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: Utopia

Carrigafoyle, Unrest in Duagh in 1913 and Utopia, a Victim of the Pandemic

Carrigafoyle Castle 2020  Photo: Breda Ferris



Holy War in Duagh in 1913


Irish Examiner Thursday, October 23, 1913



On Sunday last a public meeting of very large dimensions was held in the village of Duagh for the purpose of condemning an outrage of a most unusual and and at the same time diabolical character, which was perpetrated at Lyrecrumpane some weeks previously. The outrage, which aroused so much horror and indignation, consisted of a shot being fired through the window of one of the most highly respected members of the community, Mr. Patrick Moloney, R.D.C., where, for the want of a Chapel, the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass is being offered up weekly by the Rev. J. Beasley, P.P., in his house. 

The dastardly act of the abandoned miscreant, needless to say, carries with it the unspeakable abhorrence and condemnation of an indignant community, and the extraordinary numbers in which the outraged parishioners as well as many outside the parish, and the representative  character of the assemblage, very amply indicated their feelings, as well as affording practical proof if such were necessary—that their beloved and intensely popular Parish Priest the Rev John Beasley, will not be insulted or intimidated with impunity.  It should be mentioned that, this demonstration was the result of the generous and spontaneous volition of the people themselves, who are almost to a man virile and enthusiastic members of the A.O.H., and who would on no condition whatever brook slight or insult offered their revered pastor. 

After last Mass, the whole congregation, headed by the splendid fife and drum band of the A.O.H., under the able conductorship of their instructor, Mr. Salmon, marched in procession to a substantially-built platform erected al the top of the village, and bedecked with National designs and greenery to a profuse extent.

The arrival of the Rev. Father Beasley was the signal for an enthusiastically and long continued round of cheers.

Amongst those present were noticed—Messrs F C O’Keeffe, R.D.C., President of the Duagh Branch of the A.O.H. (the fourth largest in the county), J J Sheehy, R.D.C., V.C. do; Patrick Moloney, R. D.C: Thomas Relihan, R.D.C; .James O’Sullivan, Trien; Patrick Stack, Thomas Daly, James Mahony, N.T; Thomas Molyneaux, N.T; John McCarthv, N.T; Edward Stack, N.T;  J Casey, N.T.; Jeremiah Lyons, Michael O’Brien, J. Gunn, D. Broderick, J Roche, M Mulcare, Murt Daly, James Hickey, M Gair, D Hayes, T. Dillon, John Dillon, J. Maher. Tom Faley, P. Larkin, James Harnett, P Mahony, Thomas O’Connor, P O’Connor, John Joyce, D Ambrose, James Moloney, Daniel Keane, R Finucane, J Halpin, J Scanlan, Stephen Stack, T Sheehy, C Sheehy, M Sheehy, Michael O’Connor, Jeremiah Relihan, T Roche, J. O’Connor, Tom Keane, John Stack, J Costelloe, John Molyneaux, Jeremiah McCarthy,  J O’Keeffe, J J  Dillon, J McElligott, Thade Galvin, Dan Mc-Auliffe, W McAuliffe, J Fitzgerald, John Flynn, George Fitzmaurice,  Thos. O’Brien, J H O’Sullivan, Michael Sheehy, J. Kelly, G Kelly, P Walsh, M Quill, James Stack, Neddy Stack. John Sheehy, Michael Sheehy, M Relihan, M Galvin, Michael Sheehy, J Sheehy, Batt Dillon, Jack Sheehy, Edward Dillon, Shaun, Darb, Davy Dillon, Jas Horgan, D Flynn, T Flynn, Batt O’Connor, W. J O’Connor, Con O’Keeffe, J Brosnan, Daniel Keane, J Moloney, Matt Dillon, P Lane, C. McAuliffe, Dan L Brosnan, Michael Keane, Maurice Keane, Jerh Brosnan, John Collins, Matt D Dillon, Michael Dillon, J Wiley, D. O’Grady, J Faley, D Brosnan, Tim Brosnan, F O’Carroll, Dan Brosnan, J. Brandon, Pat Keane. John Walsh, M Walsh, Jim Fitzgerald, James Corridan, Moss Corridan, Tady Corridan, etc.

Mr. W. L. Fitzgerald, U.D.C., P.L.G., Listowel, also occupied a prominent position on the platform.

On the motion of Mr. F. C. O’Keeffe, seconded by Mr. J. J. Sheehy,

The Rev. J. Beasley, P.P., was moved to the chair, and amidst enthusiastic cheers and addressing the meeting, said :—

My dear people, I thank you for inviting me here to-day (“You are welcome”). I have to thank you also for the honour you have done me in asking me to preside over this large and important meeting. I am pleased to see you all consider it your duty to hold this meeting here to-day in order to protest against an outrage that has shocked and pained the people of the parish. If there is one thing more than another for which Irishmen are remarkable, and for which they may be pardoned in taking a legitimate pride, ” it is for being kind and neighbourly (hear, hear). You all know how much our kind-hearted friend, Mr Moloney is respected for these qualities and for all the virtues that go to make a good Irishman (cheers for Mr Moloney). No man could he kinder, on man more popular—he is popular without seeking popularity (cheers); he is friendly to all, and always anxious to help his neighbours when necessary (applause). It was a particularly odious crime to attack the house of one who deserves nothing but the goodwill of his neighbours—one whom we, all so highly esteem (cheers). It was an outrage not against him alone, but against the whole community, especially against the good people of that part of the parish where it was committed (hear. hear). The outrage is blacker and more painful still when we look at it from a religious point of view. Here is a house which should be particularly sacred to every Catholic who loves his faith. In it Sunday Mass was celebrated for the people of the district. You are all aware of the sanctity of the Sacrifice of the Altar. It is the offering of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, Our Lord, for the salvation of the living and of the dead who shall suffer in Purgatory. The Mass is the great Sacrifice of the New Law, the bed-rock of our Faith. It was their love of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Hint made the Catholics of our country face privations and persecutions of every kind in the Penal days (hear, hear). For it they were ready to give up everything, even life itself (cheers). They gathered round the priest at sacred spots in the mountains and glens and whilst he offered up the Holy Sacrifice they knelt down in humble devotion round the altar. What would they say; what would those who have gone before us say if they were alive to-day of an outrage at a house in the mountains of a parish in which Mass was celebrated on Sundays for the people. Could they imagine how anyone could be so lost, so dead to the fear, of God and to the reverence due to Him as to commit such a crime? . If such an outrage were committed in France at the bidding of a French infidel, what would be your horror? How much worse is it not when committed at home at the  bidding of some person or persons who style themselves Christians? My dear people, we would be unworthy descendants of our Catholic- forefathers, who suffered so much for their Faith, if we did not condemn and repudiate this outrage in the strongest language at our command (hear, hear). Whilst we deplore and condemn it, let us be merciful; let us hope and pray that whoever has so given way to the temptation of the devil as to perpetrate it will repent, and resolve never again to be guilty of such a cowardly and disgraceful deed (cheers). We are upon the eve of a great triumph, for our country’s victory is almost in view. The government of the country will be soon, please God in the hands of the people of Ireland (loud cheers). Let us show our fitness for it, and that we are worthy of it by our respect for God, for our neighbours, and for everything that would rebound to the credit of our race at home and abroad (loud cheers), The eyes of the world are on us at present; we are still on our trial; let us show that we are not what the enemies of our country represent us to be, but that we are patriotic, just, straightforward, honourable men (cheers). It is righteous men who should make our land a nation once again (cheers). Let us like good patriots and Nationalists, feel a pride in our native county—the good old Kingdom, and when Home Rule comes, let us be able to prove that amidst all the flags that shall be unfurled. The flag of Kerry shall be up unstained and unsullied (loud and prolonged cheers).

Mr F. C. O’Keeffe then proposed the following resolution—”Resolved,—That we, the people of Duagh, in public meeting assembled, desire to express in the strongest possible manner our condemnation and abhorrence  of the outrage committed at a house, in the parish at which the Holy sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated on Sundays for the parishioners and which is occupied by a gentleman who has earned and enjoys the respect of those around him; that we are sure that the conduct of the miscreant or miscreants has met with no sympathy, and that we trust this district will never again be disgraced by such a foul deed. (hear. hear). In speaking to the resolution, he said he felt sure he had the sympathy of every man present who professed to be a Catholic and a Christian, for he thought no more cowardly or diabolical act could be perpetrated by any person than to fire into a house where the  Holy Sacrifice of the Mass had been offered up for the consolation and benefit of the people of the district (hear, hear). …


We Have Another Name

Asdee Players, the gentleman back row , second from left was Jimmy Carroll from Kilcoman, Asdee, my cousin.

He was a farmer and is succeeded by his niece Norma Connor ( nee Long) who still lives on same farm.  John Nolan from Bedford, England 

(Thanks John)


Utopia to Close

The following is Seraphina’s sad message on Facebook

To all our loyal customers, it is with great sadness that I say this, but today I’m announcing the closure of Utopia boutique.

I wish to thank you all, customers retailers friends and family for the most special memories. I thank you all I can never thank you enough for all that we have shared together.

This has been the hardest year to date, we have been working very hard trying to salvage the business,trying to pay the bills,the will is there but unfortunately the way is too hard in this current economic climate.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kathleen and Mary Louise, who have been with me since I started in 2007. Two of the most loyal and beautiful people it’s been my pleasure to work with. It is very difficult closing, I honestly hoped for a better outcome but I look forward to welcoming you all in for the last time, While we have a closing down sale ….starting tomorrow.

Wishing you all the best in these tough times

love and thanks



Yesterday was bread, Today it’s Sugar

In his search for information about the Mullally’s of Church St. Dave O’Sullivan found this interesting titbit.

A Fascinating Fact, Athea, Entente Florale and another guided walk to look forward to

The Square, Listowel, July 2019


Molly in Ballybunion

She loves the seaside.


Water level was very low last week. That is not the case this week.

The back of the castle by Carroll’s Yard


Fascinating Fact

The animal that has saved most lives is not your faithful dog, your trustworthy steed or even your brave carrier pigeon. No, that honour goes to the horseshoe crab.

An extract of the blood of the horseshoe crab is used by th pharma industry to test that drugs, vaccines and medical devices are free from dangerous microbes.

The blood of the horseshoe crab has no haemoglobin, which uses iron to carry oxygen. Instead it has haemacyamin, which uses copper. Their blood is blue. They are not killed for their blood.  The crabs are gathered by hand and brought to the lab alive. 30% of their blood is harvested. They quickly recover and are returned to the water. The blood is freeze dried and shipped around the world.

 Horseshoe crabs can endure extremes of heat and cold and can go for a year without eating.



Athea is a beautiful little village. In summer 2019 it is more beautiful than ever. Its history is laid out in a well told story in blue plaques around town. Here are a few.


Entente Florale in Listowel

The judges are in town today. Listowel is looking beautiful. Seven European countries are taking part in the Entente and local Listowel shopkeepers have decorated their windows in the theme of these countries.

Perfect Pairs Irish theme

Utopia’s Netherlands window

Olive Stack’s Gallery is so so beautiful, full of flowers and mosaics and lovely things.


Come and Join a Guided Walk of Listowel

On Saturday next, July 27 2019, I will be leading my second (and last) guided walk. Why not come along and tell me a Listowel tale or two.

The guided walks continue for the summer starting from Kerry Writers’ Museum at 11.00 on Saturdays.

Artisan Food, A Poem of Exile and more Christmas Windows

Happy dog following his owner in Listowel Town Park recently


Artisan Food at Listowel Food Fair

On the Sunday of Listowel Food Fair there was a great market of artisan food in The Listowel Arms. It was the Sunday of November prayers for our dead in John Paul Cemetery so I was late getting to the fair. It was well worth the visit. Here are some of the goods for sale and to sample. Some people were already sold out by the time I got there.

 These chutneys and relishes are by Chicco. They are delicious. I bought some for the Christmas cold meats

This Kerry cheese is completely organic. I stayed clear of this out of respect for my heart but people who tried it said it super.

This Charleville man had cheese products as well and was proudly displaying the prize he won at the fair.

I didn’t even go close to this charming lady to photograph her. She makes the most delicious ice cream you will ever taste and its all handmade in Kenmare.

This happy crew from Killocrim school were promoting their unique cookery book. It is a collection of recipes that the children made with their families and the book has lovely photos  as well. It will be a treasure for years to come and a cause well worth supporting.

I ran into my friend Billy Keane and his family. They were very proud to have their recipe included in the book.

Norma Leahy and her family were there with their Carralea Kefir. This dairy product is really good for your gut health. I’m trying it at the moment.

This is the lovely family behind Brona chocolate products. Jimmy is just a friend. He had no part in making the chocolates.

Orla Walshe runs a cookery school at Ballydonoghue. Her chocolate biscuit cake is to die for.

Completely sold out. The picture tells its own story.

Wellness bread products are a Listowel success story.


This poem is especially for Maria Sham, who loves it.

The Exile’s Return

(John Locke, 1847-1889)

T’anam chun Dia! but
there it is –

The dawn on the hills of Ireland,

God’s angels lifting the night’s black veil

From the fair sweet face of my sireland.

Oh! Ireland isn’t it grand you look,

Like a bride in her fresh adorning,

And with all the pent-up love of my heart

I bid you the top of the morning.

This one brief hour
pays lavishly back,

For many a year of mourning,

I’d almost venture another flight,

There is so much joy in returning,

Watching out for the hallowed shore,

All other attraction scorning,

Oh: Ireland don’t you hear me shout,

I bid you the top of the morning.

Ho, Ho, upon Glen’s
shelving strand,

The surges are wildly beating,

And Kerry is pushing her headlands out,

To give us a kindly greeting,

Now to the shore the sea birds fly,

On pinons that know no drooping,

Now out from the shore with welcome gaze,

A million of eaves come trooping.

Oh! Fairly, generous
Irish land,

So Loyal, so fair, so loving,

No wonder the wandering Celt should think,

And dream of you in his roving,

The Alien shore may have gems and gold,

And sorrow may ne’er have gloomed it.

But the heart will sigh for its native shore,

Where the love-light first illumed it.

And doesn’t old Cobh
look charming there,

Watching the wild waves motion,

Resting her back against the hill.

And the tips of her toes to the ocean,

I wonder I don’t hear the Shandon bells,

But maybe their chiming is over,

For it’s a year since I began,

The life of a western rover.

For thirty years “A
chuisle mo chroi”,

Those hills I now feast my eyes on,

Ne’er met my vision save at night,

In memory’s dim horizon,

Even so, ’twas grand and fair they seemed,

In the landscape spread before me,

But dreams are dreams, and I would awake

To find American skies still o’er me.

And often in Texan

When the day and the chase was over,

My heart would fly o’er the weary ways,

And around the coastline hover,

And my prayers would arise that some future date,

All danger, doubting and scorning,

I might help to win for my native land

The light of young liberty’s morning.

Now fuller and turner
the coastline shows

Was there ever a scene more splendid!

I feel the breath of the Munster breeze,

Oh! Thank God my exile is ended,

Old scenes, old songs, old friends again

There’s the vale, there’s the cot I was born in

Oh! Ireland from my heart of hearts

I bid you the “top o’ the morning”


Slavery and the Hiring Fair

This is a photo from the Library of Congress. It dates from the days of slave auctions in Illinois. I don’t think there was ever any official slavery in Ireland. Women who were forced by circumstances to work in the Magdalen Laundries might disagree. There were, however, hiring fairs.

These fairs were often held on the same day as a cattle fair when farmers were in town. Labourers weren’t auctioned as slaves were. Labourers agreed to work for a farmer, usually for a year, at an agreed wage. They earned little more than their bed and board. This system was in place in most European countries. In fact hiring out your labour goes back to biblical times.

In between the fairs if a spailpín or casual labourer was unemployed he would often walk from one farm to another in search of a few hours work.  Paddy Drury was one of these wandering workmen. Jim Sheahan remembers him coming to their house in Athea. Even if they didn’t have work for him, they fed him and he was content to sleep on a chair until he headed off again.

Fear of a lash of his tongue meant that Paddy usually could be sure of a chair to sleep in in most houses he visited.

Paddy was like the bards of old who could rhyme off a blessing or a curse on the spot.

Once when he and the other workers in a house where he was employed were served up bacon so tough that none of them could chew it, he extemporised;

Oh Lord on high

Who rules the sky

Look down upon us four

Please give us mate

That we can ate

And take away the boar.


More Christmas widows

Listowel shop windows this year have a train travel theme. Utopia’s window is really stylish and minimalistic.

The IWA window is gorgeous.

The Mermaids features old photos of the real Lartigue.

Stack’s Arcade is gorgeous.

Betty McGrath’s Listowel Florist’s

The Gentleman’s Barbers

Kay’s Children’s Shop has an excellent replica of the Lartigue on its snowy scene in the window.

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