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: The Big Fair

Fr. Daniel O’Sullivan of Listowel and California and World Book Day 2017

Going Over the Cork and Kerry Mountains

Catherine Moylan took this on the Cork/ Kerry border in January 2017


A U.S. Priest with a Strong Listowel Connection

I wonder if this illustrious pastor still has family locally.



The Founding Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was born in Listowel,

Co Kerry, Ireland on March 19,1846, the fourth child of Eugene (Owen)

O’Sullivan and Margaret Nolan.  He was one of nine children, two girls

and seven boys.

He received his first education at Mr Leahy’s School in Listowel and

studied theology at All Hallows Major Seminary in Dublin.  Fr

O’Sullivan was ordained on June 24, 1871, in All Hallows Chapel by

Bishop William Whelan, O.C.D., retired  Vicar Apostolic of Bombay,

India.  Being ordained for the Diocese of Grass Valley, he left for

California in August of 1871.

1871-1872    Pastor of St Joseph, Crescent City.

1872-1878     Founding Pastor of Immaculate Conception, Smartsville, California.

1878-1881     Assistant at St Mary’s in the Mountains, Virginia City, Navada.

1881-1883     Second Pastor of St Mary’s in the Mountains and Vicar

General for Northern Nevada after the first pastor of St. Mary’s,

Father Patrick Manogue, was named Bishop of Grass Valley.

1883-1887     Pastor of St. Anthony, Mendocino, California.

The month of May, 1886, was to have a great influence in his life.  On

May 7 he became a United States citizen in ceremonies in Ukiah

Superior Court, Mendocino County.  On May 28 the Diocese of Grass

Valley was transferred to Sacramento, and all the parishes along the

coast as far north as Fort Bragg became part of the Archdiocese of San

Francisco.  Father O’Sullivan thus found himself a priest of this


1887-1896     Founding Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in

Redwood City.

Father O’Sullivan was appointed Pastor of the Mission San Jose on June

15, 1896.  However, he never served as pastor and there is a gap in

our knowledge of his life until the beginning of 1898.

1898-1928 Pastor of All Hallows Parish in San Francisco.

Father Daniel O’Sullivan died on February 3, 1928 and was buried in

Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, where a large monument stands in his



The Big Fair

A while back I published Delia O’Sullivan’s great account of the big fair in town and then I came across a great poem which brought the fair to life before our eyes.

The poem was written by a man called Tom Mulvihill.  I knew nothing of him.

On World Book Day, March 2 2017 I was in The Seanchaí for a lovely shared reading over a cuppa.

I could hardly believe my ears when I heard Donal O’Connor of Tarbert stand up and recite Tom Mulvihill’s poem from memory.

I enquired of Donal afterwards what he knew of Tom Mulvihill and he told me that he knew him long ago in Ballylongford. He was the son of the parish clerk.

His more famous brother, Roger, wrote Ballyheigue Bay and went on to run The White Sands hotel.

After Tom’s death his family gathered his writings into a little book. Donal has a copy “somewhere”. He’ll share it when he finds it.


 Some of The Writers in The Seanchaí on World Book Day

Susan Hitching, artist and writer

Donal O’Connor, writer and historian

Michael Gallagher

Above are just three of the writers who shared their work with us on World Book Day 2017


Listowel’s Own Outlet Store

You know the way many famous shops in America have outlets where they sell off stock that has been on the shelves a while at reduced prices. Well, Listowel has an outlet too. It’s Coco in The Square.

The Big Fair, A New Charity Shop and Lots of Free Parking Spaces

A Baby Robin

Photo: Chris Grayson


The Big Fair

in photos and a poem

The Big Fair of Listowel

Tom Mulvihill

Now Marco Polo went to China

But I swear upon my soul

He should have come the other

To The Big Fair in Listowel.

There he’d see what he didn’t

At the court of Kubla Khan,

The greatest convocation ever

Since God created man.

There were bullocks in from

And cows from Carrig Island

Sheep and gosts from Graffa

And pigs from Tullahinel.

There were men with hats and

Of every shape and size on,

And women in brown shawls and

A sight to feast your eyes

The finest fare was to be had

In all the eating places.

A sea of soup and big meat

Some left over from the

Floury spuds and hairy bacon

Asleep on beds of cabbage,

To satisfy a gentleman

A cannibal or savage.

And here and there among the

‘tis easy spot the jobbers

Jack O’Dea from County Clare

And Owen McGrath from Nobber.

There was Ryan from Tipperary

And McGinley from Tyrone.

Since ‘twas only Kerry cattle

Could walk that distance

And trotting up and down the

Were frisky mares and

While here and there in
little groups

Drinking porter by the

Were all the travelling

The Carthys and the Connors,

The Maughans and the Coffeys-

Gentle folk with gentle

And there you’d see old
fashioned men

With moustaches like yard

And more of them with beards
that big

You’d take them for sloe

Up there outside the market

A matron old and wrinkled

Was selling salty seagrass

And little bags of winkles.

Inside the gate were country

Selling spuds and mangolds

While swarthy men from Egypt

Sold necklaces and bangles

And there you’ll find the
laying ducks

Or broody hens for hatching,

Creels of turf and wheaten

With scallops for the

Dealers down from Dublin

Did there set up their

Selling boots and pinstripe

Both new and second hand.

Cups and saucers you could

Both singly or in lots,

And for your convenience late
at night,

White enamel chamber pots.

If you had an ear for music

You could buy a finch or

And to bring your winter turf

A Spanish ass or jennet.

And across at Walshe’s Corner

Stood a ballad singing fellow

Selling sheets- a penny each

Red and white and blue and

He was an old sean nós man

If you ne’er had music in you

He’s stop you in your stride,

And you’d not begrudge the

For he’d bring you back to
Vinegar Hill

And to Kelly from Killane

Or you’d stand again in
Thomas Street

And you’d see the darling

But woe alas for the singing

The Dublin dealer and the

The days of catch whatever
you can

Are dead and gone and over.

Now we have fleadhs and
Writers’ Weeks

And a plethora of rigmarole

But who remembers as I

The big fair in Listowel.


Still a Charity Shop

but now for a different charity


New Parking Sign

These blue Parking signs are appearing all over town.


A Step Back in Time

Louise Galvin took a step back in time to when she wore the brown uniform herself. Louise visited Presentation Secondary School, Listowel where she was once a star pupil and a hero of the school basketball team.

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