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: Will Collins

Writers’ Week 2023

Bridge Road in May 2023


Witty Window

Harp and Lion Antiques in Church Street.


May Images from Childers Park


Choosing Kerry

These lovely people have bought a house in Beale and are relocating there shortly. Unfortunately they will miss Writers’ Week 2023. Maybe next year.


Will Collins, Scriptwriter

This photograph is from 2015 when Will Collins was a guest at The Children’s Festival during Listowel Writers’ Week. In it I am beside Will’s wife Karen and his lovely mom and dad are on the right of Will. Luke is in the buggy.

Will today is even more famous than he was back then. Here’s why.

Will Collins, who grew up a stones throw from my family home, co-wrote an episode of the Star Wars Visions’ series alongside Jason Tammemägi. 

The programme, which is currently streaming on Disney Plus, is titled Screecher’s Reach. 

The episode formed part of an ambitious project that allowed filmmakers and animators all over the world access to the Star Wars universe.

Will’s previous screenwriting credits include the Oscar nominated feature animations, Wolfwalkers and Song of the Sea with Cartoon Saloon.

Will got to live out every Star Wars fan’s dream with a trip to the George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch located north of San Francisco.


Man of the Moment (and girlfriend)

Stephen Connolly, curator of Listowel Writers’ Week 2023, is being helped at every step of his new venture by Manuela.


Saturday June 3 2023

If you join me outside The Listowel Arms Hotel at 10.00 a.m. we’ll take a short stroll to the Tidy Town seat and we’ll have a few songs there.

Then we’ll take the short stroll to the castle steps.

That’s the walking part done.

We’ll be entertained and informed. Hopefully the sun will shine on us and everyone will have a good time. I’m looking forward to it.


Opening Night Writers Week 2023

Opening Night will start at 8.00p.m. The doors will be open at 7.00p.m.

Jack O’Rourke will entertain us. Prizes will be distributed and the John B. Keane Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to distinguished actor, Stephen Rea.

Ger Holland is the official photographer but I’ve got permission to snap some local folk for Listowel Connection.

I’ll be taking annual leave to enjoy the festival and then some more annual leave to recover.

See you back here soon.


Last word on the toilet for now

Tuesday May 30 2023

Nearly there but no electricity yet so unfortunately it looks like it won’t be ready for Writers’ Week.

You saw it here first! the kindly Kerry County Council staff gave me a sneak peak. No super loo this…a bog standard wheelchair accessible public toilet.


Live Aid, Listowel, Ballybunion and Moyvane and some film news

Today is July 13 2015. Thirty years ago  in 1985 on this day two very significant
events took place. One had world significance, the other just changed my small
world forever.

July 13 1985 is now known as Live Aid Day.

“Live Aidwas a dual-venue concert
held on 13 July 1985. The event was organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds
for relief of the ongoing Ethiopian famine.
Billed as the “global jukebox”, the event was held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium
in London, England, United
Kingdom (attended by 72,000 people) and John F. Kennedy
in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, United States (attended by about 100,000 people). On the same day, concerts
inspired by the initiative happened in other countries, such as Australia and Germany. It was one of the
largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time: an
estimated global audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations, watched the live
broadcast.”    Wikipedia

Meanwhile back in Ireland I was in a Cork maternity hospital
giving birth to my baby. She was eleven weeks premature and only two and a half

Never was the difference between the first and third world so
evident to me. Babies like mine were not even being treated in Ethiopia. They
had no hope. Every effort was being put into the healthy ones.

In Cork my little scrap of humanity was placed in an incubator
with her own nurse whose only task was to look after Clíona round the clock.

Today Clíona is thirty.

 Happy birthday, my baby.

“Where are you goin’ my little one, little one?

Where are you goin’ my baby, my own?

Turn around and you’re two

Turn around and you’re four

Turn around and you’re a young girl

Going out of the door.”

The words of the late Val Doonican’s song say everything about how fast
30 years have flown.


Some Random Listowel Buildings in Summer 2015

This premises on Market St. used to be Mary B.’s. The dining part has had various Chinese restaurants over the years and now it is Nanjing Listowel. The licensed premises has changed hands a few times too. It is now Brosnan’s Bar and has recently been refurbished.

O’Connor’s Pharmacy on Market St. is one of the prettiest shopfronts in town.

This building on Main St. used to be Chute’s Bar. In the heyday of the Celtic Tiger this was one of the busiest bars in town. It is now slowly undergoing a change of use and has been recently painted.

The Star and Garter on Church St. is another business that has recently undergone a change of ownership. It is now the bar to go to for craft beer, I’m told.

Next door to The Star and Garter is the New Kingdom, a popular bar with a popular and generous host.

 This is now that stretch of Church Street looks today. The shop at the end is the old Coco, now relocated to William St.

 This is the new look Listowel Garden Centre, well set back from the road with its own parking area.

Changes Hair and Beauty is a thriving business in a very pretty building on Upper Church St.

This is the side view of Listowel Credit Union and the lane beside it on a day when it was, very unusually, free of parked cars. This is directly across the road from Changes.


Ballybunion 2015

McMunns have added this outdoor eating area on the cliff top.


In Athea 

photo: Athea Tidy Towns


Calling Moyvane People

“Historical Walk around Moyvane.

Who remembers Mary Walshe’s Dance
Hall that was once in Moyvane? Did you know it was once possible to get a suit
made without leaving the village with a choice of two tailors? Join us for a
historical walk around the village on Friday, July 17 at 7.00pm. Learn about
all the businesses that once thrived in the village like bakeries, butchers,
harness makers, and the legendary characters who ran them.

The walk led by Gabriel
Fitzmaurice will start at the site of Horan’s forge on the Tarbert Road.
Refreshments will be provided in Brosnan’s bar afterwards where the
conversation can continue. All are welcome to attend.

We will notify people on thisFacebook page if the walk has to be cancelled due to weather.”  (From the internet)


Who he?

This young man’s name is Mark Noonan. 


He has just won awards all round him in Berlin and Galway for his film, “You’re Ugly Too”.


He has a Listowel connection.

Tell me.

Mark is an up and coming film writer and director. He is the nephew of Helen Moylan and Tess Noonan of Listowel.

While I’m on the subject of films, don’t forget that the great Song of the Sea is in cinemas now.

Will Collins, who scripted Song of the Sea was in Listowel for this year’s Writers Week. He is pictured above with Máire Logue.

A Few Final Odds and Ends from the children’s events at Writers’ Week 2015 and The Athea Mural

Remembering a Great Few Days

This is British children’s author, Andrew Cope at the entrance to Listowel Town Park during The National Children’s Literary Festival at Writers’ Week 2015.

U.S. children’s author, Emily Raabe, with Maria McGrath, children’s programme administrator, Irish author, Sarah Webb and committee member, Mairead Costelloe.

Local Xistance Youth volunteers painted faces all day long.

Philip Ardagh in full flight.

Kerry GAA star, James O’Donoghue posed for a photo with some young admirers.

Here I am with Will Collins, his wife, Karen and son, Luke and his parents, Willy and Peggy Collins, my good friends from Kanturk.

Still face painting.

Best selling author of the Darkmouth series, Shane Hegarty signing copies of his book.

Happy days for Cora: face painted, Scellig chocolate lolly in hand and the show about to begin!

Taking a rest after a whistle stop tour of the town

Sarah Webb signing her book for a young fan.

Still face painting…. these young face painting artists were tireless.


How to Behave at The Palace

Should you get an invitation to the queen’s garden party, The Telegraph has a handy guide to a few essential table manners;

If you are seated to the right of the queen, you are the guest of honour and will be spoken to during the first course.

If you are to her left you are of less importance and can expect to be spoken to during the second course.  Whether you are left or right, you never speak first. You speak only when spoken to.

Never touch the queen or any item of her placesetting or cutlery.

Replace your teacup on its saucer after every sip.

Hold your wine glass by the stem.

You may drink wine even if the queen declines. She usually drinks mineral water.

So now you know.


Meanwhile in Athea

I went to Athea on Saturday, June 27 to check in on progress on the forge mural. A little bird (named Jim Dunn) had told me that there were some new figures added recently.

This was the scene, high vis jackets and hard hats everywhere, cherrypickers at every pole and it looked like every ESB worker in Limerick had descended on the village for the day. I had struck town on the day of the big switch on of the new lights.


This is how the mural looks from across the road. The lovely peaceful olde worlde forge scene is now  behind a kind of modern maypole of wires and shiny silver aluminum. Shame!

I ignored the pole and inspected the additions to the work of art. It’s going to be a masterpiece! Even an ugly ESB pole fails to detract from the charming scene from a more slow moving era.

A sleepy yet vigilant dog is now lounging at the feet of the horseman.

The original horse man has been joined by another gentle country man, this time dressed up for a visit to town with collar and tie and good sports coat. He is standing like a man at ease with the world admiring the work of the farrier. This little tableau is just perfect.

Now we discover that our first man is killing two birds with one stone. He is on his way to or from the creamery with his two small churns in the body of his cart.

Meanwhile in the forge the farrier is shoeing the draught horse while the owner is reassuring his animal that it will be over soon. I love the attention to detail  in this horse’s tackling. Look at the winkers, the collar, the hames and belly band…all perfect.

My father died when I was seven and many of my memories of him are with working horses like this.

This man has brought a machine for repair. It looks like a seed drill to me but it could be an implement we called a scuffler.

One of these days I’ll hit Athea when Jim is actually working on this.


Great News for Family Researchers

“It is all good news to-day on the Church records.  Next Wednesday afternoon 8thJuly, the Catholic Church Parish records will be released on their website  by the National Library.”

This good news comes in a blogpost from Kay Caball of  Find My Kerry Ancestors

Click on the link to hear how compiling your family tree has just got a whole lot easier.

  • Old Listowel photos, the Oscars, a Listowel Connection and sport in Tralee

    Listowel in Bygone Days from Denis Carroll’s photos

    At Convent Cross

    The Dandy Lodge in its original location in Bridge Road

    The foundation for the Community Centre being dug.


    A Successful young man with a (very tenuous) Listowel Connection

    This young man is Will Collins of Kanturk.  He is in the news because he wrote the script for the Oscar nominated film, The Song of the Sea.

    Now the Listowel connection; Will is the son of my old Kanturk neighbours, Peggy and Willie Collins.

    People my age and older will remember Bill and Pat Kearney of this parish. Bill was very involved with the Listowel Drama Group. After Bill’s death, Pat lived on in Listowel on her own. One evening she was driving home from Cork when she got a puncture. In the days before mobile phones, the done thing in this instance was to call to the nearest house. Pat did. This house was the home of Willie and Peggy Collins, my lovely neighbours. Being the kind people they are, they brought her in and gave her a cup of tea and some of Peggy’s legendary delicious baking. They changed her wheel and ascertained that it would have to stay in Kanturk overnight for repair. Peggy and Willie would not hear of Pat driving home alone with no spare wheel so they drove to Listowel with her. Pat never forgot their extraordinary kindness to her and she mentioned it often to me. There would be none more delighted than Pat Kearney to hear  that the son of her Kanturk friends is now a famous scriptwriter and if she has any influence above, that Oscar is in the bag for The Cartoon Saloon gang.

    This photograph of Will with his family was taken (not by me) at Kanturk Arts Festival two years ago. Peggy and Willie Senior are on the right.

    I saw the film, in French, during my recent visit to Ciboure. It is a lovely film suitable for all the family. I laughed and cried and was charmed by the story. I won’t spoil it for you by telling you the story but, believe me, it’s a good one.


    A Proposal to bring joy to the hearts of many of our diaspora

    A report recently in the Irish Times outlined a proposal that was presented to Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for the Diaspora. Jimmy is looking into it before bringing it to government as part of a package that includes voting rights for emigrants in presidential elections.

    It is proposed that American Irish young people between the ages of 18 and 26 be offered an opportunity to spend 10 days in Ireland immersing themselves in the culture, language,  history and modern day living conditions of the country to which they claim ancestral allegiance. The trip, which would be free to the participants, would be paid for out of a combination of philantropy and government funding. 

    A similar “Birthright” scheme is in place for young adults of the Jewish faith. This scheme is in place for 15 years and is very successful, creating a strong bond between the diaspora and the homeland.


    All is forgiven

    I took this unlikely picture fro Joe Brolly’s Twitter feed. He is pictured here among some of the greats of Kerry sport at a recent fundraiser for Austin Stack’s GAA club.

    He was brought onto the stage for a “surprise” confrontation with Kieran Donaghy. The whole country knows that Joe, in his role as a football pundit, had famously written off Donaghy in a season when he went on to win an All Ireland and an All Star.

    When asked if he would apologise for the article, Brolly laughed it off saying that it was, in fact, a motivational exercise and it worked. “Didn’t I win him an All Star?” says he. No one could argue with that.

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