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: Wild Atlantic Way

A Forgotten Corner of Town

Convent Street


Slua Hall Corner

Casa Mia and Morkan Tiles


Slua Hall


An Eviction

An incident from the life of Mick O’Callaghan in Gorey

Mousey Post  Box

I must say that I love going to the post-box because it is full of surprises and variety. It can present me with bills, birthday cards, appointments, and disappointments and quite often also a blank vacant box. This vacuous space contained within the 12x8x4 is a snug little space and keeps all our post dry and secure until we open it to collect mail.

Imagine my horror when on one morning lately I went out to collect the post and I saw the flap had been left open. I imagined that any post would be damp and sodden but instead of this I was confronted by the sight of several little mice staring up at me and being attended to by mother mouse. The flap had obviously been left open, and the pregnant Mrs Mouse had crept in to deliver her mischief of little mice into the world.

Little mice are my biggest fear, and I am totally allergic and panicked by them.

I was like stout Cortez when he stared with eagle eyes after he had discovered the Pacific.

I had been about to insert my hand, but discretion beat valour when I realised that my six. new tenants were not going to be evicted too easily or mother might not take too kindly to me disturbing herself and her mischief. They probably had some tenancy rights under some rare, outdated mouse protection act with no immediate eviction allowed.

Senior management was waiting for mail and called from on high to see if we had gotten any post that morning. I plucked up the courage to tell her that someone had left the flap open and that we had newly arrived tenants in the post box. She immediately shouted down that I could just hush out the spider and close the flap and then I gave her details about the mischief of newly arrived tenants. 

Well, you never in all your days heard such eeing and ahing and get rid of them. I am constantly telling you that this could happen if you let a lid or door ajar. I plucked up enough courage to tell her that I had not collected the post the previous day, so the decibels were lowered, and a solution had to be found.

We thought about mouse poison but that was shelved. I suggested getting some traps and catching them but that was ruled out as they were too young. Then I had my Tom and Gerry moment when I suggested that we bring our cat Whiskers down and release them to her mercy, but I was reminded that some could escape into the garden.

Following that I thought about Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘The Early Purges”. He was six when he first saw kittens drown, Dan Taggart pitched them. It was about throwing kittens  into a bucket of water as 

“cruelty talk cuts no ice in towns 

but on well run farms pests had to be kept down.”

That suggestion was quickly dowsed down on cruelty to mice grounds, and we were now getting desperate for a solution when I had my lightbulb moment with my environmental protection and sustainability hat on.

I suggested that we take down the post-box, seal it with tape and place it in a large, tied plastic bag, bring it out in the car to a large field remote from houses and release our newly acquired mischief of mice and let them take it from there which we did. We procured the necessary wide tape, a secure strong white, hole free plastic sack and we were ready for action.

Major subterfuge was required for this delicate transportation and evacuation sortie in north Wexford.  We had to decide whether to do it under cover of darkness or in the evening.

We finally opted to depart at dusk. We pulled in at a gate into a huge field and operation mother mouse was quickly performed and the front-line mouse disposal troops were stood down. We brought bag and post box back home where it is now safely attached to the wall again with a suggestion that we spring load the flap.

Please don’t rat on me.    It was only a mousey little job.

Mick O Callaghan


Enjoying Listowel Connection in Australia

Every now and again I will be approached by someone who recognises me and knows lots about me even though we have never met.

This happened in Listowel Garden Centre on Saturday October 21 2023. The man who recognised me is Jackie Leyne. Jackie reads Listowel Connection in his home in Australia. He left Listowel at age 18.



Lovely Sunday morning stroll with my weekend visitors


A Fact

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is the longest coastal driving route in the world.


More of my Photos of Graham Norton’s Audience and an incident at the convent school in 1887

Bromore on National Media

Mike Flahive shared this photo of himself, his wife, Eilish and piper, Danny Houlihan with Cian McCormack of RTE

Rte reporter Cian McCormack is cycling along The Wild Atlantic Way. Yesterday Wednesday June 21 2017 he cycled through Tarbert where he visited the Bridewell and spoke to Joan Murphy about problems common to Tarbert and other struggling small towns. She mentioned rural broadband and lack of public transport as two of the problems besetting small towns up and down the country. Cian passed by the crooked cross and called in to Kennelly’s. Alan told him how Ballylongford had gone from a thriving village with each street fielding its own team in the street league to a place that now has to join with nearby village to make up one minor team. There is no new child enrolled in the local National School for the next school year.

Then Cian cycled along his merry way to Ballybunion and he talked to two people who are trying to do something about the decline. Local historian and 7 times all Ireland champion piper, Danny Houlihan and local farmer and entrepreneur, Mike Flahive, told him about their tourism offering.

The Bromore Cliff Walk is well worth a visit and you will get to meet Bart, “the friendliest horse in Ireland.”


People I photographed on their way in to Graham Norton, Listowel Writers Week 2017


Manchester Guardian Nov 2 1887

A few days ago I featured a letter to the Manchester Post concerning the inability of Listowel girls to sing God Save the Queen. The letter writer was reacting to the following story in The Manchester Guardian of November 2 1887.    (Paddy Keane did the research on this one)

Notes on Listowel

(from our special correspondent)

” There is in Listowel a great convent school where (the number is illegible) girls are being educated by the nuns. The peculiarity of such a school is that the lower and the middle classes are  mixed together in a way which would be impossible in England. With some English friends I went over the whole school.

We went into the big schoolroom and there we heard the girls read and I must say that for justness of intonation and clearness of expression I have never heard such good reading in any English school. They read out of Goldsmith’s Deserted Village and I noticed that the girl who was reading substituted Ireland for England in the line

“A time there was ere England’s griefs began.

When every rood of ground maintained its man.”

Lastly we had recitations and singing. A row of girls recited some patriotic lines, wearing the while a green flag. Their glowing eyes and their excited gestures showed how much they felt their words. After they had sung to us we asked if they could sing God save Ireland. There was no doubt as to the response. The sister in charge of the music instantly sat down at the piano and struck into the melody. The girls sang as if they wanted to lift themselves off the ground. When they had finished and were all aglow with excitement, we asked for one verse of God Save the Queen. Nobody knew it and it was clear that nobody cared to sing it. “They will sing it at some future time.” gently said the Mother Superior.”

St. Vincent de Paul, Ballybunionand the Easter dues in the 1950s

Man at Work    Photo by Janusz Trzesicki

Mallow Camera Club has some excellent photographer members. The theme for their last monthly competition was People at Work. It elicited some marvellous images. One of my favourites is this from Janusz Trzesicki.

Janusz is a super photographer who photographs everything including weddings and sporting events.

Below is another of his photographs from a recent Kanturk rugby match


Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Listowel

Kay Landy was photographed for the Kerryman with other long serving volunteers at their recent celebration. I snapped her in the Second Time Around shop in Upper William Street with two of the newer volunteers. Listowel should be proud of the work they do and the services they provide.


Nearly Done


Evening in Ballybunion

Saturday April 9 was one of the best days of 2017 so far. The sky was clear and the weather was warm and balmy. When I got to Ballybunion with my visitors the crowd on the beach was beginning to thin out but it was evident that people had been in the water. Others had been sun bathing and there were a few sandcastles still standing on the beach…… a welcome taste of summer.

My visitors obligingly struck the now obligatory jumping pose at the WAW sign.

We watched the sun set from the vantage point of our table upstairs in Daroka where we enjoyed an excellent meal.


Sisters and Friends

I met Tena and Rochelle walking (yes walking) by the river.


with Jim Costello down memory lane

Jim Costello in his lovely memoir takes me back to my childhood. Our experiences and the experiences of many of our contemporaries were very similar.

This is what he says about “the dues”.

“…..The announcements at Sunday
mass often consisted of the reading of the priests’ collection. Each townland
was read and all who paid were named, starting with the highest payee, for
example; townland of Asdee-£1 each (names of people) 10 shillings each  (names of people), 7/6 each (names of
people). The amounts paid were gradually reducing until the people who paid the
least amount were mentioned last. People whose names were not read had not
contributed at all and there was more interest in the people who did not pay
than in the amount which people actually paid.”

Ballybunion on the Wild Atlantic Way and Daffodil Day 2017

Deirdre Lyons took this brilliant photo on her climb of Corrauntoohil.


Cork in the last century


Ballybunion on the Wild Atlantic Way

 When I was in Ballybunion with my visitors, there were tourists taking photos at the WAW sign. I noticed that it spells Ballybunion with one n. I hope that, in due course the road signs will also revert to this more popular spelling of the town’s name. The golf club never changed.

Below is the corner of town sponsored by the club.


A Busy Bishop

Belfast Newsletter  Tuesday, October 14, 1834; 

The Lord Bishop
of Limerick—The amiable  prelate has
returned to this city, after a toilsome confirmation tour through the principal
part of his remote dioceses in Kerry, on which duty his Lordship was
accompanied by his  domestic chaplain,
the Rev. R. Knox, Chancellor of Ardfert, on whom devolved the preaching of the
confirmation sermons. The numbers confirmed by his Lordship were  as
follow:—Killarney, 150; Tralee, 360; Tarbert, 150; Listowel, 86; Dingle, 75;
Caherciveen, barony of Iveragh (O’Connell’s town). 81; Milltown, 242—Total,

His Lordship has, from unavoidable circumstances, been obliged to
relinquish his intention for the present of holding confirmations at
Castleisland, Kenmare, and Millstreet ; but he will visit each of those places
early next year. The Bishop has resolved on making an annual missionary  tour through his dioceses for the purpose of
preaching in the different churches, and in order to facilitate this intention,
he is now in treaty for a residence in Killarney.—Limerick Times.


Daffodil Day 2017

As I was in town on the morning of Friday March 24 2017, I photographed some of the hard working volunteers who were doing their bit to raise vital funds for the work of The Cancer Society.

Michael Sheehy R.I.P. and Dr. Michael O’Connor of The Square

Vincent Carmody remembers his friend, the late Michael Sheehy R.I.P.


For me, Race Week 2013 did not have the same resonance as previous
years. Some weeks previous, news came through of the death of one of my closest
and lifelong friends, Michael Sheehy of Main Street, Listowel and Yonkers, New
York. Michael or Mike as he liked to be known, liked nothing more than to
return to his home town for race week accompanied by his wife and best friend
Mary, daughter Kerry and sons Patrick and John.

Even though he was lost to emigration, first to London and then to New
York in the early 1960s, he remained a true son of Listowel. A long time member
of the New York Kerryman’s Association, he was, over those emigrant years, to
the forefront when it came to organising and collecting for many fundraisers back
in his native town.

He was the second born of a family of five boys to Jack and Moira (nee
Madden) Sheehy who ran a small grocery and meal store.

Michael had his early education at the local National School, afterwards
St Michael’s College and the Listowel Technical School in Church Street where
he completed a commercial course. He often told me the days spent at the Tech.
were the happiest of his life as it allowed him to express his many footballing
talents at both local, on the schools senior football team, and nationally as a
key member of the Kerry Vocational Senior Team. He was a free scoring forward
on both the Listowel minor side who defeated a star studded Ballylongford team
in the North Kerry Minor Championship final of 1962 and the North Kerry team
which won the Kerry Minor Championship in the same year. He was also a
formidable player with the Listowel soccer team and could mix it with the best
at both tennis and handball.

Michael was a modest man who could see fun in most things and was never
afraid to have a laugh at himself; perhaps this is personified in the following
story which he liked recalling when we spoke. It was of a time in 1961 when
there was a revival of the Listowel hurling club. The senior team were due to
play Abbeydorney in a curtain raiser to the Kerry vs. Roscommon senior football
tournament game at Listowel on May 28th of that year. At that time a
crowd of 5,000 would attend these matches. The Listowel team had arranged a
workout game against Lixnaw in Lixnaw the Wednesday evening prior to the match.
At the game Listowel found themselves a man short and Michael, then 17, having
travelled as a spectator and never having played competitive hurling
previously, was pressed into action as goalkeeper. As he said himself, whether
it was luck or bad shooting by the home team’s forwards he kept the goals
intact, so much so after the game the selectors told him that he was picked to
play in goals the following Sunday.

Always the perfectionist, Michael spend every available chance the following
days down at the ball alley, alone, with a hurl striking ball after ball off
the back wall and catching the return, as he said, “getting eye co-ordination”

The following Sunday he made his début ‘as the man between the
posts’.  For five minutes, things went
fine, then, disaster struck, a high ball came sailing down towards his goals,
Michael lifted his camán and instead of catching the slioter went to bat it
tennis style, result, the slioter nestling at the back of the net, Michael
berated himself, “Why didn’t I catch it like I was doing down at the ball
alley?”. Worse was to follow. In the space of the next ten minutes four more
balls sailed past the Listowel custodian. Then followed  the humiliation of the keeper as he was
called ashore before the large crowd. As he left his goals, the goal umpire
sympathetically shook Mike’s hand and said, “You should have blocked two of the
goals” to which Mike sarcastically replied “I should have blocked the whole
bloody five.”

For the record Michael was replaced in goal by his great friend and
fellow Church Street neighbour, Tony Barrett. Since then, Michael humorously
would point to the fact that Tony was himself caught for three goals.

To his wife Mary, sons, Patrick and John, daughter Kerry and their
respective families, his brother’s Martin, Pat and Jerry we send our deepest
sympathy on their great loss.

Requiem Mass for Michael was said in St
Brendan’s in the Bronx. Michael is buried In The Gate of Heaven Cemetery
in Westchester.


Ní imithe uainn atá sé ach imithe romhainn, (he is not gone from us but
before us) 


Liam Dillon’s Church St.

This lovely painting job was done by Chute Bros. of Listowel


Seen at Listowel Races

This family of Cork O’Sullivans were connecting with the Kerry side of the family at The Races.


Gleasure letter

September 6, 1911

From: May Gleasure, The Square, Listowel

To: Frank Gleasure, 437 Cambridge Street Allston, Mass. U.S.A.

Dear Frank,

A few lines hoping they will find you in good health, we were in a very bad state here for the last week, since the 28 August, father was under an operation on the 29th. the fillum of the bowls was coming out. On the night of the 28th he felt it coming on him about 12 oclock before he went to bed. He went to bed anyway and never raised any alarm and it got fearful bad with him in such a way that the doctor told him that it was a miracle or the will of God that he did not die although George was in the same bed with him he never said what was wrong with him for he used to get it before but he was able to put it back himself. About 7.30 next morning I went into him and asked him what was wrong and he told me he had great pains and that he was done for and was going to leave us, you may be sure that he frightened me. I said that I would go out for the doctor and he would by no chance leave me. I delayed about an hour and went out of my own accord & brought him in. and he saw it once that it was a very serious case. he went and got another doctor and my father had to force him to operate on him. they did it anyway and it has turned out successful so far, the fillum was 4 times its natural size and about the length of your finger of black diseased part, if it swelled the least bit more that it would burst. He was the strongest man that they ever came across to say that he did not die and the way he was in the night before. We have got a lovely doctor attending him his name is OConnor. he come’s in 4 or 5 times in the day and he would not let one of us do any thing to help him only does it all himself. only the way he is attending him we should have got a nurse, we sent out for my grand mother for we have to stop up with him every night since and can’t leave him for a minute by day. I think he will pronunce him out of danger tonight he is splendid now, the wound is all healed up almost. And he is taking lots of good nourishment but of course no solid food. For the doctor is trying to get the bowls to move first. Nobody is allowed to see him only Adam and a few more near relations like him. I was full sure that we would have to be sending for you when I saw the way he was. Hoping you will write as soon as you get this I remain Your loving Sister M.G.

Jer. Kennelly speculates that the Dr. O’Connor referred to is possibly Dr. Michael O’Connor who lived in The Square.

 Jer tells me that Dr. O’Connor was  interned in Ballykinlar, Co. Down in 1920.


People are encountering these roadsigns in their travels around the country and have been contacting news media to find out what they mean. One helpful commenter on The Journal suggested that the signs meant  Kerry Drivers Ahead, another suggested “Collapsible Bridge Ahead and another, Drunken Caterpillars Crossing. One person suggested that the signs were in Kerry because only in Kerry are North and South not in polar opposite directions.

The answer to the puzzle is this. The signs refer to The Wild Atlantic Way, the scenic drive along the west coast from Malin to Mizen. 

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