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: UCC

Back to Base

Listowel Garda Station in February 2023


Nearly There


Brompton Cocktail

This old medicine bottle turned up a few years ago. It was dispensed in Keane Stack’s Pharmacy so it definitely had some medicinal intent.

Liam Grimes solved the mystery for me. This is a Brompton Cocktail. It was given to relieve the pain of terminally ill patients. It got its name from the fancy London hospital where it was first dispensed.


In the Garden of Europe

The statue of Schiller is looking fairly bare these days. Not too long now until it will be surrounded by yellow roses.

At the other end of the Garden is the Holocaust memorial. Chains and iron bars surround railway sleepers, a horrible reminder of Europe’s dark days.

Rough translation; Will remembering help?

If you stand with your back to the holocaust memorial you can see Schiller, author of Ode to Joy.

This is a good spot to sit and ponder. Listowel Tidy Town’s have obliged us with a seat.


The Honan Chapel, UCC

When I visited UCC recently I made my way to the Honan chapel. In my day there used to be daily mass in the Honan and it would be packed. That was when we had a resident chaplain and Tigh an tSagairt was a meeting place for anyone in need of company.

The beautiful stone carving around the door has featured in many a wedding photo.

The lighting on the day had this pink tinge which made photographing difficult. Above is just a small detail of the magnificent carving on the pews.


A Historian and An Artist

UCC in January 2023

I took a trip down memory lane recently. I visited by Alma Mater, UCC. The many changes have blended in beautifully and much of the campus was recognisable from my student days.

I entered by the Gaol gate. Any bikes that were here in my day were the students’ own.

In the 1970s the gate lodge was just that and the gatekeeper lived there.

The arch looking towards the quad was just the same.

The stoney corridor with its Ogham stones was where our exam results were posted for all to see.

The Aula Maxima was used for study and as an exam centre.


Listowel Library

The library is a great resource. It seems to get better with each passing month.

February’s treat for us is a series of talks by local historian, Vincent Carmody. Vincent is a fount of knowledge about so many aspects of Listowel. These are bound to be great events.


Listowel Emmetts

Listowel Emmetts have shared a 2002 letter from John B. Keane to Stephen Stack, chair of the committee fundraising to develop Sheehy Park,


The Influence of Celtic Art

The place where you live, the sights you see everyday, inevitably influence you. There is a theory that people who live in Listowel become writers by osmosis. It appears to me that people of an artist bent who spend time in Listowel become artists in the celtic genre.

Literally every street corner is adorned with scrolls and swirls in the style of the old celtic artists.

One such artist was Vincent O’Connor

V.L O’Connor was born in Church St, Listowel on July 8th 1888 to Listowel natives, Daniel O’Connor and Elizabeth (Bessie) Wilmot. His father was a retired Sergeant Major of the 1st battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment. The family moved to Dingle where Daniel took up the position of Station Master. On his death in 1898 the family relocated to Tralee where Bessie ran a hotel on Nelson St.

Vincent was a very accomplished artist from an early age and took up a teaching post in the Christian Brothers in 1904. He also studied art under William Orpen.

Vincent emigrated to the USA in 1915 sailing on the Lusitania. He taught at Notre Dame university for a number of years. In 1916 he published a book of 18 caricatures of notable people of the time, including Douglas Hyde, Alice Stopford Green, GB Shaw and others.

When the Irish government was invited to take part in the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, also known as the Century of Progress International Exposition, they were initially reticent. Tariffs and trade barriers meant there was little prospect of any financial gain. Eventually they decided to participate because ‘considerations such as those connected with national publicity and prestige might outweigh the more tangible considerations of trading advantage’.

Ireland sent a cultural and industrial display that was housed in the monumental Travel and Transport building. When the Fair organizers decided to run the event again in 1934, numerous countries—including the Irish Free State—did not participate and their places were taken by private concessions. However, there were a number of events that the Irish State did participate in during the second manifestation, the most prominent was an open air theatrical pageant representing Irish history, The Pageant of the Celt. Irish Consul General in Chicago, Daniel J. McGrath, was on the executive committee of the production.

The Pageant took place on the 28th and 29th August, 1934, at Chicago’s main sports stadium, Soldier’s Field, in front of large ‘marvellous’ crowds. Although the pageant is credited to Irish- American attorney John V. Ryan, it was most likely co-developed with its narrator Micheál MacLiammóir, to whose work it bears similarities. Some contemporary reports credit it solely to MacLiammóir. The Pageant was produced by Hilton Edwards and covered the period of Irish history from pre-Christian times to the Easter Rising of 1916 and it had almost two thousand participants. Subjects like the imperfect resolution to the War of Independence with Britain in 1921 and the subsequent Civil War were still fresh in people’s memory and, as in the earlier MacLiammóir pageants, were avoided.

The program itself has a richly decorated cover and small illustrations and decorated capitals throughout by Irish-American artist Vincent Louis O’Connor (c.1884-1974). The cover contrasts Celtic Ireland with modern Chicago. Round towers are juxta positioned with skyscrapers, separated by clouds, both icons of their time and the spirit of their respective ages. A man and a woman in distinctive ancient Irish dress festooned with a Tara brooch, stand on Ireland’s green shore facing the Atlantic. These and Saint Brendan’s ship anchored, trademarked with a Celtic cross, signifying the Irish-American connection. This was an Irish pageant suitable for diaspora consumption, with its mix of the mythical and ancient, cultured and catholic, distinctive and unique, oppressed but not beaten, leading to phoenix-like revolution and rebuilding.

David O’Sullivan found all of this information for us and he also sourced these obituaries to the artist.


Honan Chapel, UCC, Race week 2018 and style from Ladies’ Day 2018


Honan Chapel, UCC

On my recent walking tour of UCC I visited the Honan Chapel and I learned about a Listowel connection.

 The magnificent mosaic of the River Lee teeming with fish was executed by the mosaic artists of the firm of Oppenheimer, the same company which did the mosaics in our own St. Mary’s.

The much admired stained glass windows are the work of two artists, the great Harry Clarke and the lesser known Sarah Purser. Harry Clarke’s work  totally overshadows Sarah Purser’s windows. The Clarke windows, while magnificent in themselves, are dark and leave in very little light. They are characterised by their deep deep blue glass. Purser’s are refreshingly lighter  and in my humble opinion function better as windows as in they allow light into the building.

St. Gobnait is the patron of the nearby village of Ballyvourney. She is depicted in her window surrounded by bees.

Sadly, beside the door there are two blocked out windows, victims of the penal window tax.


Upper Church Street, Race Week 2018


Ladies’ Day Sept. 14 2018

Some of the ladies I spotted as i made my way around the course.

Not all fun and games. Helena Halpin was off to work when I ran into her.

Niamh Kenny looked every inch a winner, but she didn’t win.

The lady on the right with her gorgeous Aoife Hannon headpiece was the first runner up.

This lady was also a top 10 finalist. Isn’t her hat fabulous?


Credit Where It’s Due 

Yesterday I had some photographs of this seat with its verse to the memory of the late Paudie Fitzmaurice.

I have since learned that the verse was written by his good friend of many years, John (Junior) Griffin.


Possible Identification

The first black and white photo looks like it was taken at Buckleys. If my memory is correct the boy at the back is Buckley and the girl on the right  was his sister. They had a bar, and I can remember that they sold ice cream. I would love to know if I am correct

Is Maria correct?

UCC, Cork, Finesse RaceWeek Window, Paul and Gary O’Donovan’s win and Jack McKenna’s autobiography

Fuchia in my garden in Autumn 2018


Town and Gown

Recently I took a trip down memory lane to UCC. It’s a very different place nowadays to when I was a student many moons ago. It is a place very aware of its history.

This hovel which has been erected at the Gaol entrance to the college gives us an idea of the great divide that existed between students at the then Queen’s College and the ordinary folk of the surrounding city in 1845 when the college was founded.

The V under a crown on this finial stands for Queen Victoria and this angel greets you on your arrival at the arch into the Quad.

Irish harp, English Lion and Welsh dragon. I think they thought that the Irish and Scottish people were all the one and so covered by the harp.

 There were certainly no cranes on campus in my day but the college is continually expanding nowadays.

 The statue of Queen Victoria has been replaced with St. Finbarr, in line with the motto of the college; “Where Finbarr taught, let Munster learn.”

These photos were taken in the president’s garden. This was walled in and off limits to students in the 1970s  when I was there.

There is still a rift between town and gown in Cork. While in town I also saw the other side of life there.

I snapped this homeless man sleeping in daytime outside the city library.


Finesse Window at Race Week 2018

The ladies at Finesse devoted their entire window display in tribute to their friend, Mike Lawlee R.I.P.


World Champions

The charming self deprecating O’Donovan brothers, world champion rowers…no specific Listowel connection that I know of but all Ireland loves them. They represent the best of us.


Races week 2018

I took lots of photos but it will take me a while to recover the energy to process them all. Here’ a taster.

It was Ladies’ Day and there was a party going on a bus stop .

Throw me down something. No humans, just ducks in The Feale

Security was tight. Anyone underage and to show that they had no alcohol on them.

This is Cliona McKenna who used to sell race cards here in the good old days when you could get a card and a biro for €1.50


An Invitation to a Book Launch

One for everyone in the audience

You are all invited to The Seanchaí on Wednesday next at 7.30 p.m. for the launch of an important book, telling the story of an extraordinary Listowel man. The man is Jack McKenna who has reached his 100th year and has led a varied and interesting life.

Harvest thanksgiving in St. Mary’s, Mayor Kennelly of Chicago

Evening in Ballybunion

Lovely evening sky Ballybunion Angling and Coastal Views


February 1951

Michael Kennelly’s caption “First Rome reunion social in The Lake Hotel, Killarney, Feb. 1951”


Thanksgiving for the Harvest in St. Mary’s Listowel


Chicago mayor with Irish roots

Martin H. Kennelly was elected in 1947, and worked with the City Council to create modern superhighways, an airport and subways. His diplomacy enabled many projects.

One year later, he supported Chicago censors who banned Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, “The Respectful Prostitute.” Kennelly declined an invitation to a private showing saying: “I do not like the play. I do not like the title. The title alone would be enough to ban the show, as far as I’m concerned.”

Kennelly established the tone of second term with these words from his Inaugural Address on April 19, 1951: “The pattern of adherence to sound moral values in government has been established. Its basis is efficiency, economy, integrity, impartiality—and the service of only one special interest—the general welfare. There must be no deviation from this standard.” He maintained this standard.

Some of his mayoral successes included extensions for Wacker Drive and the Outer Drive. Congress superhighway and the Congress Street Bridge were constructed. The sewer construction program and the Chicago Skyway were completed. Plans were initiated for extensions to the West Side Subway, the Northwest superhighway, the South Outer Drive and O’Hare Airport.

He was defeated in the 1955 Democratic Primary by Richard J. Daley. He retired and concerned himself with community affairs. He assisted his alma mater and other organizations.

Martin Henry Kennelly died on November 29, 1961, and was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Evanston. He lived his life according to the lines he quoted from Edgar Guest in his First Inaugural Address on April 15, 1947: “If freedom shall new splendors reach/ And not be dragged into the dust/ This to our children we must teach—that/ Public Service is a trust.”


Didn’t he do well

Ger. Greaney with his proud parents at his conferring in UCC last week

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén