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. John’s Tralee

Moonlighters, Scribes’ new proprietor and St. John’s window

Photo: Jim MacSweeney, Mallow Camera Club


The Bad old Days

You’ve heard of shotgun marriages. Now I have for you a shotgun non marriage.



It’s a Long way from Silale in Lithuania  to Listowel in Co. Kerry


Brigita Formaliene
is the new proprietor of Scribes Café in Church Street, Listowel, a long
way from her native Lithuania.

Patrick McCrea sent this photo of a typical winter scene in Lithuania. This is his 

ice-bound local river.

Brigita has swapped the below zero temperatures of her native land for the milder Irish winters. 

She has one
brother who now lives in Tralee. She lost her father recently and her mother
lives in Lithuania.

grandmother had a huge influence on the young girl. While her mother was
working and during school holidays the young Brigita spend all her time with
her Nana. She was a seamstress and she lived in the centre of the little
village near Brigita’s home. Her’s was a sort of Lithuanian rambling house.
There were always parties and celebrations going on. Nana’s house was next to
the church and on feastdays and other religious occasions Brigita’s Nana threw
parties for the priests and the people. These parties had to be catered for and
from about age ten Brigita was cooking and baking and she grew to love making
cakes and pastries. Her grandmother was a skilled needlewoman and Brigita too
has a gifted pair of hands. She can produce the most delicate crochet work or
knitted garments .

Brigita with her Nana on her wedding day

Since she was a
little girl, Brigita wanted to be a teacher. So, after school she went on to
teacher training college. Part of her course involved work experience in a
school and it was then that Brigita realized that teaching was not for her.

Brigita admits
that some of her most monumental life changing decisions were made in a flash.
She decided to leave college and go to the USA to perfect her English. She
spent a year in the U.S. working as an au pair.

She returned to
Lithuania with fluent English and the idea of teaching English as a foreign

She met and fell
in love with Almantas. After a whirlwind romance they were married. Soon they
had their lovely daughter, Mileta, and then it was a case of  “Where will we go
now?’ They decided on Norway. Almantas found work and they were happy there but
soon Brigita returned home to Lithuania.

The young family
was anxious to be together. Brigita’s friend, Aurelia, was living in Ireland
and working in Scribes in Listowel and she persuaded the young couple to try

When the Formaliene
family came to Kerry first, they lived in Firies and Brigita found work in a crèche.

Aurelia introduced
them to Namir Karim. Namir and Brigita soon became friends. They discovered
that they shared a love of food and baking. Brigita’s idea of a nice day off is
to spend it in the kitchen baking.

Brigita’s family today, her husband Almantas and their daughters Melita and Emma

Brigita left her
job in Firies and  started work  in Scribes in 2015. She loved the work and she
grew to love the Listowel people. Soon she had relocated to Lixnaw and was
working in Scribes  regularly .

Before Christmas
2017 Namir decided to leave Listowel, to concentrate on his businesses in
Ballybunion. Again, Brigita did not take too much time to mull over her next
move. She would take over the lease on Scribes. Her family helped her to
redecorate and soon she was open for business in her very own restaurant.

Scribes offers  a small menu of good food. People will be  queueing up to taste her delicious red velvet
cake or her apple tart and home made custard. Her friend makes a  traditional Lithuanian honey cake
that is to die for.

Maybe Brigita’s
wanderlust has been satisfied now and she will settle to business in lovely

This week’s Scribes speciality is Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes served with almond flakes and scoop of vanilla ice-cream ! They were mouthwateringly delicious.

Brigita lives in
Lixnaw with her husband and their two daughters, Melita and Emma.


Stained Glass Windows

I love a good stained glass window. The ones above are in Duagh.

As I’ve recounted here before the newest such window in Kerry is in St. John’s Tralee. Now I’ve discovered a brilliant post online with great text and great close photos of the Tom Denny window.

Roaringwater Journal

This is St. John in his camel hair coat

This is the father hugging his prodigal son. The theme of the window is reconciliation.

If you have any interest in Tralee or in stained glass art do click on the link above.


A Little Highlighted Problem

Shane MacAulliffe is in Zanzibar and he posted this local issue on his Facebook page

90% of Zanzibar’s seaweed farmers are women. Their incomes have fallen dramatically in recent years for two reasons. One is that they cannot compete with the cheaper grown seaweed in Asia and also the rising sea temperatures have caused seaweed to die. Once one of Zanzibar’s most important exports, seaweed is shipped to Asia and Europe where it is used in cosmetics.


Just a Thought

Thank you to all the people who listened to my Just a Thoughts on Radio Kerry last week. Just in case you missed them and would like to hear them, here is the link

Just a Thought ; Week beginning Jan 15 2018

Belling Stags, Clounmacon GAA 1966 and Stained Glass Windows in Tralee

Belling Stags

Remember this gorgeous fellow in Chris Grayson’s photograph. Well, he is not “braying” like a jackass.

I got it wrong. Mea culpa, mea culpa. Someone who knows about these things tells me that stags don’t bray. They bellow. Their sound has been described in literature as the “belling of stags”. This great picture was taken in The National Park recently by Chris Grayson.


Clounmacon GAA

Noreen Keane Brennan shared this photo from Clounmacon GAA.


St. John’s Tralee

While I was in Tralee recently I went to see the new stained glass window I had heard about in St. John’s. It’s unusual now to hear of a new stained glass window in a church. Well I was a bit too early to see the new one. It was just being installed. So I took the opportunity to photograph the other windows. St. John’s has them in all shapes and sizes.

I’ll be back when this one is finished. It looks to be more modern than the others. I’ll be interested to see how it fits in.


Every Bank is now the “Bank of You”

My bank is literally pushing me out the door. I am now being asked to lodge and withdraw on the street and I’m being encouraged to do as much banking as possible on the internet.

This is not a good development. Banking is an area where lots of people need help and advice and most of all security.

As anyone who has ever booked a flight online for the wrong day or from the wrong airport will tell you, there is many a slip twixt the keyboard and the website.

We are moving into a world where face to face transactions are being phased out. Young people don’t phone one another any more.  They shop online. I’m even reliably informed that we will soon order our meals online and have them delivered to our doors. Oh dear!


A Shoutout to Listowel Molyneaux from an American Cousin

Hi Mary,

I’m originally from Holyoke, MA, birthplace of Volleyball and me but I now live in Hudson, MA. I love your blog…I saw the name Molyneaux and I have an interest in that surname as it connects to my Barrett family of Listowel and surrounding townlands…

Anyone whose surname is Molyneaux and who may know something of their family history is someone with whom I’d like to make contact..

Thanks for all that you do…

Ed O’Connor

If you can help Ed. email me and I will give you his details.

Listowel Tidy Towns Upcycle/Vintage event, Listowel Vocational School Teachers in 1961 and St. John’s Tralee

Ireland’s Best Small Town; Listowel 2015

The great Listowel Tidy Towns Group are on a high since their win. They invited the whole town to share in their celebrations with a family fun day in The Square on Sunday Oct 4 2015.  The photos were posted on Facebook.


As well as keeping Listowel tidy, Listowel Tidy Towns run one of the best off course events at Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing. Below is my account of the event in 2015.

Saturday September 19 2015

In the Guinness tent all is quiet.  Soon it will all liven up  when Listowel Tidy Towns Vintage fashion event starts up.

The bookies’ ring is quiet too.

Members of Listowel Tidy Towns take a minute to pose for me before the excitement begins.

The first glamorous lady I met was Kay Twomey. Kay was wearing a beautiful maxi she had made herself on her old manual sewing machine. Kay loved sewing and she used to make many of her own and her children’s clothes. She kept this dress because she wore it in Killarney at an ICA Make and model competition and it held happy memories for her.

Kay brought an old photo of herself wearing the dress in the ICA competition.

She showed me the lable saying that she was representing the Clounmacon Guild.

A Clounmacon lady, Anne Dillon, came by to admire the workmanship in Kay’s creation.

These vintage bikes were restored by John O’Connor of Listowel

 Orla Diffley of Upfront Media was doing her thing, advertising the event on TG4.

Betty McGrath and Eilish Stack look the part on the vintage Raleigh.

The Moriarty family supported the event in numbers.

 Mary Hanlon was taking the opportunity to pose with all the handsome men.

Imelda Murphy of Listowel Tidy Towns was resplendent in a vintage dress, worn originally by the late Mary John B. Joe Broderick, looking very dapper, was charming all the ladies.

As with every best dressed event attention to detail was important, with shoes and other accessories playing a big part in the overall look.

( more tomorrow from the interviews and back stories)


Listowel Vocational School Trip to Killarney in 1961

This final tranche of Maureen Barrett’s photos are photos of the teachers who went on the school outing. The captions are Maureen’s.

Maureen remembers these two men as the bus driver and conductor and she thinks they might have been C.I.E. employees.

at Torc Waterfall:

Miss Burns- She substituted temporarily for someone on medical leave. Her father was Police Listowel at the time if I recall correctly.

Miss Fitzgerald-who I think went on to become Mrs.Galvin, ? male teacher( can’t remember his name), Harry Nielsen-was a shop teacher I think..

Paddy Drummond who was the school principal

Dick Fitzgerald and Patsy O’Sullivan


News from St. Johns Parish, Tralee

St. John’s Parish Pastoral Council are planning a new Stained Glass Window in the church on the theme of Reconciliation and are seeking the support of parishioners and friends of Tralee at home and abroad. The window is being commissioned to coincide with the Tralee 800 celebrations in 2016. The artist is Tom Denny, of Tralee Denny family and a famous stained glass artist, who is giving his services as a contribution to the project. The central themes are reconciliation, healing and renewal. It will be the first stained glass window to be installed in St. Johns in over 60 years. A fundraising drive seeking to raise €20,000 was launched over the weekend of August 14-16th. Donations from individuals and businesses are welcome. Donation envelopes are available at the back of the Church and can be returned to St. John’s Parish Centre.

Source: St. John’s Parish Website

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