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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Listowel, Facts and Photos

St. John’s Theatre, November 2021


A Listowel Fact

St. Michael’s College used to be as fever hospital. In the 1940s and 50s it had a massive reputation for the teaching of Latin and Greek. A remarkable number of St. Michael’s past pupils have achieved international eminence.

Hard to believe but the first team game that was played in the college was cricket.


That was Then; This is Now

Another premises looking for a new tenant. The first photo dates back to 2007.


How Much is….?

A Listowel pooch in a room with a view.


Today’s Long Read

Cyril Kelly tells us about the trials and tribulations of an altar boy in November. They were all boys before Vatican 2. No altar servers then.

Cyril brings 1950s Listowel vividly to life in this beautifully crafted essay.


That was Then; This is Now

A then and now picture with a difference…new principal of Presentation Secondary School, Listowel, Katherina Broderick pictured with former principal, Sr. Consolata Bracken in St. Mary’s Listowel on Presentation Day, November 21 2021

(photo shared on school’s Facebook page)

Katherina is the first past pupil to be appointed principal. I wish her every good luck in her new role.


TV reception in Listowel in 1970, Listowel artists in Newcastlewest, a last concert in The Tinteán, Ballybunion and Coolard school memories

T.J. MacSweeney


The Kerryman 1970

This TV critic wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is… I think she was a Listowel viewer.

What’s My Line is not having very auspicious beginnings on R.T.E. The
formula is old, tried and true and more than likely it’s currently
doing the rounds of world television stations. The two men who devised
and copywrited the idea have probably  made a small fortune out of it.
All that has been proven, however, is that the formula can be a
success but, to bring it to life, it needs a panel brimming with
contrasting personalities and a chairman to match. 

What we’ve got is a
chairman, Larry Gogan, who rushes the programme though like a man
trying to finish a pint in a minute to closing time; a  panel which
for the most part is  trying so hard to be bright that, it’s painful;
and competitors with such way out occupations that one would have to
be a mind-reader to even get started on them. If everyone calmed

down, and stopped trying so hard, the programme might get off the


By the way I’ve only just discovered, that viewers in Listowel
who use a Cork aerial, are blessed with a second, channel which is not
of their own choosing. This is caused, by the radio-telephone which
operates, between, the hospital and the ambulance. It, comes over loud
and clear on these sets and is so powerful that it actually cuts out
the programme completely. Not alone is the ambulance driver alerted
but the curate who is on duty in the presbytery also gets timely
warning of a possible sick-call. Nobody I have asked seemed to be able
to explain away this extraordinary happening but, happen it.
does.—I’ve seen, and heard it!


Now and Then


Art at The Red Door

Listowel was well represented among the artists and attendees at the Red Door Gallery in Newcastlewest on Thursday March 3 2016.

Billy Keane performed the official opening of Colourful Spirits’  Show and he took us on an impromptu tour of the pictures and sculptures.

Billy posed for me with his very artistic former William Street neighbour, Rebecca O’Carroll. He reminded those present that it was Rebecca’s father who produced the first and best stage performance of Sive.

Liam Brennan, formerly of Listowel and his wife, Maura had some of their artwork on display.

Lisa Fingleton is not from Listowel but she spends a lot of her time here so we can claim her as our own.

Jim Dunn is the man among the ladies here. Jim’s artwork will be familiar to followers of this blog as he is the artist responsible for Athea’s  much admired murals. He is not from Listowel either but he is chair of the Art committee of Listowel Writers’ Week so that makes him an honorary Listowel man.

On the far left is Maggie Donald of Duagh whose ceramics are selling like hot cakes in Craftshop na Méar.

Next to Jim is his wife, Elizabeth Dunn, chair of Listowel Writers’ Week and, on the right, is my good friend, Helen Moylan of Listowel.


Goodbye to The Tinteán

The magnificent Tinteán theatre in Ballybunion is closing at the end of the month and the furnishing and fittings are to be sold off.

photos from Facebook

This was the stage on Friday evening last, March 4 2016 as we gathered for a fundraising concert for Lisselton School. The concert was organized by Claire Keane Fennell, a past pupil of the school and she was joined on the night by past pupils Bryan Carr, Anna Connolly and the Foley Family. Her friends from John B.s, Mickey MacConnell and Paddy MacElligott also did a turn and Billy Keane was the very entertaining M.C.

Marc OSé made a special guest appearance and there was much banter about local star, Jason Foley taking his place on the Kerry team, a move that appeared to be popular with the local audience.

 Claire and Anna on stage

 Bryan Carr


Coolard Memories

At the launch of Maurice O’Mahony’s book on the history of Coolard National School, Joe Murphy, past pupil of Coolard and administrator of St. Johns for the past 26 years, relived for us some of his memories of his education there and in St. Michael’s, Listowel

Cáit Baker, his former teacher, was in the audience with her husband Tomás and her friend, Sr. Margaret  to hear Joe tell us of her valiant efforts to teach him to sing “Kelly the Boy from Killane” despite his being a préachán.

Joe remembered the days bringing in the turf to the school and the hours spent ‘weeding the grotto”. This, he told us was a task you could stretch to a whole afternoon by the simple ruse of taking the handful of weeds across the road to the glasha and bringing them back again rather than throwing them in.

Only one other pupil from Coolard went on to St. Michael’s with Joe and he described the secondary school in the 1960s as a very intimidating place for a country boy. When the results of the Christmas test were posted he gained in confidence as he saw that he was smarter than many of the townies who were so vocal in class.

Joe, like me and many more who were present on the night of the book launch, did his Primary Cert in Irish, English, Arithmetic and Mental Arithmetic. I was transported back to my old classroom in Kanturk and the daily mental arithmetic tests.

To much laughter, Joe reminisced about the man who went to town and spent half his money in one shop, a quarter of what he had left in another and he came home with 1/6. The question was how much did he have leaving home.

It was no laughing matter back then!

Four generations of the Murphy family have attended Coolard National School. Joe remembered the numbers and makes of the teachers’ cars and he remembered the makes of all the various tractors he could see through the school window. Happy days!

One man present recorded Joe’s speech;

Joe Murphy remembers his school days

Old photos while I am at the endodontist

This is where I am today. So I am leaving you with a few old photos to entertain you while I have my root canal treatment.


Old photos I collected on a visit to Listowel Active Retirement Group

This is some local team taken at the sports field. Some of the names are Seamus Buckley, Jimmy Deveraux, Jimmy Moore, Johnny Buckley, Eamon Stack, P.J. Maher and Thomas Grogan.

This photo was displayed in the window of The Man’s Shop at its closing. 

This photo also I took through the window of Sean O’Sullivan’s

William St. people. The names are printed at the top. This photo is framed and displayed in St. Patrick’s Hall.

This photo was taken on the stage at an early Wren Boys night. The people identified are John B. Keane, Siobhán Cahill and Dan Maher.


 63 years ago yesterday Ireland became a Republic & left the British Commonwealth when the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 came into force. The Act repealed the External Relations Act of 1936 & ended the constitutional role of the British monarchy in relation to the Republic and vested those powers in the Irish President. President Seán T. O’Kelly is pictured signing the Act.


Jimmy Moloney’s picture of the Wednesday clean up group


What a photo!

Fresh duck!  Paul Hughes took this at Grand Canal Dock yesterday.

Update from town

This is the colorful Mc Auliffe’s Gift Shop and Little Secret Ladies clothes shop on Church St.

A few doors down Listowel Printing Works, soon to be Easons, is nearing completion. I peeped in. It looks huge.


A little further down the street is Ladbrokes. This is the building that was ACC Bank, then Bruce Betting and now Ladbrokes. In a previous existence it was a school and before that a hatchery. What tales these old walls could tell!

Only a few days left!

Update on my update; I just received the following clarification from Vincent. I bow to his superior knowledge of Listowel. But I do know a bit more about Fitzpatricks than he does.  Fitzpatricks hail from Kanturk, which is my home town. In fact I worked for a summer in Fitzpatrick’s Hatchery in Percival Street in Kanturk and have very happy memories of my time there.


It does not give me any great joy, however I must correct you, what is now Ladrokes was not a hatchery, the house above it, now a closed clothes shop, belonging to the Scully family, a business  was ran here for years by the Fitzpatricks of I think Kantoher (right or wrong spelling), County Cork. This place operated as a fowl and egg store, not a hatchery.Prior to this they also had a store above in the backway at the back of my place. Among those who worked at Fitzpatricks were Johnny Riordan, Kevin Sheehy, father of the present Kevin (the eggman) and most famous of all, during his early fowl buying days, our own, the late and great John B.

Now Mary I hope you don’t have egg on your face.

The Man’s Shop

Above are  ads from this week’s Advertiser.

After 150 years of dressing the men of North Kerry and West Limerick The Man’s Shop is closing its doors at the end of next month.

Ned, who is the fourth generation of his family to trade in Listowel is retiring.  His four sons  have taken different career paths. The tradition of the next generation taking over the family business  is being broken in this as in many other businesses in town.

The O’Sullivan’s began business in Listowel in Upper William Street in the 1860s. Ned’s great-grandfather, Michael O’Sullivan from Ardoughter in Ballyduff began a tailoring business in Pound Lane, now Upper William St.  Ned’s grandfather, also Ned, moved the business to Market St. to a new premises near where  Tarrant’s Garage is today. The business was thriving. Eight full time tailors were employed there at one time. Ned’s father, Seán, took over the business in the 1960s and he made the move away from tailoring and into off -the- peg and general menswear. The Man’s Shop moved into its present location in 1962. Ned left teaching in 1989 and went into the family business. In recent years, as his political commitments became more onerous, the shop has been run by Mark Loughnane.

Mark takes a delivery from postman, Pat Hickey, at the door of The Man’s Shop

How will this street scape look in a few year’s time?

On a completely different note, 2 stories from the weekend’s papers.

Two Listowel men caused a bit of an upset at a rugby match in England. According to The Kerryman, David Fitzmaurice and his friend and fellow Munster supporter, Mike Brosnan, lost their way on the way back to their seats at the Munster v. Northhampton match. They found themselves in the Northhampton booth, where they were less than welcome. The Northhampton coach, Jim Mallinder, cleared the boys back to the Munster section. The incident was caught on Sky sports.

Sunday’s Independent had an account of a tribute concert to the legendary Pecker Dunne. Pecker Dunne, it is said, played at more Munster finals than Cork. He is now in poor health and his friend, Mannix Flynn was organizing Sunday night’s event to help him out.

There are lots of enjoyable video clips of Pecker on youtube.

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