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. Johns

Ballylongford and Ballybunion

Listowel Town Square early morning in September 2023


Mary Young, the biggest donor towards the building of St. John’s church in Ballybunion sits (frozen) outside the church she helped to build.

St. John’s is almost a cathedral in terms of size and splendour.

The magnificent chancel window

Beautiful windows donated by local families.


Ballylongford Active Retired Group

Ballylongford ladies at their weekly meeting on September 29 2023.

I interrupted their Bingo session.


When Harvest was a Critical Time

Traditionally harvest was the time, stores of food were laid down for the winter. In the days before all year round vegetables and fruit, people worried about bringing home a good harvest to see everyone over the winter.

Jer Kennelly found this great account of the panic to secure winter food supplies in the troubled post war years.

I wonder does anyone remember this time or remember hearing older people tell of it.

Rush to save Irish Harvest before October 1st 1946

(from New York NY Irish American Advocate, September 28 1946)

Most critical week in the nation’s battle to win the harvest opened .Sunday, Sept. 15. With the nation’s food supply still in danger it is imperative in the next few days that the energy and effort of the country be stretched to the limit.

Listowel farmers, taking full advantage of the dry spell, saved most of the wheat and oat crops. At the Masses in Listowel church appeals were made for more volunteers. 

The party of 25 French Scouts camping near Listowel are taking part in the local harvesting operations.

The 4,100 volunteers who left Dublin yesterday for the county areas and South Meath were not sufficient to deal with the work available.

All Sports Postponed for critical weeks of harvest.
Over 200 harvest volunteers were despatched yesterday from the offices of the Cork Co. Committee of Agriculture—76 from the Army, 41 members of the F.C.A., and about 90 others of Military. City firms and a number of motorists provided transport.


For the Diary


A Fact

The first mention of tennis in an English sporting magazine was in 1793


St John’s and George Sandes

In Marley Park; Eamon ÓMurchú


Listowel 2005

From “Snow Scorpion” on

Upper Church Street
The Square
Upper Church Street
William Street


A Songwriters and his Muse

Photo; Listowel Folk Group

John Kinsella is a local singer songwriter of great talent.

Sr. Eileen Leen is a singer, dancer and ever cheerful and upbeat young lady.

John wrote The Jolly Nun Hornpipe with Eileen in mind. I’m looking forward to hearing it.


Windows in St. John’s

One of the highlights of our walking tour with Tom Dillon on Saturday August 13 2022 was our guided tour of St. John’s.

One of St. John’s more notorious parishioners was the most hated man in Kerry in the late nineteenth century, George Sandes. He died in 1895. During his lifetime his misdeeds earned him the title of Terror of North Kerry.

Above is the triple window, George Sandes erected in 1888 to his son, George Jr. who died in March 1887.

The choice of three women depicting, Faith, Hope and Charity as a subject for a Sandes memorial was ironically inappropriate. George senior terrorised the womenfolk of his tenant families. The story goes that he insisted that tenants send their wives to pay the rent and he expected more than the rent from them.

Once he was taken to court by a Mary Quinlan, one of the many women he raped. She was demanding child maintenance. Mary was wise enough to bring her then 7 year old son to court. Such was the likeness to his father that the judge immediately ruled in her favour.

George’s legitimate son, also George, in whose memory he donated the window was very different to his father and was well liked and mourned.

The windows feature an entwined GS and the motto, The Lord Giveth and the Lord taketh away.”


In Kildare

This massive grindstone stands in Kildare Town Square. I can’t imagine what needed such a huge edging tool.


A Fact

In an authentic Chinese meal the last course is always soup because it allows the roast duck entrée to swim towards digestion.


Just a thought

My reflections, which were broadcast last week on Radio Kerry’s Just a Thought slot are at the link below.

Just a Thought


Heritage Week 2022, Walking Tours

In Marley Park…Eamon ÓMurchú


Heritage Week 2022

I attended my first in person event for Heritage Week 2022 on Saturday last. It was a guided history walk around the Square with the best informed and most entertaining historian, Tom Dillon. Tom is a thorough researcher, an informed and engaging guide and a superb communicator. He is wasted in any job where he is not enthusing young people to engage with and learn about local history.

Photo credit; Maire Logue

This is our little band assembled at the castle as we headed out on a sunny Saturday.

Tom took us to St. John’s. That’s Máire’s dog guarding him as he enthralled us with the story of this building which was once a Church of Ireland place of worship and is now an Arts centre and theatre. He told us lots of interesting stuff here but I’m going to leave that for another day.

There is another event in St. John’s for Heritage Week where we are all going to learn about stained glass windows, making them and restoring them.

Tom told us lots about the parishioners of St. John’s and lots about the building itself. The clock which was made by Mangans of Cork only stayed going for 3 years. It was a big loss because it was the town clock and men left off work on Lord Listowel’s estate when they heard ‘Mangan Bangin'”

A local poet, D.C. Hennessy, wrote its obituary which Tom read to us.

In 2017 on my Feb 1 blogpost, I have a great story connected to the clock. If you have a minute, read it at the below link.

St. John’s Clock, John Griffin of Bridge Road and Canon Declan O’Connor and their Listowel Connection

An addendum to the clock story is that it was completely refurbished in 2021. Unfortunately the old movement was removed and replaced with a modern digital movement which will see the clock tell the correct time but won’t please the purists.

Here we are at the end of our walk by the banks of The Feale and Tom is telling us about how the Feale got its name , the history of the castle and why it came to be built here. We had stories of the days when the river teamed with fish and the local big houses drew water from it.

We finished our walk with Tom leading us in a verse or two of Bryan MacMahon’s Lovely Listowel.


Showing Listowel to the Grandchildren

Sean took the selfie as we headed out on our walk. The boys are half French so much more accustomed to the heat than their poor old Nana.

We walked through the Garden of Europe and by the River before returning through the town

No trip to Listowel is complete without a trip to Jumbo’s.

They hadn’t heard of Jerry Kiernan so they caught up on another piece of Listowel history.


History Lite

Helen Gore Mitchell and her lovely family are in town on a long summer visit. Helen is the daughter of my friends Cliff and Mary Gore, now sadly both passed away.

Helen was disappointed to hear that the weekly tours were not running this year. (I didn’t know then about Heritage Week). So I offered to give my very amateur version of a tour with tales of a few historic happenings. Helen’s cousin, Gillian and her family came too and my visitors tagged along to learn something. We had a lovely evening, lovely company and lovely chats.

We were all remembering Mary and Cliff, two great stalwarts of Listowel who did so much for their local community. I am delighted to see the next generations honouring their memory and keeping the tie.


Ballybunion Sunset

There were some spectacular sunsets during the heatwave of 2022. Alice Moylan photographed this one in Ballybunion.


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