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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The Square, the Window and More

Listowel Town Square in 2023

Am I alone in liking it better the way it was?

Stained Glass Window Donor Update

Further research by Kay Caball and David O’Sullivan has led us away from the wrong track and has revealed that the true donor of the window was a Thomas MacAuliffe of Main Street. He is described as a merchant and a stationer and he lived “two doors up from the Town Hall”.

The cutting below identifies the E F Boylan commemorated in the window.

This marriage certificate gives Mamie McAuliffe’s address as Main Street

Then I got this email from Vincent Carmody and he has all the details;


I was away yesterday but somebody contacted me in relation to an item on a Thomas McAuliffe, who donated the stained glass window on the right hand side of the church, I was asked, who was he and was he anything to the plasterer. There was no relationship. His daughter (Mamie)  got married in Dublin to Edward Boylan, From my notes, McAuliffe himself was married to a Mary Brodar, they married in Duagh in 1879. They had 2 children, John 1880, and Mary (Mamie) 1882, McAuliffe died in Ballybunion in 1935. Mamie and her husband, E. Boylan took over the running of the shop and Boylan’s garage, next door.  McAulliffe’s shop was bought by M.A.Hannon in the late 1930s, the garage was bought by the U.D.C., for years it housed the council office and also housed the town’s fire engine.  Interestingly, 2 Brodar sisters (Broderick) from Duagh, worked as shop assistants at McAuliffe’s until 1904, they then opened their own shop in William Street in 1904, one of these married Paddy Fitzgibbon’s grandfather. 

If required, you will find all the information on pages 180 and 181, of my 2013, Snapshots of an Irish Market Town.

The old Listowel saying holds true, There are more Jack Barry’s in town than one.


I Know his Grandmother

I was reading Kerry’s Eye when this story about this handsome young man popped out at me.

The lady on the left, with me and friends in Boherbue this summer is Óisín’s very proud grandmother, Maureen Ahern.


The dollies and teddies are planning a sleepover at Listowel Library on Dec 1 2023.

Christmas in Abbeyfeale

Apologies to the writer who is not identified in the above anthology.

From the Capuchin Annual Archive

Windy Gap, County Kerry, 1945 

A quaint image of a cottage sitting at the crossroads of the Windy Gap near the village of Glenbeigh in County Kerry in about 1945. The Windy Gap is now a very popular walking and hiking route along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way offering a variety of picturesque views of Lough Caragh and the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks in County Kerry. The photograph was taken by J.H. Williams who submitted it for potential publication in ‘The Capuchin Annual’. 

In Upper William Street

This may not be new but I didn’t notice it before. I was parked outside it on my way to the Vincent de Paul shop on Thursday last.

Deora Dé

An article for a cold Wednesday

When I was buying my summer bedding plants this year I saw some lovely potted fuchsia plants which I admired and bought. The shop assistant said I should be familiar with them because they were native to Kerry.

On my way home that day I remembered my grandmother had a great ditch of fuchsia and we were never allowed to pull the lovely red belled flowers because they represented Christ’s tear drops on the cross. Deora Dé as she respectfully called them.

In our teen years years we often cycled from Blennerville around Slea Head and I fondly remember all those lovely fuschia bushes on the road back by Derrymore and then again west of Dingle as we headed to Ceann Sléibhe with a stop off in Kilmalkedar to follow the path of the 636 AD Saint Maolcethair and down into that seaside marsh of Muiríoch where I spent my Gaeltacht days.

After my visit to the garden centre and my youthful reminiscences I came home and opened up my gardening encyclopaedia to check out our native fuchsia. Sadly we couldn’t lay claim to it as it was native to Haiti and first found there in 1696 and named after a German Botanist named Leonhart Fuchs . He was famous for writing and illustrating the first herbal book which he wrote in Latin.

When I look out at the garden today I see our many hydrangeas losing colour and shape and when I check I see that they are native to Korea, China, Japan and the name comes from a Greek word meaning watershed.

Our back Garden is adorned with eight lovely clusters of agapanthus which burst into flower mid July every year and yes you guessed it. The name is not of Irish origin. The flower name comes from two Greek words agape meaning love and anthos meaning flower and are originally native to South Africa.

I quit and admire our native shamrock in the lawn which comes from the Irish seamair óg or young clover.

If you want to pass away an hour on some wet and dreary winter day look up the word Shamrock.

As the song “The Dear little Shamrock “goes  ‘Sure Twas  St Patrick himself sure that set it’. It’s probably as Irish as you get.

Mick O Callaghan

A Fact

Christmas 1929

Kerry News Friday, December 27, 1929;

A STORMY CHRISTMAS. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were marked by the stormiest weather associated with the great Christian festival for very many years. Almost incessantly from the afternoon of Christmas Eve until five o’clock on the evening of Christmas Day gales continued to rage with a force which at times reached the velocity of a hurricane.
Though much damage was done to property in town and country, it is fortunate that no injury to life or limb has to be recorded, in the Tralee area at all events, though there were many narrow escapes from storm swept slates. It was a great tribute to the deeply religious fervour of our people that they were found braving the elements going to the confessionals in St. John’s Parish Church and the Dominican Church of Holy Cross in the teeth of the storm on Christmas Eve, and again attending the early Masses and receiving Holy Communion in such vast numbers in both Churches on Christmas morning.


The Square

Listowel Town Square in August 2023


In Listowel Town Square

This well was discovered when the square was being reconfigured in 1997/98

Lest we forget, this stone stands at the gable of St. John’s, a reminder to us of all the lives lost in all conflicts and wars down through the ages.


I found this treasure in the swap box in Listowel library. as well as some great football related poems, there are some quotations from football lovers.


On Church Street last week

Martin Chute busy doing what he does best

Martin does it the old fashioned way, maul stick in one hand, paintbrush in the other, total concentration unaware of anyone around him. He will be surprised to see this today.


St. Vincent de Paul shop volunteers

It is always a treat to visit this shop, open now on Wednesdays, Thursdays Fridays and Saturday mornings. Huge range of preloved and new clothing and lots of books, accessories and bric a brac at very affordable prices. And the kindliest and most helpful volunteer shop assistants.


Public House on Church Street Closing Down

Flanagans is another victim of high overheads and a change in the drinking patterns of Irish people. Refurbishment is going ahead next door in the old Perfect Pairs premises so hopefully Flanagans will have a new tenant shortly too.


A Horsey Fact

A horse’s digestive system is a one way passage. A horse can’t burp or vomit. This is why if your horse gets colic he is in terrible pain. There is only one way for trapped wind or fermenting undigested food to go. In a small number of cases colic in horses can be fatal.


The Ghost Train

Friday Market in The Square Oct. 7 2022


More Photos from Coffee Morning for Listowel Hospice


The Ghost Train

As fans of the Kerry team prepare to travel to Dublin this weekend, let us remember the famous Ghost Train that departed from Caherciveen, when t’was midnight by the clock, on the eve of All Ireland day. From the 1920’s up until 1959 this was the way fans journeyed to Dublin for the match. The journey took about eight hours as the steam trains of that era travelled at a maximum of  twenty five miles an hour plus the odd break down thrown in. Fans fortified themselves for this epic journey with bottles of Guinness, Nash’s lemonade and buttered marietta biscuits for the children, crubeens and an assortment of sandwiches usually carried in shoe boxes to spare  them from being crushed. Melodeons and mouth-organs were also carried on board. Good singers and reciters were in constant demand to while away the hours. Decks of cards for the game of ‘Thirty Wan’ which went on in every carriage. The Ghost Train got its name from the fact that it travelled through the night but also because of the low lighting in the carriages which made people look ghost like to those looking in, as it made its way through the country. Another reason was the eerie and lonesome sound of the whistle from the train. This of course woke every barking dog along the way. Caherciveen’s renowned poet, Sigerson Clifford immortalised this epic return journey in his poem ‘The Ghost Train for Croke Park’. The Journalist, Con Houlihan, sized up this famous outing, which was the longest train journey in Ireland in its time when he said it was, ‘Puck Fair on Wheels’.

From the Killorglin Archive


The Longed For Day arrived

Jimmy Moloney one of the many campaigners for this facility shared a photo of Facebook to welcome the opening of our stretch of this great amenity.


A Few More from Ladies’ Day 2022


Old News

In Marley Park, Photo: Éamon ÓMurchú


People I met

Margaret McAulliffe, Bernie Daly and Anne Crowley in Main Street on August 25 2022


Seán McCarthy in The Kerryman of 1973

PAPERS: Kerryman Saturday, March 03, 1973;

By Sean McCarthy

HE was born, at Kilbaha, Moyvane, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred -and eighty two.( James Augustine Aloysius Joyce  born 2 February 1882)  That was -also the year when James Joyce was born.  that year, too, that Eamon de Valera came- kicking and screaming ‘ into an unstable world. ‘ Charles Stewart Parnell ,( walking tall and handsome through O’Connell Street, the fight of freedom shining in his eyes Chester Alan Arthur was-President of the United States and the words ‘income tax weren’t even in Webster’s dictionary. A great United States President was born that year of eighty-two: his name was Franklin “Delano Roosevelt. He was destined to hold the presidency for ” thirteen tumultuous years. .Queen Victoria was ruling England and the far-flung British Empire when Patrick Joseph Anthony Cahill’s first cry echoed across: a Kerry glen. (Break)

“Dear Sean: I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Paddy Joe Cahill died, two days ago. He died quietly in  his  room. All the Kerry guys at the bar were very upset and John Sheehy said that I must let you know. I know that you and old Paddy Joe had many a good crack, together and that you both came from North Kerry. I hope you and yours are well and again, my sincere regrets for being the bearer of sad news. Your friend, Timothy Horgan.”‘

– Patrick. Joseph Anthony Cahill, born County Kerry 1882, died New York City 1973. Rest in peace.


The Square

Old photo shared online by Mike Hannon


People I Met

Two members of the Kelliher clan stop to chat on William Street.


A Fact

Celery has negative calories!

It takes more calories to eat and digest a piece of celery than the celery has in it.


Writers’ Week and other things

Listowel Town Square in June 2022


Listowel Writers’ Week 2022

What a great few days, (Writers’ Week is not really a week) we had. I enjoyed every moment from start to finish. I haven’t had such a hectic time since before Covid.

I’m going to tell you all about it, not necessarily in the order in which it happened.

This event happened in St. John’s on Friday June 3rd. 2022. The ladies onstage are best selling authors, Catherine Ryan Howard, Carmel Harrington and Hazel Gaynor. They write in three very different styles. What they have in common is that they are all really successful, they write full time and their work has been categorised as commercial fiction as if that was somehow inferior to literary.

As Catherine said, they write the books people read.

With them on stage is Catherine Moylan who is chair of Writers’ Week. Catherine is passionate about including these writers in the festival of writing. It was a great event.

Catherine Ryan Howard wrote a brilliant thriller set in lockdown Dublin. It is called 56Days and I’d highly recommend it. Her Nothing Man is great too.

Carmel Harrington writes what is called up lit. Up Lit is a new trend. It stands for uplifting literature, stories with kindness at their core. Carmel is hugely popular. She is on her 11th book. Her tenth, A Mother’s Heart is in the shops now.

I particularly love Hazel Gaynor’s books. She writes historical fiction and she is a meticulous researcher of sometimes little known topics. Many of her books are available in audio book form or for Kindle.

I’m delighted these three ladies came to Listowel. They have proven that they deserve their place in a festival that celebrates writing.



While I was enjoying plays and books, another exciting thing was taking place.

A lovely lovely Listowel girl was being picked as Kerry Rose for 2022.

Édaein O’Connell has everything you could want in a Rose. She is “lovely and fair as the rose of the summer”. She is also media savvy, well able to account for herself, a witty and entertaining journalist who appeals to readers at home and abroad.

I hope she sings The Night Visiting Song as her party piece. It will bowl the judges over. My money is on Édaein to be the first ever Kerry Rose to win the contest outright. Even if she doesn’t, she will be a brilliant Kerry Rose for the year.

Édaein was sponsored by Garvey’s Super Valu and one of her first tasks as Rose was a visit there.


A Half Century Ago

This class of Leaving Certs. from 50 years ago had a reunion lately but I got no pictures unfortunately.


A Request

Dear Mary 

I am writing because I found your blog, and I was wondering if you could help me with some research I am conducting.

In particular I am looking for fifth and sixth year class photos of the Presentation Secondary School, for girls in Listowel for the following years: 1957, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62 and 63. 

I would really appreciate if you could help point me in the right direction, or if indeed you might know anyone who might have a yearbook with class photos, that they could send me by taking a picture of the yearbook themselves.

Kind regards,

Mel Cannon


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