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: Stephen Rynne Page 1 of 2

Art, Memoir and Poetry

River Feale, June 2024

One Hundred to One

The three men on the stage at The Plaza on the Sunday of Listowel Writers’ Week 2024 were Martin Dyar, festival curator, Tom Shortt, director of Prison Education and Pat Sheedy, recovering gambling addict and author.

While half the readers of Listowel were in Kerry Writers Museum for the launch of Autumn Blooms, an anthology of work by local writers, Paddy Gavin, Cyril Kelly and John Fitzgerald, I joined the small audience for Pat Sheedy’s cautionary tale of his life in gambling.

Pat’s story is one of fall and redemption. It tells of the saving power of education for a man who had reached his lowest ebb.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in human nature, who likes a good story well told.

A Poem to Make you Laugh ( or maybe even inspire you)

Listowel, The world Centre of Modern Celtic Art

St Patrick’s Breastplate by Michael O’Connor

Stephen Rynne did a great job marketing Listowel to those of us attending the International Day of Celtic Art. His presentation was recorded. I hope it will be available soon on youtube. It was marvellous.

Small detail of the calligraphy and illumination on this beautiful artwork, now on display in Kerry Writers’ Museum, Listowel.

Just a Thought

A link to my latest contributions to Just a Thought on Radio Kerry

Just a Thought

Back from The Land Down Under

Niamh and Deirdre looking happy to be home to Listowel

A Fact

King Charles 111 is only the second British monarch ever to be featured on banknotes. His mother Queen Elizabeth 11 was the first.


Art and Literature

Civic Plaza, Listowel in June 2024


Cashell Solicitors, I’m told

I Love Listowel Library

The library has to be the best free facility in town, lovely building, lovely staff, well stocked shelves and always a surprise in store.

Today’s surprise; Colm Tóibín’s latest book had no waiting list. I have it for 10 days. Yippee!

Last week when I was in the library I met these lovely people who were on a mission of appreciation to one of their favourite places.

They are the Pathways Level 3 learners from Kerry College, Listowel Campus. The course co ordinator is Rena Liston.

Holding the plant they brought as a thank you to library staff is Maria and fellow librarian, Susan, is in front.

All is Slowly Being Revealed

The pages my friends are reading are the first proofs of my new book. It will be called Moments of Reflection. Just now it is in the capable hands of Paul Shannon at Listowel Printing Works. He is doing a splendid job.

It will be a while yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

2 Day International Day of Celtic Art

The International Day of Celtic Art 2024 is actually 2 days. Coming from a town where Writers’ Week is 4 days we can hardly quibble with that.

I think I may have had the link wrong yesterday so here again is the link for registration.


I think it’s all free. They didn’t ask me for any money anyway.

The lady in the above photo is Susan Corr, Ireland’s leading conservator. I took this photo of Susan in The Brendan Kennelly room in Listowel Writers’ Museum on the day she returned the Michael O’Connor pieces after conservation.

This is not the piece in the picture. It’s another of O’Connor’s magnificent letters.

Here is the schedule for the 2 days this weekend.

June 2024

Sat Jun 812:00pm – 1:00pm 

ZOOM SUPPORT1:00pm – 1:20pm 

— WELCOME & INTRODUCTIONS —1:20pm – 1:40pm 

Donncha MacGabhan (How long did it take to make the Book of Kells?)1:40pm – 2:00pm 

Catherine Crowe (Celtic Art and Enameling)2:00pm – 2:20pm 

Stephen Walker (Naming Knots; challenging symbolism and meaning in the marketing of modern Celtic art)2:20pm – 2:40pm 

— BREAK —2:40pm – 3:00pm 

Ruth Black (Celtic Ecclesiastical Embroideries)3:00pm – 3:20pm 

Stephen Rynne (Celtic Art Podcast Discussion & Launch) 3:20pm – 3:40pm 

Steven Lawes (Fibonacci Celtica)3:40pm – 4:00pm 

Hamish Douglas Burgess (Creating a Celtic art whisky label – an interesting story with many twists and turns.)4:00pm – 4:20pm 

— WRAP-UP —Sun Jun 94:00pm – 5:00pm 

ZOOM SUPPORT5:00pm – 5:20pm 

— WELCOME & INTRODUCTIONS —5:20pm – 5:40pm 

Alix Sandra Huntley-Speirs (Finding the Music in Celtic Art: The Journey to Findlaystone)5:40pm – 6:00pm 

Jeff Fitzpatrick Adams (Irish Celtic Illuminations)6:00pm – 6:20pm 

Aidan Breen (Chasing Early Irish Saints & Celtic Bangles)6:20pm – 6:40pm 

— BREAK —6:40pm – 7:00pm 

Susan Corr (Conservation of Michael O’Connor artwork) 7:00pm – 7:20pm 

Stephen Rynne (Listowel, The World Capital of Modern Celtic Art)

7:20pm – 7:40pm 

David MacGovern (Monakie Rock Art)7:40pm – 8:00pm 

Nicola Dixon8:00pm – 8:20pm 


Susan Corr, as you can see, will talk about her conservation work on Sunday at 7.00 pm

Stephen will give his not to be missed presentation about Listowel on Sunday at 7.20

A Fact

Running hell for leather, the first woman to record a sub 5 minute mile was Diane Leather. The British runner recorded this time in 1954


Listowel, World Centre of Modern Celtic Art

June 2024

Listowel Centre Stage at the Day of Celebration of Celtic Art

International Day of Celtic ArtIDCA Online Conference

SPEAKER: Stephen Rynne

TOPIC: Celtic Arts Podcast Discussion & Launch

TOPIC: Listowel, The World Capital of Modern Celtic Art

Stephen lives in the West of Ireland where he raises his three children after being widowed in 2012. He has an Honours BSc. from Oxford Brookes University in England and he has been caring for his son who has Epidermolysis Bullosa and Autism since his birth.

In 2019 he discovered, fell in love and picked up all he can to do with the Celtic Arts, in particular Modern Celtic Art from the late 1800s onward. Having spent years discovering the joys of Celtic Art he has decided to put his discoveries to good use in a podcast called ‘Celtic Arts Podcast’ that launches at the International Day of Celtic Art Conference, 2024



EVENT CALENDAR {According to your own time zone}:


These presentations by Stephen are well worth attending. We are lucky in that they are now available in a livestream online.

Michael O’Connor formerly of No. 24 The Square Listowel is, without doubt, Listowel’s greatest visual artist. Some of his work is displayed in Kerry Writers’ Museum, his former home.

Stephen in his presentation to this year’s international conference will present the work, not only of O’Connor, but also the incomparable work of Listowel artists like Pat Mc Aulliffe and the inimitable Paddy Fitzgibbon.

There is nothing remotely like this anywhere in the world. Listowel is grateful to Stephen for bringing world attention to this under appreciated genius.

Opening Night LWW 2024

Here are a few photos I took on May 29 2024

Matt and Mary are regulars at Arts events in town, particularly if such events are as Gaeilge and involve two of Matt’s passions, music and poetry.

Dick is another amateur poet. Eileen and Dick discovered a connection with me through this blog recently. I posted a picture of Castlemagner church. Dick recognised the beautiful exposed stonework of a church he and Eileen had seen when they attended a wedding in the late 1960s. Fact is often stranger than fiction. Eileen is a great friend of one of my Kanturk cousins and she and Dick attended the wedding of Julie O’Callaghan, who was Eileen’s pal in nurse training, to the late Flor Sullivan (Tourist).

There really are only three degrees of separation.

Friends, Ena, Jean and Áine

Mary Frances and Helena

Jim and Mrs. MacMahon

Con, Catherine and Seán were there to enjoy the occasion.

A Poem

Brian Bilston is an extraordinary poet. He hits the nail on the head every time.

A Fact

Laughing 100 times is equal to 15 minutes of exercise on a stationary bicycle.


Fuchsia Centre

Molly in Kerry 2023


Ard Chúram

On Friday July 7 2023, Tánaiste Micheál Martin was in town to officially open the new Fuchsia Centre at Árd Chúram.

This wonderful facility for older people who suffer from dementia will mean that more and more people are enabled to stay in their own homes for longer and the task of caring is eased for the family.

The committee who worked so hard to bring this project to fruition will leave an invaluable legacy to the area.

The celebration of the opening was planned for outdoors but poor weather forecast for the day meant that we were entertained indoors at the Árd Chúram Day Centre.

The HSE is a vital partner in the delivery of services to the older people in the community. Caroline Doyle of the HSE is here with Mike Moriarty of the Árd Chúram committee.

Caroline Doyle, HSE with Helen Moylan of Listowel Laundry for the Elderly and Marie Reen of Árd Chúram

Some of the friendly welcoming people who work in Árd Chúram.

Micheál Martin and Norma Foley enjoying the Cork/Kerry banter

(More photos tomorrow)


Modern Celtic Art in Listowel

Stephen Rynne had no connection with Listowel until he began studying the work of Michael O’Connor, illuminator.

When he came to town and discovered the many many local artists working in the celtic genre, he fell in love with the town.

In Kerry Writers’ Museum on July 6th he made his first foray into opening our eyes to the treasures around us.

On the left is Stephen Rynne and on the right is a great friend of Listowel Connection, our super researcher, David O’Sullivan. Dave has uncovered many stories related to Listowel artists and their prestigious commissions.

The local connection; Fr. Brendan O’Connor, son of the artist, was delighted to meet up with his Kerry cousins on the evening.

This beautiful piece, Michael O’Connor’s alphabet, was handed over to Kerry Writers’ Museum. It is not clear to us which alphabet it is, certainly not English, maybe Irish or Latin. Any insight would be gratefully welcomed.

Cara Trant on behalf of Kerry Writers’ Museum, accepts the piece from Stephen.


Forced Emigration

One of the dreadful results of the Famine was the devastation of the population due to deaths and emigration.

Worse was to follow in evictions and forced emigration.

Maybe your ancestors emigrated on The Nimrod or another of the ships that took so many of our fellowmen to the U.S and further afield.


Shedding some Light

This substantial premises on William Street is for sale


The light of other days

This lovely little old oil lamp may have lighted a lady’s way to bed or provided light enough to read a child a bedtime story. This lamp was much safer than a candle and provided more constant light for longer.

Many will recognise that this looks like a bicycle lamp or an old fashioned flashlamp. This particular lamp is a policeman’s lamp and its beam is directed downwards.


A Gorgeous poem about a Not so Gorgeous Plant

Paul Muldoon who translated this poem will be in town for Writers’ Week in a few week’s time.

I had never heard the word greidhlic before. Then I didn’t know what samphire was either.

Samphire photo from the internet


A Visitor who feels at Home

Stephen Rynne is a Celtic Art scholar and the acknowledged expert on the work of Listowel illuminator and calligrapher, Michael O’Connor. His interest in O’Connor’s work brought him to Listowel and once here, he was enchanted by the celtic artwork all around him. He was fascinated to find on further study so many extraordinary local artists working or dabbling in the area of celtic art. Pat MacAuliffe, Paddy Fitzgibbon, Tony O’Callaghan, Micheál Kelliher, Eileen Moylan and more creating in different media but all well rooted in the celtic tradition.

Stephen with one of Listowel’s landmarks on his recent visit to town.

I was telling Stephen about Listowel’s connection to the O’Rahilly family. In one of those ‘you couldn’t make it up’ moments, Stephen revealed that his family is connected to the O’Rahilly family.

Listowel owes a debt of gratitude to Stephen for elevating the work of Michael O’Connor, for diligently researching and tracking down the whereabouts of some of the more elusive artworks. Stephen has donated many of the O’Connor pieces to Kerry Writers Museum where we will all get to see them very soon.

Why had we never heard off Michael O’Connor until recently?

Answer: Because we had no Stephen Rynne.

Some of O’Connor’s most magnificent pieces were commissioned and created as gifts for prestigious people. These then lay in archives in places like The Vatican, JKF Library, family archive of the President of Israel, in President Eamon de Valera’s archive etc etc. Stephen has literally discovered O’Connor and has tracked down and even in some cases photographed some of these exceptional works. The next part of his mission is to bring as many as possible back to Michael O’Connor’s birthplace, Listowel.


A Fact

The man who invented false eyelashes missed a trick. American film director, D W Griffith was making an epic film, Intolerance, back in 1916. He wanted actress Sheena Owen to have eyelashes that brushed her cheeks. A wigmaker wove human hair through gauze and gummed the fake eyelashes to poor Sheena’s eyelids. The film was critically acclaimed but it left Griffith with huge debts.

He should have patented the eyelashes.


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