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. Michaels Page 2 of 3

Supernatural Happenings in Beale, Cleaning up at St. John’s and my visit to Mount Lucas

Irish Wildlife Photography Competition Finalist

Peacock butterfly by Dick Glasgow


A Scary Story From Ballybunion Convent School in Dúchas Collection

Sheila Sheahan 

Beale Middle

Co Kerry

There is a fort in Beale and it is supposed to be the principal resort of the fairies. One day as two men were drawing hay from Slios near Caill na Talmhain, one went through the fields as it was shorter than to go by the road, and his brother drove the horse by the road to Slios. As he was passing this fort, a little boy came out of it and ran after the car and sat into it. When they were gone a short distance he offered the man some sweets but he refused to take any. None of them spoke anymore until they arrived in Slios. Again the little boy offered the sweets to the second man who went through the fields. But his brother went behind the little boy’s back and grinned at the other man not to take the sweets, because he was about to take them. At this the little boy went into the fort and they saw him no more.


Tidying Up

This is why Listowel is Ireland’s tidiest town. I met Joe Murphy and Liz McAuliffe on the morning after the international drama festival. Despite a long week of hard work and late nights Joe was out with his mop and bucket making sure his posters were clearly readable and Liz was clearing out the old cardboard.


Bridge in St. Michael’s in 1994

A trip down Memory Lane with The Kerryman


Facing into the Future

My son-in-law works on the Bord na Mona Wind Farms. He recently brought me on a visit to Mount Lucas. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a Saturday so the Park Run had just finished. Mount Lucas was once a bog so the area is now covered in 100% organic trees and other vegetation. It has just grown from seeds that have literally blown in.

Each turbine (they call them towers in Bord na Mona) is massive. I didn’t honestly think they looked ugly and they certainly weren’t noisy. We could hear the birds singing happily on a lovely sunny summer day.

The visitor centre was not open on Saturday but if you visit on a weekday you can have a tour and see for yourself.


A Table of Poets

Eileen Sheehan is the writer in residence at The Kerry Writers Museum. I spotted her in the hotel in the  company of some local poets. They had just participated in Eileen’s workshop.

Left to right; Barbara Derbyshire, Vincent O’Brien, Eileen Sheehan and Susan Hitching

Here is a poem by Eileen Sheehan I found on the internet. I know someone just like her father. I was in his house last week and the was feeding crows.


My father,
a most gentle man,

fed the leavings of the table
to nesting crows
that screamed and whirled
in a nearby stand of trees.

From a branch of sycamore
that overhung
his newly-planted drills,
he suspended
by its gnarled legs
one dead crow;

for weeks
the wind-jigged carcass
swung there
in a crazy parody of flight.

My father,
a most gentle man,

appeasing the dark gods,
their appetite
for sustenance,
for blood.


Nearly There

It’s all hands on deck to get the Square finished in time for the First Holy Communion

Listowel Endurance Festival, Ballybunion defibrillator, a St. Michael’s Reunion and Badminton has started

Seán Mac an tSíthigh shared this photo of An Fear Marbh on Twitter


This event took place in Listowel on the weekend of September 22 and 23. Athletes ran 3 hour, 6 hour 12 hour or 24 hour loops of Listowel Town Park.  Respect!

Photos from Listowel Endurance facebook page. And yes, that runner is barefoot!


Such a good Idea

This is Ballybunion’s newest defibrillator. Every town now seems to have several of these lifesaving machines which I am told are really easy to use. In Ballybunion they have built a concrete replica of an old phone box and put their newest defibrillator in it. It is a great idea to have it visibly accessible in case of emergency. I’m probably missing something, but it seems to need a code to open the door!

I took three pictures so you could see exactly where the box is.


1968 Old Boys Reunion

Michael Moriarty sent me a few photos from the recent reunion of the 1968 St. Michael’s class.

 “One of the photos is of our surviving teachers along with the present principal, Johnnie Mulvihill, all of whom were our guests at our dinner on Sat 8th Sept. We had a wonderful weekend. We met up for an informal “meet and greet” on the Friday evening (complete with name tags!). On Saturday morning we were in St. Michael’s where Johnnie Mulvihill gave us a guided tour of the college including the room where we attempted to sit in the same seats we had in our Leaving Cert year. We were also treated to a tasty reception in the college. In the afternoon We had a guided tour of the town led by Vincent Carmody which was very informative both to those of us who are residents of the town and the lads who are scattered throughout Ireland and beyond.”

At the door of Listowel Garda Station Vincent Carmody, their historian guide took this photo during their Guided walk around Listowel;

 Front row: Seamus O’Donovan, Willie Keane, Jerry O’Flaherty, yours truly, my younger brother Tom, Paul O’Brien.

 Second row: Christy Sheehy, Michael Moran, Michael Crowley, Teddy Murphy. 

Back row; Maurice O’Connell, Tadhg Leahy, Ned O’Sullivan, Liam Cummins, Pat Flaherty. 

Mike Moriarty kindly gave me a bit of information on the Listowel connection of the old boys;

Seamus O’Donovan is a brother of Stephen O’Donovan, Upper William St.

 Willie Keane is a brother of Norita Killeen.

Jerry O’Flaherty grew up in the house that was incorporated into Allo’s when that restaurant expanded.

Paul O’Brien is a brother to Carmel Harnett, whose daughter runs the creche at the top of Cahirdown.

Michael Moran is from Billerough out near the six crosses.

Michael Crowley grew up in the house that is now Doran’s Pharmacy.

Teddy Murphy is a brother of Margaret Murphy who works with Dr. Daly.

Maurice O’Connell is a brother of Thomas the builder and is married to Alice Gleeson who grew up where Jumbo’s is now.

Tadhg Leahy is a brother of John (taxi man) and grew up in Leahy’s Drapery in Market St. Tadhg and myself married two sisters!

Liam Cummins is a native of Ballybunion. Came in by bus each morning but had to thumb home. Retired guard now living in Abbeyfeale.

Pat Flaherty, an only child, grew up in the Red Cottages in Cahirdown and comes home frequently from Dublin.

Christy Sheehy of Listowel

Ned O’Sullivan…no introduction necessary

    So there were plenty drapers’ sons in the class; Tadhg Leahy, Ned Sullivan and the two Moriartys.

John Molyneaux Snr., Johnnie Mulvihill, John Flaherty, Billy  Eggleston, Maurice McMahon, Pat Given.

This is a photograph of the official photograph by Liam Kelly


Leave the Kids at Home

On Oct 19th in St. John’s Theatre, Listowel at 8.00p.m. Frances Kennedy will present her one woman show, The Scandal of the Parish. Expect songs, stories and adult humour.


You Know it’s Winter When……

Junior Griffin takes to verse to announce the beginning of the badminton season.

Listowel Badminton Club

Serving the Shuttle in Listowel since 1908

Looking to pass the Winter,

Hoping to seek your fame,

For skill, craic and friendship

Then Badminton is your game

              Jnr  Griffin

New Members especially welcome

Join us at 

St.Michael’s Gym

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 

8 ‘til late

Community Centre

Thursday 8pm. to 10pm.

                          Enjoy the worlds fastest Racket Sport

Coaching for Beginners    

                          Contacts; James; 087 7851260; Margaret; 087 9604361;      

                        Cindy; 087  1144802

Tom; 087 8568727. Mark; 087 2119172; Junior; 087 9107929

St. Michael’s Graveyard, Listowel and photos from Listowel Races Ladies’ Day 2018

Ballybunion by Deirdre Lyons

Deirdre Lyons of Abbeyfeale is a super photographer. This photo has been chosen as on of the top 20 finalists in the FBD Insurance calendar competition.


Celtic Crosses in St. Michael’s Graveyard, Listowel


Old tombs and graves in Listowel


Listowel Races, Ladies Day 2018

This year the arrangements for the tagging and the judging were different. The judges mingled among ladies milling around the old haunt near the parade ring and then they went to this bar and gazebo. If you got the coveted pink wristband you were in the running and you could enter the Holy of Holies, a.k.a the Budweiser bar tent. There, you awaited the tap on the shoulder to tell you you had made the top 10. For most that tap never came but they proudly wore their pink wristbands, marking them as people the judges thought stylish.

My  gorgeous Writers’ Week friends, Madeleine and Eilish, chose monochrome.

 This lady won the prize for the most iconic outfit. I think that means timelessly stylish.

She certainly met that criteria. She made her own hat.

 Paul and John were enjoying it all.

Mary O’Halloran is always beautiful. She loves the races and she loves dressing up for Ladies’ Day.

These three know a thing or two about fashion.

The judges had a hard job. The place was so full of stylish outfits that you could miss one right under your nose.

Niamh Kenny gets her pink wristband from Aoibhin Garrihy. I think the chat was as much about motherhood as about style.

Anne Leneghan and Maria Stack love this day and they both looked beautiful.


To Vincent Carmody the Final Word on the Doodle Photo

 Margaret Dillon, who has a great memory for faces and names, wrote the following;

Hi Mary,

I’m going to take a stab at the Doodle party names.

“2nd from left standing Peter Moloney , Charles st., Sean Grogan,my sister Sheila thinks the next person with his hand to his tie is our uncle Jackie Sharry, he was certainly involved in the caper , Curley Keane- Stack, O’Neill??from Ballygologue?, Tommy Murphy William St, Matt Kennelly, Chuck Roche, Bottom right Dan Lou Sweeney, Up Church st., Middle front Finbarr Mc Auliffe?? Church St.

Vincent Carmody writes:

It was taken in a back room at the rere of William Keane-Stacks chemist shop. The occasion was a Doodle Frolic, one of the early get togethers of the Doodle Executive.

In front are, Derry Tatten, Finbar McAuliffe and Dan Lou Sweeney.

Standing, John Joe Daly, Plunket Moloney, Sean Grogan, Dinny Carroll, Curly Stack, Michael (Gulliver) Stack, Michael Carey, Tom O’Connell and Timmy Shanahan.

Back, ? Guerin, John B Keane, Tommy Murphy, Danny Kelliher, John Kennelly and John (Chuck) Roche. 


D Day for our great Tidy Towners

The very best of luck to the Julie, Mary and all the Tidy Town workers. Whatever the outcome in The Helix, Listowel is a credit to you. Everyone who visits praises your work. We are so lucky to have such dedicated people making sure our lovely town always looks its best


What’s in store

Between the Races, Culture Night, an important book launch and my trip to Cork I have lots and lots of photos to share with you over the next while. Jimmy Hickey and Mike Moriarty also sent me some great photos of interesting events in their lives.  So if I have taken your photo and there is no sign of it here, please be patient. It might take a while.

Dublin in Summer 2017, Craftshop na Méar and St. Michael’s

Phlox in summer 2017


O’Connell St. July 2017

I never travel without my camera. On my recent trip to the capital, I snatched a few quick snaps as I waited for a bus on O’Connell Street.

The GPO, historic building and symbol of our struggle for independence.

 Love it or loathe it, the spire is a symbol of the new Ireland.

In a doorway nearby, another potent symbol of modern Ireland.

And they laugh at us in Kerry when we mention fairy forts.

The Luas, modern transport in a modern metropolis


Craftshop na Méar

I haven’t visited this lovely craft shop in Church Street for a while now. When I went there last week it had a Kerry’s green and gold theme going on.


How Football eclipsed hurling

(Con Houlihan)

When Michael Cusack founded the GAA in 1884, his big ambition was to revive hurling. He invented a game from the the best elements of soccer and rugby and cleverly called it Gaelic football, giving the impression that it went back a long way. The ironic outcome of this was that Gaelic football almost wiped out hurling. It was a simple game to understand and, above all, it caused little injury. This was in an age when a man’s hands were important to him. Hurling can be hard on the hands.


An Taoiseach in St. Michael’s

Fine Gael and the GAA were very much to the fore in the turning of the sod ceremony in St. Michael’s on Friday Sept 1 2017.

Photo: Radio Kerry

Leo was in Kerry for the tribute night to Jimmy Deenihan in Tralee. Earlier in the evening he turned the sod for the new technology room in St. Michael’s.  The school threw a little party for him with some excellent singing and dancing by some very talented  pupils.


Red Hurley in Duagh

Michael Dillane met Red Hurley at the very successful concert in Duagh Community Centre.

Presentation Chapel in 2007 and a short history of Pres. sisters in town and a big win in badminton for a Moyvane family

St. Brigid’s Day

Celebrating St Brigid at her Well near the Cashen River between Ballyduff and Ballybunion in North Kerry

(Photo and caption: Diocese of Kerry on Facebook)


Presentation Chapel, Listowel in August 2007

Mairéad O’Sullivan shared some of her really beautiful pictures of the convent chapel with us. Here are the first few.


Hard Times come again no more

Frances Kennedy found this photo on a site called Ireland Long ago. It shows a young woman whose home has been destroyed in a Black and Tan reprisal attack. The atrocity took place in Meelin Co. Cork.

The Black and Tans (they got the name from the colours of their uniforms) were as feared in Ireland in the 1920s as The Taliban. They went around the countryside spreading fear and exerting their own brand of rough justice. This young woman appears broken but unbowed. Hopefully the menfolk of her household had found safety somewhere before this photo was taken.


Presentation Sisters in Listowel

Photos of the convent in 2007 by Mairead O’Sullivan and text from Sr. Éilís Daly

Sr. Eilís with a tree with the names of the sisters who had gone before her up to 2002.

As we celebrate our tradition of Presentation Catholic education in

Listowel, we take inspiration from the lives of the Four Presentation

Sisters who began Catholic education in Listowel in 1844.  On the 7th

of May 1844, Sr. Mary Augustine Stack- a native of Listowel and three

sisters from Milltown, Sr. Mary Teresa Kelly, Sr. Mary Francis

McCarthy and Sr. Mary Francis Brennan founded a convent and school in


During the Famine of 1845-48, the sisters had to close their school.

They opened soup kitchens to feed the starving people. The Famine resulted in

the deaths of many families and of some of the young sisters. Sharing

their meagre resources with the poor, over the course of twelve

months, the sisters supplied 31,000 breakfasts to the starving

children. The Convent Annuals read of the Sisters baking bread to feed

so many, eventually being reduced to rye and black bread. The Sisters

also initiated groups to make garments for the women and shirts for

the men in the workhouse closeby – so that people could earn wages.

A significant event in the life of the early Listowel Presentation

community was the ‘Battle of the Cross’ in 1857.  The Sisters were

ordered to take down the Cross from the gable end of their school by

the Education Board. In spite of dire threats, the sisters refused to

do so, and defied the Board. Eventually the Board yielded.

In 2007 the sisters closed their convent, after 163 years of service

in Listowel. The tradition of Presentation Catholic education is still

alive in Listowel.  Our school is now under the trusteeship of CEIST

which is committed to continuing the great tradition of Presentation

Catholic education in Listowel into the future.


Badminton in the Genes ?

Junior Griffin has a long list of Kerry badminton families. This family must be the most high profile at the moment.

“A pair of very proud parents, Breda and William O’Flaherty of Moyvane with their daughter Niamh and son James who created their own bit of Kerry Badminton history at Killarney on Sunday last, January 29 2017 by both winning Kerry senior singles championships; Niamh at 16 years of age is the youngest ever winner of the ladies senior title and they are the first brother and sister div 1 title holders to do that double since 1996.

For both it was their first senior title. In the mens decider James overcame 10 times title holder Tom Bourke in a three set final that was a pure joy to behold. Indeed, it has been acclaimed as one of the greatest Kerry finals ever.” Junior



Grandparents’ Day

Yesterday, February 1 2017, feast of St. Brigid  was Grandparents Day. My photo shows St. Michael’s boys on their way to mass in the parish church. Pupils and staff from Scoil Realta na Maidine also attended. On behalf of all grandparents, “Thank you, boys.”

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