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. Michael’s graveyard

St. Michaels Graveyard, the Ball Alley and my day in Philip’s Bookshop, Mallow

November 2019

November is the month when we remember our loved ones who have gone before us.


Listowel Ball Alley

For many men of a certain age, growing up  in Listowel is narked by memories of hours spent in the town’s ball alley. Below is the poem Junior Griffin wrote, remembering those halcyon days when his childhood entertainment revolved around the alley.

Memories of the ball alley in Listowel

When school was o’re, our hearts would soar,

At meals we would not dally,

With homework done, to seek our fun,

We’d wander to the alley.

To toss that ball against the wall,

And combat every rally,

With pouring sweat we’d play‘til death

Those games within our alley.

With left hand or right we’d try our might,

Until the grand finale,

But win or lose, how we’d enthuse

On those games played down the alley

Each game was fought, the prize was sought,

The marker counts his tally,

The match was won at twenty one,

‘Twas victory in the alley

But time moves on, the youth now gone,

No more do young men sally

To toss that ball against the wall

Of my beloved alley

Yet, memories hold of comrades old

Until the last reveille,

Of times gone by which brought such joy

Those days spent down the alley

Junior Griffin

 This is how the alley looks now, replastered and repainted in preparation for the light show that was part of Féile an tSolais 2019.


What a tree!

On the banks of The Feale


My Friends, Mary and Paddy

I ran into  this lovely couple, Mary and Paddy McElligott  on Bridge Road. They were in town for a wedding and were fitting in a quick walk  before the wedding feast.


A Minute of Your Time in Good Company

Flavins’of Church St. Listowel

I’m in the new Irish titles section in Philip’s Bookshop in Mallow, between Listowel’s Billy Keane who came to my book launch and RTE’s Brian O’Connell who didn’t.


My Mallow Signing

Since I come from that corner of the world, many of my Cork friends and relations were in Philip’s Bookshop on Saturday to celebrate with me.

My two most loyal supporters and friends, Bridget and Geraldine came from The Kingdom to hang out with me in Mallow.

This is Marion Moynihan, my late sister’s great friend who has never forgotten her over all these years. Marion came from Ennis.

Margo Anglim and I met on our first day in UCC and we have been friends since. Here we are with her husband, Eamon Kelly. They came from Dublin to support me.

Anne Leneghan is the daughter of my old Kanturk neighbours, Peter and Rita. I used to drive Anne to school when she was a pupil and I a teacher in Scoil Mhuire. Anne, a nurse was just off night duty but she made it to Mallow.

Elizabeth Breen is my niece just back from the rugby world cup in Japan. Next to her is my first cousin, Norah Ahern Rahilly. Norah and I are doubly related. Our fathers were brothers and they married first cousins., Norah’s daughter  is next and then me .

Darina Allen was signing her books with a sharpie.

There were 6 authors signing on the day. One of them was Darina Allen and she was also the judge of the Bake off. My granddaughter, Róisín, who was the youngest entrant won a special prize for her lemon drizzle slices . She got a big rosette and a copy of Darina’s latest book signed for her by Darina.

April Horse fair, The Kindness of Friends and St. Senan’s Well

Celtic crosses in St. Michael’s  Cemetery, Listowel


It’s a Good Day When

Your friend brings you scones, just because…….

A U.S. friend sends a card to say she appreciates what you do.


I wasn’t the only one taking photos at the horse fair. I ran into Steve and Helena on Market Street.

 sellers, buyers and some of the goods and animals for sale on April 4 2019


Spotted on a Listowel Window


St. Senan’s Well

Tarbert School collection. Nora Scanlon Dooncaha.

Our Holy Wells

There is a well in Tarmons known as St. Senan’s. It is in the corner of Buckley’s field in Ballintubber.

This well is not deep and a stream flows out of it. Always in the month of May people pay rounds at this well on every Saturday of the month.

This is how people pay rounds. People pick up seven pebbles out of the stream and then kneel down at the well and start reciting the Rosary. Then they start at the right hand side of the well and walk slowly all round reciting a decade of the Rosary while going round. At the end of each decade they throw one pebble away. Then when the seventh round is paid they kneel down and finish the Rosary. Then they take three drinks out of the well and wash their faces at the stream. Then they usually tie a piece of string on an overhanging bush. It is said that according as the cloth wears away the disease wears off the patient.

It is called St. Senan’s well because it was St. Senan who blessed its waters. From the well you can see the ruins of seven churches and round tower in Scattery built by St. Senan.

There are no fish in the well and the water is not used for household purposes. Once a woman went to fill her kettle at the well. She forgot to bring a vessel with which to fill her kettle. She left her kettle at the well and went back for a saucepan. When she returned the well had disappeared and the bush with it. It went from the top of the hill to the side where it is now.

Transcribed by a member of our volunteer transcription project.

Collector- Bernadette O’ Sullivan- Informant Gerald O Sullivan, Age 60, Address, Tarbert, Co. Kerry

kingfisher, Listowel coursing, and more from the enterprise town event

A Blue Photo

Photographer; Jim McSweeney


In St. Michael’s Graveyard

A wintry sun lit up St. Michael’s last week.

This is the grave of one of Listowel’s great writers and scholars.

The gravestone is understated and tasteful.


Listowel Coursing Committee 1969

Photo published in The Advertiser


The Lartigue Model

Scully’s Corner is now Chic Corner and this Christmas it has a fabulous window display. As well as the cover picture from Olive Stack’s Christmas in Listowel it has a beautiful replica of The Lartigue. This replica is usually on display in Scoil Realta na Maidine.

Judy MacMahon drew my attention to the story of the mosel railway which is displayed in the corner of the window.

The model was made by Micheal Ashe of Church Street and presented to Bryan MacMahon to commemorate to opening of the new school in 1959. Owen MacMahon gave Mary some old photos of the Lartigue to add to the display.


Listowel Enterprise Town 2017

I’ve tried to include the banners in my photos so you will know who they are representing.

November, Halloween, Sonny Bill and random acts of kindness

All Souls

November was traditionally the time when we remembered our loved ones who have gone before us. The early days of November were spent visiting graveyards and churches and gaining indulgences to free our departed loved ones from Purgatory.

Somewhere along the years of my lifetime, November morphed into a highlight of this great Ameerican festive season I have seen called HalloThanksXmas.  Instead of the church yard we visit pubs and hostelries and we dress up as ghouls and goblins and our children are persuaded that it is appropriate to go out in the neighborhood begging for sweets.



I celebrated Halloween in Cork with my family so I’m depending on Facebook for images of October 31 2015 in Listowel.

Changes was a ghoulish spooky place to be.

 They had a bonfire on the beach in Ballybunion.

Listowel Folk Group were haunting John B.’s

My boys in Listowel Garden Centre Halloween shop

(photo credits; Changes, Ballybunion Prints, Jim Quinlan and me)


Halloween in Cork

My little Trick or Treaters

In Cork the highlight of the festival is the Dragon of Shandon Parade. This is the work of Cork Community Arts and this year for the first time the parade came down from Shandon and onto the North Main Street area. I was there and here are a  few photos of the marvellous floats and paraders.


Sonny Bill ……..the Listowel connection

( photo; Getty Images on Facebook)

When all the tries and all the penalties and even all the refereeing errors are forgotten, this image of Rugby World Cup 2015 will live on. It embodies all that is best in sport. It is a celebration of the sportsman’s appreciation of the fan.

If you are reading this from under your stone or way into the future you may not know what I am talking about. This is the moment when the great New Zealand player, Sonny Bill Williams gifted the World Cup medal he had only received minutes before to an overenthusiastic fan. In his post match euphoria the boy had raced past the security man to congratulate his hero. The security man had a bit of rugby training himself and he tackled the young fan to the ground. Sonny Bill picked him up, dusted him off and posed with him for the photographers. Then, in a spontaneous gesture, he took the medal from around his neck and gave it to the stupefied young fan.

Take a look at the video, Alma Rugby.  Watch to the end and you will see just how much this gesture meant to this young fan.

Now I promised a Listowel connection.  Well, it is actually very tenuous as  connections sometimes are.

Remember this lad at the RDS? He too is called Sonny Bill.

And yes, he is named after the great Sonny Bill Williams.

 His owners as well as being horse mad are also rugby mad.

 2015 was a good year for Sonny Bills.


It’s the Little Things……the kindness of strangers

On Sunday I was at mass in The Church of St. Mary and St. John in Ballincollig. As I waited for mass to begin I was sitting in my pew minding my own business and reading the parish newsletter. They are losing their curate, Fr. Dave O’Connell to Barryroe and in his place they are getting Fr. Cian O’Sullivan. As I was perusing this and other Ballincollig snippets, I feel a tap on my shoulder. It is the man in the seat behind. He is offering me his glasses wipe. He has cleaned his own glasses with it and he feels it is a shame to throw it away after only cleaning one pair of specs.

Thanks to him I was seeing everything extra clearly for the rest of Sunday. Thank you, stranger.

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