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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The Convent Bel, Preparing for the Races, l and Ballydonoghue WW1 Event

The King of all Birds

Photo: Chris Grayson


It’s That Time of Year

It’s THAT time of year.

The Kerry flags are out for the All Ireland Final. The children are back in school and Moriarty’s are putting up the lights for the Harvest Festival. And it’s still only August.

The Convent Bell

The old bell from The Presentation Convent has been installed at St. Mary’s Church.


“At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them”

We remembered them; soldiers of WW1 on Saturday August  24 2019 in Ballydonoghue, Co. Kerry.

In a moving ceremony organised by Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine Committee, their descendants and friends remembered the young men from the parish who soldiered in that “war to end all wars”.

Many of those who served in the British Army came home to a very changed North Kerry, where the upsurge in republican feelings meant that they dare not speak of their ordeals in the trenches and where their heroism and sacrifice were never celebrated.

When I arrived in Lisselton, preparations were in full swing. The National flag was at half mast and local people and participants in the pageant were arriving. Stevie Donegal was setting up the sound system, David Kissane was setting up his ladder in order to get a good vantage point to record the event for posterity, Noelle and Kate were preparing grub in the catering tent, Colette was making sure everyone had their lines.

Jim Halpin’s list of soldiers had pride of place. Many stopped to read the names and to talk about men they remembered. It was strangely reminiscent of pictures we are used to seeing of people in towns in England scanning the lists of the fallen that used to be displayed publicly after battles.

On Saturday August 24th 2019 children from local schools read out the names of the fallen and then, one by one descendants and relatives of some of the Ballydonoghue soldiers told us of their exploits in foreign fields. As well as the British Army, many fought in the US army or with the Australian army.

Some of the soldiers were remembered in great detail. Some memories were more sketchy as people struggled to remember relatives who rarely spoke about this part of their lives. We also remembered those who didn’t make it back to North Kerry and those who have no relatives left here to remember them. The day was spiced and made more poignant with songs and poems.

Then it was time to lower the flags  and play The Last Post.  Tom Dillon, our MC, told us that the Last Post is played at close of day to signal that the soldier’s work is over, he has done his duty.

A wreath was laid, the flags were lowered, we observed a minute’s silence, the piper played Reveille  the national flag was raised, we sang the national anthem and the colour party was led by the lone piper back down the lane from whence they came. It was a very moving ceremony and a credit to all the organisers and participants.

Communion Day at The Convent, Artistic Windows, old stamps and a laugh

Chris Grayson’s Robin


Presentation Convent Then and Now

Philomena Moriarty Kuhn posted a series of photos on Facebook remembering her First Holy Communion. It was the custom to have a communion breakfast in the convent after the ceremony and the children used to pose for photos in the beautiful convent garden.

This kind of commemorative picture has been kept for years.

Isn’t Philomena the picture of innocence?

When she was holidaying in Listowel in 1966 Philomena returned to the convent and here are some of the photos she took.

The convent garden and chapel hold many happy memories for Listowel  people.

Below is the old convent building as it is today.


Artistic Windows

Listowel shopkeepers got behind the recent visual arts event by decorating their windows appropriately


Some Old Stamps

I came across these when I was tidying up.

The lady depicted here is waving a traditional “crios” the old fashioned way.

Look how the cost of postage has increased.


Vincent Doyle sent us a laugh


Famous Victory

My son- in law, Seán had two reasons to celebrate last week. The GAA powers that be caved in to people pressure and allowed Kildare to play Mayo at home in Newbridge, as planned.

The icing on the cake was a sweet victory for Kildare.

A Tan song, Listowel Convent now and some more Christmas window displays

A Blue photo

Mallow Camera Club held a very interesting competition. The only instruction was that the photo had to have something blue. This week I’ll bring you a photo a day from Mallow, all  with a blue theme.

Photographer; Chris Bourke


The Convent Now at the end of 2017

I took the photos from the secondary school yard

It is so sad to see a chapel and garden that were cared for and nurtured over so many years now completely neglected and derelict.


A Black and Tan Song from a dark era in our history

14th January 1950


“Cahirguillamore” is a song in which we learn of a terrible happening near Bruff on St. Stephen’s Night, 1920. An I.R.A. dance was in progress in Lord Guillaghmore’s unoccupied mansion when the place was surrounded by British forces in great strength. In the ensuing fight five I.R.A. men lost their lives. They were: Daniel Sheehan, the sentry who raised the alarm, Martin Conway, Eamon Molony, John Quinlan and Henry Wade. Here is a song that commemorates the tragedy. It was sent to me by Peter Kerins, Caherelly, Grange.  I have not learned the author’s name.


O Roisin Dubh your sorrows grew

On a cold and stormy night,

When Caher’s woods and glens so bold

Shone in the pale moonlight.

Within your walls where alien balls,

Were held in days of yore,

Stood many an Irish lad and lass,

At Cahirguillamore.

Did you not hear with fallen tear

The tread of silent men?

As a shot rang out from a rifle bright,

To warn those within.

The sentry brave the alarm gave,

Though he lay in his own gore:

His life he gave his friends to save,

That night at `Guillamore’.

I need not tell what there befell,

All in that crowded hall;

The Black and Tans worked quite well,

With rifle-butt and ball.

 Unarmed men lay dying and dead ,

Their life’s blood did out pour;

They sleep now in their hollow graves,

Near Cahirguillamore.

The commander of those legions

Would more suit a foreign field,

Where he would meet some savage foes,

His methods they would greet,

And not those laughing youths

Who were taught to love and pray,

And who received the body of Christ,

On that same Christmas Day.


Some of Listowel’s Old Patricians

Tommy Moore shared this photo on Facebook. All of these men who were familiar to us all in Listowel have now passed away

They are Bunny Dalton, Jimmy Moloney, Sean Walshe and Bryan MacMahon R.I.P.


Polar Express Christmas windows 2017

Lizzy’s train and little village is lovely at night.

Brenda Woulfe added a few carriages and some railway related books to her display.

Brendan Landy has a very stylish display and a very swish train…The TGV ?


A Winning Poem

Every year  Listowel Writers Week sponsor the poetry prize at the annual Bord Gais Book Awards.

This year, 2017 winning poem was called Seven Sugar Cubes by Clodagh Beresford Dunne.

On 10th April, 1901, in Massachusetts, Dr. Duncan MacDougall set out to prove that the human soul had mass and was measurable. His findings concluded that the soul weighed 21 grams.

When your mother phones to tell you that your father has died

ten thousand miles away, visiting your emigrant brother,

in a different hemisphere, in a different season,

do you wonder if your father’s soul will be forever left in summer?

Do you grapple

with the journey home of the body of a man you have known

since you were a body in your mother’s body?

Does the news melt into you and cool to the image

of his remains in a Tasmanian Blackwood coffin, in the body of a crate

in the body of a plane? Or do you place the telephone receiver back on its cradle,

take your car keys, drive the winter miles to your father’s field, where you know

his horses will run to the rattle, like dice, of seven sugar cubes.

The poem is intensely personal but has that universal appeal that enables us all to put ourselves in the speaker’s place.

Listowel Writers’ Week will run from May 30 to June 3 2018

Sisters at Prayer, The Lartigue and A Stone on Church Street

Beautiful Kerry

Catherine Moylan took this beautiful landscape photo in the Black Valley in November 2016


Nuns at Prayer

This rare photo of Listowel’s Presentation sisters at prayer was posted online by Mike Hannon.


Lartigue Ready for Another Season

There’s only one wheel on the line

And the track like the story is single.

Sure there isn’t a railway so fine

Not excepting the Tralee and Dingle.

The official opening of the original Listowel and Ballybunion Railway (known locally as The Lartigue) took place on February 24 1888. On its first day in business it carried over 100 passengers.

The modern replica locomotive and museum will open for the 2017 season in April. The dedicated team who run this venture posted this picture of the spruced up train and the lovely new standard lamp, all ready for action in April.

Everyone in Listowel should make a firm resolve to take a trip on the train at least once this season.


What’s the Story of this stone?

If memory serves me right this stone used to be at a location lower down Church St.

What is it?

Did it once serve a useful purpose?

I’m intrigued.


The Children are in For a Treat


Bíonn Siúlach Scéalach

I am not a well travelled person bu I am the next best thing, a person who knows lots of people who travel and who bring me back their observations.

Today my wisdom gleaned from traveller’s tales for is this; Concrete balls to prevent drivers parking on pavements are everywhere.

Christina Kennelly, who hails from Ballybunion where I first photographed these balls, spotted these in Torremolinos, Spain.

Vincent Carmody tells me that the big red ones are outside lots of Target stores in the USA. He has often sat on one of them while waiting for his relatives to complete their Target purchases.

Presentation Convent, Sophie Hannah and Goats in Ballybunion

Beautiful North Kerry

Pylons and a rainbow photographed by Mike Enright


Presentation Convent Listowel in 2007

Photos by Mairéad O’Sullivan


Glin; A Town Flowing with Milk and Money in 1897

The butter produced by the Glin Co-op creamery was of a renowned high quality partly due to its cooling which was aided by the importation of ice from Norway for the ice houses built for the thriving Glin fish market where salmon taken locally were bought and then sent directly from there to Billingsgate, London for sale. Ice was needed to pack the fish to keep them fresh. A dairy inspector report dated 13 August 1897 confirms this As the creamery is now receiving ice daily and I gave them information how to use this to the best advantage, I expect good results in the future both in quantity and quality.

Source; Glin, A Heritage Town website


What I am Reading

My latest reading material is a whodunnit for my book club. Sophie Hannah is the writer chosen to write novels in the style of Agatha Christie. This one has Poirot solving a case in Clonakilty, Co. Cork. It’s like a trip down Memory lane for me. I used to love Agatha Christie but had not read one for years. This one is just like the style I remember. It is a real page turner.


a little bird tells me that Sophie Hannah is coming to Listowel for Writers’ Week.


New Parking sign


Living on the Edge

My friend, Bridget O’Connor did the cliff walk in Ballybunion. She met a family of goats and took these great photographs.

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