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: Thanksgiving

Christmas Craft Fair, some photos, a poem and a sugar tax in 1901

May you have a happy, safe and thankful Thanksgiving all U.S. friends of Listowel


Christmas is coming

And the goose is getting fat,

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat

If you haven’t got a penny

A ha’penny will do

If you haven’t got a ha’penny

God bless you.


Sive Revival

In a week that saw Mickey McConnell’s Lidl and Aldi exceed 6 million views, John B’s ‘Sive’ launched in John B’s bar in the Gaiety Theatre. 

The Druid Production will run from the 26th Jan to the 3rd of March 2018


Today’s November poem from Irish Stories of Love and Hope is from Rita Ann Higgins.

Our Mothers Die on
Days Like This

Rita Anne
Higgins  (Irish Stories of Loss and Hope)

Where there isn’t
a puff

And the walk from
the bus stop

To the front door

Isn’t worth the

cup of sweet tea

She can never have

Because doctor

Told her face to

It was the sugar
or the clay

The choice was

The choice was no

He knew it, she
knew it.

When the heavy
bill on the hall floor

With the final
notice reminded her

Once and for all
she must turn out the lights,

Her Angelus bell
rang and rang.


Photos from a Craft fair

I was at a craft fair in The Seanchaí, Listowel on Sunday November 12 2017. I photographed some of the lovely fare on offer.

Stephen Pearce, Louis Mulcahy, Nicholas Mosse and a slew of others have made their fortune as potters with a distinctive style. In Listowel we have our very own local potter with a beautiful product and a distinctive style.

Pat Murphy’s Woodford Pottery is based in Woodford, Listowel. His pieces are available in black,  dark blue and green. They make an ideal present for anyone who loves Listowel and likes to have a piece of home close by at all times.

AND by comparison with the big names mentioned above they are very reasonably priced. Pat is a one man operation so he obviously doesn’t produce huge quantities. My advice is get to him before the world discovers him.

Woodford Pottery

Beautiful hand knitter nativity by Ella O’Sullivan

Eileen O’Sullivan makes these and other ceramic pieces to order.

Listowel’s best knitter and tea cosy designer is Frances O’Keeffe.  Her charming creations are still available at Craftshop na Méar and at local craft fairs.  


A Sugar Tax… 1901!

My friend, Nicholas wrote us the following;

” I came across this little piece in the British Parliamentary Papers. It concerns a sugar tax proposed in c1901. The fuller debate is fascinating as it goes into the ramifications of all types of sugar and associated products- honey  seems to have been exempt from the intended tax.

Extracted from The Debate on the proposed Sugar Tax in the House of Commons on 29th April 1901:

‘… MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

said that as an Irish Member he desired to enter his protest against this tax because it pressed severely upon the poorest classes of the population. He had listened with amazement to the doctrine laid down by the Hon. Baronet opposite, who said that he welcomed this tax because it would tend to discourage the unwholesome custom of using jam and marmalade and sugar, instead of porridge and milk.

‘In many parts of the country the poor people could not get milk. The working classes of Ireland were unable to give milk to their children because they could not afford it, and consequently they had to fall back upon jam and marmalade. There was no more necessary food than sugar for young children if they could not get plenty of milk and butter. Milk contained a good deal of sugar, and if they could not get the natural sugar contained in milk they were driven to buy sugar, and to supply it in that shape. 

A tax upon sugar was a tax upon one of the prime necessities of life, and that was a departure from the traditional policy of this country for the last fifty years, which was to remove all taxes from all the necessary articles of food. If they agreed to tax sugar he could not see why they should not tax corn…’ 

I think O tempora O mores! is appropriate in the light of the current sugar tax proposals, and the complete change in  Irish nutritional circumstances and health standards.” 


New Windows for the Gardaí

Maybe they are getting the fancy new ones with the Garda logo in them


Today for our  US friends is all about family.

I made the mistake, a few years back of giving a visiting U.S. friend a gift on Thanksgiving. It’s not about presents, it’s about presence. So to all our stateside friends who can’t make it home, enjoy your meal and your day off and may you soon be reunited with your family.

For the day that’s in it I have a story about a family divided by emigration and now reunited by the internet.

I’m printing in its entirety the letter sent by Jim Horgan. Unfortunately the photos do not seem to be with it.

Mary, hope all is well in North Kerry.  I have put together a little of the story of my mother’s paternal side of the family tree, if anyone is interested.  I am also adding a few photos.

Thomas Sheehan was born in Direen, Kerry on 23/12/1860 the son of John Sheen of Inchaleen and Julia Murphy of Claramore.  Thomas married Margaret White (1857-1891) daughter of Edward White and Johanna Connor of Clahaneelesh, Kerry.

Thomas and Margaret married 18-February 1879 in Ballyheigue.  They had 7 children:

Bridget (1880-1952) – Married William Stack (1885-?) and had 5 children.

John Joseph (1881-1965) – Married Catherine Shine of Gurtomashilihy, Moyvane and had 1 child (my mother, Helen)

Edward (1882-?)

Anna (1885-1967) – Married Daniel Werner and had no children

Mary (1888-1977) – never married

Thomas (1889-?) –

Michael Edward (1891-1939) – married Ellen Duffy and had 4 children.

Margaret died 4 months after the birth of Michael, and Thomas brought all of the children to America, arriving in Philadelphia 13 August, 1891.  He brought the children to his wife’s mother, Johanna White, who had emigrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1880.  The story goes that Thomas went west to find work and was never heard from again.  The children were raised by their grandmother, who was a shop keeper.

The descendants of Thomas and Margaret number over 100 that I know of now spread all over America.  There are doctors, lawyers, nurses, and business people among the descendants – all of whom can trace their Kerry roots to the tragic event in 1891 when Margaret died at an early age.

The third picture is of my grandfather’s black thorn walking stick.  It is hanging on the wall in my home in Atlanta.  I remember receiving a few wallops with it when I was young!

I will work on the other grandparents and their stories to share with you as I can.

Finally here is a link dedicated to Neal Shine.  He was the son of my grandmother’s brother Patrick from Gurtomashilihy.

All the best, Jim

Thank you, Jim and well done on all the research.

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