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: Scoil na Maidine

Sunset in Bromore, 60’s Listowel boys and New Orleans Irish in 1800’s

Boat in the Shannon Estuary, photographed from Bromore Cliffs by Mike Flahive in November 2013.


Another one from Dan Doyle

Dan is third from left at the back.


St. Michaels’ extension under construction…not sure of the year.


Back to Listowel. Ontario. It would appear that we were twinned with that town and a delegation came to Listowel, Co. Kerry in 1967.  They dressed in traditional costumes as they were celebrating their town’s  centenary. There are photos in the Kennelly Archive. Tom Fitzgerald found them here

Anyone among you readers remember the event? The late John B. Keane and Michael Kennelly are recognisable in the photos.


Then and Now


Norwich council taking delivery of its first computer!!!!!


This next story comes from a great website; Irish Central.

Helen Lagasse is an award winning author based in New Orleans.
She is currently researching her latest book on the Irish who died while
building the New Basin Canal. By the time the canal opened in 1838, 8,000 Irish laborers
had succumbed to cholera and yellow fever. She is appealing for anyone with
information about their ancestors who may have been involved in the
construction to get in touch with her. She can be reached at   

In 1832,
in the Second Municipality, sometimes called the American Sector, an area
upriver from Canal St., the arduous task of digging the New Orleans Navigation Canal, later known as
the New Basin Canal, began.

slipped into the swamp to dig with pick and shovel the mosquito-infested ditch
that would be the new 60-ft. wide 6.07 mile long shipping canal. There was no
dynamite, nothing but wheel-barrows with which they’d haul the sludge out of
the ditch on inclined planks. And there was no way for them to drain the
relentless seepage but with pumps invented by Archimedes in 287 B.C.

builders of the city’s New Basin Canal expressed a preference for Irish over
slave labor for the reason that a dead Irishman could be replaced in minutes at
no cost, while a dead slave resulted in the loss of more than one thousand

in hip-deep water, the Irish immigrant diggers, who had little resistance to
yellow fever, malaria, and cholera, died in inestimable numbers. Six years
after construction began, when the canal opened for traffic in 1838, hundreds
if not thousands of Irish laborers would never see their homes again. It was
the worst single disaster to befall the Irish in their 
entire history in New


This is
the preface and focal point of my work-in-progress, working title “Bridget
Fury,” a novel based on the building of New Basin Canal and of the tragic
consequences for the Irish immigrant laborers, many of who died from disease and
exhaustion and were buried in shallow graves alongside the fetid ditches.


Listowel Ontario and the Listowel,Kerry connection

Maeve Moloney pointed me in the direction of Wikipaedia for this;

Settler John Binning arrived in 1857 and was the first to create a permanent residence in the area. The community was originally named Mapleton, but the name was changed when a post office was established. The new name was chosen by a government official and refers to Listowel, Ireland. The majority of early settlers were of Protestant Irish origin (Ulster Scots Planters, or English Planters). Incorporated in 1867 as a village and in 1875 as a town, Listowel is now part of the town of North Perth.[2]

Listowel has a large Irish festival, called Paddyfest, which is held over the two weeks surrounding St. Patrick’s Day. The festival was first started in 1977 from an idea put forth by Dave Murtha to honour the large numbers of persons of Irish ancestry present in the Listowel area and is largely maintained by the Kinsmen and Kinette clubs of Listowel.

The official spokesperson for Paddyfest is chosen yearly in the Paddyfest Ambassador Competition. Contestants must perform a speech, impromptu question and interview with the judges and receive the overall highest score to be awarded this position. A separate award of Talent is given out to the contestant with the highest score in the talent competition. Runner-up and Congeniality are also awards which are available. Although the Paddyfest Ambassador Competition changed its name and official status from being Miss Paddyfest when first created, a male has yet to win the title.

(Now wouldn’t it be interesting to find out who that Listowel man was.)

Scoil Realt na Maidine and Women in agriculture seminar

6th class Scoil Realt na Maidine 1964/65.  Interestingly the photo was taken by Xavier McAuliffe of Butlins Photographing Services, Mosney.  From that little acorn he grew a mighty oak.


The relics of St. Anthony are currently on a tour of Ireland and are attracting huge crowds.


You could meet me anywhere these days! Here I am with Mary, Gail and Breeda from Kanturk in the Hotel Europe at the annual Women in Agriculture Seminar. I joined 650 other women for this great day  out. The seminar addressed issues like Mental Health, Starting an on farm business and the thorny issue of succession to the family farm. I learned a lot.


This photo is from Vincent Carmody’s Snapshots of an Irish Market Town. These Listowel men are;

Jack Lynch, Frank Sheehy, Louis O’Connell, Vincent Walsh,Gerard McElligott and Michael Keane. and the photo was taken around 1950.


Due to a glitch in amending Wednesday’s post I posted today’s post as well on Weds. This is the last post for this week so you will not hear from me now until Monday next.  Enjoy the weekend!

Ireland today, a throwback to the 1980s

There is a big drainage job currently going on at the boys school.


This photo appeared in last week’s Advertiser.


Very poignant picture from Ellis Island 1902


With every passing day, Ireland feels more and more like an episode from RTE’s Reeling in the Years circa 1987; emigrants coming home at Christmas to tearful scenes at airports; rioters throwing petrol bombs in Belfast; a divisive debate about abortion in Dublin  and a new album from David Bowie.

Now another  dollop of unwanted nostalgia – a fresh controversy involving beef baron, Larry Goodman. 

So wrote Maeve Dineen in Wednesday’s Independent. Too true.


This good idea for a Gathering event was published in The Limerick Leader

Published on Saturday 12 January 2013 06:10

A CHANCE discovery of an old postcard sent from New York to Bruff by an Irish emigrant in the 1940s has prompted one local man to organise an exhibition of old letters, telegraphs and postcards to coincide with The Gathering celebrations.

Retired principal of Bruff National School, Tom Bulfin, got the brainwave as he was sifting through old photographs he was preparing to submit for a photographic display in the town last December.

In looking through the photographs, Tom came across a postcard that his granduncle had received years ago from a friend in America.

The post card was sent in the 1940s to Patsy O’Brien and the final lines read: “Give one of these to Mrs J and say a Hail Mary for me, at least one a week when you learn of my death”. The Mrs J reference was to Tom’s grandmother Mrs John O’Brien (Mary), and the post card was sent by a school friend of Patsy her brother-in-law, Richard Mulcahy, who was originally from Camass, Bruff and immigrated to New York.

“It’s about putting flesh on the photographs. It’s not just about the smiling faces in the photographs of the people who have gone abroad– it’s about the tiny, little details,” said Tom.

“I was talking to a few people and like many families, they would have relatives in Australia and Canada and they were saying that very few of them have gotten letters – it’s all Skype. One woman said ‘a letter from abroad would be nice!’.

The exhibition is being organised in conjunction with Bruff Heritage Group as part of The Gathering celebrations in the town from July 1 to 7. The collected items will go on display in the old courthouse building in Bruff which is now being maintained and used by Bruff Heritage Group.

Tom is seeking old letters, telegrams and postcards sent to people in Bruff and the surrounding areas over the years from emigrants living all over the world and likewise, letters the people of Bruff may have sent them back.

“We are talking about the extended Bruff area – Knockainey and Athlacca for example. It is only a germ of an idea at the moment. There is no time-span on this – they could have been sent six months ago or 100 years ago,” he added.

“It would be nice to see the difference in the letters that are there now compared to back then. At the exhibition, one of the girls was telling me that she had a telegraph that she would give me – it came from cousins in America and it just read “Dad Dead”. Telegraphs were expensive back then – I think they were measured by letters.”

If members of the public do not want the full details in the postcard, telegraph or letter to be displayed, this can be discussed with Tom.

For those who do not want the original copy to be displayed, the items will be scanned at a date, yet to be announced.

For further details and to submit content, contact Tom on 086 3143772 or at


Listowelconnection wishes John Kelliher the very best of luck with his new career as a photographer. 

If you would like to purchase this or any of John’s fabulous photos, send him a message on his Facebook page.


This is a great video of an Irish dancing competition in the Phoenix Park in 1929

Turn down the sound. The music is appalling!


An email from Kay Forristal

I’m pleased to say that Amazon have accepted four volumes of my poetry for download to iPad and Kindle. The titles are Goats Apples. Praise the Living. Yet Another Day and The Turning Tide. Would  include something about it in Listowel Connection, please.”


Winter is coming, old photos and John B. after Ten

These men are removing all the dead flowers and preparing the flower troughs for the winter.

Wondering why the Garvey’s men were all sporting mustaches?


Mrs. O’Sullivan’s class 1997/98


Listowel Mart Group in Ballybunion in 1977 from The Advertiser


Jer has been reading some old newspapers and found this for us.

KERRY Champion of Nov. 22nd 1952 reports:

 Listowel Greyhound Track sold; 

Several Knocknagoshel farmers were charged before a court with having unlicensed bulls; Book review of No Other Law the story of General Liam Lynch; 

Fr Sean Ryle of Listowel was leaving for his mission in Japan. There are now 26 Columbans in Japan.

Dedication of Listowel Rectory by the Bishop of Limerick assisted by Rev J.M. Wallace, Rector of Listowel;

 Lovely Listowel League held a dance at Walsh’s Ballroom


John B. after Ten

If you haven’t booked for St. John’s, do so as now or you will regret it. Danny Hannon’s John B. after Ten is this year’s must see. The Listowel Folk Group do a great job in interpreting the songs of John B. Denis Hobson is the narrator who presents the life of John B. to us and the Lartigue Drama Group perform exerpts from John B’s works.

It is a very entertaining night of theatre. Batt  O’Keeffe is superb. Don’t miss it!

Old School photo, Finuge eviction

Scoil Realta na Maidine 

Again no names but there will be a few of you recognising yourselves. The year I had for it was 1968 but after my debacle with the last school photo and because some of the boys are barefoot, I’m not going to chance that until I am more sure. It looks older to me.  I love the tough stance, arms folded, no smiles. Bet you are smiling as you look at it today!

I’d love to include more of these photos, preferably with names, so if they are holed away in your drawers somewhere please share them with us.


Now today’s old news. Ger Greaney has been reading through archived newspapers and he found this for us. It relates to 1887 so I don’t think anyone will recognise themselves but maybe the story will have been retold in some house in Finuge in the recent past;

On March 25th, a numerous staff of bailiffs, protected by a 

large force of

police under the command of District Inspector W.H.RICE, accompanied by

Lord Listowel’s Steward, Mr. SWEETMAN, proceeded to Finuge for the purpos of

evicting a farmer named James O’CONNELL for non payment of rent. When the

bailiffs arrived at the place there were only Mrs. O’Connell and her

children in the house, Mr. O’CONNELL being in town at the time. Mr. SWEETMAN

demanded possession. Mrs O’Connell replied her husband was not at home.

Bailiff BROWNE and his comrades set about their work. So roughly did they

hustle out the furniture and bedding that the bystanders, smothering their

feelings, actually assisted in removing the various articles of furniture to

save them from being injured. When the house was cleared, a caretaker was

put in possession, and two policemen left to guard him. When Mr. O’CONNELL

came on the scene the eviction was almost completed. When the police and

bailiffs left he found himself surrounded by his wife and children. He had

no place to shelter either himself or his family. He came into town and

asked the agent for a night’s lodging in the home from which he was evicted.

The agent refused. That night the caretaker took pity on Mrs O’CONNELL and

gave her shelter. The next morning the agent, Mr. FITZGERALD, met Mrs O’CONNELL,

and warned her that if she visited the house again he would prosecute her.

Since that time the caretakers have refused to give shelter to the poor

woman and her infant child. The neighbours, however did not leave her long

without protection. Mrs O’CONNELL is now sheltered and has a temporary home

under James MURPHY’S roof, and the children are scattered out amongst the

other neighbours.

newspaper excerpt from 1887

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