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: Sarah Webb

The Bog, The Children, the nuns and Ryan Tubridy at Writers’ Week

It’s That Time of Year

Photo by Jason of Ballybunion Prints Beach

Not everyone can lie all day on the beach. For some people the fine weather means one thing…a trip to the bog.

 Bog cotton photographed by Maire Logue

Turbery and turbines photographed by Maire Logue

Some people are a little further along with the turf harvest. The Hartnett family of Upper William Street have their turf home and stowed.


The early days of Presentation Presence in Listowel

The cross gave its name to the first convent here. It was known as The Convent of the Holy Cross.

Here is a newspaper account of the death of one of the founding sisters

Irish Examiner , Friday, October 21, 1864


NOT only the religious and Catholic laity of the diocese
of Kerry, but the large circle, besides, by whom she was known and venerated,
will feel with regret that the blank left in her community by the death of
Reverend Mother Teresa Kelly on Wednesday last, will be long before it ceases
to be suffered from. A long life of activity, intelligence and holiness, under
trying circumstances, endeared her to all who know her personally or by report.

Upwards of fifty years ago Miss Kelly entered the
Presentation Convent, Killarney, and soon after passing through an edifying
novitiate was appointed superioress. In this important office she distinguished
herself by bar prudence and zeal alike; her charity knew no limit, and yet she
never involved her community in embarrassments. During her term of office in
Killarney, the first of the monks of La Trappe, whose abbey is now so well
known at Mount Melleray, near Cappoquin, came to this country from France. They
were penniless, and depended for support on the charity of the people. The
first of those who stretched out the hand to help them was Rev. Mother Teresa,
her influence procured them a house to live in, and her pecuniary aid to their
establishment in Ireland was important. Visitors to the Abbey of Mount Melleray
may hear of a lady who is publicly prayed for by the monks as a great benefactress
to their order, well-known to the older brothers, this lady is Mother Teresa.
All, but a few old monks on crutches, have died, of the brothers who came over
from France, and as silence is one of the chief disciplines of La Trappe, few
of the present community know the name of the lady for whom the public prayers are

Having filled with honour the office, of superioress at
Killarney for several years, Mother Teresa, with a few sisters, left the
community to found a convent at Milltown, a small town at the bend of Dingle
Bay. Under her able government, this undertaking prospered, and the schools
attached were filled with the children of the peasantry and townspeople. Here
Mother Teresa remained until she had passed her fiftieth year. At this period
of life few men or women undertake new and important works, but Mother Teresa,
hearing of the great want of educational establishments in North Kerry,
consented to break her attachments to the convent she had founded and made
prosperous, and begin anew in Listowel. She founded the convent of Holy Cross
in that town onwards of twenty years ago, with three assistant sisters. Of her
acts of charity during the famine, years no praise could be too loud. She was
the chief reliance of priests and people in that district during that dreary
period. Her small community gradually gained accessions, and on the day of her
death she had the happiness to see it one of the most prosperous and beloved of
the Presentation Convents.

Many priests on the foreign and home missions owe the
means which enabled them to prosecute their studies to this holy woman, and
would regret her loss were they not assured that she has passed to a place where
the virtues she practised and the peace she loved and taught here are eternal.


The National Children’s Literary Festival at Writers’ Week

Here are some of the marvellous events which the lucky children enjoyed.

RTE Juniors held a very popular workshop.

Here are the RTE Junior stars with Norella and Maria of Listowel Writers’ Week.

Singer/ Songwriter, Enda Reilly held two songwriting events, one as Gaeilge and one in English.

Kenny the Clown made balloon animals for the children.

Children’s author, Sarah Webb was omnipresent during the festival.

Ryan Tubridy and P.J. Lynch told the children about how they came to work together on the popular children’s book, Patrick and the President. They signed and posed for photos and were gracious and patient with all their young admirers.

Last of my Photos from Listowel Writers’ Week Opening Night 2017

May 31 2017 was a lovely evening in Listowel Town Square. St. John’s presided over The Square as it has done for hundreds of years and the best Writers Week ever was about to get underway in The Listowel Arms.  And I was there……


People at Opening Night

“If I picked out one highlight though, one moment that’s opened a new door in my mind, it was Richard Ford on Second Acts. Richard opened the celebrations and my heart soared as he spoke about the very issue that is playing constantly on my mind right now – and one I had only minutes before been discussing in the bar with Richard Skinner, Director of the Faber Academy, the second novel. I had only just been saying to Richard that the first novel is like the love of your life, a grand passion but with the second, you get 50,000 words in and start to feel queasy as you wonder should you even be going out with this one – in today’s Tinder world, should you have swiped left perhaps?”   Rose McGinty

I don’t agree with Rose on this one. Rose is a writer and here for a literary festival. I am a local and here to share the enjoyment of local people in rubbing shoulders with the greats of Irish literature and also the up and coming writers and future stars. 

Actress turned author, Ruth Gilligan came with a posse of friends.

Gabriel  Fitzmaurice

Catherine and Con Kirby

Jim and Dónal Daly

Eamon OHargáin

Maria McGrath with Sarah Webb and Óisín McGann

Norella Moriarty, Liz Dunn, Bernie Carmody and David Browne

In Killarney this morning a proud mother is opening Listowel Connection and seeing her lovely son at work at Listowel Writers’ Week.

This is a photo of two John Griffins. The older of the two is John Junior Griffin and the lovely young man on his left is John Griffin of Killarney. This John’s mother is a Hannon from Listowel and a follower of this blog.

John was in Listowel working as a sound engineer during the festival. I kept running into to him as he lugged his big amplifier from location to location on morning walks. He was invariably polite, pleasant and professional – a credit to his Listowel family.

Catherine Moylan was first on stage.

She urged us to make friends with our neighbour. No better woman than Norella for befriending people.

Next up John Spillane

Then Liz Dunn

 Colm Tóibín

 Richard Ford

The silver award sat on the table awaiting presentation to Brendan Kennelly

This was my highlight. Brendan sat down and regaled us in his mellifluous tones with stories and songs. He recited his most famous poem, Begin, which he told us came to him in a moment of inspiration after major heart surgery. He sang John B. Keane songs and he held the audience in the palm of his hand as of old. He was where he clearly loves to be, holding court among his own people and fellow writers and lovers of literature. It was a special moment in time.   And I was there…..

Looking westward I beheld an unmistakable forehead among the crowd near the door. Alan Cumming had entered the room. What a lovely man. He posed for photos and chatted like one of our own.

I forgot to mention that among all of this there was prize giving. Kit de Waal won the big one with her novel, My Name is Leon and Vona Groarke won the poetry prize. Lots of other people also won prizes. You can see the full list on the Writers’ Week website.  And Laura Enright sang…heavenly voice!

What a night! And I was there…

Lartigue at Teampall Bán, Floods of 2009 and posting letters in the rain.

All Roads Lead to Moyvane on Sunday


Nicole Landers is a professional photographer. Recently she posted this picture on Facebook and here is the caption she posted with it.


I was walking home from college not so long ago and i was stopped as i was dumping some wrappers from my lunch in the bin, by this very kind old county council man who asked me proudly could i take a photo of him working on the job. He said he was very proud to clean the streets of Limerick City and happy to see young people are making an effort to keep this city clean. The smile on his face tells a thousand words. I want everyone to appreciate the hard working people out there.

I can honestly say this man made my day smile emotico”


Listowel Folk Group

This photo of Listowel Folk Group was taken when they sang at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney earlier this winter.


That was Then; This is Now

Lartigue monorail, Teampaillín bán-

The Lartigue monorail, designed by the Frenchman Charles Lartigue was a single rail steam train that ran alongside the roadway from Listowel to Ballybunion was unique to Ireland, and apart from another example in France was unique to the world. It operated from 1888 to 1924 when it closed due to financial difficulties and being left behind when the railways in Ireland were consolidated at that time.

The Hunslet engines used were specially built with two boilers to balance on the track, and thus two fireboxes, one of which had to be stoked by the driver.
Loads carried had to be evenly balanced as the carriages were essentially cut in two like the engines, passengers sat facing out of the windows rather than looking up/down the train as is the norm.
If a farmer wished to send a cow to market, as an example he would have to send two calves to balance it, which would then travel back on opposite sides of the same freight wagon, thereby balancing each other. The same went for passengers, they had to balance evenly across the carriages.
When the line closed in ’24 everything was scrapped and disposed of but in recent years due to a superb voluntary effort a short replica line has been built in Listowel, and is well worth a day trip out to see it when it is open.
The pictures below were taken from the top of Teampaillín Ban overbridge, a rare surviving example of original Lartigue architecture, still in very good order just on the edge of Listowel town. The view is looking North West towards Ballybunion on what is now the R553 road. Note how much smaller the road is in the original photograph.

(Original photo Robert French/Lawrence either 1893 or 1913)

(Modern photo December ’15)

(Historical ref – mainly M Geurins excellent book)

(text and photos from Time Travel Kerry)


2009 was worse!

Junior Griffin’s photos from 2009 when the river walk was completely submerged show that 2015 hasn’t been our worst year ……..yet!


Remember this?

We lost this battle and now the post office is located in a corner of Super Valu. I rarely go there but last Saturday I went to buy stamps and to post my Christmas cards. It was then I discovered a huge loss to Listowel due to this relocation. There is now nowhere indoors or under any shelter to post a letter. I got drenched and the cards got drenched because the letter slot was absolutely dripping wet and I couldn’t slide them in without touching the wet ledge no matter how I tried.


More People I met a the Light Switching on December 6


New Role for Sarah Webb

Successful Irish author, Sarah Webb has been unveiled as the newly appointed adviser to The National Children’s Literary Festival at Listowel Writers Week.

The children’s programme at Writers’ Week has grown into a huge festival and this year there are some really exciting things lined up. Put June 1 to June 5 2016 in your diary. All will be revealed shortly.

A Few Final Odds and Ends from the children’s events at Writers’ Week 2015 and The Athea Mural

Remembering a Great Few Days

This is British children’s author, Andrew Cope at the entrance to Listowel Town Park during The National Children’s Literary Festival at Writers’ Week 2015.

U.S. children’s author, Emily Raabe, with Maria McGrath, children’s programme administrator, Irish author, Sarah Webb and committee member, Mairead Costelloe.

Local Xistance Youth volunteers painted faces all day long.

Philip Ardagh in full flight.

Kerry GAA star, James O’Donoghue posed for a photo with some young admirers.

Here I am with Will Collins, his wife, Karen and son, Luke and his parents, Willy and Peggy Collins, my good friends from Kanturk.

Still face painting.

Best selling author of the Darkmouth series, Shane Hegarty signing copies of his book.

Happy days for Cora: face painted, Scellig chocolate lolly in hand and the show about to begin!

Taking a rest after a whistle stop tour of the town

Sarah Webb signing her book for a young fan.

Still face painting…. these young face painting artists were tireless.


How to Behave at The Palace

Should you get an invitation to the queen’s garden party, The Telegraph has a handy guide to a few essential table manners;

If you are seated to the right of the queen, you are the guest of honour and will be spoken to during the first course.

If you are to her left you are of less importance and can expect to be spoken to during the second course.  Whether you are left or right, you never speak first. You speak only when spoken to.

Never touch the queen or any item of her placesetting or cutlery.

Replace your teacup on its saucer after every sip.

Hold your wine glass by the stem.

You may drink wine even if the queen declines. She usually drinks mineral water.

So now you know.


Meanwhile in Athea

I went to Athea on Saturday, June 27 to check in on progress on the forge mural. A little bird (named Jim Dunn) had told me that there were some new figures added recently.

This was the scene, high vis jackets and hard hats everywhere, cherrypickers at every pole and it looked like every ESB worker in Limerick had descended on the village for the day. I had struck town on the day of the big switch on of the new lights.


This is how the mural looks from across the road. The lovely peaceful olde worlde forge scene is now  behind a kind of modern maypole of wires and shiny silver aluminum. Shame!

I ignored the pole and inspected the additions to the work of art. It’s going to be a masterpiece! Even an ugly ESB pole fails to detract from the charming scene from a more slow moving era.

A sleepy yet vigilant dog is now lounging at the feet of the horseman.

The original horse man has been joined by another gentle country man, this time dressed up for a visit to town with collar and tie and good sports coat. He is standing like a man at ease with the world admiring the work of the farrier. This little tableau is just perfect.

Now we discover that our first man is killing two birds with one stone. He is on his way to or from the creamery with his two small churns in the body of his cart.

Meanwhile in the forge the farrier is shoeing the draught horse while the owner is reassuring his animal that it will be over soon. I love the attention to detail  in this horse’s tackling. Look at the winkers, the collar, the hames and belly band…all perfect.

My father died when I was seven and many of my memories of him are with working horses like this.

This man has brought a machine for repair. It looks like a seed drill to me but it could be an implement we called a scuffler.

One of these days I’ll hit Athea when Jim is actually working on this.


Great News for Family Researchers

“It is all good news to-day on the Church records.  Next Wednesday afternoon 8thJuly, the Catholic Church Parish records will be released on their website  by the National Library.”

This good news comes in a blogpost from Kay Caball of  Find My Kerry Ancestors

Click on the link to hear how compiling your family tree has just got a whole lot easier.

  • Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén