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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Crows, The Mens’ Shed is Locked Down and a timely story remembered

Photo credit; Liam Downes from Born in West Limerick on Facebook


Everything Looks better in Colour

Look at this great initiative in Athea.

West Limerick Rocks! 

We are delighted to be working with West Limerick Resources on the West Limerick Rocks Project. 

Take a rock, bring it home, wash it and paint it and return the rock to the rock display at the fairy garden adding colour and much-needed joy to Athea. You can also pick a rock from your own garden, decorate it and add it to the display. Remember – movement is limited to 2km from your home! 

Thanks to our local caretaker Margaret Carroll who has agreed to spray varnish the rocks! 

This project is funded by the SICAP programme. The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) 2018-2022 is funded by the Irish Government through the Department of Rural and Community Development and co-funded by the European Social Fund under the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020


Observing Birds

Photographer, Tom Fitzgerald, is finding lots of subjects to photograph without leaving the confines of his own house. He has set up his camera in the garden. He can operate it remotely. He can sit at a distance and wait for the action to happen. Last week he saw these crows descend to gobble up these crumbs that had been left out for smaller birds. He captioned the photo “Loaded Up.”


Lament for Good Times in The Mens’ Shed

We all miss so many things during this crisis. I miss my book club, my knitting group, Writers’ Week meetings and more. But what I really miss is the human interaction, the chat and the banter, the listening and the observing. 

Mattie Lennon speaks for many when he writes of missing The Mens’ Shed.

Our poet with Seamus Hosey at Opening Night Listowel Writers’ Week


By Mattie Lennon.

Were you born since nineteen fifty four?

Then listen to my tale.

Since now I can’t go past the door

It’s worse than being in jail.

The Mens’ Shed  basks in silence now

Dead ashes in the grate.

The powers that be will not allow

Us meet or congregate.

Trips to historic places

Postponed till God  knows when

And absence of the faces

Of jolly Mens- Shed men.

Restrictions with good reason

Our precious lives to save,

But it’s Limbo land this season

No wooden beams we’ll shave.

Sans banter, cakes or mugs o’ tay

The shedders felt marooned

 Spin-doctors soon came into play 

‘Twas simply called “cocooned.”

The sound of saws and lathe no more

No smoke or leaping flames. 

We miss the sawdust on the floor

And elders calling names.

No forty verses now from Jack 

Or the  Micks with Niall and Noel.

No poems or  songs or mighty craic

To elevate the soul.

Poor remedy for culture shocks

Are Zoom and mobile phones.

We’ll have to take our stumbling blocks

And make them stepping stones.


A Thought for the Day

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

I enjoyed this anecdote from Nicholas

Hi, Mary, 

Amazing what an unseen and unknown little ‘bug’ can do! Mighty countries laid low, despite nuclear weapons and ‘star-wars’ capabilities and endless money. And then there are ourselves. When all the mighty are laid low and helpless, we sheepishly turn to God, who, for many, as was said about the fairies, ‘doesn’t exist’ (but He’s there alright!). We can’t even whistle past the grave-yard now. The bug has decreed that we stay locked away at home! 

All the fear and dread generated by the bug reminded me of an incident in my part of South Meath long, long ago. One of our ill-fated rebellion  was in  progress, and a group of peasant warriors was transporting a cache of weapons, ingeniously, in a coffin surrounded by wailing mourners and downcast men. A troop of soldiers, who were used to these stratagems,  halted them and demanded that the coffin be opened for inspection. There was much shuffling, and obvious horror in the faces of the ‘mourners.’  One of the peasant warriors audibly muttered ‘cholera’ – for the benefit of the soldiers, whereupon the latter fled in some disarray- leaving the ‘funeral’ to proceed unhindered.

Whoever coined ‘O Tempora, O Mores’ got it spot on!

Brent Geese, Craftshop na Méar, Hosiery Explained and a Magpie Drops in for a Take away

Brent Geese at Sunset in Beale

Ita Hannon


John Kelliher’s Drone Photos


Craftshop na Méar

Tom Fitzgerald took this photo of the Listowel Writers Week gang at  a craftshop Christmas event;

Mary Cogan,  Una Hayes, Eilish Wren, Bernie Carmody, Seán Lyons, Maureen Connolly and Masiréad Sharry

The late Eileen Hannon with Danny and Noreen O’Connell at the same event.


Deja Vu

Noel Roche


Hose and Half Hose

The question of hosiery came up last week when we were discussing Duhallow Knitwear and how it was always referred to in my home town as The Hosiery.

Our friend, Nicholas, did a bit of research on the internet and this is what he found.

I  believe it all started with mens’ wear – (late 13c., “covering of woven cloth or leather for the lower part of the leg, with or without feet,” from late Old English ‘hosa’ “covering for the leg”) and developed into basically everything that covered the leg from the knee to the ankle. 

At first, the hoses on the two legs were separate pieces of material- a solution was necessary to preserve modesty, so a cloth codpiece was invented to cover the gap in material.  this was amended to metal to cope with  a certain vulnerability to injury. In the 400s,  following a widespread outbreak of what we would now call (to spare blushes) a ‘social disease,’ the codpiece was essential to cover the effects and visible signs  of the disease and the manifold ‘medicines’ applied to combat it. I believe Gucci revived the codpiece in modern times as a fashion statement rather, I suppose, than as a ‘nod’ to the more indelicate associations.  And it was an unexpected motif in the Spring 2020 menswear collection by American designer Thom Browne, shown in Paris in 2019. Like everything else connected with male vanity, it is believed that codpieces were much aggrandized and exaggerated in size by some…. Henry the V111 was one who did this, as depicted in Holbien Junior’s portrait. I presume Kings, depending on male heirs to keep the line going, would at least, have to appear capable of doing so (or be prepared to behead his Queens and kick out the Pope).  

There is a contemporary male-worn item commonly used contact sports, and in ballet: the ‘jockstrap.’  

It is time to call a halt on this somewhat  distasteful topic. It may not all be suitable for your Blog. In any case, you have the final editorial call and you may disregard any or all of the above as you wish.


Piazza Express

During lockdown we are all taking time to observe Nature all around us. Part of that observation for a photographer is also capturing the moment in a snap.

Tom Fitzgerald was fascinated by this magpie who swopped down to take away the remains of his piazza.


The Confirmation Class of 2020

When the story of the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is told these boys will be saying, “I remember it well. It was the year I was to make my Confirmation but….”

Photo: Scoil Realta na Maidine

Dursey, Photo exhibition in 2007, Heritage Week 2019 and National Treasures from a Pharmacy

Dursey Island, Co Cork

My Cork family took a trip to Dursey at the weekend. It’s a beautiful, unspoiled place.

This speed limit sign looks like a bit of a challenge. I think maybe it was placed there by some joker.


Heritage Week 2019

So far I’ve been to a talk on The Power of Matchmaking, The Rose of Tralee Fashion Exhibition where I saw close up some of the gorgeous and unusual dress worn by Rose winners over the years. This exhibition is in the Kerry County Museum in Tralee. On Tuesday I was in Kerry Writers’ Museum again for a seminar on architectural conservation in Listowel.

The highlight so far was a lunchtime talk, also in The Kerry County Museum by Tom Dillon on The Knights of Kerry. This knighthood, Tom told us, was awarded on the battlefield while the hero knight was still bleeding from wounds received in the service of the king.

That’s me on the far right with four local North Kerry historians, Martin Moore, Declan Downey, Tom Dillon and Michael Guerin

Tom told us of the mother and father of all family rows between a Fitzmaurice and a Fitzgerald. We heard tales of political and religious intrigue, much bloodshed, imprisonment and skullduggery.

This knight from Ennismore near Listowel didn’t fight his way or even talk his way to success. True to form for a man from the Literary Capital of Ireland, he wrote his way out of trouble and lived to tell the tale.

This talk was diligently researched, well prepared and eloquently delivered by the star (for me, anyway) of Heritage Week 2019.

And there are lots more Heritage Week events to come over the next few days.


Listowel Castle

Be sure to take a tour before the summer is through.


Photography Exhibition in 2007

Mattie Lennon visited this exhibition in St. John’s and this is the account he posted online about it.

Earlier this year, Dillon Boyer passed away. This is a tribute to him.

Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man. –Edward Steichen

Ever since Joseph Nicephore made the first permanent picture with a camera, in 1826, photography has been evolving as an art form. But a different and separate one, unrelated to any other. 

In the words of Berenice Abbot,”Photography can never grow up if it imitates some other medium. It has to walk alone; it has to be itself”. 

Saint John’s Arts and Heritage Centre

For the month of September, Saint John’s Arts and Heritage Centre (a former Church) in Listowel, will be home to the works of two Kerry-based photographers Tom Fitzgerald and Dillon Boyer. 

Seeing how the ordinary can become extraordinary, in a frame, one is obliged to concur with the words of Elliot Erwitt, “ . . .Photography has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” 

Dillon Boyer

DILLON BOYER who was born in Kent, England, has been interested in photography for almost sixty years. He was a member of Tunbridge Wells Camera Club where he won many prizes within the club and nationally. On retirement, drawn to the landscape and opportunities for portraiture in the Kingdom, he and his wife Mary moved to Listowel. 

He was a founder member of Listowel Camera Club with John Stack. Under Dillon’s guidance it went on to become a major camera club within the Irish Photo scene, winning the National Shield in the mid-nineties, and also hosting the event in 1995. Dillon has won National Medals in the Nature category on two occasions in the 90’s. He is also an accomplished Video and wedding photographer. The Canon is his favourite camera. 

Tom Fitzgerald

TOM FITZGERALD, a native Kerryman, has being interested in photography since the mid sixties when, as a young man, he started taking photos with a Kodak instamatic camera. He bought his first SLR camera, a Pentax K500 in 1974 and graduated to Nikon in the eighties. He was a reluctant convert to digital but won’t now travel (even to the shop) without his Digital Nikon SLR. A member of Listowel CC almost from its foundation, Tom has an extensive collection of photos of local people and places as well as prize shots from further afield. 

And his indexing system is just as baffling, to me, as quantum Physics. If you want a pictorial record of a moment frozen in time, be it a First Communion in 1970, Mount Brandon shrouded in mist, or Bill Clinton putting in Ballybunion, the image is produced in seconds. 

This is one Kerryman who doesn’t answer a question with a question. Your query about that shepherd’s cottage backlit by the rising sun will elicit a comprehensive account of the topography of that burgage, with the unpronounceable name, in the Scottish Highlands. And what about the shot of the two ponies on Glenbeigh strand? That was taken on Sunday the nineteenth of August 1979, when the wind was blowing from the east and Seefin illuminated by a waxing moon. 

Landscape (“the supreme test of the photographer”) features largely in the exhibition and includes the fruits of Tom and Dillon’s many trips to Scotland and England. And appropriately enough the exhibition (Which is supported by North Kerry Together Limited), is titled “Near & Far”. 

Sunset at Kerry Head

I attended the opening and it’s amazing the snippets of information the camera-illiterate such as myself can pick up at such a gathering. Amid terms such as “Chromatic aberration”, “Macroscopic”, “Reciprocity failure” and “Tonal range” I learned that the first photograph taken in Ireland was in 1848 and was of Young Irelander Patrick O’Donohue. 

Glen Inchaquin

David Hockney said, “ All you can do with most ordinary photographs is stare at them”. Well, these are not ordinary photographs and if you are in or near Listowel during the next month you call to Saint John’s and you can browse, buy or both. 

Waterville Lake


Artefacts from a Pharmacy

From National Treasures on Facebook

“Array of Items from a Pharmacy. My father was a pharmacist and he bought a shop in Thurles in 1962 that was originally established as Pharmacy Way in 1889. The shop was in its original state and within it, he found these objects among many others. My father, Donal P. Sammon, never threw anything out and kept all the old artefacts he found. The objects include old poison bottles, powders, and a cut-throat razor. My father continued the shop as a pharmacy from 1962 to 2004. I took over from him then and the pharmacy is still going strong. As a pharmacist, I find these objects really interesting. Back then, a pharmacist had to mix medicine in the shop. Opium, cocaine, arsenic, and morphine were regularly used. Thankfully, we don’t have to do that today!”

Thanks to Carmel Sammon

Farmers and gardeners

Back Row L.toR.Tom Costello, Danny Lane, Bill J. Kirby, Sean Stokes, John MacNamara (agri instructor), Chris Goulding, Patsy O’Sullivan, William Stack, Tim Buckley, John Collins, Toddy O’Sullivan

Middle: Paddy Finucane(cut out of photo),_________ James Murray, John Broderick, Paddy Carroll, John O’Keeffe, Dan Molyneaux, Tim MacMahon,Paddy Maher, John Joe Galvin,Tom O’Sullivan, Vincent Brennan,Jerh Galvin, Liam McElligott, Dick Stokes, Maurice Stack

Front: Paddy Drummond, Dan J. Moloney,———–,————, Canon P. O’Sullivan, Jerry Moyles (C.A.O. Kerry) Bob Fitzgerald, ———–, Tom Sheehan

This is a photograph of Vincent’s photograph. He has all the names except 3 and 2 of them are not local and may have been instructors on the course. The photo has both students and teachers in it and was taken in the old VEC school on Church St.


Here is a man I found on the internet. He has a Listowel connection but I wonder if he is related to any Fitzgeralds who still live around here.

FITZGERALD:  John Fitzgerald and Mary Conway Fitzgerald, of County Kerry, Ireland saw their second son, Thomas off  to Canada in 1862.  Thomas, who was born in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland, came from a long line of gardeners and had worked at this since he was a boy in Ireland, managing the grounds and hothouses of Lord Colliss, of Tarbert township, County Kerry, Ireland and for 15 years an estate in Glin, County Limerick, Ireland. Thomas was leaving his beloved land to earn enough to bring his intended over and get married.  After 3 years of work in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, he was successful and brought Mary Healey, his intended over and they married.  Their first child was Patrick, born in 1865.  At this time Thomas and his family moved to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area where he worked as a gardener on a nearby estate. While in Pittsburgh, Mary and Thomas had seven more children; John, who became manager of the Plumbers Supply Company in Erie, Pennsylvania; Thomas M., who was sent to study in Ireland for 3 years, and returned to open a large florist business in Beaver, Pennsylvania; James F.; Annie; Mary Catherine; Edward, who married Catherine Conville and was sent to Erie with his four children to help his brother John with the business in Erie; and William.  Thomas and Mary later moved to Beaver to help in their son Thomas M. Fitzgerald’s greenhouses.

Two published biographical sketches provide great insight into the life of the Fitzgerald’s of Allegheny and Beaver County Pennsylvania

Update: 10.00a.m. Vincent has looked him up and this Fitzgerald gardener is from Tarbert. He was married in Ballylongford on July 24 1832.

best mart picture

Tom Fitzgerald took this fab. picture earlier today.

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