with ever-changing scenery.

Slea Head Drive
Cows at Ballyconry

We stopped off at the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland-Kilbeggan.   We did a tasting! 

We drove to Athlone and the River Shannon to Galway City.   The start of viewing incredible landscapes, dramatic coastlines, villages and cities.  Full of charming people waiting to give us the warmest welcomes.



In Kildare

Bord na Móna head office in Newbridge, Co. Kildare. The Listowel Connection here is that my son in law and his mother both work for Bord na Móna

Beautiful utility boxes in Kildare Town. Wouldn’t they look good in Listowel?


Won’t be long Now

Senan and Sadhbh took a minute away from the festivities at their aunt’s wedding to look out the window of The Listowel Arms at Listowel race course.


A Fact

Someone asked me where I am getting these facts from.

The source is a book called Trivia for The Toilet, a book for the bog.

Sorry you asked?

Today’s fact; When Bugs Bunny first appeared in 1935 he was called Happy Rabbit.

In case you are thinking that I should have left that “fact” book where I found it, I Googled today’s fact and here is what it says in the Looney Tunes site

Happy Rabbit is the name sometimes used for an early rabbit character from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series who evolved into the Warner Bros. cartoon studio‘s most famous character, Bugs Bunny. Created by Ben “Bugs” Hardaway in 1938, the rabbit first appeared in the short “Porky’s Hare Hunt“.

Like most of the other Looney Tunes characters, the rabbit was voiced by Mel Blanc. The name of the Bugs Bunny prototype was not used publicly until Blanc spoke of Bugs’ origins in a 1970s interview, though there is some doubt that it was ever an official name.

(So maybe not quite a fact, but near as dammit.)


Nun in India, Jellyfish and the Blue Bag

Eamon ÓMurchú in Skerries



This photograph was taken by Martin Moore in Fermoyle. It is the most jellyfish I have seen on one beach so far this summer. There are lots of them on all our beaches, including Ballybunion. I’m told they are not the stinging kind. But I wouldn’t take my chances.


A Listowel Connection?

Can anyone tell us if this lady was an aunt of the late Canon Leahy of Listowel?

Advocate, Melbourne, Sat 4 Sep 1909


Again the Daughters of the Cross have to record the loss of one of their Sisters, who died at Anand on Sunday, 18th July, after an illness of only a few hours. Sister Agnes Mary was born in Kerry, Ireland, in April, 1865, and joined the congregation at Liege in October, 1884.Two years later she arrived in India, and since that time worked with the greatest earnestness in the convents at Karachi, Igatpuri, Bandra, Panchgani, Dadar, and finally at Anand, of which house she was made Superioress in December, 1908. In the first week of July, cholera broke out in that locality, and some of the orphan children confided to the care of the Sisters; contracted the disease. A few cases proved fatal. However, on Sunday last it was hoped that the epidemic had ceased, an intimation to that effect

having been written by the Superioress herself, little thinking that she would be the next chosen victim. Sister Agnes Mary saw without fear death approaching, and was perfectly calm and resigned to God’s holy will. During the years she spent in India, and in whatever house she laboured, she was ever a subject of the greatest edification to her Sisters in religion and to all with whom She came in contact. Her happy disposition endeared her to everyone, and her loss will be keenly felt. Quietly and religiously she spent her days, and one may truly say: “She went about doing good.” Her death was a fit crowning to her life—a victim to duty, she has fallen at her post.

R.I.P.—Bombay “Examiner.”


Church Street Art

It looks like this mural may soon be on the move. I hope they find a suitable new home for it not too far from the homes of the two Church Street natives it so fittingly commemorates.


The Blue Bag

Once upon a time, but not so long ago I don’t remember it, Laundry washing was done by hand in a big tub. Clothes were washed with soap and rubbed on a washboard until clean. Washing was almost always done on a Monday.

For some unfathonable reason, tablecloths, sheets and other big items of household linen were white. Natural white linen and cotton are prone to yellowing, particularly if left exposed to sunlight.

There were no tumble dryers in those days so the washed laundry was hung to dry on an outdoor clothesline.

Enter the blue bag. This was a little muslin bag containing a cube of Reckitts Blue. This whitener/bleach was put into the water for the final rinse and it kept the whites “whiter than white”.


Nice Gesture from An Post

This is the nearest post box to the Portland Row home of our Olympic champion Kellie Harrington. An Post spray painted it gold in her honour with a message of congratulations as well.


A Post Box, A Poster, The Cobwebs Glory and A Date with a Story

Pollinator at work


Saving the turf in the 1940s


Post Box in Upper Church Street

Any idea what this says?


Where stories begin

This poster takes up the whole window of the old Lawler’s Cake Shop in Church Street. It features some well known Listowel personalities. It’s proving s great talking point.


The Cobweb’s Glory

Many people have been in touch about this one.

From Vincent Carmody  

 “That production of The Cobwebs Glory would have been in the late 1940s or the very early 1950s as Eamon Kelly who directed it would have left Listowel around that time, bound for the Abbey Theater. The writers, were a combination of three Listowel men, Bryan McMahon, Michael Kennelly and an O’Connor man from Market Street, I think that his name was Paddy. 

The play was staged secondly by the Listowel Players, with Nora Relihan as producer, with proceeds from the three nights, going towards the upkeep of the boys national school, like many poster s there was no year given, however knowing the cast I would say early 1970s.  The poster is in my book, page 206.”

Jim MacMahon shed some more light on the third man; 

it was written by three people , my Dad , Paddy O’Connor and Michael Kennelly. I suspect it was my dad’s first dipping of his toe in the water as a dramatist . Both Michael and Paddy were pals in Listowel. Paddy was a very literary teacher, first in St Flannels in Ennis and later in Blackrock college and a literary critic , Jim

Beta OBrien wrote;

The Cobwebs Glory was a play about a greyhound of that name and the author was a combination of writers. Bryan McMahon Michael Kennelly and Paddy OConnor (who spent most of his life teaching in Blackrock College Dublin) The date I guess would be prior to Bryan McMahon getting  involved in serious writing possibly late forties.”

And Mattie Lennon sent this;

 I have no way of knowing when that production was staged. But I played Trooper Devane, with the Lacken Drama Group in 1965.

   Am I right in thinking that the play had three authors and that one of them was Bryan McMahon?

Dave O’Sullivan looked up the papers and here is what he found.

Thanks everyone for all your help.


One for the Diary


The Rose of Tralee Fashion Show

Quite unexpectedly I found myself at The Rose fashion show on Sunday night. The dome looked magnificent, every bit as good in reality as it looks on TV. We enjoyed a great night’s entertainment, goody bags and all.

The Roses on stage

Beautiful bridal wear from my friends in Finesse

They were all lovely.

Listowel Hospital, Emmy Award for Journalist and a piece of Leitrim history

Tree at the gate of Listowel Hospital


In the Grounds of Listowel Hospital

Áras Mhuire retirement home

Senan House

Hospital chapel


Prize winning Journalist with a Listowel Connection

The man in the middle receiving his Emmy award is multi media journalist Malachy Browne from Broadford, Co. Limerick. 

His Listowel Connection? 

He is the son of David Browne, Director and former chair of Listowel Writers’ Week.

Why is he famous?

Malachy and his team were presented with the prestigious award exactly one year to the day after the massacre took place in which 58 people attending a concert were gunned down and slain. Called 10 Minutes, 12 Gunfire Bursts, 30 Videos, Mapping the Las Vegas Massacre, the film won the Outstanding New Approaches: Current News award.

It is an investigation which tracks the timeline of the shootings, using mobile phone footage and CCTV footage and puts viewers right at the heart of the rampage,  knowing how it felt with nowhere to go to escape.

Malachy was the senior producer on the documentary film along with Drew Jordan, Nicole Fineman and Chris Cirillo. He has been with the New York Times since 2016.” 

Limerick Leader

This Limerick man (with a Listowel Connection) is working at the cutting edge of  multi media technology journalism. We will be hearing more of him.


The Bad Old Days

People who have recently seen the film Black 47 will be familiar with this type of very poor dwelling. This image and the story that follows is from a great Facebook page on Irish folklore and history.


From the National Folkore Collection as by Stephen McGann of Drumlara, Co Leitrim,

“Soon after the ordination of the new parish priest Lord Leitrim increased his father’s rent because he said he was able to pay a higher rent when he could educate his family. The priest’s father died in 1865. Soon after his death Lord Leitrim was passing through Drumgirla and met cattle wandering on the road. He dismounted and drove the cattle into the widow’s yard. He called her out and asked him if the cattle belonged to her. She had to admit they did and she had to pay the penalty of an increase in rent. In a few years later he heard that she had carried out improvements on her place…She foolishly admitted. ‘I have got no improvements made except some wallpaper for the walls and a new window put in where it was absolutely necessary’ Lord Leitrim laughed scornfully and said, ‘papering walls, a woman who can afford to paper walls can afford to pay a higher rent.”

(From National Folklore Collection under the heading of “Lord Leitrim)

Note how in this case the victim is a widow and the wide range of ingenious excuses which Lord Leitrim used to increase the rent. This tale may have grown in the telling but the fact that it does refer to an exact date and an exact placename may indicate that there is a lot of truth to it. Scholars have judged that Lord Leitrim’s rents were not that high in comparison to those of neighbouring landlords but the main problem may have been that he tended to raise them in a very arbitrary manner. The picture below shows a cottage outside Mohill co Leitrim in 1889, not untypical of the poverty of the smaller tenants.


A Lifelong friendship that began in Charles’ Street, Listowel

These ladies are old friends, Marie on the left and Doreen on the right. They are pictured here on the occasion of Doreen’s eightieth birthday last weekend.

Marie is Marie Nelligan and Doreen is Doreen Stack and their friendship began over 70 years ago in Charles Street Listowel. Emigration took both ladies far away from their native Listowel but they still today live within walking distance of each other in New Jersey.

Thank you ,Marie for the photo and Happy Birthday, Doreen.


Edwardian Post Box

Wrong E……The post box at Convent Cross is Edwardian and not Elizabethan as I said. 

Thank you, Tom Walsh, for the correction.

Kerry Ancestors, Sheehys of main Street and Altered Images

Bridge Road, July 2018


My old Friends Remembered

There is a lovely little shady corner in Listowel Town Park dedicated to the memory of three great Listowel brothers. I first came to know Martin, Michael and John Sheehy through the internet where I came to know them as men who retained a great love for their native Listowel even though they all had spent more years away from it than in it.

I “met” John first when I started contributing to the Listowel thread of My contributions to that forum were very much an early form of this blog. I used to post photographs and snippets of news and John invariable replied and encouraged me. There was a time when he used to return “home’ every year but that time had passed by the time I knew him so we never met.

John still retained a great grá for his hometown. His time growing up in Main Street and summering in Ballybuinion held very special memories for him. Of course his twin brother Jerry still lives here and once when I posted a photo of Jerry, John emailed me to tell me to urge him to wear his cap because it was getting very cold.

I kept up a correspondence with John right up to his untimely death. He shared many stories and photographs with me over the years and I regarded him as a friend.

The Sheehy brothers were one of those extraordinary Listowel families who raised bands of really intelligent men. Marty was probably the brightest of them. If I recall correctly he achieved a first in Ireland in Leaving Cert Greek (or was it Latin?). He went on to forge a very successful career in medicine and later medical insurance in the U.S. I met him often on his annual trips home. He was very appreciative of what I do and gave me every encouragement to keep going with the news from home.

Michael used to come every year for Listowel Races. He and his family were regulars every day on the racecourse. He told me once that Listowel Connection was one of the highlights of his day.

They have all passed to their eternal reward now. Whenever I am in the park I will sit on their seat now and remember them and say a prayer. I think they’d like that.


Beautiful Paintwork at Altered Images

I was delighted last week to spot Fred Chute back painting again. This beautiful painting of the plaster work of Pat McAuliffe is done best by a Chute and Fred is the best of them all.

I hear that we are going to see many more of these old facades preserved, repaired and repainted in the future. They will add greatly to the overall beauty of our lovely town.


Strange Tales from the Petty Sessions

Did you read lately how Stormy Daniels was arrested for allowing a person to touch her while she was performing in a skimpy costume?

She broke an Ohio law that says that nude employees cannot touch or be touched by patrons other than family members while on the premise of a “sexually-oriented” establishment where they appear on regular basis.

The charges were later dropped.

Believe it or not our ancestors were very quick to take to the law to sort out their disputes and Kay Caball found some very interesting cases when she read through some of the transcripts of the Petty Sessions courts.

Nothing as ludicrous as the Ohio law but some interesting cases nonetheless and you can read about them in Kay’s very interesting Kerry Ancestors’ blogpost:

“Did your Kerry Ancestor pawn a coat, own a wandering pig, or ‘commit a breach of the Sabbath’?  While Genealogy in its purest form is defined in the English Dictionary as ‘a line of descent of a person or family from earliest known ancestor’, my training in Family History and Genealogy goes much further.  We don’t just concentrate on the dry details of date of birth, marriage and death without trying to find out how the person lived, in what circumstances, what was going on in their lives around their Kerry location at the time they lived and/or emigrated.   And lots more – if we can get a flavour of their personality, all the better.

One way of doing this is checking the Petty Session Registers.

The Petty Sessions handled the bulk of lesser legal cases, both criminal and civil. They were presided over by Justices of the Peace, who were unpaid and often without any formal legal training. The position did not have a wage, so the role was usually taken by those with their own income – in practice usually prominent landowners or gentlemen. Justice was pronounced summarily at these courts, in other words, without a jury.”

This is just a flavour. Read the full post here;   

Kerry Genealogy in The Courts


Molly at Convent Cross

One of the advantages of having a dog is that it forces you to get out and walk. While Molly is with me for her Kerry holiday she obligingly poses for me at local landmarks. Here she is on the seat beside one of the oldest postboxes in town.

A Fun Fact about a postbox

For three weeks in 1979 Ballymacra, Co Antrim had the world’s most inconvenient post box.

In March 1979 workmen replaced the telegraph pole to which the pillar box was affixed. The workmen did not have the keys needed to release the clips that held the box in place so they raised the box over the top of the old pole and slipped it down the new one. 

The new pole was thicker than the old one and the box came to rest 9 feet above the ground. It remained there for 3 weeks and in that time people using the post box accessed it by stepladder.

Source: Foster’s Irish Oddities by Allen Foster

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