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

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Ballybunion and Listowel

Ballybunion at Christmas 2021


Neighbours and Friends

Cyril Kelly sent the photo to Eamonn Dillon and Eamonn sent it to me. It’s a picture of Church Street neighbours and shopkeepers, Liam Dillon (Eamonn’s father) and Mai Naylor (Cyril’s mother).


Sign of the Times

Lynch’s Coffee Shop is now reopened


New Business on Leahy’s Corner


A Poem of Hope for an End to This

Covid Sonnet

John McGrath (published in John’s anthology, After Closing)

The world has pinned us with a warning glance,

the kind our mothers gave us long ago,

the look that was designed to let us know

that this might be our last and final chance.

So grounded, we can only hope and pray 

as, day by day, we inch away from fear

and tiptoe towards a future far from clear

our wounded planet showing us the way,

that voices raised in ignorance and greed

may yet be drowned by kindnesses and care,

together we may rise above despair,

united we will find the strength we need

as, all for one, we reach beyond the pain

and dare to dream tomorrow once again.


The Holy Season closes in St. Mary’s, Listowel


Memories of the Movies

News that the cinema has closed brought up some cinema memories for blog followers.

So sad to see the Astor closing . It was a huge part of growing up for me . Introduced us to a fantasy world where we believe we were Cowboys / Indians ie The Durango Kid, Johnny McBrown , The Lone Ranger or Tonto, Elvis movies always guaranteed a full house . I remember a Chubby Checker Movie where every one was on their feet doing the Twist. Peter Cushing , Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff scaring us to death. What a great time it was. Noel Roche

I accompanied my grandmother to the matinee every Sunday. It was her outing. But for me on Monday at school the question was who went to the cinema yesterday. I had to stand up then my hands were put on the desk palm side down and I got wacked with the bamboo across my knuckles. That was my punishment for watching Hoppalong Cassidy with my gran. Not good memories. Maria Sham

So sad I remember in my day it was a great meeting place and we did not have much else going on in Listowel at night. It is definitely a sign of the times. Frankie Chute Phillips


Christmas Then and Now

A bank vole in Kerry photographed by Chris Grayson

Criostóir Grayson is an excellent wildlife photographer. He is lucky to have this little lady in his garden. Here is what Conserve Ireland says about the bank vole.

Bank voles are very small rodents which are often mistaken for mice. They have small compact bodies generally about 15cm from head to tip including a 5cm long tail and can weigh from 15 to 40 grams, they have small eyes and ears and a blunt nose. Their tails are shorter than mice and are covered in fur with their blunt noses also being the main physical difference between the two. The fur is a chestnut red or brown on the upper body with their undersides being a bluff to grey colour. Juveniles will have a more grey to brown fur colouration. The fore feet have four toes while the slightly larger five toed hind feet leave small tracks up to 2cm in length which are quite similar to the footprints of mice. Bank voles are not a particularly vocal species but will emit a limited range of squeaks when communicating using high frequency ultrasound which humans cannot hear. The bank vole has a well developed sense of smell which is important for receiving information on individuals who have used territorial scent markings in an area.


Join us Online in St. Mary’s, Listowel at Christmas 2021

All masses will be live-streamed on the parish website

Listowel Parish


Above is advice from a campaign called Don’t Buy It. Apt at Christmastime.



Gerard Stack who wrote to us about Walsh’s shop came from the above shop. Like many other shops in Listowel there was a shop on the street and a totally unrelated business, often run by the man of the house, in the back of the premises.

Now Walsh’s shop was in the premises that is now Chutes’ Stores/ Milano. It used to be Cavendish’s. This was a popular TV and electrical brand. Anyway, Gerard remembers that, at Christmas this big shop sold bikes and toys. They invited the nearby children in to try out the toys and this party was sometimes covered by The Kerryman.

Photo of Walsh’s at Christmas from Mike Moriarty

I told this story to Pierce Walsh (no relation). He thought maybe he was too far from the shop to get the golden ticket. He was in Church Street. He did remember, however, that, for one Christmas before he went to South Africa, Xavier MacAuliffe had a toy shop. Does anyone else have memories of that one?

Back in 1920;

Dave O’Sullivan found this great old ad.


Don’t They Know it’s Christmas Time?

I was home in Kanturk when I snapped this picture of Woody looking longingly through the window at his family’s Christmas tree.

Meanwhile thousands of miles away another EPA horse is living the dream. He is to appear in a Hollywood movie with Dwayne Johnson.

His new owner sent a picture of the co stars at their first meeting; The Rock and EPA Cullen.



Butte Independent 1927

“Tis Christmas Eve in Kerry, and the Pooka is at rest

Contented in his stable eating hay;

The crystal snow is gleaming on the mountains of the West,
And a lonesome sea is sobbing far away;
But I know a star is watching o’er the bogland and the stream,
And ‘tis coming, coming, coming o’er the foam;
And ’tis twinkling o’er the prairie with a message and a dream
Of Christmas in my dear old Kerry home.

‘Tis Christmas Eve in Kerry, and the happy mermaids croon
The songs, of youth and hope that never die;
Oh never more on that dear shore for you and me, aroon.
The rapture of that olden lullaby:
But the candle lights are gleaming on a hillside far away.
And peace is in the blue December gloam;
And o’er the sea of memory I hear the pipers play
At Christmas in my dear old Kerry home.

‘Tis Christmas Eve in Kerry, oh I hear the fairies’ lyre
Anear the gates of slumber calling sweet.
Calling softly, calling ever to the land of young desire,
To the pattering of childhood’s happy feet; 

But a sleepless sea is throbbing, and the stars are watching’ true
As they journey to the wanderers who roam —
Oh the sea, the stars shall bring me tender memories of you

On Christmas Eve in my dear old Kerry home.

D. M. BROSNAN, Close, Castleisland, Co. Kerry.


Take a look at this old footage

John B. Keane remembered in John Lynch videos


Slán Tamall

I’m taking my leave of you today for 2021. A big shout out to all my helpers, supporters, my technical support team, my researchers and contributors. There would be no Listowel Connection without you. Thank you to everyone who wrote to me, met me or in any way offered a word of thanks, support and encouragement. It is all appreciated.

Have a lovely peaceful Christmas.

Go mbeirimid go léir beo ag an am seo arís.


Coolard, Ballylongford, Wasps and a Flag

St. Mary’s August 2021


Ballylongford Mill

Construction of the Mill was started in about 1846 by William Blair of Co. Clare and ceased during The Famine We think he got as far as the stonework for the ground floor. Building recommenced in about 1850 and the structure appears on an 1851 map of Ballylongford, and was fully completed by 1852.T

he Mill was originally built as a grain drying store, a unique agricultural building for drying bags of green oats which were later shipped down the river in sailing barges and on to a Corn Mill in Limerick for milling.This was at a time when most local tenant farmers lived in shocking poverty and didn’t have their own barns to dry the crops. It also explains the extremely heavy timbers used in construction to carry the weight of bags of green oats and the narrow width of the building and the numerous casement windows on both sides; the windows were used to control cross flow draughts to dry the oats.

William Blair got into some financial trouble and sold the building to Ryan’s from Kilrush, who then sold it to the Bannatyne family who had a large Corn Mill in Limerick which is still standing.

There’s then a big gap in details about the use of the building and it’s owners between the 1850’s and when O’Sullivans converted it into an electric mill for milling stock feed in the 1930’s.

Photo courtesy of Helen Lane and historical information courtesy of Padraig O Concubhair.

The new owners of the mill are planning a blacksmithing Fair for September.


Coolard School and Grotto


A Nostalgic Poem from John McGrath

(from John’s anthology Blue Sky Day)

Once in the Long Ago and Far Away

Once in the Long Ago and Far Away

I ran barefoot along bright boreens,

Dashing through pools of morning blue.

Over the dry-stone walls I flew,

Crashing through cobwebbed meadows,

Dew-drenched; phlegmed with cuckoo-spit.

Paused to wish by the whitewashed well.

Fished in its never-ending silver stream

For shining silver treasures.

All through the ringing fields I ran

All through the live-long, lark-song day,

Tireless as Time

‘Til time and hunger called me

Back to buttermilk lamplight, Banshee dreams,

Once in the Long Ago and Far Away.


A Plague of Wasps

2021 is a bumper year for wasps. I looked them up and they do have a vital role to play so leave them alone and just stay out of their way.

Wasps are pollinators. Wasps are also important in the environment. Social wasps are predators and as such they play a vital ecological role, controlling the numbers of potential pests like greenfly and many caterpillars. … A world without wasps would be a world with a very much larger number of insect pests on our crops and gardens.


The Flags are out

Dromcollogher Fire Tragedy, Piseóga and St Mary’s Listowel

In Listowel Town Square in October 2019


Remembering a Tragedy 

This story was one I revisited in the book commemorating 100 years of The Irish Examiner.

This is the story as it appeared in the paper in 1926. As I was growing up it was something that was well remembered in folk memory in my part of the country and was spoken of in hushed tones as the greatest tragedy that had happened for a long time.

I wrote about this horror before and below is the link to the story

Dromcollogher Cinema Fire


Piseóga from Lyreacrompane in  the Dúchas collection

The Schools’ Folklore Collection is a great anthology of old wisdom and superstitions collected by Irish schoolchildren in the 1930s from their elders.

The children of Lyreacrompane set to collecting old piseoga and superstitions. They were very diligent and they collected a huge number of these. Here are the first few. I hope you love the local idiom and colloquialisms of the children e.g. no. 21


1/5/36 Fuaireas iad so leanas ó Bhorca Ni Dhiolaín, cailín sgoile ais Chlocán-Leiscirt.

1. If you see one magpie in the morning it means to you that you will have bad luck for that day.

2. If you see two magpies it means that you will have good luck for that day.

3. If you see three, it means that you will hear of a marriage during that day.

4. If you see four it means that there is a wake to be held that day.

5. If you see five it means that you will get silver from some friend or find silver lost.

6. If you see six it means that you will get gold lost.

7. If you see seven it means that you will hear a secret that was never told before.

8. If you break a mirror in a house it means that there will be bad luck in that house for seven years.

9. If you spill salt on a table it means bad luck.

10. If you meet a brown haired woman in the morning, it is as well for you to turn home for you will not do your journey that day.

11. If you walk under a ladder it means bad luck.

12. If you open an umbrella in a house it means bad luck.

13. If you find a horse shoe lost on the road you should spit on it and throw it away again and it is supposed to bring you good luck.

14. If you find a rack (a hair comb) or a half-penny lost on the road you should take it and keep it for it is supposed to bring you good luck.

15. If you shake a crane(For hanging pots over an open fire)on a Sunday it is supposed to bring bad luck.

16. If you burn a pack of cards it is supposed to bring bad luck.

17. It is said that you should never give away milk without putting a pinch of salt in it.

18. It is said that if there are three persons with the same Christian name in one house one of them is bound to die.

19. If you meet a hare crossing the road it is a sign of bad luck.

20. It is said that if you cut your nails on a Sunday it is as bad as to eat meat on a Friday.

21. You should never carry a “sup” of milk in a bucket to a well for it is said you will be in want of it after.

22. If you hear a cock crowing at night it is the sign of a death.

23. If you hear dogs crying that is the sign of a death.

24. It is said that you should never interfere with a fort.

25. If you hear a bell in your ear it is the sign of a death.

26. If you see a star falling it is the sign of a soul going to heaven


The Main Altar in St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s Listowel has some beautiful mosaics and stained glass.


Don’t Forget

Saturday next,  October 19 2019, in St. John’s in The Square at 7.30 I will be launching my new book. Elaine Kinsella of Radio Kerry is the special guest and there will be music and readings. 

Castleisland, St. Marys and Woolworths

Common Buzzard by Alan Hillen for Irish Widlife Photography competition


Historic Castleisland

Castleisland is steeped in history. Many historic events and local heroes are commemorated in wall plaques all over town 


In St. Mary’s Listowel

Beautiful mosaic angels in St. Mary’s. You should call in to the church if you are in town and take a look at the fabulous mosaics, the work of a firm of mosaic artists called Oppenheimer.

These pieces of plasterwork have been recently restored after they had been removed after the second Vatican Council when statues got a bad rap.


Vintage saucers as ashtrays

There is a lovely café in Castleisland called The Country Market and they let me sit for ages and use their wifi while I was enjoying their home baking.



I found this on Facebook. Woolworths was an institution, a kind od Discountworld, Mr. Price and TK Maxx all rolled into one. In my childhood Santa used to do lots of shopping in this shop. It sold everything from a needle to an anchor. I bet it brings back many happy memories for blog followers today.

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