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: St. Brigids Day

Early Lartigue Project

Listowel Library in January 2024

Christmas 1988

A Greeting card for Christmas 1983

The Touch of a Master’s hand

Another old poem so beloved of listeners to Mo Cheol Thú on far off Sunday mornings.

Well it was battered and scarred,

And the auctioneer felt it was hardly worth his while,

To waste much time on the old violin but he held it up with a smile,

Well it sure ain’t much but its all we got left I guess we aught to sell it,

Oh, now who’ll start the bid on this old violin?

Just one more and we’ll be through.

And then he cried, “one give me one dollar?,

Who’ll make it two?

only two dollars who’ll make it three,

Three dollars twice now that’s a good price,

Now who’s gonna bid for me?

Raise up your hand now don’t wait any longer the auctions about to end,

Who’s got four ?

Just one dollar more to bid on this old violin?

Well the air was hot and the people stood around as the sun was setting low,

From the back of the crowd a gray haired man,

Came forward and picked up the bow,

He wiped the dust from the old violin then he tightened up the strings,

Then he played out a melody pure and sweet, sweeter than the Angels sing,

And then the music stopped and the auctioneer,

With a voice that was quiet and low he said, Now what am I bid,

For this old violin and he held it up with a bow.

And then he cried out one give me one thousand,

Who’ll make it two?

only two thousand who’ll make it three,

Three thousand twice you know that’s a good price,

Come on who’s gonna bid for me?

And the people cried out what made the change we don’t understand,

Then the auctioneer stopped and he said with a smile,

It was the touch of the Master’s hand.

You know there’s many a man with his life out of tune,

Battered and scarred with sin and he’s auctioned cheap,

To a thankless world much like that old violin,

Oh, but then the Master comes,

And that old foolish crowd they never understand,

The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought,

Just by one touch of the Masters hand.

And then he cried out, any one give me one thousand,

Who’ll make it two?

only two thousand who’ll make it three,

Three thousand twice you know that’s a good price,

Common who’s gonna bid for me?

And the people cried out what made the change we don’t understand,

Then the auctioneer stopped and he said with a smile,

It was the touch, that’s all it was; it was the touch of the Master’s hand,

It was the touch of the Master’s hand; oh, it was the touch of the Master’s hand

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: John Kramp

An Old Flagon

Photo: Dan Hartnett

Shine’s was where the Maid of Erin is now

Preparing for St. Brigid’s Day

My Kildare family sent me a photo of Kildare Town’s lovely new mural

Nearer to home they are celebrating in Athea.

The Story’s the Thing

If you missed Rich Moran at Listowel Writers’ Week 2023, here is an article from The Irish Echo online with his important message for business.

WORDS MATTER: Great leaders don’t say “whatever” says author Rich Moran. He is pictured at his home in Tiburon, CA with the San Francisco skyline in the background.

Meet Rich Moran, the Californian tech leader who won’t ever take “whatever” as an answer

News January 27, 2024 by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir author of an acclaimed new book on leadership says Irish start-ups seeking funding in the U.S. need to “tell a story”. 

“That’s what resonates and if you can tell a story, then funders understand your business and respond accordingly,” says Rich Moran, author of ‘Never Say, Whatever: How Small Decisions Make a Big Difference’.

A resident of Tiburon in the Bay Area of California, Moran has scored success with a series of start-ups and owns the Moran Manor winery in Napa. But his love of tech and business mentoring is rivalled only by his love for the land of his forebears.Indeed, he relishes the opportunity to engage with Irish start-ups aiming to hit it big in Silicon Valley and enjoys visiting the Emerald Isle – last year, he hit the jackpot for any lover of Irish literature when he was appointed writer-in-residence at the Listowel Writers Week.

The connection between entrepreneurship and literature – spinning a good yarn is a cornerstone of both worlds.

“A great origin sets a company apart,” explains Moran. “For example, I am working with a start-up treating gum disease. The treatment emerged from a doctor who was worried about the bad breath of his dogs.  He injected a drug into the gums of his dogs to combat the bad breath and found the side effect was that it protected their gums. That’s a memorable story which people can relate to – and he’s just raised $70m in funding to roll out the drug to the market.”In short, words and how we use them are important. Indeed, one word: “Whatever” is a bugbear for Moran – indeed so fed up was he with hearing the term used by so-called leaders that it moved him to pen his new opus. 

“We make 30,000 decisions a day, everything from whether to put cream in your coffee to slowing down when you see a red light,” he says. “But there are probably 20 big decisions which shape your entire life: who you marry; whether to have children; where to live and so on. However, no matter whether the issue is big or small, whatever does not count as a decision. So my new book is about decision-making – something which the Irish tend not to be good at.”A blogger and speaker at business conferences and seminars, Moran says his new work has struck a chord with corporate leaders. “No one wants to be involved with a ‘whatever’ organization,” he says, “Could you imagine what the head of the Federal Aviation Administration would think if one of his air traffic controllers was to respond to a request from an approaching pilot about where to land with a ‘whatever?’

Weaving in interviews with C-Suite executives, entrepreneurs and “everyday people” who are good at making decisions, ‘Never Say Whatever’ analyses why staff members get to the position where they just don’t care — and “whatever” becomes the default response.

“It indicates a sense of helplessness in some cases but in others it’s someone trying to avoid making a decision so a co-worker can be blamed when things go wrong,” says Moran. 

“The reality is that effective leaders don’t say ‘whatever’. Busy people never say ‘whatever’. And if you want to make an impact with what you do, then you too should never give ‘whatever’ as an answer when a decision has to be made.”

A veteran author, Moran invented the ‘bullet-point business book’. His latest tome, however, will surely burnish his reputation as one of Irish America’s most eminent strategists and tech leaders. As chair of early-stage Canadian AI company and the owner of Moran Ranch winery, he finds himself in demand for his tech investment nous. However, keeping his connection to Ireland fresh and vibrant is a priority for him — though he’s understandably sore about the fact that he is not entitled to Irish citizenship because he doesn’t have a grandparent born on Irish soil.

“When I did the 23andMe DNA test, they sent me a letter from the head guy saying that I was a rarity in being fully 100 per cent Irish,” he says. “My grandparents were an O’Brien, a Hanley, a Brennan and a Moran. All were born in the US to immigrant parents – but sadly that’s not enough to earn me citizenship.”

And while there is access to an Irish passport via “Irish descent or association” at the discretion of the Irish Justice Minister, Moran, like many others, has found that process opaque and impenetrable.

If you didn’t know better, you would think that the folks at the passport office, faced with making a decision on Moran’s citizenship, have responded with a “whatever”!

A Fact

In 1506 the first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrived at The Vatican.


Presentation Chapel in 2007 and a short history of Pres. sisters in town and a big win in badminton for a Moyvane family

St. Brigid’s Day

Celebrating St Brigid at her Well near the Cashen River between Ballyduff and Ballybunion in North Kerry

(Photo and caption: Diocese of Kerry on Facebook)


Presentation Chapel, Listowel in August 2007

Mairéad O’Sullivan shared some of her really beautiful pictures of the convent chapel with us. Here are the first few.


Hard Times come again no more

Frances Kennedy found this photo on a site called Ireland Long ago. It shows a young woman whose home has been destroyed in a Black and Tan reprisal attack. The atrocity took place in Meelin Co. Cork.

The Black and Tans (they got the name from the colours of their uniforms) were as feared in Ireland in the 1920s as The Taliban. They went around the countryside spreading fear and exerting their own brand of rough justice. This young woman appears broken but unbowed. Hopefully the menfolk of her household had found safety somewhere before this photo was taken.


Presentation Sisters in Listowel

Photos of the convent in 2007 by Mairead O’Sullivan and text from Sr. Éilís Daly

Sr. Eilís with a tree with the names of the sisters who had gone before her up to 2002.

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


During the Famine of 1845-48, the sisters had to close their school.

They opened soup kitchens to feed the starving people. The Famine 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.


Badminton in the Genes ?

Junior Griffin has a long list of Kerry badminton families. This family must be the most high profile at the moment.

“A pair of very proud parents, Breda and William O’Flaherty of Moyvane with their daughter Niamh and son James who created their own bit of Kerry Badminton history at Killarney on Sunday last, January 29 2017 by both winning Kerry senior singles championships; Niamh at 16 years of age is the youngest ever winner of the ladies senior title and they are the first brother and sister div 1 title holders to do that double since 1996.

For both it was their first senior title. In the mens decider James overcame 10 times title holder Tom Bourke in a three set final that was a pure joy to behold. Indeed, it has been acclaimed as one of the greatest Kerry finals ever.” Junior



Grandparents’ Day

Yesterday, February 1 2017, feast of St. Brigid  was Grandparents Day. My photo shows St. Michael’s boys on their way to mass in the parish church. Pupils and staff from Scoil Realta na Maidine also attended. On behalf of all grandparents, “Thank you, boys.”

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