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. Patrick’s Day Page 1 of 4

March 2022

The window in Listowel Saint Vincent de Paul Shop captures the theme of this year’s St. Patrick’s festival well. This year the theme was The Greenway so bicycles, scooters and shanks’ mare were the preferred modes of transport. Other floats concentrated on the great outdoors, with sights and experiences available along the Greenway. Everywhere we were reminded of the war in Ukraine.

One of the highlights of the parade and of every parade in Listowel is the Convent School marching band. In a poignant gesture to their fellow children suffering in Ukraine, the girls adorned their caps with ribbons in the Ukraine colours.


Some Photos from St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2022


A Rare Piece of old Film

a Man called Grant Millar shared a great piece old cottage of a fair day in Listowel in 1956 on the Listowel and North Kerry Facebook page.

Here are a few screenshots Christy Halpin took from it.


Take a look at this. Thankfully the tree fell into the river so n o damage was done to person or property.

If you were wondering why they are cutting down old and diseased trees, here’s your answer.


The Story of a Cairn

In Gurthenare in the farm of Mr. Quilter there are still to be seen the remains of a monastery called Kilcara, built by St. Carthage. One of the monks (Franciscans) belonging to that monastery was murdered by Cromwell’s soldiers + tradition has it that he was buried in “Mickey’s Field” in the farm of Wm. Dowling of Kiltomey bounding Gurthenare + Kilcara.

A pile of stones was raised over the grave + up to forty years ago everyone, old + young, threw a stone on the pile when passing so strong was the tradition then. Three people, two of whom are still living heard stones rattling there late one night as they were going home from a friend’s house. The noise was such as would be made when emptying a load of stones out of a car.

This story appears in the Clandouglas school’s folklore page. It was recorded by Michael O’Connell, aged 65, a farmer.


The signs are fading but Covid is still with us.


Fr. Enright of Listowel and Castletownbere

The Manly Barber, Charles Street, Listowel


Rossmacowen Church (image from the internet.)

Mr. John O’Leary sent us this account of a famous priest of his native parish. This priest, Fr. Michael Enright was a native of Listowel.

At the height of the Famine, in 1847, Fr Michael Enright was appointed 

to Castletownbere.

Fr Michael Enright, a native of Listowel was active in getting the Chapel 

at Rossmacowen built. The people were so poor that they were only able 

to raise one pound, four shillings towards the new chapel, which was 

completed in 1855 and blessed on the feast day of St Bartholomew, 24th 

August 1855.

Rev Fr. Michael died May 1865.

The Cork Examiner noted in its obituary published in 1865, the affection 

in which they never ceased to regard their beloved pastor was 

affectionately evinced on Thursday the 25th when his remains were 

deposited among them in the church which will remain a testimonial to 

his labour and of his love for the poor of his flock. He was buried in 

the graveyard of Rossmacowen on May 25th 1865.

Growing up i was always interested in the history of the locality, and i 

have on so many occasion listened to people speak so highly of Fr 

Michael. He was a man of the people.

In 2011 we had a family reunion, 48 travelled from America. Up in our 

land and at the bottom of the hill there is a mass rock. Late on the 

Saturday evening we all clambered up through the hill side and our 

cousin Fr John said mass. We all left quietly after mass as our 

ancestors would have done. I designed a card for the occasion, and I

asked a retired school principal if he would do a little poem, just to 

mark that connection

Tígh fé Thalamh

They gathered all together

Round a lonely hidden rock

The priest arrived and said the mass

For his faithful, waiting flock

Neither penal laws nor gunfire

Could force them not to pray.

In earnest lowly whispers,

The rosary they would say.

They fought to keep the Irish faith

Which they took to many a land

And gave their children’s children

A strong belief in God.


Listowel in the 1930s

J.M Galvin’s Central Hotel now Maid of Erin, Main Street, Listowel

Photo copyright; Tipperary Studies Photographs of Munster


Dates for the Diary

It’s back; Listowel will have a St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17 2022.

If you wish your club or organisation to participate, entries are being accepted at Christy’s The Well in The Square.

Let’s make this year’s event a true return to the old normal.

While you have the diary handy, The Lartigue Theatre Company will bring their new production of John B. Keane’s Sive to St. John’s from April 7 to April 12 2022.


Fr. P.J. O’Connor of Kerry and St. Louis and Listowel ICA some years back

Portmarnock Beach  in March 2020 photgraphed by Eamon ÓMurchú


Remembering a St. Louis Pastor with a Listowel Connection

Dear Mary ,

As you were looking for Archival material for the Listowel Connection  I am sending you an article on the Rev P.atrick J O.Connor who was a first cousin of my Grandfather Dr Michael O’Connor. late of The Square Listowel.

 Rev  P. J. O’Connor, Pastor of St. James Church, born at Coolkera Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland in the parish of Ballybunion January 1, 1883 was the , son of Cornelius O’Connor and Mary nee Corridan. Baptized at the Chapel Ballydonoghue January 3, 1883, confirmed there July 1895, attended the National School, at Coolard and later Tullamore, entered St. Michael’s College, Listowel, August 23, 1897. the ecclesiastical college, Carlow College Sept. 3, 1901, ordained a priest June 9, 1907, said his first mass at the Poor House Chapel Listowel June 11 for the inmates in the presence of a few relatives and Sisters of Mercy.  

  Coming to the United States in the year of his ordination he was appointed to St. Edward’s parish in St. Louis as an assistant pastor. After five years he was transferred to the St. James parish where he spent the remainder of his life, the years from his appointment until 1918 an assistant pastor, and from 1918 until 1929 as administrator of the parish. He was appointed pastor on Nov. 14, 1929.

Besides building the magnificent 11th century type stone church which was erected in 1927 and consecrated in 1941. Father O’Connor was the builder of a large school, a convent for the Dominican Sisters who teach in the school, and a parish rectory. The rectory which was completed less than a year before Father took sick, serves also as a meeting place for parish social funtions.                                                                 Father O’Connor was survived by his three sisters, Mrs. Margaret Slattery and Miss Lil, and Miss Joan O’Connor. and Dr Michael O’Connor his first cousin  of The Square Listowel. He was also survived by a number of nieces and nephews who lived  in New York and who came to St. Louis for the funeral..                                          

  Enclosed find  a photo  of Fr P J O’Connor, his  Obituary card  and Grave stones in Listowel  Cemetery and St James Church St Louis Mo. 


With kind regards,                                                                                      

Mary Geraldine O’Sullivan.


Castle  and Literary Centre closed


More Old Ones

Some more treasures shared with us by Máire MacMahon, Listowel ICA in St. Patrick’s Day parades

Portmarnock, Listowel Writers Week 2007 continued, some old news and St. Patrick’s Day in times past

Portmarnock Beach in March 2020 during the Covid 19           Photo credit; Eamon ÓMurchú


Listowel Writers’ Week 2007

Mattie Lennon remembers

On Saturday morning that Cork Legend Niall Toibin unveiled a statue to the late John B.Keane in the small square. 

It is at the intersection of Church Street, where John B. was born, and William Street, where he died.

The annual Literary and Historical tour, starting at 2 O’clock, took in Gortaglanna, Knockanure, Moyvane and Lenamore.  Gortaglanna was the scene of a brutal killing by the Black-and-Tans. (Octogenarian songwriter Dan Keane, has written a new version of The Valley of Knocknanure to commemorate the slaughter.)  Moyvane was the birthplace of poet, philosopher and mystic, John Moriarty, whose funeral was on the day of the tour.

Bi-location would have come in handy because An Audience with Melvyn Bragg got under way in the Listowel arms at 2.30, followed by a reading by Liam Browne and Mia Gallagher at 4 O’ clock.

And it would have meant very tight scheduling if one tried to fit in a meeting with author Irvine Welsh at 5 O’clock. His first novel Trainspotting was described as, “ the fastest-selling and most shoplifted novel in British publishing history”.

I missed the lecture by Alain de Botton in Saint John’s Theatre at 6 30. and later Frank Pig says Hello because I was making preparations.

Wait ‘til I tell you.

I have told you before, about when I first became interested in storytelling. It was when my, visually impaired, mother was given a radio by the National Council For The Blind in 1959. Once a week, on The Rambling House, the Seanachai of all Seanachais, Eamon Kelly came into our humble kitchen.

Occasionally, in later years, people who didn’t know any better, would describe me as a storyteller. It must have gone to my head because this year I submitted a story to the International Storytelling Competition dedicated to the memory of the above-mentioned Eamon Kelly.

I got into the final, which was held at 9.30.

Now, no self respecting Seanachai (even one as amateur as yours truly) would be seen without the traditional garb of the Irish storyteller. It’s not the sort of clobber you can purchase in Saville Row or from sartorial purveyors on the high street.

Being a man of modest means, who was doing his small bit to keep the art of storytelling alive, I thought that some native drapery merchant would sponsor my outfit. I approached many but I am sorry to say that not one supplier on the Island of Saints and Scholars donated as much as a bootlace. (I even contacted the County Secretary of the GAA in Wicklow asking for a shirt in the county colours but I wasn’t even granted the courtesy of a refusal. I was ignored.)  But, a number of offshore benefactors came to the rescue.

Photo; Tom Fitzgerald

Because of the nature of my act a number of shirt changes was necessary, but not just any shirt. It had to be a Grandad shirt. Those garments were very kindly sponsored by;

Boden On-line shop (

Starlight; (

Ethnic Fashion;


Stars; (

And of course the waistcoat.

A collector of waistcoats who wants to be known only as “The Waistcoatman” ( donated a period waistcoat.

In the past no true Irishman would be seen bareheaded unless he was in bed or in the Church (some of them slept in both places). As the aforementioned Eamon Kelly used to say, “There was respect for the brain then”. The necessary Fedora was provided by Treasured Parts ( The top half of me was now period.

Men of my father’s era wore a two-and-a-half-inch wide leather belt with a rectangular brass buckle. In the Beano and the Dandy misbehaving juniors were punished with the slipper but in rural Ireland the male parent’s belt was the “correction tool” of choice. My father was a kind man and (apart from the occasional “larrup” on the backs of the legs for severe mischief) I escaped. So, as a tribute to Tim Lennon (no mean story teller himself) long gone to his reward, I decided I would wear an appropriate leather belt on stage. But where would I get one? Susan McKenzie, Director of The Inner Bailey, in Kentucky “gave me a belt”. She can be found at

On Sunday I missed a reading by Gisele Scanlon, “Allergic to Beckett”, a  reading by Giles Foden and “A Treasury of Poets”.

Those omissions weren’t through laziness or apathy; I couldn’t miss the Dan Keane children’s poetry event in Finuge This is a poetry competition for children where the next generation of literati are judged by thecritical eye and ear of Dan who was born in 1919. There had been children’s events all week but to my mind this was the highlight. It was an open competition but not surprisingly Kerry schools shone; particularly pupils from Dromclough National School. There is a healthy crop of young poets in the Kingdom.

The Irish Network of Dramatic Arts, from West London, presented Big Maggie, by John B.Keane, in Saint John’s Theatre on Sunday night.

On Monday morning as “the road to Abbeyfeale”  brought me further from the culture capital, I hoped that the Great Creator would leave me here to repeat the experience in 2008.


ICA in St. Patrick’s Day Parades

Máire MacMahon sent us these photos from yesteryears


Infrastructure Improvements in 1824

(from old newspapers)

Sunday last, Mr. Griffith laid the foundation stone of the new bridge, over the river Feale, which is to be called Wellesley Bridge, in commemoration of the Viceroyship of his present Excellency, to whom the public are solely indebted for so many important works now going on in that hitherto neglected part of the Country. The three first stones that were laid weighed over seven tons. A quantity of whisky was poured on them when they were put down.

The public will be gratified to learn, that the line of Road between Limerick and Tralee, part of which was executed at the private expense of Mr. Rice, of Mount Trenchard, is nearly complete, and that a Mail Coach will be started in August, to run between Limerick and Tralee.- Mr. Rice will be repaid his expenses by the Grand Jury. It is curious to remark, that Mr. Rice excepted a piece of road for 200l. for which a sum of 2,000l. was demanded for by contract.

Shop Windows, Dancehall Days and Market Street in 2019 and Gapos

Photo: Chris Grayson


Happy Days

Philomena Moriarty (now Kuhn) has many happy memories of growing up in Listowel. Recently she shared on Facebook some memorabilia of her dancing days.

1959…Philomena’s first dance. Dancing was always and still is one of her favourite activities.

Left to right: Bernie Sullivan, Marie Canty, Danny Shine, Beata Keane and Philomena

Left to right: Bernie Sullivan, Philomena Moriarty, Ann Flaherty and Helen Rohan.


St. Patrick’s window Displays 

Photos from a year in the 1980s or early 90s by Danny Gordon


Flower bed at an Iconic Corner of Listowel

Tarrant’s Garage at the old mart entrance is enhanced by these lovely raised beds.


Mai Fitz’s Then, Gapos Now

Recently the lovely people who run this restaurant closed for a short while. They posted this endearing message on their door.

In case of any misunderstanding, Gapo’s is open and it’s business as usual in this lovely place to eat.

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