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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A Charity Shop, A Holy Well and a Swim

Peacock Butterfly by Paddy Fitzgibbon


Roses by the Feale in July 2021


Volunteering in the VdeP shop

All the Covid regulations are observed in Vincents in Upper William Street. Abina and Sarah were in charge when I visited on Friday July 23 2021.

You should call in soon. They will be selling off all their summer stock in their much anticipated sale.


The Blessed Well in Kilshenane

(From the Schools’ Folklore Collection)

Saint Senan was a great Kilshinane Saint. His well is situated in Kilshinane in John O’Connor’s farm. Many people pray for sore eyes or for any sore they have. If they are to be cured they will see a white trout in the water.
It is thought to be a very good well as people come from far and near to pray rounds there. We may pray rounds there any day, but there are four special days for doing so – Saint Senan’s day, the 8th March, the Saturday before the 1st of May the Saturday before Saint John’s day, and the 24th June, and the Saturday before Michalemas the 29th of September. Saint Senan’s well is surrounded by an iron railing.
There are three statues over the well placed there by one who may yet be canonized – the late Miss O’Connell, Principal teacher of Dromclough Girls’ National School. One of these is of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the Sacred Heart, another of the Mary of the Gael Saint Brigid. It is thought that the well sprang up suddenly one one night because of Saint Senan’s prayer.
In olden times a pattern as held there on Saint Senan’s day 8th of March Whenever there is a funeral at Kilshinane cemetry crowds of strangers go to see the well. It is thought that long ago some person took home some of the well-water to boil as an experiment but if it was down since it would not warm not alone to boil.
When people go there they bring home a bottle of the well water with hem, some people leave money there to repair the well. Miss O’Connell R.I.P. The Principal Teacher of Dromclough Girls national school get it repaired first, and got the statues over the well and the iron railing round it also.
Collector Eileen Hannon- Age 14
Informant- Mrs Bridget Flaherty- Relation grandparent- Age 74- Address, Mountcoal, Co. Kerry


My Girleens are Growing Up

My three lovely granddaughters love the water. Here they are after their evening swim in The Dock in Kinsale.


D Day Heroine, Tralee and listowel

Blossoms in Howth

Photo: Eamon ÓMurchú


Tralee had finished their pedestrianisation just in time for outdoor dining regulations. Quinlan’s looks particularly attractive.


Our New Public Toilet

Necessary but ugly


The Big Bridge at Night

I was by the big bridge at night for the first time recently. It is beautiful. My photo doesn’t do it justice.


Famous lady with a Listowel Connection

This is the Western People story about Maureen Sweeney who was in all the papers recently because she was awarded huge honour by the U.S. Congress

Maureen Sweeney was 21 years old when she took weather readings at Blacksod weather station in June 1944. Her actions influenced the D-Day landings and changed the path of the war. Her data threw General Dwight D Eisenhower’s meticulously planned invasion strategy into chaos. It forced him to mediate between opposing US and UK weather advisors and generals, and ultimately left him alone to make one of the most difficult decisions in the entire war. Maureen’s readings were the first to point out an impending storm which led to the postponement of the invasion.&nbsp; Her readings were used to pinpoint a short window of opportunity that Eisenhower needed to launch, thereby altering the course of the war.

When John J Kelly, who led the design and production of the modern landing craft, which has been used in military and humanitarian roles worldwide, heard the story of Maureen Sweeney, he was fascinated.

John approached the World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, of which he was a director, and requested official recognition of Maureen and the Sweeney Family by the museum. The World War II museum has sent a letter to Maureen that John J Kelly will read during the tribute on June 19. John will also read a personal note to Maureen from US Congressman Jack Bergman (Michigan First District) who is the highest-ranking veteran to ever serve in Congress. A distinguished award, rarely given, and obtained by Congressman Bergman will be read and presented to Maureen and the Sweeney family by John.

Now aged 98, Maureen beat Covid-19 last year.

Now the Listowel Connection

Billy MacSweeney told us this story and it appeared in Listowel Connection in 2018

In my Grandparents time, Kerry people understood that they were cut off from the rest of Ireland by a series of mountains; they realized that they were isolated and had to look after themselves. Life was harder in Kerry than in the Golden Vale or on the central plains of Ireland. The mothers of Kerry especially, knew that they had to look to every advantage to help their children and prized education highly to that end. In the mid-19thcentury the people of Listowel welcomed enthusiastically the establishment of St Michael’s College for Boys and the Presentation Convent Secondary schools for Girls, not forgetting the Technical School. The people who read this blog are most likely familiar with the Census’ 1901 and 1911 and will have noticed that many homes in Listowel housed not only Boarders but also welcomed Scholars who came from the villages and isolated farms scattered around North Kerry. These boys and girls spent 5-6 years in the Listowel schools to be educated for ‘life’.

The upshot of this was that from Listowel we sent out many young adults who were a credit to their teachers to take their places in many organizations and many whose names became nationally known for their talents and abilities, especially in the Arts.

Let me tell you about one such young girl, Maureen Flavin, who was born in Knocknagoshel, Co Kerry. When the time came for Maureen to go on from National school she was welcomed into the Mulvihill home in Upper Church Street who themselves had a young girl, Ginny, of the same age. Maureen and Ginny became fast friends and stayed so for life. 

When Maureen finished school in 1930 she wanted a job; couldn’t get one in Kerry because of the times that were in it, so she answered an ad in the National Papers for an Assnt. Postmistress in Black Sod, in North Mayo. Her references and qualifications were suitable and in due course, as she says to her own surprise she was offered the job. This was to set Maureen on a course where she would be an integral part of one of the most momentous actions of the age. Mrs Sweeney, the Black Sod Postmistress, was married to Ted who was the Lighthouse Keeper, both operating from the Lighthouse building in Black Sod. They had a son, also Ted, who Maureen fell in love with and married in due course. They in turn had three boys and a girl and life took up a normal rhythm for the family; that is until 3rd June 1944.

The WW2 was in full swing at this stage with Gen. Eisenhower as the Allied Supreme Commander and Gen. Rommel the German Commander in Normandy. Rommel knew that an Allied invasion was prepared and imminent. Conventional Meteorological sources at the time for the US and German military said that the coming days would bring very inclement weather so that the invasion would have to be postponed. Eisenhower postponed the action and Rommel left Normandy for a weekend in Berlin based on the same information. The British Chief Meteorologist had however visited Black Sod some years previously and knew the value of Black Sod as the most westerly station in Europe and when a break in the weather was reported by Black Sod on 3rdJune he persuaded Eisenhower that 6thand 7thJune would be clear and to ignore the same conventional Met advice used by both the US and the Germans. Ted compiled the reports for the Irish Met Office and Maureen transmitted them. Maureen remembers receiving a telephone call a short time later from a lady with a ‘very posh English accent’ asking for confirmation of her report. Ted was called to the phone and he confirmed the readings, The rest, as they say, is history. 

Ted Sweeney died in 2001.  Maureen is still alive.


Who is the New Mayor of Kerry

Repro Free – CLLR JIMMY MOLONEY ELECTED CATHAOIRLEACH OF KERRY COUNTY COUNCIL Historic meeting of Kerry County Council at Austin Stack Park Jimmy Moloney from Listowel has been elected Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council at a historic meeting of the local authority which was held at Austin Stack Park in Tralee. To facilitate a physical gathering of elected councillors and management and to ensure adherence to public health guidelines, the main stand at Austin Stack Park was used for the meeting to elect a new Cathaoirleach and Leas-Cathaoirleach for the coming year. Photo By : Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD .

Jimmy Moloney is the grandson of the late Dan Moloney T.D. and Senator. He comes from a family steeped in politics. The Kerryman of July 6 1963, in a full page obituary to Dan Moloney described him as an outstanding public figure.

This is an extract from one of the many tributes paid to Dan Moloney.

So young Jimmy has big boots to fill. At his installation in Austin Stack Park on Monday, Jimmy undertook to do his best for Kerry and for the country. We wish him the very best in his big year.


Listowel Bridge at Night, From Laois to Kerry, Billy Keane’s Listowel launch and two lovely Listowel ladies

The Big Bridge at Night

Photos by Deirdre Lyons on November 4 2016


You’ll Love This!

Danny Hannon gave me a VHS tape of the official opening of The Garden of Europe but I couldn’t do anything with it so that I could share it with you. Then I surmised that if a tape existed,  someone must have videoed the event. As luck would have it, I ran into Charlie Nolan on my morning walk and sure enough, it was he who did the job. True to his word he dropped me in a dvd of the big day.  You will love seeing the faces of your old friends, sadly some of them now passed and gone.

I did not attend the opening so I never knew that I missed one of the best speeches I have ever heard by a Listowel man. Paddy Fitzgibbon’s speech at the opening of the Garden of Europe in 1995 is a gem. 

Official Opening of The Garden of Europe May 1995

Danny told me that the original intention was to have a piece of sculpture from each of the 12 countries in their respective gardens. Germany was the only country that responded to that request so that is why we have Schiller and the Holocaust memorial today.


Launch of The Best of Billy Keane in The Listowel Arms, Saturday November 5 2016

Gabriel Fitzmaurice was our MC. Joanna O’ Flynn performed the launch and Mickey McConnell and Fergal Keane provided the entertainment.

Me with the author

Billy signs a book for Liz Dunne, chair of Listowel Writers’ Week, watched by Gabriel Fitzmaurice and Jim Dunne.

Lainey and John Keane, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Joanna O’Flynn and Elaine Keane


From Laois to Kerry

(Book review from The Irish Catholic)

From Laois to Kerry by Michael Christopher Keane 

(Beechgrove, Ovens, Cork 

€20 + P&P; contact:

J. Anthony Gaughan

This little book falls into two parts. The first deals with the
Laois origins and continuing presence in Kerry of the Moores, Kellys, Dowlings,
Lawlors, Dorans, Dees, and McEvoys. The second part records the remarkable
lives of their transplanter and landlord Patrick Crosbie and his successor Sir
Pierce Crosbie,

The above surnames are among the most popular family names in
North Kerry at present.  The ancestors of those people once resided in
what is now known as Co Laois.  This is an account of why and how they
were transplanted to Kerry by Patrick Crosbie in 1607-9.

The surnames belonged to members of the Seven Septs (clans) of
the O’Moore territory.  In the early seventeenth century they opposed
attempts by the English to pacify the midlands.  Eventually they were
vanquished and their leader, Owny Rory O’Moore, was killed in battle. 

The authorities in London decided to expel the Seven Septs from
their ancestral lands and replace them with loyalist settlers.  Land was
available in Kerry following the ethnic cleansing of Munster during the
Elizabethan-Desmond war.  Patrick Crosbie, who already had extensive
landholdings, was given a grant of some 25,000 acres in North Kerry and
undertook to settle the O’Moore Septs as tenant farmers on his new acquisition.

Michael Keane, himself a descendant of one of the Septs, traces
the continuing strong presence of the Laois Sept descendants in Kerry through
the centuries down to the present day. 

He also records that some members of the Seven Septs were able
to avoid the transplantation by taking refuge in forests and other inaccessible
places.  In addition some of the original transplantees, despite a
sentence of death being imposed on those who returned, found their way back to
their ancestral lands.  Hence the prevalence of their surnames also in Co
Laois today.

In part II the author provides detailed profiles of Patrick
Crosbie (d. 1610) and his son Sir Pierce Crosbie (1590 -1646).  Patrick
Crosbie also known as Patrick MacCrossan belonged to a family who were rhymers
to the O’Moore chiefs.  This, Keane points out, is the generally accepted
view of post-1922 historians.  In so doing he makes some insightful
comments on the claims of historical revisionism. 

Patrick Crosbie was better than most other people at weaving his
way through the corrupt and Machiavellian politics of his time.  From the
1580s onwards he was a trusted English ally for which he received grants of
extensive landholdings in Queens County (now Laois) and Kerry.


Sir Pierce Crosbie inherited
Tarbert along with extensive land and properties in North Kerry and Laois
following the death of his father in 1610.  He was close to the royal
court, where he acted first as cupbearer and then gentleman to the king’s
chambers.  A member of the Irish Parliament and of the Privy Council, he
was also a distinguished military commander and was involved in successful
campaigns on the continent.  After crossing swords with Thomas Wentworth,
the Lord Deputy, he found himself in jail.  However, following Wentworth’s
execution for treason, he soon regained his standing at the royal court. 

Despite the dominance of the
Protestant religion and the advantages of subscribing to it, Pierce appears to
have remained a Catholic throughout his life and had a prominent role in the
Catholic Confederacy in his later years. When he died in 1646, the Crosbie
legacy in Kerry was assured.  By virtue of their extensive landholdings
the family was to dominate the local politics and society of the county for the
next three hundred years.

This study of the Crosbies
and their tenants from Co Laois is a valuable contribution to the local history
of North Kerry, and will be of particular interest to those bearing the
surnames of the Seven Septs of the O’Moore county.


Humans of Listowel

Agnes Heaphy and Elaine Foran, two Listowel ladies I met while I was praying for the dead in John Paul ll graveyard recently.

Ballybunion in the aftermath of January storms 2014

This is Ballybunion on Sunday, January 12 2014

 The beautiful beach was fairly empty except for our family.

Banks of sand were washed up beside the Sea Rescue garage.

Damage to the the remaining door of the Sea Resue premises

This piece of driftwood looked a bit like a beached alligator.

Damage to the sea side windows of the little shop

Grass on the cliff looked as if it had been “combed” by the wind.

I don’t think I’d like to live in this cliff top apartment.

Two birds on a wire surveyed the deserted beach.

Looking down from the road


A mystery nearing a solution

Do you remember the obituary to Pat Abruzzo?

“Mrs. Nora Patricia Abruzzo, of Woodstock, GA., passed away Tuesday December 24, 2013 in an automobile accident in Warren County, GA. She was 67.

A Funeral Mass will be held 10:30 A.M. Thursday, January 9, 2013 at Transfiguration Catholic Church with Father Tran officiating. Burial will follow at 12:30 P.M. Thursday January 9, 2013 at Georgia National Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 2-7 P.M. Wednesday, January 8, 2013 at Woodstock Funeral Home.

Mrs. Abruzzo was born March 12, 1946 to the late Dan and Nora Sweeney Kirby in Listowel County Kerry Ireland.

Mrs. Abruzzo was the Director of the Microbiology Department at Kennestone Hospital.”

A few local people set to work on solving this mystery. Progress was slow but Kay Caball cracked it for us . This lady, who was known as Patsy Kirby in Duagh, came from The Mall.


Jer. Kennelly took this photo of The Big Bridge

This is Timothy John MacSweeney’s study of 2 swans at Ross Castle, Killarney

National Library picture of Adare Co. Limerick, 1900


Maura Esmond sent me these.

The annual Snow Sculpture contest in Breckenridge, Colorado, attracts contestants from all over the world. These are just a small sample of the many magnificent works of art on display . They are all made from snow.

An Rás leaves town, Busking Day and some gathering events

Photo by Denis OCarroll of Listowel’s Big Bridge and the River Feale taken on May 23 2013. Superb!


These are some of the musicians and volunteers who worked so hard to make Friday’s MS fundraiser such a hit.


On May 21, as The Rás came through, the boys from Scoil Realt na Maidine were safely positioned behind the wall at The Slua Hall.

The following photos are of local people out in the sunshine to enjoy the excitement. It was great to see such a positive buzz in town and everyone forgot about recession for a day or two.

Some people were working; John McCarthy is welcomed home by his daughter after the finish in his hometown, Listowel. Press photographer, John Reidy was snapping some local colour.

Some local media and local supporters.


The Gathering

Dont forget tomorrow night Tuesday May 28 RTE will repeat The Gathering Homeward Bound with Tadhg Kennelly.

In conjunction with The Gathering there are lots and lots of Clan and family gatherings taking place.

On the left is Martin Griffin. He, along with the Lartigue crew, is planning a gathering of descendants of people who worked on the monorail. This is planned for later on in the year. I’ll keep you posted.

Junior tells me that he is Griffin from both sides of his family. Both Griffin sides are planning a family reunion .

This is Damien Stack’s photo of his family shop which was established in 1910. The gathering of the Stack clan back to their Listowel roots promises to be a great hooley.

The Stack Clan and all its branches and adopted sons and daughters will make their way to Listowel  from July 19 to July 22 for a packed weekend.

Meanwhile in Dingle all this week a week of events to welcome scattered descendants of Corcha Dhuibhne emigrants is taking place.

I read all about it here:

Find your Kerry Ancestors

“The Dingle Peninsula has a unique and complex history.   A lot of
damage was inflicted on the Peninsula during the
course of the Second Desmond Rebellion,
the Nine Years War and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Its remoteness and
isolation may have protected it from the worst excesses of the Williamite War and the 1798 Rebellion.  

 It is one of the
places in Kerry thas has experienced the highest level of emigration over the
past  three hundred years.   

 It was particularly
devastated during the Famine, with up to 5000 people dying in the Dingle
Workhouse alone.   The Kerry Examiner of 8 February 1847,
records ‘The state of the people in Dingle is horrifying.  Fever, famine
and dysentery are daily increasing, deaths from hunger daily occurring. 
From all parts of the country, they crowd into the town for relief and not a
pound of meal is to be had in the wretched town for any price’.   

Thankfully all these wars and famines are behind us and the Dingle Peninsula has

This year, the year of The Gathering, the people of the Dingle Peninsula are
taking the opportunity to welcome back our diaspora from all over the world so as
that they too might experience The Corca Dhuibhne Peninsula, the Gaeltacht, the
friendliness of our people, the goodness of our food and the wealth of our
culture, language and heritage.  

Corca Dhuibhne – one of the most
beautiful places on earth. 

 23rd May to 30th May 2013.”


Joanne Dillon sends us this link to a very poignant article from Irish Central.  It tells the fate of many Irish immigrants who died in quarantine.

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