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: Teampall Bán Page 1 of 3

John Pierse R.I.P.

By the Feale in August 2022


+ John Pierse R.I.P.+

John Pierse’s Tidy Town colleagues changed their window display as a tribute to one of their stalwarts, John Pierse.

John’s nephew, Roibeard Pierse, captured the essence of John when he said that John was a man who would do the hard work and step away when the photograph was being taken. That was the John I knew. For a man who was often seen with a camera and who appreciated the importance of a photograph to document a historic moment, he was himself very camera shy.

However when I looked for photographs to illustrate my small tribute I found that I had quite a few, mainly of John in the company of like minded people.

I took this photo of John with his friend and collaborator, John Lynch on the first occasion I saw Bliain dár Saol, an invaluable documentary of life in Listowel in 1972.

The importance of this film was recognised again lately when it was shown on three days during Heritage Week 2022. The film, beautifully scripted and narrated by Eamon Keane, records The Fleadh with which John Pierse will be forever associated , the Wren and other traditions whose memory is still alive today.

With friends, Pat and Leisha Given at a book launch

John Pierse was a scholar who loved learning. This class phot0 of a group of Listowel people at a conferring in UCC on the completion of an adult outreach diploma has both Mairead and John in it. John was a life long learner. He was generous in sharing the fruits of his learning and I am one of many who has learned much from him.

With Kay and Arthur Caball

Kay Caball worked with John on many of his history projects. There was a deep mutual respect and friendship between these two avid historians.

Eileem Worts R.I.P. , John Pierse R.I.P., Joan Byrne, Breda McGrath and Mary Hanlon

One of the projects close to John’s heart, a labour of love, was his book, Teampall Bán. He has done the town an invaluable service in trawling through documents and records to put together this thorough account of the Famine in the Listowel area. In an act typical of the man, he donated all the profits from the book to Listowel Tidy Towns’.

This book will stand as John’s legacy to future generations.

With Finbar Mawe

John had a huge library of history books and maps. He was a great supporter of local authors. Here he is at the launch of Vincent Carmody’s book adding another to his collection.

John loved the company of local people who shared his love of the town and its history. With him here are Kieran Moloney, Paddy Keane and Michael Guerin.

With John in this photo taken at an event during the military weekend are Kathy Walshe and Dr. Declan Downey.

These two photos I took after an event in the hospital chapel, forever a reminder of Famine times in Listowel and North Kerry.

This is the last photo I took of John Pierse. We were in a brief respite in pandemic restrictions and we were both out early in the morning to see how Listowel was faring in these extraordinary times. John was his usual chatty self. While suffering under the privations of enforced isolation, John was putting his time to good use with his books.

In his 86 years in this life, John lived a fulfilled life. He packed more into one lifetime than anyone I know. He is part of Listowel’s rich history now. He will be greatly missed by his beloved gentle Mairead and by all his family.

I am glad I got to know him.

“Lives of great men remind us

We too can make our lives sublime

And departing, leave behind us

Footprints in the sands of time.”

Go gcloise tú ceol na naingeal go síoraí, a John.


Going to the Creamery

This photograph which was shared originally to Rockchapel Memories by Charles MacCarthy shows the scene at the creamery in Rowles, Meelin sometime in the 20th century.

That scene, or versions of it, was repeated in villages and rural areas all over the country when men made the daily trip to the local creamery. Judging by the size of the milk churns, these men were not rich but happy farmers making a living on small holdings in a remote part of North Cork.

The ritual of the morning at the creamery involved the exchange of news and gossip. Men looked forward to what was often their only social interaction in the day. It took a few hours to get to the creamery and back but in those days people weren’t in a hurry.

This photograph was also shared on line. Sorry I cant remember by whom. Was it you, Brigid O’Brien?

It is a later time when tractors and the odd car had replaced the horse or donkey and cart. The ritual was the same though and chat was still a big part of going to the creamery.


Tina Kinsella was entertaining her sister in Lynch’s Coffee Shop. Bernie was on holiday from Wexford.


The Northern Tour Ends the Road Trip

Listowel Garda Station in August 2022


In Teampall Bán

I took my granddaughters, Aisling and Cora to soak up a piece of history at Teampall Bán

The little chapel has the history of some of the worst statistics from The Famine on its door.

Listowel Tidy Towns have recently placed a commemorative plaque remembering one of its’ volunteers, Eileen Worths, who loved the little cemetery.

Across the road from the entrance to Teampall Bán I saw that great progress has been made in the construction of the bypass.


Barbara Heads North

A brief summary of the 2nd tour:    Places we visited:

Listoke Distillery-story of the distillery and the Gin School.   

Belfast City:  Panoramic Tour of the Fall and Shankill Roads to learn of the effects The Troubles had on the city and the entire island.   Titanic Quarter-learning everything about the legendary RMS Titanic, from standing in the shipyard it was built all the way to its maiden voyage.  That evening  we went to The Old Inn in Crawfordsburn, a quaint town north of Belfast City.  This restaurant was built in 1614.  A delicious dinner was had by all.  A real treat for us.   We got to see how truly beautiful Belfast City really is and how it’s a booming city now.   Lots of construction everywhere.  Definitely up and becoming for Belfast City.   

Giant’s Causeway and Derry CIty all in one day.   We headed north along the Antrim Coast for a visit to the famous Giant’s Causeway.  We made a stop at the Glenariff Forest Park at the Glenariff Teahouse for some tea and scones.   Giant’s Causeway is definitely a sight to behold and one that will leave you in awe when you do.  This is my 2nd time seeing them and each time, it definitely leaves you in awe.    We headed to Derry City, the historic walled City.   This was the last walled city to be built in Ireland and the only city whose walls remain completely intact in the country.  We were met by a local tour guide and embarked on a walking tour  of the city to learn all about Derry’s turbulent past.  We were supposed to stay a night in Derry City, but had to head to Donegal Town instead.   

I was delighted with the switch.   My room had a view of the Donegal harbor.   The next morning, we made our way to Irish House in Donegal where we saw a demonstration of how tweed sweaters were originally made as we watched the threads weave in and out on the old wooden loom.   We headed to Sligo Town for lunch.   We couldn’t see Ben Bulben because it was covered in clouds.   We went to WB Yeats grave and church.   Then we headed to Roscommon to Kilronan Castle one of Ireland’s most luxurious castle hotels and stayed the night at the castle.   It was a real treat on beautiful grounds.  We had a beautiful dinner being our last night with this tour group of 14!  

Then the next day, we headed to Arigna Mines where we got to experience a unique perspective into what coal mining life was like in Ireland from the 1700’s all the way to its closure in 1990.  Once above ground, we head to the ancient village of Kells.   This olden village was where the famous Book of Kells was written and protected for over 800 years before being moved to Trinity College in the 17th Century.   I learned that this quaint village is part of the reason Ireland is referred to as the Land of Saints and Scholars.  After touring Kells, we made our way back to Dublin to end this amazing tour.  

The title of this tour was WILD ATLANTIC EXPERIENCE:  10 DAY TOUR Premium Sightseeing Tour with ROYAL IRISH TOURS.   I highly recommend this tour!!  We were in a small coach with 14 people on each tour.    What better way to see Ireland-you get to sit back, relax and let someone else do the driving.    Ireland is simply a beautiful place which I will always come back to visit.    18 days wasn’t enough, but enough to recharge my batteries for the next school year!!!!  Hopefully it won’t be another 6 years for my next visit!  


A Gaslight

When street lighting was introduced it was powered by candlelight, gas or oil. Eventually electricity replaced other sources of power and the old lampposts were removed and replaced with less decorative but more functional lamp standards.

The lady who is commemorated on this park bench is the reason that we still have one old street lamp left outside Behan’s. Bibiana lived in The Horseshoe when it was Foran’s and she prevailed on the town council to leave the lamp outside her home.


A Fact

Image; Wikipedia

The African baobab tree can have a circumference as large as 100 feet. One such tree in Zimbabwe is so wide that the hollowed out trunk serves as a bus shelter. It can shelter up to 40 people.


Listowel in Covid 19, Teampall Bán and St. Michael’s in 1970

Mayday, Mayday

Tom Fitzgerald took this photograph in an almost deserted Listowel Town Square at the May Bank  Holiday weekend 2020.


A Curlew

Ita Hannon took this spectacular photo of a curlew near her home in Beale.


Teampall Bán

On May 6 2020, I took my permitted walk as far as Teampall Bán. It seemed fitting to visit the mass graves of our ancestors in this time of pestilence.

The sight of mass graves in New York reminded me of the horrors of The Great Hunger. 

Teampall Bán is a famine graveyard, many of its dead tipped into mass graves without benefit of shroud or coffin. Now it stands as a beautifully designed and preserved shrine to a lost generation.


Leaving Certs. 1970

St. Michael’s boys just before their Leaving Cert in 1970. 

Photo shared by Tommy O’Flaherty on Facebook


Today’s Lesson

Nowadays we scuttle away quickly if anyone near us sneezes. But it may not be Covid 19. It could be a reaction to the sun.

This type of sneezing reaction is called photic sneeze reflex and 18 to 35 % of the population suffer from it. It’s an inherited trait.

Apparently what happens is that, confronted with very bright light, the messages to the brain get scrambled and the brain thinks that the signal is coming from the nose rather than the eyes so it tries to expel the light by sneezing.

Today’s lesson is brought to you from

Teampall Bán, Danny O’Mahony, UCC Artist in Residence and Hurling in Cork, Wexford and Kildare

 Ballybunion Castle Green with flags in July 2019


Sean and Killian in the Square

On a break from Irish College on Sunday July 28 2019, Sean and Killian returned with me to the scene of so many happy summer photos from their childhood.


Everyone Should Visit Teampall Bán

Lest we ever forget

This peaceful, prayerful spot should be a place of pilgrimage and reflection for everyone.


Danny O’Mahony, UCC Artist in Residence

It has been announced that button accordionist Danny O’Mahony is the new Traditional Artist in Residence at University College Cork for 2019/20. The residency, which is supported by the Arts Council, begins this September, with O’Mahony delivering a series of concerts and workshops over twelve months. The School of Film, Music and Theatre at UCC will host O’Mahony for the duration of the residency. 

O’Mahony grew up in Ballyduff, County Kerry. In 2011, he released his debut album In Retrospect, followed by a duet record with concertina player Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh, As it Happened, in 2012. In 2009, O’Mahony reestablished The Shannon Vale Céilí Band, which has since won the All-Ireland Senior Céilí Band title at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. O’Mahony also presents a weekly traditional music show on Radio Kerry, called Trip to the Cottage.

Speaking about his new appointment, O’Mahony said:

It is a great privilege to be supported by the Arts Council and University College Cork in being appointed Traditional Artist in Residence for 2019/2020. To engage in this creative and integral position within the Music Department of UCC is an honour. My vision for this residency will be to stimulate new interest in the music and traditions of North Kerry. The creative space and energy within UCC will also provide the ideal platform for my own arts practice.

Source; The Journal of Music online


Hurling 2019

My travels at the weekend took me to four hurling mad counties.

In Kent station in Cork they have these Irish Examiner ads up on the walls in the waiting area. They serve as a useful glossary of hurling commentary.

I took the  below photo in Bunclody, Co. Wexford on the day Paul Galvin was announced as Wexford’s new football manager. Galvin, a skilled dual player might be a good fit for a county which seems to love its hurling a little more than its football at the moment.

My journey home took me through Thurles. The tidiest best kept train station I have had the pleasure of stopping a while in was flying Tipperary flags from every available point. Spot the hurler on the platform.  From the logo on his kit back it would appear that he is a Cork hurler.

Flowers in Listowel, a Trip to Teampall Bán, Radio Kerry’s Opening Day and John Lynch’s Funeral

Listowel Parish Presbytery, July 2019


More from A Book of Ignorance

My book (above) is English but this following applies equally to Ireland.

People asked to name three species of mouse will probably get House Mouse, Harvest Mouse, Field Mouse and maybe Wood Mouse. No marks for Dormouse though. The dormouse is more a squirrel than a mouse.

The dormouse is much furrier than a mouse. This is because it hibernates, the only British rodent that does. The “dorm’ part of its name refers to this. The dormouse has been known to sleep for seven months of the year.

You’ll thank me if it ever comes up in a quiz.


Halo Health

Elaine Dee Worth’s great health food shop and café in Upper William Street.


Listowel Awash with Flowers in July 2019


Teampall Bán

I took my visitors to Teampall Bán. They were moved and impressed. This is one of Listowel’s treasures. Everyone should visit and pray.


Radio Kerry Opening

Photo and text from MacMonagle Photography on Facebook

Happy 29th birthday 📷🎼🍾🎂to Radio Kerry on Sunday. Our historic photograph looks back to the opening day on July 14th 1990 when Dan Collins was presenting the programme with Liam Higgins on sport, dj Paul Sheahan and the one and only Sean Hurley from Killarney, who still presents his ever popular programme on the station. How many original staff are still with the station?

Photo: Don MacMonagle 


Don’t Forget!


Good News from Talkabout on Radio Kerry

Yesterday’s Story

Today’s Story

“On today’s show, we hear how the Kerry community in London turned out in force yesterday, for the funeral of John Lynch, originally from Ballylongford, who died with no living relatives. Pictured: left to right: Tommy Flaherty, Martina O’Gorman, Gary Noone, Amy Canavan, Trish Madden, Noreen Buckley, Dermot O’Grady, Vince Harty and Gerry Rochford.” Deirdre Walshe on Talkabout


Since I posted this I have had an email from Martina OGorman which I am posting below. The North Kerry contingent did themselves us all proud.


I notice that you posted the death notice for John Lynch.

We attended the funeral yesterday and it was a great turnout.   Attached is the photo I sent to Radio Kerry, which they published.  Names as follows :

Left to right

  • Tommy Flaherty – Listowel
  • Martina O Gorman – Listowel
  • Gary Noone – Ballycastle, Mayo
  • Amy Canavan – Listowel
  • Trish Madden – Ballydonoghue/Ballylongford
  • Noreen Buckley – Keel, Castlemaine
  • Dermot O Grady – Tralee/Ballybunion
  • Vince Harty – Ballinskelligs
  • Gerry Rochford – Ballyduff

I was made aware of the call out by Radio Kerry at lunchtime Tuesday and by the power of facebook and emails I was able to get the message out to a lot of local Kerry people to see if they could attend the funeral.    It was magnificent because almost 100 people turned up and gave John a great send off.   I took a spare Kerry Flag that I had and draped it over his coffin as he was an avid Kerry supporter.   Also a few of us wore our Kerry Jerseys as a mark of respect for John.

Unfortunately a lot of the younger kerry people here in london could not attend due to work commitments.

Thought I would share this with you as you have a lot of followers all over the world.

All the best for now

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