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: rural decline

Listowel Children in the 1960s, A Holy Well and Armistice Day Centenary Commemorations in Listowel

The River Feale behind the Listowel Arms; Photo: Charlie Nolan


Old Pals

“Fond memory brings the light of other days around me.”

Bernard O’Connell who lived in Upper William Street Listowel and now lives in Canada posted to Facebook this picture of his childhood friends.


A Holy Well

From the schools folklore collection at Dúchas

Tarbert School collection. Nora Scanlon, Dooncaha.

Our Holy Wells

There is a well in Tarmons known as St. Senan’s. It is in the corner of Buckley’s field in Ballintubber.

This well is not deep and a stream flows out of it. Always in the month of May people pay rounds at this well on every Saturday of the month.

This is how people pay rounds. People pick up seven pebbles out of the stream and then kneel down at the well and start reciting the Rosary. Then they start at the right hand side of the well and walk slowly all round reciting a decade of the Rosary while going round. At the end of each decade they throw one pebble away. Then when the seventh round is paid they kneel down and finish the Rosary. Then they take three drinks out of the well and wash their faces at the stream. Then they usually tie a piece of cloth on an overhanging bush. It is said that according as the cloth wears away the disease wears off the patient.

It is called St. Senan’s well because it was St. Senan who blessed its waters. From the well you can see the ruins of seven churches and round tower in Scattery built by St. Senan.

There are no fish in the well and the water is not used for household purposes. Once a woman went to fill her kettle at the well. She forgot to bring a vessel with which to fill her kettle. She left her kettle at the well and went back for a saucepan. When she returned the well had disappeared and the bush with it. It went from the top of the hill to the side where it is now.


A Thought

As Asphalt and concrete

 Replace bushes and trees,

As highways and buildings 

Replace marshes and woods

What will replace the song of the birds?

Tony Chen


Only in Ireland

Photo; Random Cork Stuff


People at the Armistice Day Centenary Commemoration in Listowel

On a cold showery Sunday a good crowd turned up to commemorate the men who endured appalling hardship in the most awful of wars. Cold and rain were nothing compared to weeks spent in wet trenches with rats for company.

Carmel Gornall was there with her brother and two sisters in law.

Carmel’s sisters in law had grandfathers who served in The Great war.

Great to see Jim Halpin brave the cold to be part of it. Jim has done more than most in North Kerry to make sure that the names of the brave men who fought will be remembered.

Local history lovers and retired military men turned out in numbers to remember.


One to Watch

 Bánú nó Slánú:  Thursday TG4  9.30p.m.

This documentary looks at the small town way of life that is dying a death in Ireland, as illustrated by a visit to once thriving towns in Kerry and Leitrim. Ballylongford in north Kerry has seen its mill, creamery and many businesses close over the last 30 years. In 2017, no new children started in the national school for the first time in living memory and its post office is now under threat.  One of the last small farmers in the village, Donal O’Connor, who’s in his 70s, sums things up: “I’m the last of the family. There are no small farmers anymore.”  Kiltyclogher in north Leitrim made the headlines when it launched a media campaign to attract people to move to the village. Six  families made the move, helping to save the local school  – but one year on, how does the future look? Did the newcomers stay? And have they done enough?

(Photo and text from Irish Times TV Guide)

Rural Ireland, the good and the bad and a story of Danny Kelliher.

Listowel Town Park, November 2015

“Poems are made by fools like me

But only God can make a tree.”

(Joyce Kilmer)


Ireland’s Rural Communities do Funerals Well

Last week I went back to the
land of my forefathers. I went back to my roots, to my father’s parish of
Kilbrin in North Cork. I was there to attend the funeral of a local legend, Dan

Dan was a lifetime vice president
of  Kilbrin GAA and, boy, did they see him out in style.

 The flags flew at half
mast and most of the club players and officials lined out on both days to
provide an impressive guard of honour. A lone piper piped his funeral cortege
from the church to the playing field where he attended so many matches, then on
past “The Club” i.e. the local community
centre which was a second home to him. There he loved to play cards and chat over a pint with friends young and old. Dan was one of “the old stock” and Kilbrin respects its elders.

Dan’s funeral involved 3
North Cork villages and he would be proud that he brought all three to a halt at various times over the three days. His
wake in Kanturk and his funeral mass in Kilbrin were the biggest seen in the
area for quite some time. His burial in Kiskeam in the lovely hillside
graveyard there was a fitting end to a long and productive life.

My photo shows the hearse bringing Dan home to his beloved Kiskeam for the last time.

Those who were there will
never forget the plaintive playing of Danny Boy by a family friend from Miltown Malbay as Dan was laid to rest in his
native soil beside his beloved wife, Beatrice.

It was a great funeral with a
huge party afterwards in the community centre in Kiskeam with sandwiches and
confectionary to feed the whole parish. The party continued afterwards in The Club in Kilbrin, finishing on November 8 which would have been Dan’s 88th birthday.

The communities of the two
places Dan Breen loved best, Kilbrin and Kiskeam, did him proud. They saw one of
their favourite and most loyal citizens out in style.

Guímis leaba i measc na naomh is na naingeal i gcomhluadar a chairde dá anam uasal dílis.


Kilbrin Revisited… A Sad Journey down Memory Lane

Church of St. John the Baptist, Kilbrin, Co Cork November 7 2015

My father died when I was
seven. As a child I visited Kilbrin often to tend his grave. I have not been
back now for a few years.

 The churchyard where my paternal ancestors, my mother and my sister are buried.

The Ahern family graves

I called  to the graveyard to say a prayer for my parents, grandparents, my sister and all of my kinsfolk and neighbours who are buried there. The graveyard is beautifully kept by a local committee who have done tojan work in cleaning up the whole burial ground and putting a  plan of the churchyard and the names of all who are buried there online; Kilbrin Graveyard Inscriptions

The church too is lovely. It is very small with 3 small aisles. It was built in the 1830s by Fr. Con Scully. I do intend returning to look at the place again….a trip down memory lane.

I saw huge changes in the village of Kilbrin. It now has no shop and no pub. It does have a licensed premises, the
community centre, but when that is closed you can’t buy a newspaper, a bottle of
water or a pint of milk anywhere in the village. It still has a school, a
church and a thriving G.A.A. club but the village without any retail business
is a sad sight.

Read all about Kilbrin in their website here;   Kilbrin


Local Men Fondly Remembered

Last week I published these photos of a group of local friends who are all still remembered with great affection.

Owen MacMahon told me about Danny Kelliher (on the right in the first photo). On the left of the photo is Tommy Murphy of Murphy’s Butchers’ in William St.  Murphy’s Butchers’ employed Danny to deliver the meat around town. 

After he finished at Murphy’s Danny got a job as a window cleaner. 

One day Bryan MacMahon was walking in The Square when he met Danny. The Master stopped to enquire how Danny was getting on with his new job. Danny told him that he was always being asked by tourists alighting from buses in The Square if he knew anything about the history of the castle . He was always disappointed to have to tell them that he didn’t. Bryan offered to write out a short history of the castle for him to learn off so that he could answer the tourists’ questions. This he did.

Some time later Bryan MacMahon was again perambulating in The Square when he met Danny again as he was cleaning a window. He asked Danny if he had had any opportunity to use his new found knowledge of Listowel Castle.

Danny told him that an American tourist had indeed come up to him and asked about the castle. He gave him the full history as learned from The Master’s account. the American man was astounded and he remarked that Danny had a great knowledge of history for a humble window cleaner.

Danny’s reply, “You can’t beat a well educated proletariat.”

The Yank asked no more, only gathered himself back to his bus.


Listowel 10K: a Great Success

Vincent Carmody presented his medal to his grandson, Jack, at end of Kerry Crusaders 10K on Saturday November 14 2015.

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