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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Ballygologue Cross, Outdoor Dining in The Square and Orators and their Hearers

In Killarney National Park Photo; Jim McSweeney


Ballygologue Cross in October 2021


An Observant Poet


Changes in The Square

The planning notice has gone up for our proposed outdoor dining and performance areas. There are to be three covered structures with lighting and benches. The plans are available for inspection until November 25th and there will be people in Áras an Phiarsaigh to answer your questions.


From Shannonside Annual 1956


Clean shops, Stag employees in Germany , A Clown poem and a photo of 2 clowns

Photo; Liam Downes


Our Shops were never so clean


Stag employees trip to Germany with Dan Moloney T.D.


Tralee clowns, Ronaldo and Giogo Fanzini meet Michael Lynch during Listowel Writers’ Week a few years ago

The Clown

by John Fitzgerald

John has another circus themed poem for us today.

The Clown

Who is this one I call the clown, 

Comes in and out of every town? 

You take a child of tender years, 

Fill with laughter, touch with tears. 

You live inside a sawdust ring,

A peg on which the circus clings; 

A whited face, a button nose, 

What is beneath, who is to know. 

A comic look of tragedy?

A tragic look of comedy?
Wise enough to know the fool, 

Kind enough to not be cruel;
A mask that ever hides your face, 

A shining light, a saving grace?

Who is this one I call the clown,
Comes in and out of every town?
Who is this one, what is your role,
When touching hearts, you touch the soul?


A Spiral Staircase

That which we call a spiral staircase is not actually a spiral at all. It is helical. A spitral is two dimensional, a helix is three dimensional.

At a rough estimate, 10% of the population are left handed solo called spiral staircases were usually designed to favour right handed so that a deciding swordsman could fight off right handed attackers. Listowel castle has such a staircase.

There is a chateau in the Loire valley in France which has a double helix staircase so that people coming down dont bump into people going up. Sounds like good sense to me.


A Covid Listowel Limerick

During Lockdown diversions we seek,

Of Zoom and of Facetime they speak.

On Liveline, a prude, while Trump talks of Jeyes Fluid.

And worse, no Listowel Writers’ Week 

Mattie Lennon.

Newcastlewest, an invitation to a launch,Michael Hartnett and returning to the land of one’s ancestors

Stag with a fine Harem of Wives

Chris Grayson took this photo in Killarney National Park.


An Invitation for You


My Trip to Newcastlewest

This is Shirley O’Regan, poet and broadcaster, in the Limerick West fm studio where she interviewed me about my book, A Minute of Your Time.


I took a stroll around Newcastlewest and here are a few photos from the town square.

This is the inscription on the below sculpture. My half remembered Latin seems to tell me that this is a monument to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Assumption erected in 1950 by the parishioners of Newcastlewest.

The figure is clearly a milkmaid and in her hand she has a pair of butter paddles.

The bronze coin on the pavement also confirms that she is indeed a milkmaid as does the presence of milk churns on the plinth.

This would appear to depict a cow as well.

At the other end of the leisure space in The Square is a monument to local poet, the late Michael Hartnett.

Its a brilliant statue capturing the essence of this thoughtful genius.

Even on the dirty wet day of my visit, Newcastlewest square looked magnificent.


Someone’s Coming  Home

“My G Grandmother Mary Stack born 1832 is from Kilbaha, Her mother is Ellen Shanahan, Stack, Gregory. My G and GG came from Newtown Sandes, John Walsh born 1806 and his son Patrick born about 1830 came to the states about 1850 to Paris Ky.

 I am looking forward to visiting your lovely city in late March or early April in 2020 with my son. We will be in Kerry and other locations for 7 to 10 days. I have done extensive searches for family from your lovely county for many years. So now it is time to visit and see it for myself. My name is Robert Patrick Walsh Fister, My son Tony, Robert Anthony is bringing me to Ireland as a gift, I am excited for sure.

Bob F “

Poem to an Umbrella Thief, Brothers and Writers at a Book Signing in Mallow

Killarney Stag

The annual rut is coming to an end but Chris Grayson snapped this magnificent fellow earlier this autumn.


A Lost or stolen Brolly

I posted this photo last week. It is an umbrella that was left behind in St,. John’s at the launch of A Minute of Your Time.

Seeing the photo, my friend Nicholas was reminded of another incident involving an umbrella which prompted him into rhyme.

This is what he wrote:

The lost umbrella mention  sparks memory of an incident in Abbeyfeale on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, as the parade proceeded in heavy rain-showers. A good friend of mine left her umbrella down when the rain cleared, and went to chat with her friends. When the rain re-commenced, she went for her umbrella only to find that it had been stolen! A hearty soaking did not cool her ire. I penned the following ditty to commemorate the event, – there might be a sort of  John B. line there too- but she, of her charity has forgiven the thief, I think… To avoid the  risk of upsetting the fairer gender, I have decided the thief must have been a male, though I am not sure…


Or, The Theft of a Lady’s Brolly,

Which dastardly crime occurred in Abbeyfeale on a Rainy 

St. Patrick’s Day, 2012)

On the street in Abbeyfeale

Loud and high the bagpipes pealed,

And the banners on the breeze did proudly soar;

As the sun came shining bright,

And the rain-clouds dark took flight,

I left my brolly down, the rain being o’er.

To some folks I went to chat,

And sure where’s the harm in that?

It being Patrick’s Day, my pals were all in town;

As the gossip fast did flow,

Of good news – and tales of woe,

A shower of rain once more came pelting down.

Well, I turned to grab my brolly

But then soon realised my folly,

For light-fingers mean had stolen it away!

I had paid for it good money

And it isn’t one bit funny;

That snaky wretch in hell will surely pay!

May the rain and sleet come down,

With no mercy on his crown,

May the sun ne’er heat his bones for evermore.

May his good luck go astray,

May the rain sweep off his hay,

And may Bank and Bailiff ever haunt his door!



Brotherly Love

 These two Athea brothers, I’m told, are still working hard.


Cuteness overload here. The two lovely little boys, pictured below, are twin brothers, Eamon and Brendan ÓMurchú.

This is how they look today, pictured at the launch of A minute of Your Time with their brother, Aidan.


A Minute of Your Time

I was in the company of 5 other  writers in Philip’s Bookshop in Mallow on November 2 2019.

Here am I standing out in pink with Darina Allen, Clodagh Finn, Philip O’Flynn, Alice Taylor, Kevin Quaid, me and John Spillane who was the singing M.C.


One for the Diary

We are very lucky to be getting this chance to hear this popular motivational speaker and writer in Listowel

Hugh O’Flaherty Memorial, Letter Writing and Book Launches

Photo: Chris Grayson


Hugh O’Flaherty Garden

In a corner of Tralee known as The Island of Geese, because that’s what it once was, there is a lovely commemorative garden to the great Mons. Hugh O’Flaherty.


Vanishing Ireland

Here’s a riddle for you.

What do letterboxes, calendars, wall clocks and diaries have in common?

Answer: They are all on the way out.

No  one writes letters any more.

I was in a shop recently when a customer came in wishing to buy notepaper. Do you remember Basildon Bond, Ancient Irish Vellum, that sort of thing? well, the stationery shop didn’t have it. They don’t stock it any more. There is no demand.  

I met the same lady a few days later and I asked her if she had succeeded in finding a shop that sold notepaper. She hadn’t.

The day of the handwritten letter has gone the way of the handwritten diary and the wall calendar. Digitised all.

Here are a few words from John B. Keane on the subject of letter writing from the introduction to an anthology of his famous fictional letters.

“I grew up in a time when there was no alternative to the letter as a means of communication, except, of course, in the case of emergency when the phone in the local barracks of the Civic Guards became an extreme resort. You may say why not a telegram! A telegram is a letter, a stunted one, shorn of embellishment, a sort of Beckett of the epistolary scene and often even more confusing, open to many interpretations, its length dictated by the circumstances or the generosity of the sender. Always less satisfactory than a letter, a telegram left too much to the imagination, often with harmful results. The letter might be slower, but it was safer. The letter writer could expand to his hearts content especially if he was romantically disposed towards the object of his calligraphy….”


A Book Launch

You are all invited to join me for the hooley in St. John’s to launch my latest book.

By way of doing a bit of research on how the experts do book launches I went along to Waterstones on Thursday evening, October 3, the evening we didn’t get a lash of Lorenzo.

Brian O’Connell and I  had a few things in common…non fiction miscellany type book, radio personality to launch, book to sell. That’s about as far as I can stretch it.

Then I realised that I was planning a hooley. We’ll have nibbles and tea and singing and music as well as readings from the book.

Of course we’ll have the book to sell as well and I’ll be signing like billyo.

It will be the first book launch under the new artistic director of St. John’s. Let’s make it a night to remember.

Now back to Brian O’Connell’s book. It’s really good, the kind you dip into every now and again. It’s great to have in the car to read while you are waiting to pick up the children, by the bed for a quick read before you go to sleep. It is ideal for the doctor’s or dentist’s waiting room.

I read it in none of these places. I binged on it, cover to cover in a weekend. It’s full of human interest stories that draw you in. You may have seen Brian O’Connell on Nationwide with the man who was selling the hearse or read him in the Irish Times about the man and the dog.

The stories are often heartbreaking but kind of funny too.


There’s a Listowel connection. I won’t spoil the story for you but the man with the Listowel connection had a burial plot for sale under bizarre circumstances.

If you are buying two books for Christmas, this would be a good one to buy as well as mine.

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