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: wedding

In Blarney

In The Garden of Europe, Listowel in July 2022


Churches in Blarney

When I was in Blarney recently I visited their churches. For me visiting a new church is like visiting a gallery or a museum.

The Church Of Ireland church was closed when I was there but the churchyard was particularly well kept and, given its central location in the town, it was great to see it obviously appreciated.

The Catholic Church is at the top of a hill too. On the way up to the entrance there is this lovely Lourdes grotto.

Lots of stained glass here.

There was much mosaic work in the sanctuary.


A Few More Irishisms or Mammyisms


I’m a Proud Nana

Tennis doubles partners, Killian Cogan and his Papa, Bobby, won the first round of their tennis tournament on their first outing as a team.

I’m dead proud of these men.


Perfect Weather for a Wedding

Summer wedding in Ballydonoghue. Photo: Barbara Kissane


Fort Shannon, a Fleadh and a wedding

Listowel Castle Sept 2021


Fort Shannon, Ballylongford

Jim Halpin has been in touch. He is undertaking a project to research Fort Shannon, Ballylongford. Jim is particularly interested in the families and friends of the soldiers. He would appreciate if anyone has stories to share of how the soldiers integrated with the local community, marrying local girls and taking part in local clubs and sports. Jim is concentrating on the valuable contribution to local life in Ballylongford made by the soldiers at the fort. If you have photos or stories send them to me and I’ll make sure Jim gets them.


Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Listowel

There are a few familiar faces in the crowd in this old newspaper cutting


A Klondyke Millionaire with a Listowel connection

New Zealand Tablet, 11 February 1898

Mr Patrick Galvin, one of Klondyke’s millionaires, has arrived in Listowel, whence he emigrated over twenty years ago to America, and where he experienced varying fortunes until he struck for Klondyke, where he became immensely rich. He refused £200,000 for some land he owns there and sold one of his claims for £20,000 before starting for Ireland. His account of the journey from the new gold country is most interesting. Mr Galvin, who was accompanied by his wife, travelled by the Dalton trail and had to tramp 374 miles, and Mrs Galvin had to walk 150 miles during the journey. When starting from Klondyke they had eleven pack horses, and at the journey’s end they had but four. The provisions too, ran scarce, and they had to subsist on flour and water for a considerable time. 


I was at a Wedding

My niece, Christine and her new husband held their wedding reception in Blackwater Castle.

This is me with my lovely niece on her big day.

This is a highlight of my Kanturk family weddings, Jerome Ryan singing Kanturk, my Home Town and whoever of the Kanturk crowd are nearby “helping” him out with the chorus.



A blog follower found this in an old NZ newspaper and I shared it with you.

Bartholomew Dowling, the writer of “Life’s Wreck,” was born at Listowel. County Kerry, about the year 1822. While still a child his parents emigrated to Canada, where his father died. Later the mother and children returned and settled in County Limerick, He wrote several poems for the Nation after its foundation. In 1848 he proceeded to California, where, after spending some time as a miner, he lived on a farm at Crucita Valley. In 1858 he was appointed editor of the San Francisco Monitor. In 1863 he met with an accident while driving, and soon afterwards died from its effects in St. Mary’s Hospital, San Francisco. Dowling’s best, and best known poem is probably “The Irish brigade at Fontenoy.” 

I mentioned that I couldn’t find the poem and then ….

Another blog follower found it. Here it is in all its blood curdling war mongering glory;


by: Bartholomew Dowling (1823-1863)

our camp-fires rose a murmur

At the dawning of the day,

And the tread of many footsteps

Spoke the advent of the fray;

And as we took our places,

Few and stern were our words,

While some were tightening horse-girths,

And some were girding swords.

The trumpet-blast has sounded

Our footmen to array–

The willing steed has bounded,

Impatient for the fray–

The green flag is unfolded,

While rose the cry of joy–

“Heaven speed dear Ireland’s banner

To-day at Fontenoy!”

We looked upon that banner,

And the memory arose

Of our homes and perish’d kindred

Where the Lee or Shannon flows;

We look’d upon that banner,

And we swore to God on high,

To smite to-day the Saxon’s might–

To conquer or to die.

Loud swells the charging trumpet–

‘Tis a voice from our own land–

God of battles! God of vengeance!

Guide to-day the patriot’s brand;

There are stains to wash away,

There are memories to destroy,

In the best blood of the Briton

To-day at Fontenoy.

Plunge deep the fiery rowels

In a thousand reeking flanks–

Down, chivalry of Ireland,

Down on the British ranks!

Now shall their serried columns

Beneath our sabres reel–

Through the ranks, then, with the war-horse–

Through their bosoms with the steel.

With one shout for good King Louis,

And the fair land of the vine,

Like the wrathful Alpine tempest,

We swept upon their line–

Then rang along the battle-field

Triumphant our hurrah,

And we smote them down, still cheering,

“Erin, shanthagal go bragh.”

As prized as is the blessing

From an aged father’s lip–

As welcome as the haven

To the tempest-driven ship–

As dear as to the lover

The smile of gentle maid–

Is this day of long-sought vengeance

To the swords of the Brigade.

See their shatter’d forces flying,

A broken, routed line–

See, England, what brave laurels

For your brow to-day we twine.

Oh, thrice bless’d the hour that witness’d

The Briton turn to flee

From the chivalry of Erin

And France’s “fleur de lis.”

As we lay beside our camp-fires,

When the sun had pass’d away,

And thought upon our brethren

Who had perished in the fray,

We prayed to God to grant us,

And then we’d die with joy,

One day upon our own dear land

Like this of Fontenoy.

“Battle of Fontenoy” is reprinted from Historic Poems and Ballads. Ed. Rupert S. Holland. Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs & Co., 1912.


Seán McCarthy Weekend, Queen’s Old Castle/Dealz, Pitch and Putt, Sand Art and A Dresser

A June Wedding

June is high season for weddings. I attended a lovely wedding in Cork on June 21st. The beautiful bride is a cake maker. Her own was a triumph.

Wedding favours when you are from Midleton


The Late Great Seán McCarthy

This is Peggy Sweeney’s songbook. Peggy is the acknowledged best interpreter of a McCarthy song.

Peggy is on the far right in this photo with her sister and her sister in law.

Sean McCarthy was born in 1923 in Sandes’ Bog outside Listowel. He was one of ten children. His was a poor but happy family. His house was always filled with music and singing. It was in the U.S to where he emigrated, that Sean developed his gift for writing and composing. His early childhood in Listowel and his friendship with Bryan MacMahon, who recognised him from the start as a having a special gift, had sown the seeds of a great writing career. He wrote many ballads, poems, books for children, humorous essays and many articles for The Kerryman. His soft Kerry voice was familiar to listeners to Sunday Miscellany for many years. He contributed to many many TV and radio programmes.

He is commemorated every year in Finuge at the festival that bears his name. Find out details of this year’s weekend on their Facebook page

Sean McCarthy Memorial Weekend


Spotted in Cork

How the mighty have fallen. I remember it when it was The Queen’s Old Castle.


A Few Photos from the Munster Championship

Listowel Pitch and Putt course looked splendid for the big competition.

The scamp on the right told me he was playing. He wasn’t.

This local player was playing alright.


Fun New Event in Ballybunion

( Photos from Wild Atlantic Way, Ballybunion sand art events on Facebook)

A new record for a new event; the most people doing the same sand art picture at the same time. The record which stands at 207 will, no doubt, be broken before the summer is over.


An Old Dresser

Do you remember when every kitchen had one of these or one very like it?


Tarbert’s 1916 Memorial

Old schoolbooks and a poem to make you smile

Christopher Bourke of Mallow Camera Club went whale watching in Union Hall and he got some great photos.


Youghal’s Clock Tower artefacts

On one floor of the restored clock gate house in Youghal are lots of bits and pieces, relics of life in this residence in years gone by.

This is a shaving station.

An old manual sewing machine and inch tape. Every house had a sewing machine back in the day when we made do and mended.

This old wireless ran on a battery in the days before electricity.

This cheesey poem was  typical of some in this old  English primer.

Bhí fear ann fadó agus is é ainm a bhí air ná Séadna. I remember it well. It is the story of a poor shoemaker who makes a Faustian pact with the devil but in the end outwits him and escapes with his life.

I remember this one too. It was full of essays like Lá sa Phortach.

Gateau of Mutton in the Cookery Book sounds more appetising that it was.

Take half a look at these ads. How did we survive at all?

Through the window at the top of the gate house, you can see twentieth century life going on as usual.


Share a Smile

This poem by Spike Milligan is doing the rounds on the internet. In case you missed it, here it is


Feale Sculpture in Listowel Town Square


Stylish Local Wedding

I slipped into St. Mary’s Listowel on Saturday July 29 2017 to get a peak at the very stylish nuptials which were in progress. Anne and Micheál and all their wedding guests looked resplendent.

This was the beautiful entrance setting.

I met Liz and Mags of Finesse Bridal just leaving the Square having helped put the finishing touches to another beautiful Listowel bride.

Lucky guests were treated to freshly made ice cream cones after the ceremony.

Family Wedding in Listowel

Cliona Cogan on the balcony of  the bridal suite of The Listowel Arms Hotel on her wedding day, May 20 2017. In the background is The River Feale and Listowel Racecourse.

Saturday May 20
2017 was a popular day for weddings. In the U.K. Pippa Middleton, sister of the
Duchess of Cambridge married her fiancé, James Matthews,  in Kenmare Alannah McGurk, daughter of Miriam
O’Callaghan and her ex-husband  Tom
McGurk married former Galway footballer Fiachra Breathnach and in Italy Lottie
Ryan, daughter of the late Gerry, married her husband Fabio Aprile for a second
time (the first time was a low key civil affair which the couple did in
secret). The wedding of the day with a Listowel connection was the McKenna
Cogan wedding in St. Mary’s , Listowel.

Let me tell you
without fear of contradiction that Listowel is the best place in the world to
organize and hold a wedding. St. Mary’s is a beautiful church which can be
downsized to accommodate a small ceremony as well as being the ideal venue for
a huge wedding. The hotel and all the local wedding suppliers are the cream of the crop.

My Kanturk family posing outside the church for the “real” photographer.

I’ll tell you a
bit about the wedding day suppliers we dealt with.

The Listowel Arms
Hotel were a delight to deal with from day one. Patrice, Asyia and all the
staff were super efficient and obliging . The hotel itself is charming, warm
and welcoming.  Asyia took lots of lovely
photos which reached us long before the official  ones. 
Her photos at the hotel entrance show how intimate, local and compact
the place is for a wedding.

The dining room
was stunning. The backdrop of the racecourse and river Feale lent an exotic air
to the snaps of the top table.

 The food was delicious, the service excellent,
the speeches were short and entertaining, the favours of Lily O’Brien
chocolates (from Newbridge) and my book (from Listowel) were appreciated by the

Dancing to Kildare
band Transmitter went on until the wee hours and, in a lovely local touch,
Damien from Jumbos made a late night delivery of some local delicacies beloved
of the bride and her friends and mentioned in the groom’s speech.

Weddings nowadays
are two day affairs. We all decamped to the Cliff House in Ballybunion for our
day 2 and there we had a night of chat, finger food, some music and a few
drinks. The happy couple headed for  a
London minimoon on Tuesday. Highlights of this included 2 afternoon teas which
were gifted to them by wedding guests. Andrea and Alexandra treated them to tea
in The Shard. This is “the height of fine dining”. The restaurant where they ate is on the 32
nd floor and the food is as spectacular as the views.  Alex and Andrea are Erasmus friends of
Clíona’s and their friendship has stood the test of time and distance.

Many years later here they are in St. Mary’s Listowel with Alex’s daughter Aoife .

The second teatime
experience was  in Harrods. They even got
a complimentary chocolate cake for dessert in view of the fact that they were
on honeymoon.

A far cry from Jumbo’s Listowel!

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