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: Sive Page 1 of 5

U.S. Artists in Town

Ross Castle photo by Chris Grayson

A Local Gathering

A Listowel Connection

Stephen Rynne took his mother to see Sive. They loved it.


St. Patrick’s Day parade 2014

Mosaic Artists in Olive Stack’s

Talented artist friends, Rachel Aronson and Bonnie Len are in residence in Olive Stack’s Gallery and workshop until the end of March 2024.

These are some of their beautiful micro mosaic pendants.

I couldn’t resist this beautiful little gem.

Spoilt for choice, my friend chose the one on the left. Did she make the right choice?

Some raw materials

The ladies took us upstairs to show us how it’s done. The pendants are made from coloured glass ‘straws’, very carefully cut and arranged into a pattern using tweezers. Painstaking work. a typical piece takes a day to create.

If jewellery is not your thing , Rachel makes beautiful mosaic pictures.

The ladies’ work is displayed on Olive’s window in Main Street. I’d recommend you drop into them and see for yourself. The artists are super friendly and their beautiful pieces are reasonably priced.

It’s not everyday we get an opportunity to buy a unique pice of precious glass work.

On Friday March 29 Rachel and Bonnie are holding an exhibition and reception in the gallery from 5.00p.m. to 8p.m.

More Corkisms

It tales someone who has moved away to hear the little quirks of language we don’t notice any more. Stephen Twohig of Kanturk is that someone.

“Great tack”, is good stuff

” Guzzle”, to drink with gusto. Usually the last ten minutes before last call.

” Haunted” is to have bad luck. On the dance floor or in Bingo.

“Go away outta dat”, you don’t seem to be making sense. 

“Here la”, Look here.

“How’s the Form? How goes it?

To take a “hopper” is to fall. Usually after last call.

” Houndin” is to be pursued. By an old girlfriend or the Law.

A “Howl” is a great time or a “scream”.

“ I will  yeah,” means the opposite, I will not.

“ I will  in me eye”, I will not.

 “A jag”, is a date.

“A latch”, an idiot…a latchico is a complete idiot.

“Lamp” is to look at.

“Langer”, not a German golfer but someone of questionable qualities.

” Bollox “, See Langer above.

“Langers” a little unsteady on the feet after a lot of guzzling. Seen after closing.

“A legger”, is to make a run tor it.

 “Law di daw”, a snobby person.

“Mad”, very enjoyable.

“To make  tracks” like a legger but with less haste and criminal connotations. 

“Magalorim”, presumably from “Maith go leor”, in a state after too many


“Manky”~something not very nice or pleasing. Used in many subjects.

“Minted”, someone with money.

“ me Daza “ is excellent .

” Mockie ah”, the same as the Gaelic ” Mar dhea”something fake or not real.

 “Mouldy”, not as in old bread but as in a state after too much drink.

” Mowsie” and pronounced “Mosie” is to shuffle or move on. Even less haste than “making tracks”.

“How are you, old stock?”, a greeting my Uncle Paddy would always use when seeing an old friend.

“Panned out”, is worn out or very tired.

“Poxed”, is lucky.

“Ponney”, a small pot.

“Picture no sound”, not on talking terms or the strange silent sensation when your “oul doll (wife) is moving her lips a lot but you don’t hear anything!

” A queer hawk”. a strange individual not a light in the spurs hunting bird.

“Rubber dollies”, trainers or sneakers.

 “Sca” is gossip.

” Sconce”, to “gawk” but a little less obvious.

” Scrope”. The Cork past tense of scrape

“Scuttered”, a mixture of “mouldy”, “legless”, and “panned out”. A state after a Social.

” Shades”, the Gardai or police.

A Fact

Phobophobia is the fear of having a phobia.


A Play, a Poem, some horses and a success story

Main Street in February 2024

An Old Poem

A Paddy Drury ditty remembered by Brigid O’Brien in San Francisco

Oh sweet Knockanure may the heavens still bless you
That dear little spot where the dead do resort
You can stand in her Abbey on a bright Autumn morning
And see the ships sailing to many a port
You can see Co. Clare and the fair town of Ennis
And the tide at Duneen as it do rise and fall
Travel the wide world over for a burying plantation
Knockanure Church you’re the pride of them all.

My Grandfather< Jack Casey of Lower Athea taught me that as a kid!


The Kildare branch of the family, Tony and Mary McKenna, went to see Sive. They enjoyed the show but they preferred more traditional John B. Keane versions.

More Success in the U.S. for a Young Listowel Lady

( Thank you Mary Ursula O’Rourke for alerting me to this story)

Irish Central, November 2023

Dr. Elizabeth Stack has accepted an offer to become the new Executive Director of the American Irish Historical Society (AIHS) in New York.

The AIHS announced the news on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday, November 21 and said that Stack will begin her new position on February 1.

Stack, a native of Listowel in Co Kerry who moved to New York in 2009, had been named to the interim board of directors.

was appointed the Executive Director at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, New York in 2018.

Announcing her appointment at the time, the Museum said that Stack would be responsible for all aspects of the Museum’s operations.

Stack previously taught Irish American History and was an Associate Director of the Institute of Irish Studies at Fordham University, where she completed her Ph.D. She also has a master’s degree in Anglo-Irish Relations in the 20th Century from University College Dublin.

When she was appointed as the Irish American Heritage Museum’s Executive Director just over five years ago, Stack said: “I have learned that because emigration is part of the Irish story, and immigration part of the American, there is a reciprocity that exists between both countries that exceeds familial ties or time of arrival. “

Visiting the Horses

Some of the EPA horses warm and cozy in their stables in Kanturk.

Mr. Jiggs, who is 24 years old prefers the outdoors, despite the wet underfoot conditions.

Chabal, Jiggsy’s best friend and constant companion pushed the 24 year old aside so he could be front and centre in the picture.

A Fact

A giraffe has exactly the same number of bones (seven) in his neck as a human. The giraffe’s bones are just longer.


Back in School

A path through the trees in winter 2024

My day in Pres

After Covid, one of the initiatives to get our young people back out and about, mingling and learning was the creation of Schools Creative Cluster.

My latest involvement with the hub happened on Thursday February 1 2024.

These lovely 6th class girls and their teacher, Miss Galvin greeted me at the front door, treated me to a snack as we waited for my interviewers.

These two lovely young men interviewed me.

All the information they gleaned from me and all the other participants will be distilled, collated and curated and it will form part of their arts presentation in April.

Education in the workhouse

Research by Kay Caball

December 1847 – Captain Sparks, temporary Inspector to the Listowel Union stated ‘it is proposed to place therein [Leonard’s Mill] about 400 children under the schoolmaster and mistress and thus make room in the poor-house to that extent, for the able-bodied’.

January 1848, Denis Phelan, M.D., Medical Inspector made a brief report to the Commissioners regarding Listowel Workhouse school. ‘The discipline of the house is very imperfect; the Master is very young and has not been long in office’. 

11 September 1848 It was noted, regarding the Earl Grey girls who were sent from Listowel workhouse to the Australian colonies, ‘The master begs to report that the education of the female children appears to be very much neglected at the workhouse school … when the Emigration Officer examined the girls , many of whom had been two years at the school, very few could even read very imperfectly, and only one or two make any attempt at writing.  The school mistress resigned as a consequence’.  

19 May 1849, ‘the Medical Officer ordered that Mr. McCann, the schoolmaster, whose head was a perfect living mass of vermin, and which evidently showed a want of attention on McCann’s part, should in future pay the strictest attention to the cleanliness of the children’.  John McCann is listed as schoolmaster with a salary of £30.   Mary Nolan, the schoolmistress has a salary of £15 and Ellen Kelly a schoolmistress in Stokes’s auxiliary house, also £15.

15 Sept 1849 a total of 429 boys & 526 girls were registered in the workhouse that week. This number included the boys and girls in the auxiliary workhouses – O’Connor’s, Stokes’s, Bedford.

26 Sept 1849   Following letters from the Poor Law Commissioners,  the Schoolmistress should be called on to resign.

14 March 1850  Visiting Committee found that men unconnected with the Workhouse were found in the Schoolmistress’s Room, the Board having duly considered all the circumstances, reprimanded the Schoolmistress and Porter and cautioned them under pain of dismissal from their offices to avoid such irregularities in future.

22 March 1851 (Week ending)  66 people died, including  5 boys and 12 girls under 15 yrs.

4 Sept 1851 Patrick Stack was appointed Assistant Schoolmaster at a salary of £15 per annum and rations. Later that month, Dr. Enright the Medical Officer, was reporting an outbreak of ‘Opthalmia’ in Bedford [auxiliary workhouse]  and it was ordered that the Schoolmaster ‘do not keep the boys more than two hours at a time at school in consequence of the tendency to Opthalmia’.  ‘The acute cases – 83 in number are still at Bedford Infirmary because the sheds could not accommodate the number’.

Reading these truly awful accounts from the Famine years in Listowel, it is clear that education was low down in the list of priorities in the workhouses.

From Pres. Yearbook 1986

The teaching staff

Sive in The Gaiety

The latest iteration of John B. Keane’s classic, Sive, is currently running in The Gaiety. By all accounts it is a powerful show. If you can at all do go to see it. Sive is one of my favourite plays.

“Hurt people hurt” sums up this tragedy. Every character in Sive is hurt and hurting. The most innocent person in the drama is the one who suffers most.

What a proud night for the playwright’s family, pictured at the premier.


A Fact

The blue ringed octopus is one of the world’s most venomous marine animals. It can kill with one bite.


Our Library

Carnegie on Sunday Sept. 4 2022

Have you wondered why this building is called the Carnegie Free Library?

Andrew Carnegie was born in Scotland but grew up and rose to fame in America. At the time of his death in 1919 he was the richest man in America. He made his fortune in steel.

Andrew Carnegie is most famous today as a writer and a philanthropist. He built swimming pools and laboratories in the U.S. He built Carnegie Hall.

On this side of the world he is best known for his free libraries. He was a believer in the value of education and one plank of widespread free education was access to books.

Carnegie set up free public libraries all over the English speaking world. Listowel was one of the many towns that applied to the Trust, securing a library for the town.

As you can see from newspaper cuttings of the time (sourced for us by Dave O’Sullivan) there was a bit of a local spat that delayed matters somewhat.

The first library was built in Bridge Road.

Denis Quille sent us this photograph a few years ago of the library building on Bridge Road after it was burned down during The Troubles.

The present building that bears Carnegie’s name is no longer a library. Our new free public library is located in the Courthouse Plaza. It is part of the National Free Library service. Carnegie is still commemorated in the name of the fine building in Church Street.


John B. Keane’s Sive

John B.’s famous play is said to have roofed more churches than any other. This refers to its popularity with rural amateur groups.. It is still popular with audiences today.

Back in 1958 when the play was in its heyday and winning accolades all round it, John B. got a local art teacher to paint a mural on the wall behind the bar in John B.’s. The picture was of the final scene in the play, Sive. Liam Scuab comes into the kitchen where Sive’s foster parents are preparing for her wedding the next day. In his arms Liam has the lifeless body of the drowned girl. It is a dramatic moment in the play shocking in its portrayal of the consequences of the actions of all the other characters. Every one on the stage had, through inaction or action brought about Sieves tragic death.

Katie Lucey as Sive in a re enactment of the final scene in Sive.

On Aug 25 2022, the artist, Moira Keane returned to John B.’s pub.

Billy invited her back to sign her work 53 years after she originally painted it. The local drama group re enacted the final scene from the play. We had a great night. It was great to be back at pub theatre after a long absence.


Passing of a Pet

R.I.P. Dinny. I don’t think I have ever mentioned this fellow here before. He was my brother’s 15 year old house cat who passed away last week. The home place isn’t the same without him.

When I called yesterday, I saw this thoughtful card from the vets that looked after Dinny as he came to the end of the road.

Small things mean so much that they are not small things at all.


Summer’s Over

All back at school after a great summer. Time is flying by.


Amateur Drama

Photo, Kieran Cogan, Mallow Camera Club


Do you Remember these calendars?

Photo: Mike Hannon

Time was when every business worth its salt gave their customers a wall calendar. It was a great way of keeping your shop or agency in the forefront of people’s minds.

I lived in a house where we had a kitchen and a back kitchen and a storehouse attached. Each of these rooms had at least one calendar in it. I remember consulting the calendar for the phone number. We co ordinated it with Old Moore to mark in fair days.


Scoil Realt na Maidine staff

Photos and caption shared by Mike Hannon


The Mayor of Kerry Plays Two Roles

On Saturday May 7 2022, Jimmy Moloney, Mayor of Kerry was in Kerry Writers’ Museum for the opening of the exhibition honouring Kerry’s amateur dramatic heritage.

The Moloney family connection with amateur drama goes back a long way.

Jimmy’s grandmother, Mrs. Margaret Moloney, here on the right, was chairperson of Listowel Drama Group and took part in many of their productions.

With her in this picture, shared with us by Kay Caball, are Cecile Cotter, Harry Geraghty and Rex Coolican.

Jimmy’s grandfather, Dan Moloney T.D. greeted the cast of the first production of John B. Keane’s Sive in Dáil Eireann after they had won the first All Ireland Drama festival.

Margaret Dillon who played the part of Sive sent us this picture a few years ago.

Dan Moloney T.D is on the right.

Jimmy Moloney in his role as Mayor of Kerry at the opening of the exhibition.

Then after a short interval look at what emerged from the “dressing room”.

The usually dapper Jimmy, in a jacket that looks like he slept in it a few times, in his role as Mike Glavin in John B. Keane’s Sive.

Denis O’Mahoney’s Lartigue Players gave us an entertaining sample of the best of Kerry amateur drama today.

The cast of the award winning first production of the play by The Listowel Players.


Top Storey

I love it when the streetscape takes your eye above shop level.

O’Donovan’s in Church Street has impressive upstairs window surrounds.

Lizzy’s Little Kitchen has decorated the upper stories of her premises in keeping with the downstairs decor.


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