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: Presenatation Sisters

The Dandy Lodge, Presentation sisters R.I.P. and the big fair remembered

Storm damage at Rossbeigh in January 2014    photo by Margaret O’Shea

Beautiful Rossbeigh last week       photos by Chris Grayson


The Dandy Lodge

This is the Dandy Lodge with the pitch and putt clubroom at the back. Can anyone tell me something about the setting up of the pitch and putt club in Listowel?

The Dandy Lodge was apparently a library, a private residence (of the Hannon family) and a video rental shop before it was moved into Childers’ Park.

 This year I’d love to share with readers of Listowel Connection something of the history of clubs and organisations in the town. But to do this I need your help……please!


Do you remember the nuns?

This year we are embarking on a project to commemorate Presentation Secondary Education in Listowel. We are planning a commemorative book. 

Take a look at the names of these nuns on their headstone and see if you remember any of them. If you have any pleasant memories of these women or if you have photos or anecdotes, please send them to me at

It is chilling to read all these names and to realise that we are witnessing the end of an era. The next generation will not know nuns.


The Big Fair as remembered by Delia O’Sullivan

Last week we had the first of the 2018 horse fairs. To mark that, I am reproducing an account of the big October fairs of long ago as detailed in Striking a Chord by Delia O’Sullivan


By Delia O’Sullivan  in Striking a Chord

The big fair day in Listowel, the October fair, was the topic of conversation among the farmers for weeks afterwards. Exaggerations and downright lies were swapped outside the church gates and continued at the holy water font, to the fury of the priest. It finished over a couple of pints in the pub.  None of them could be cajoled into giving the actual price, always sidestepping with,”I got what I asked for,” or, “I got a good price.” There were tales of outsmarting the cattle jobbers – an impossible task.

The farmers on our road set out on foot for thwe seven mile journey at 4 a.m. It was their last chamce to sell their calves until the spring. Now nine months old, these calves were wild and unused to the road. Traffic confused them, so their only aim was to get into every field they passed to graze or rest. Each farmer took a helper. Those eho had decided to wait until the spring fair would go along later to size up the form.

The battle would commence at the Feale Bridge where the farmers were accosted by the jobbers- men trying to buy at the lowest price. These offers were treated with contempt and a verbal slagging would follow. “You’ll be glad to give them away before evening,” or, more insulting, “Shoudn’t you have taken them to Roscrea?” 

(Roscrea was a meat and bone meal processing plant where old cows that could not be sold for meat were sent for slaughter.)

The shopkeepers and publicans in Listowel were well prepared for the influx; trays of ham sandwiches sitting on the counter of each pub where most of the men finished up. The jobbers, being suitably attired, would have their dinner at the hotel and the farmers who wanted to avoid the pubs would go to Sandy’s for tea and ham. The shopkeepers kept a smile on their faces when calves marched through their doors upsetting merchandise and, sometime, leaving their calling card. The bank manager was equally excited, greeting each man as “Sir”. He found trhis was the safest approach as it was hard to distinguish them. They all looked alike in their wellingtons, coats tied with binder twine and the caps pulled well down on the foreheads.

My father arrived home late. It was obvious he was in a bad mood though he didn’t arrive home with the calves. He said he was cold and hungry and sat in silence at the table, while my mother served up bis dinner which had been kept warm for hours over a pint of hot water. As he was half way through eating his bacon and turnip, he looked at my mother saying, “I’ve never met such a stupid man in all my life.”  The quizzical look on her face showed she didn’t have a clue wht he was talking about and didn’t dare ask. It took the mug of tea and the pipe of tobacco to get him started again.

My uncle Dan, my mother’s brother was his helper. Dan was a mild softly spoken man who had little knowledge of cattle. It was a a sluggish fair; prices only fair. My father held out until he was approached by a man he had dealt with often in the past.  They followed the usual ritual arguments- offers, refusals, the jobber walking away, returning with his last offer. This was on a par with what my father was expecting so he winked at Dan, which was his cue to say, “Split the difference.” . Instead Dan winked back. My father gave him a more pronounced wink. This elicited the same response from Dan. The day was only saved by a neighbor, who, on noticing the problem, jumped inn, spat on his palms and shouted, “Shake on it, lads, and give the man a luck penny.”

Over a very silent pint and sandwich Dan mournfully remarked, “If Mike hadn’t butted in you’d have got a better price for the calves.”


Light a Penny Candle

My lovely grandsons, Sean and Killian, lighting candles in the cathedral, Killarney at Christmas 2017.



This is the word from when two things chance to happen together and they are in some way connected.

Yesterday I told you that Brigita, who is originally from Lithuania, had taken over at Scribes while Namir heads off to concentrate on his Ballybunion businesses.

Well, in a piece of synchronicity, Patrick McCrea, who is descended from the Armstrong family who had the sweet factory in Listowel, sent me this encouraging email;

“Thank you for a brilliant Listowelconnection mail – loved the TS Eliot poem and your report on the Galette des Rois- I lived 45 years in France 🇫🇷!  Now live in snowbound Lithuania 🇱🇹Happy New Year -Patrick McCrea”

Listowel statues, Listowel men and a meeting to set up a Limerick Kerry Railway line

Some Listowel Public Sculptures

This artwork in The Square depicts the River Feale which runs through the town and a ring fort or lios from which the town takes its name.

A constant reminder of the contribution of nuns to the  the town.

Bryan MacMahon, Údar agus Oide, a Patrician, whose influence is still felt in Listowel and further afield.


Two Men I met on the Street on Friday

Denis Walsh of The Advertiser has a busy day on Fridays, delivering his very popular publication to North Kerry businesses.

Denis took a minute to pose for me with his friend, Martin McCarthy, star of Widows’ Paradise.


Then and Now

Some places change and some stay the same.


From The Tralee Chronicle of 1879……the start of the line

A meeting of the Directors of the Limerick and Kerry Railway Company
was held at Mr M’Elligott’s Hotel, Listowel, on Tuesday last, the Earl
of Devon presiding. Other Directors present   George Sandes, VC, Major
Crosbie, F Sandes, George Hewson,Edward Curling, Messrs Michael Leahy,
Newcastle West; Denny, Tralee, Solicitors to the Directory;Mr
Barrington, CE, and Thomas Nunan ?, Secretary, were also present.

The meeting was chiefly for the disposal of preliminary business and
to organise the taking of shares, for which purpose local committees
were appointed. Lord Devon headed the share list, and subsequently
paid the usual deposit on same into the bank. It was stated at the
meeting that if the people most interested in the project subscribed
at once for the shares on the favourable terms they are now offered at
the Directors would be in a position to invite tenders from
contractors on favourable terms so as to allow the contractors of the
line being at once proceeded with. It was also said that a large
number of shares had been subscribed for. Among the most prominent
shareholders is Lord Listowel, from whom a letter was read expressing
regret that he was unable to attend the meeting. After leaving the
meeting Lord Devon in passing through Abbeyfeale, came in for an
ovation, the inhabitants turning out en masse to greet him, headed by
the local brass band.


Colourful Spirits at the Red Door

I was in Newcastlewest on Thursday last for an Art Exhibition by our local art group, Colourful Spirits.

The opening night was really well attended. I’ll bring you more photos in the next few days.


The Drama Group are on the Road

Listowel Drama Group made a great start to their festival tour in Knockaderry on 

Friday Mar. 4 2016. 

They posted a few photos of the scene backstage on their Facebook page.

Taken from the wings before curtain up

The stars are in make up

Chief cook and bottle washer, John Kinsella, gets a rare moment of relaxation.

Presentation Sisters in Listowel, the ultimate sacrifice and some changed facades

Presentation Presence in Listowel

To mark Catholic Schools Week, Sr. Éilís sent me a brief synopsis of the work of the Presentation Sisters in Listowel down through the years.


As we celebrate our tradition of
Presentation Catholic education in Listowel, we take inspiration from the lives
of the Four Presentation Sisters who began catholic education in Listowel in
1844.  On the 7th of May 1844,
Sr. Mary Augustine Stack- a native of Listowel and three sisters from Milltown,
Sr. Mary Teresa Kelly, Sr. Mary Francis McCarthy and Sr. Mary Francis Brennan
founded a convent and school in Listowel.                                    

During the Famine of 1845-48, the
sisters had to close their school. They opened soup kitchens to feed the
starving people. It resulted in the deaths of many families and of some of the
young sisters. Sharing their meagre resources with the poor, over the course of
twelve months, the sisters supplied 31,000 breakfasts to the starving children.
The Convent Annuals read of the Sisters baking bread to feed so many,
eventually being reduced to rye and black bread. The Sisters also initiated
groups to make garments for the women and shirts for the men in the workhouse
closeby – so that people could earn wages. 

A significant event in the life of
the early Listowel Presentation community was the ‘Battle of the Cross’ in
1857.  The Sisters were ordered to take
down the Cross from the gable end of their school by the Education Board. In
spite of dire threats, the sisters refused to do so, and defied the Board.
Eventually the Board yielded.

In 2007 the sisters closed their
convent, after 163 years of service in Listowel. The tradition of Presentation
Catholic education is still alive in Listowel. 
Our school is now under the trusteeship of CEIST which is committed to
continuing the great tradition of Presentation Catholic education in Listowel
into the future.


outside Trinity College, Dublin, 1900     (source; photos of old Dublin)


Bridget Sheehan of Ballyduff

I mentioned before here the great Ballyduff Facebook page that is about to be taken down. Here is one of the last entries on Anyone from Ballyduff out there

In it Tim Sheehan pays tribute to his late mother whom he never knew.

February 1 is the Feast of Saint
Bridget. My Mom Bridget nee Sullivan Sheehan after making the most courageous
decision that one can make in this life entered into the wonderful realm of
Peace and Serenity. She is the reason that I can experience all the wonderful
gifts that comprise my life today. 

In 1952, she is pregnant with me, joyous and
full of anticipation at the prospect of bringing the child she is carrying into
the world. A few months into the pregnancy she is diagnosed with terminal
breast cancer. The doctors of that era offer her a choice. There is a drug that
will possibly help with the advancing cancer but if she opts to take this drug
it will take the life of the child she is carrying. 

She chose my life over her
own. She refused to take the medications and thus I was born. She passed when I
was 11 months old. I have no tangible memory of, her touch, her smile, her joy,
however I do have the gift of a love that transcends any definition. 

For the
past 60 years I have been the recipient of the greatest love possible, a love
that is immeasurable in its purity and nature, the love of a Mother. When I
return home to the small cemetery where she is buried and I kneel in front of
her gravestone I reflect on these words from the Irish ballad, Danny Boy.

But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying,

If I am dead, as dead I well may be,

Ye’ll come and find the place where I am lying,

And kneel and say an Ave there for me;

And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,

And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,

For you will bend and tell me that you love me,

And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!

Thank You Mom for loving me so much that you gave the
ultimate gift; my life.

I feel you in my heart every day,

Is breá liom tú anois agus i gcónaí.  Go raibh maith agat as
do mhisneach agus mo shaol.


Tim Sheehan on his mother, Bridget Sullivan of Ardoughter, Ballyduff


Then and Now



John Corridan (front row, 4th from right, next to the late Roly Chute), brother of the late Dr. Robert Corridan is hale and hearty at 95 and living in Cork.

Presentation, Castleisland, Coolwood and a modern post box

Castleisland Sisters

A friend sent me these photos from a book in tribute to the Presentation presence in Castleisland.

Some of these good sisters have gone to their eternal reward but some are still with us. If anyone wants to update me I’d be delighted to print today’s photos of the ladies or any stories anyone would like to share.


Children and Animals

My boyeens spent a lot of time in Kerry this summer. Tomorrow they head off to France for a year in St. Jean de Lus.

 On their recent visit we made lots of happy memories. One of these involved a day out in Coolwood, just outside Killarney on the Cork Road. It’s a great place for a walk through the woods and a chance to see lots of animals and fowl.

This lovely hare was a bit shy.

 The rabbit and the peacock had a bit of a noisy stand off over some food.


The lemurs were allowed to roam free. We did not get too close.

An alpaca

This proud hen was strutting about as if she owned the place.

This young ostrich was having a good look.

Christmas turkey?


A tad inconsiderate!

Upper William Street, last week


Post Box in Upper Church St.

The Irish post office was P & T before it became An Post.

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