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. Mary’s Page 1 of 9

Christmas 2023

Christmas 2023 crib in St. Mary’s Parish Church, Listowel

Volunteering at Christmas

Just four of the lovely volunteers in my favourite shop; Teresa, Eileen, Eileen and Mary in St. Vincent’s Listowel on December 15 2023.

The Wran

Continued from yesterday…

With Tambourines and Wren boys

Wm. Molyneaux

We had great times with the same Wren, so we did.  One St Stephen’s Day I was out with Coolkeragh.  They were a good crowd.  We were travelling on, whatever.  I don’t know that anyone of us knew the names of the people where we were at all.  But still is was a good place. 
Well, any torn down house or anything, we’d say to ourselves that we wouldn’t go in there at all.  

So this house, anyway, we crossed it.  It was a
small little pokeen of a  house.  Myself and the player were talking.  We said to ourselves we wouldn’t go in there at all-you know.  There would hardly be no one there at all- poor looking. 

“Cripes,” says I (as if I had the knowledge)
“ “I imagine,” says I, “but I see an old woman walking around
the house, and now  that old woman might only get insulted.  We want nothing from her,” says I, “but she might get insulted if we didn’t go into with
the Wren.”  “Well, by God, that’s right, Williameen.  “We go in then.”  

In we went.  This poor little woman was inside.  A very small little house entirely.  She had a few coals down.  I went up to the fire, myself and the player.  He was Willie Mahoney over in Coolkeragh and a good player he was.  The Dickens, I
went up.  I was inclined to “hate” the tambourine over the coals.  There wasn’t as much fire there as would heat it.  Stay, I told him play away.  He played away.  He played, I think, a hornpipe.  God he was a good player!  We were at it for a bit, and with that, whatever look I gave, there was the poor woman and the tears rolling down her  face.  

“Stop, let ye,” says I to the crowd.  “Stop, let ye, there
must be something wrong here.  Will ye stop!”  I turned around to the old woman: “well, poor woman,” says I “there must be something wrong with you or with someone belonging to you. 
And if we knew anything like that,” says I, “we were not going to come in at all” says I “if we knew what we know now….  When we see the tears in your eyes we wouldn’t have come in at all….

At that she started, at the top of your voice: “Yerra,Wisha, Weenach!oh!oh!OH!..It isn’t any dohall I have
at all about the Wran Boys!….Yerra, Wisha… husband, Tom….he’s inside in the Listowel ‘ospital with a sore leg. 
And, and if Tom was here today, wouldn’t he be delighted to see the fine crowd of fine respectable Wren boys that made so much of me as to come in here!
Wait a fwhile ‘til Tom ‘ll come home and if I don’t be  telling him that…..oh!oh!oh! and she went on at the top of her voice.

I turned around to the crowd:
“lads,” says I, “have ye much money around ye? 

“agor, we have”says the captain,  we could have up to
about five pounds, (it was early in the day) “Are ye all satisfied to give this poor woman,” says I, “half of what ye have?  The day is long” says I, “and we  will make enough to maintain us through the night.”  And they said
they were agreeable.  The cashier was
just starting to pull out his purse and off she started again: “oh!  No!  No!  Wait awhile now and I must
turn around and give ye something.  She had long stockings on her, and she stuck down her hand in one of them-down,
down, and then she got hold of something and she started pulling and pulling til she pulled up a big cloth purse-as sure as I’m telling you there would a quarter sack of male fit inside it!  And I couldn’t tell you what money was inside it. 
Up she pulled the bag anyway and reached a shilling to myself.  “No, ma’am,” says I, “put that in your own pocket.”  Then she started again: “oh!  No!  No!  No!  If you don’t take that now, decent boy!  Oh,Yerra  Wisha  after what ye had done for me! 
Yerra, Wisha, the best friend I ever had in all my life would not do what ye’re after doing for me.  That the
Almighty God and the Blessed Virgin Mary may save and guard ye! Bless and
protect ye! And that you and yer crowd might be going around on the Wran,”
says she, “ for the next 100 years without a feather out of ye.”

That happened, for a God’s
honest fact.

In Town with Camera

Listowel Arms

Lynch’s Coffee Shop


Charlie and Willy on Jumbo’s window

Irish Farmers Journal in the seventies

Some local people in this old paper in summer ’74 and ’75

Some Problems seem to Never Go Away

Before I Was a Gazan

Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

I was a boy and my homework was missing, paper with numbers on it, stacked and lined,

I was looking for my piece of paper, proud of this plus that, then multiplied, not remembering if I had left it on the table after showing to my uncle or the shelf after combing my hair but it was still somewhere

and I was going to find it and turn it in, make my teacher happy,

make her say my name to the whole class, before everything got subtracted in a minute even my uncle even my teacher

even the best math student and his baby sister who couldn’t talk yet.

And now I would do anything for a problem I could solve.


by Junior Griffin

Oh Lord, when we give this Christmas time,

Do teach us how to share

The gifts that you have given us

With those who need our care,

For the gift of Time is sacred~

The greatest gift of all,

And to share our time with others

Is the answer to your call,

For the Sick, the Old and Lonely

Need a word, a kindly cheer

For every precious minute

Of each day throughout the Year,

So, in this Special Season

Do share Your Time and Love

And your Happy, Holy Christmas

Will be Blessed by Him above

Junior Griffin

Carols on Church Street

The Folk Group were in great voice on Saturday last as they sang carols on Upper Church Street. A group of traders came together to raise money for three local charities. The folk group sang and we bought tickets in the participating businesses.

A Fact

In 1843, the custom of sending Christmas cards began. At the time, Sir Henry Cole worked as a senior civil servant and had helped set up what would become the Post Office, and he wanted to try and encourage it to be used by ordinary people. 

His idea of Christmas cards was created, and they were initially sold for only 1 shilling each, and the custom slowly became more popular throughout the years.


Signs of The Holy Season

Listowel Town Square, November 2023

The first sign of local festivity is the putting up of the Christmas street lights.

Kerry is still high and wide but from now on will be even more handsome. This was the scene on Charles Street on November 21 2023.

A Restored Window

In the grounds of St. Mary’s I met Glynn Palmer as he was just arriving to restore the refurbished stained glass window.

Over the adoration chapel, you will notice the boarded up section of the beautiful window.

The window in question was donated by Thomas McAuliffe. Does anyone know anything about him?

The panel on the right is already renovated and restored.

A Christmas Poem

The unvarnished truth about Christmas from John McGrath

Our Wildflower Garden in Winter

Where have all the flowers gone? Some have gone to seed and will bloom again next year. Some of the annuals are gone never to return’

A Fact

This is the beautiful Reggie, a rescued lurcher. Larger dogs are harder to rehome for various reasons but this one found a great welcome in Ballincollig.


November in Church

Trant’s Pharmacy, Market Street


November 2023 in St. Mary’s

Seats and kneelers at the front of the church have now been upholstered. Tried one out and I must report that they are very comfortable indeed.


Irish Traditions

by Kathleen Jo Ryan and Bernard Share

Below is an extract from an essay by Bryan MacMahon on the Irish people he knew.

Book Launch

We had a great time in St. John’s on Saturday, November 11. Vincent’s latest book is probably his best and most important book yet.

Kathy Buckley, a humble Listowel girl, daughter of Lar, the local cooper, ran the White House kitchen under three US presidents. Vincent has done a marvellous job of research on this one and the beautifully presented book is full of information, photographs and interesting stories from behind the scenes.

Finbar and Cathy Mare were in charge of sales.

Some of Vincents old Listowel friends gathered for the launch

John Cahill, Anne Crowley, Owen MacMahon, Elizabeth Moriarty and Kay Moloney Caball.

Katie Hannon launched the book for her childhood postman. She caught up too with Canon Declan O’Connor, a fellow Duagh native.

Photo; Tidy Town

Just some of the Tidy Town stalwarts at the presentation of local prizes last week.

Fact of the Day

With delight I bring you today’s fact, sent to us by Vincent Doyle


A Stained Glass Window, A Poem and An Irish Nightie

The Square


Repairing Stained Glass

This beautiful stained glass window in St. Mary’s is in the aisle on the left as you face the altar. It is a fabulous depiction of The Last Supper.

This is the window on the other side. The panel on the right and the rose window at the top have been restored. They too were blackened by harsh weather and the grime of urban living. The panel second from the right will be restored and refitted before the end of the year and the other two are a project for 2024. A job well worth doing.


Dan Keane, Poet of North Kerry

I came across this treasure during a bit of a clearcut recently.

A lovely lament for The Races and “that canvas village of fun” gone for another year.


Gaeltarra Eireann

This lovely presentation package comes from my friend, Margaret’s treasure trove.

“Gaeltarra Eireann was an Irish state industrial development agency set up in 1957 specifically for the Gaeltacht areas. It had the twin fold aim of preserving the Irish language and bringing industrial employment to Irish speaking areas. The scheme had limited success. It was replaced by Údarás na Gaeltachta in 1980.”


No Words!


Ardie Savea showing Johnny Sexton the ultimate respect as he finishes his rugby career.



There is a town in Texas called Earth. It is the only place on earth called Earth


Changes in The Square

William Street, April 2023


Changes in Listowel Town Square

Some things in The Square have remained the same for centuries. Somethings are very new.

We have free Wifi.

We have a defibrillator

We have an outdoor public seating and dining area.

And we have 2 EV charging points.


St. Mary’s at Eastertime


Shortlist announced

These are the novels shortlisted for the prestigious award of Kerry Book of the Year at Listowel Writers’ Week 2023. The Kerry sponsored prize is a very generous €20,000. The winner will be announced on the opening night of the festival on May 31st 2023.

You can pick up a quick taster of this year’s programme in shops around town or on the website. The full programme will be available shortly.

Visit the website to book tickets for events or to volunteer to be part of this year’s festival.

Listowel Writers’ Week


Listowel Pitch and Putt Club celebrating 50 years


A Doting Grandad

My Aoife’s grandad is a gardener and an outdoor person. He found a new use for his wheelbarrow recently.


Coming to Writers Week 2023

Joseph O’Connor’s latest book tells the story of a Kerry World War 2 hero, Fr. Hugh O’Flaherty.

At 3.00 p.m. on Sunday June 4th you can catch Joseph O’Connor in a Writers’ Week 2023 event with Richard Ford.


A Fact

In 1945 a computer at Harvard malfunctioned while it was being tested. When the lady who was working on it at the time investigated she found a moth had got into one of the circuits and she removed it. Ever since, when something goes wrong with a computer, it is said to have a bug in it.


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