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: Walshes

Christmas in Listowel

Dublin Custom House at Christmas 2022 Photo: Éamon ÓMurchú


A Poem

Hard to believe it’s 10 years


Christmas long ago

Mike Moriarty’s photo of children playing with the Christmas toys in Walshes of Listowel in the 1950s.

Dec 1950 Walshe’s


St. Mary’s, Listowel at Christmas 2022

Some images from our lovely church at Christmastime:


In The Square

St. Johns
Our tree
our crib
our bauble


Vincent Carmody remembers the Wren Boys

Wren boys by Vincent Carmody

The wren-boy tradition on St. Stephen’s Day is unfortunately, now nearly a thing of the past. Now, only a few small groups, or individuals carry on a tradition, the origins of which, are lost in the mists of time. In the time of the big batches of wren-boys, under the leadership of their King, these group’s would traverse the country roads all day, and as evening and night approached, they would head for the larger urban areas to avail of the richer pickings in the public houses.

The North Kerry area was well catered for, with two large groupings in the Killocrim/Enismore and Dirha West areas, There was also a strong tradition in the Clounmacon side of the parish.

Some time after the wrens-day, it was the custom to organise a wren-dance. Then the date was picked and a house offered to host the dance, The dances were all night affairs, with liberal quantities of food and drink provided. 

In the early 1960’s I spent three years in London. during which, I worked in a pub, The Devonshire Arms, in Kensington, for a year or so. At this time, The Harvest Festival Committee, under Dr. Johnny Walsh, organised the wren-boy competitions in Listowel. Mr Johnny Muldoon, of London, had met Dr Johnny in Listowel and told him that he would organise two dances in his Dance Hall’s in London, provided that the Listowel committee send over three or four wren-boys to be in attendance. During their stay in London, Dan Maher, who managed the Devonshire, invited the Listowel contingent to the pub. On the particular evening I was serving in the lounge bar. (the pub was a gathering place for many Film and TV actors who would have lived nearby). Suddenly Dr.Johnny, threw the double door open, and in came the Listowel wren-boys, led by the leader, Jimmy Hennessy, Jimmy, wearing a colourful pants, had only some fur skin over his shoulders and chest and a headpiece with two horns, the others followed, faces blackened, and wearing similar outfits, all beating bodhrans. To say the least, those present did not have an idea what was happening, To this day, I can hear the remark which one man, Sir Bruce Setan, (he, of Fabian of the Yard) at the counter said to the other, Christopher Trace (of Blue Peter fame), “Blimey, they’re coming in from the jungle. They will kill us all. 
There was no one killed, and I think that Jimmy Hennessy enjoyed drinking pints of Guinness and pressing the flesh, surrounded by people he usually saw, only in the Plaza and Astor.



Photo; Kieran Mangan, Mallow Camera Club


Periwinkles and Seagrass

Pat Maher photographed by Moss Joe Browne.

This man has been selling these local delicacies on the street in Ballybunion for years.



This building which now houses the Milano shop was once a huge department store and ballroom.

Back in the day it was Walsh’s shop and later called Cavendishes. Mike Hannon and Alice Walsh have shared some great photographs on Facebook.

At Christmas the shop was packed with all the latest merchandise and toys of all descriptions for Santa Claus.

Jim Walsh outside the shop


Do you have a Magnolia?

Raymond O’Sullivan posted this image and the following information about this ancient shrub.

Although the Magnolia has been on Earth for millions of years, believed to be the oldest flowering plant on the planet, it was not introduced into Europe until 1740. It symbolizes strength, longevity and purity. In the Victorian ‘language of flowers’, it had several meanings based on the colour of the flowers: White: perseverance, purity, dignity, determination, modesty; Pink: shyness, innocence, joy, sensitivity; Yellow: prosperity, luck, loyalty, good health Purple: luck, fertility, courage and beauty. In China, people believe that planting a Magnolia in the garden ensures luck, prosperity, and marital happiness. Garden design and layout and the positioning of plants are a headache for most amateurs, and you should see some of the ‘mistakes’ in my little cabbage patch. According to Feng Shui placing a Magnolia in the front of the house promotes a happy life full of pleasures, while cultivating it at the back of the home favors solid financial well-being. Not so sure I got that one right either, mine is at the back of the house.


Your Help Needed


 I’m writing on behalf of Breda Hartnett nee Corrigan, who was born and raised in Listowel. She would like to trace her neighbours Mary, Agnes and Jimmy Barry who were sent to a orphanage in Tralee, Ireland. Mary would have been only 7 years old at the time. Breda and Mary both lived on Convent st and were best friends until Mary was taken away. Mary Barry would be around 73 years old, Agnes Barry 71 and Jimmy Barry 68 years old. Any help would be greatly appreciated. 

Kind regards

Charithra Thejopal

On behalf of Breda Hartnett

If you can help Breda, will you email me at please.


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