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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Kerry Candlelight

Early morning in Portmarnock in Winter 2021…..Photo : Éamon ÓMurchú


That was then and This is Now

What a difference a year makes, in Listowel street names?

Information from Vincent Carmody’s Snapshots of an Irish Market town.



We used to call them glassy alleys. They certainly looked like glass but I dont know if they were made of glass really. They were certainly smooth and colourful and in my childhood very much the domain of boys.

Gender stereotyping was rife in my youth. Boys didn’t play with dolls. Girls didn’t play with guns or marbles.


Our Perennial Christmas Song

Christmas is a time for ritual. Part of Listowel Connection ritual is the inclusion of this song at this time of year. Master MacMahon used to teach it to his Fourth Class boys in Scoil Realta na Maidine.

The Kerry Candlelight


I am standing here in Euston, and my heart is light and gay,
For ‘tis soon I’ll see the moonlight all a-dance on Dingle Bay.
So behind me, then, is London, with the magic of its night,
And before me is a window filled with Kerry Candlelight.


‘Tis the lovely light of glory that came down from heav’n on high,
And whenever I recall it, there’s a teardrop in my eye.
By the mountainside at twilight, in a cottage gleaming white,
There my true love sits a-dreaming, in the Kerry Candlelight.


She’ll be waiting by the turf fire; soon our arms will be entwined,
And the loneliness of exile will be lost or cast behind,
As we hear the Christmas greetings of the neighbours in the night,
Then our hearts will beat together in the blessed Candlelight.


Now the train is moving westward, so God speed its racing wheels,
And God speed its whistle ringing o’er the sleeping English fields,
For I’m dreaming of an altar where, beside my Breda bright,
I will whisper vows of true love in the Kerry Candlelight.

Bryan MacMahon


Cancel Culture Gone Mad

Image from a card I received yesterday

“Ireland should remove the British royal insignia which can still be seen on some post boxes, according to Sinn Féin councillor John Costelloe.

In an interview on Newstalk Breakfast, the Limerick councillor said Irish post boxes should reflect modern Irish life…..”

Thus began an article by Olivia Kelleher in Breaking

“Oh no, please don’t,” say I.


Don’t Forget!


A National Treasure

Kevin Lane alerted me to the story in The New York Times and Jim Ryan helped me find the RTE coverage of it.

Here is the link to the Rte story: Rare footage of Cork and Kerry discovered

The discovery of the rare films was initiated by Mícheál Ó Mainnín, a farmer and fisherman from Baile an Fheirtéaraigh (Ballyferriter), as he sought to verify memories his grandfather had shared with him about “the American with a camera”.

“My grandfather, Mick ‘Neilí’ Ó Mainnín, remembered this man coming around. He was collecting birds, eggs and other animals. He became very popular in the area as he had plenty money and was giving out money to anyone who brought him birds.

“My grandfather told me about a day they were fishing in Inis Mhic Uibhleáin (Inishvickillane) and they met ‘the yank’ on the island. He had a movie camera with him and he took a film of my grandfather, my granduncle and the Daly brothers.”

Using the family story as a starting point, Mr Ó Mainnín began the task of identifying the curious “American” in the hope that his films may have survived.

The film was shot in 1925 and 1926 and features events and people in Cork and Kerry. It is lovely.


Aspects of Listowel

Listowel’s Twin Spires, November 2021
Newly restored St. John’s
Beautifully restored stain glass window and stonework


A Listowel Fact

Listowel’s Garden of Europe was originally a extensive quarry. It later became the town landfill site. Finally Listowel Rotary Club transitioned it into The Garden of Europe with a section for each country in the European Union.

The Holocaust Memorial occupies a central place in the garden. It serves as reminder of the awful atrocities perpetrated during Hitler’s reign.

The memorial is made of railway sleepers, reminding us of the railways in Europe that transported so many innocent people to a horrific life and, for some, death in concentration camps. The sleepers are surrounded by chains, representing the shackles of captivity.

I am grateful to the farseeing rotarians who left Listowel this reminder of Europe’s darkest days. May we never forget.


Christmas, a Time for posting mail

Pillar box in Listowel in December 2021

These three stylised ones are on Christmas cards. Even though fewer and fewer Christmas cards are posted each year, the postbox still remains a very strong symbol of Christmas.


That Time before Time Began

Cyril Kelly remembers happy carefree days “fishing” in The Feale and lazing in the sun in those summers before Time began.

I love this one.


Ballybunion, Listowel Town Park, Postboxes and Cashen fishermen

Heron at Fota

photo; Chris Grayson


More from St. John’s Ballybunion

Above are the priest’s tombs, below is the side entrance.


Commemorative Garden coming along nicely


Seeing Double in North Main Street, Cork

On a recent visit to Cork I was surprised to spot these two mailboxes side me side in North Main Street. There must have been huge volumes of mail in this part of town once upon a time.

The boxes are from different eras as you can see from the different designs.


Cashen Fishermen in the 1980s

Photo and caption from Cashen Connections on Facebook

April 1958

(Lt) to (Rt) : Seamus Rourke, Jamsie (Mac) Mc Ellistrim, Willie Stack-Sullivan, Richie (Mouse) Diggin, Behind Richie: Willie Mc Carthy, Sean Rochford, Francie Diggin, Jackie Stack-Sullivan, John Neill, Johnny Healy, Mikey Reddon, Behind Mikey : John Carthy, Far background: John Patrick(John Taid ) Sullivan
All gone but not forgotten!


Cycling News

Stage 2 of Rás Mumhan will start in Listowel on the Easter Weekend 2017

Easter Garden at St. Mary’s, Pillar Postboxes and a circus tent blows down in Listowel in 1862

(Photo; Chris Grayson )


Easter Garden in St. Mary’s Listowel

For the past few years Martha Woulfe has been creating a beautiful Easter garden in the sanctuary at St. Mary’s. This year’s, 2016, is her best yet.


Postboxes revisited

Michael O’Sullivan wrote to me on the subject of the local postboxes. He reminded me that the one pictured below is over 100 years old because it is an Edward V11 and he died in 1910.  Michael writes “The last Victorian box I heard about was in Knockanure up to about ten years ago but is not there now.”

( I wonder what happened to it.)

The above box is in Bray, Co. Wicklow. It is a Penfold design and there were only 150 of this design in Ireland


A Circus Tent Blows down leading to a court case in 1862

 Monday, 01 December, 1862; (From the archives of The Irish Examiner)


John Davit v. Thomas Hogini. This was an action to recover £19 6s,
stated to be due to the plaintiff on a contract entered into with the
defendant. The plaintiff is a band master, and contracted to supply
the defendant who owns a circus  with a band of six performers and a
big drum—seven in all—for the sum of £9  13s. a-week. He now sued for
a fortnights salary.

The plaintiff, examined, stated that be had been some time with the
defendant and was paid his salary up to the 8th Nov. From the 8th to
24th however, he got nothing. He produced his letter of engagement
which was written by Mrs Hogini, the defendant’s wife. He was still in the
defendant’s employment, and had been paid regularly since the 21th Nov.

In reply to Mr. Blake, the witness stated that there were no
performances during the fortnight for which he was now suing. The
defendant’s tent was blown down while they were performing in Listowel
and they did not perform again until the defendant opened a circus in
Cork. He did not, therefore, give the defendant a single ” blast” for
the £19 6s. Mrs. Hogini had promised to pay him. 

He was not
disemployed for the fortnight, from the 8th to 24th, by Mr Hogini for
his engagement, was for the whole of the winter season. For the
defence, Mr. Blake examined Mr. Hogini, who deposed that all the
company were disemployed after the accident at Listowel, as they had
no place to perform in. When they were coming into Cork together he
recommended Davis to give concerts, and said that he would help him.
Davis did not come near him for a week, and he did not know what Davis
did during that time. His Worship asked who had to pay the bandsmen
during the fortnight they were idle. ” Davis said that he had. His
Worship said he should give a decree for the amount claimed, payable
at the rate of £1 a week. Agent for plaintiff—Mr. M. J. Collins. For
defendant—Mr J C Blake.



John Kelliher scanned this photograph from one of his old negatives.


Annual Clean up Under Way

The photo below was taken at 8.00 a.m. on Saturday morning last as most of us were still in bed. It shows local volunteers heading out on the clean up. They collected 100 bags of litter from the approach roads to town.

Photo: Listowel Tidy Towns


One Listowel man was out early on Saturday morning April 2 2016, doing his bit to keep Listowel tidy.

Old postboxes, shop changes and Josie Enright, dancer

Beautiful Ballybunion

Another beautiful Ballybunion sunset by Mike Enright


Old post boxes

I have a fascination with old post boxes. I photographed this one in East Ferry recently. It dates from the reign of Queen Victoria. There is another Victorian one in Macroom. I spotted it one day while stuck in traffic.

Why do I mention this now?

I recently read in tourist literature for Guernsey that that island’s St. Peter Port claims to have the oldest postbox still in use in the British Isles. Their one is on Union Street and it was put in place in 1853.

Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1838. Could we be about to burst Guernsey’s bubble? How do we find out?


Then and Now

Veterinary Centre, The Square

Cheryl’s Vintage Shop

Halo on Church St.


Josie Enright, renowned Irish dancer from Moyvane


London Irish

The London Irish Centre recently added these photos to its website. The people in the photos are not identified but I’m sure the scenes will be familiar to many of my older readers.

The rooms were fairly cell like.

It must be Sunday, judging by the suit and tie.

Christmas Social


Earth to Echo and a random act of kindness

When my grandchildren are on holiday with me, one of our preferred rainy day outings is to the cinema. This time we went to see Earth to Echo in the intimate Screen 3 at Listowel Classic Cinema. The film, reminiscent of E.T. was actually quite good.

As we made our way to the cinema along the John B. Keane Road we met Billy Keane out walking. Billy put his hand in his pocket and stood to the two boys in memory of their grandfather, Jim Cogan, whom Billy always acknowledges as having contributed to his education. Such random acts of generosity are more rare nowadays and the boys told me that they only ever experience this type of  spontaneous generosity in Kerry. Some traditions are worth keeping. Standing to children is one of them.


Daniel O’Donnell and Dolores Keane in the INEC recently  (photo Facebook)

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