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: Writers Week Page 1 of 3

The Seanchaí, Writers’ week 1981and rich Galway men with a Listowel Connection

In the John B. Keane room at The Seanchaí


Front and back covers of Listowel Writers’ Week brochure 1981

And the inside pages


Galway Millionaires with  a Listowel Connection

Galway brothers Luke and Brian Comer
are among the richest men in Ireland, with an estimated wealth of €675 million. 

They are among fourteen individuals
and families either from Galway or currently living here, who have a combined
fortune of just under €1.4 billion.

The Comers are former plasterers from Glenamaddy and
featured in 16th place in the ‘Ireland’s Rich List 2014’, published by the Sunday

The Comer brothers – the main backers
of the  Galway FC League of Ireland team
– earned their fortune by developing properties in the UK in the 1980s, before
buying an extensive portfolio of office blocks, almost 30 shopping centres and
hotels in the UK and Germany.

The proceeds from selling-off some of
their assets have been pumped back into Ireland over the past two years, and
their purchases in Galway include the ‘Odeon syndicate’ site in Eyre Square,
the Connacht Hotel on the Dublin Road, the former Corrib Great Southern Hotel,
the Kingston Hall and Silver Seas apartment developments in Knocknacarra, Bun
na Leaca in Newcastle and Howley Square in Oranmore.

In 2014 they were now valued at €675m – that’s up €300m on
last year.

 (Story and photo: The Connaught Tribune)

The Listowel Connection? Luke and Brian are married to Listowel sisters whom they met when working in Listowel on an extension to Kerry Ingredients in the late 1970s.


St. John’s from the steps of Listowel Castle

Saturday Supplement and The Royal Munster Fusiliers in WW1 and Pigott Poetry Prize

Don’t Miss This

On Saturday morning next, Feb 22 2014 Radio Kerry will broadcast Frank Lewis’ Saturday Supplement  at 9.00 a.m. This programme is inspired by Vincent Carmody’s book, Listowel: Snapshots of an Irish Market Town 1850 to 1950.

Vincent’s walking tour of the town is something every Listowel person should experience at least once. If you haven’t done it, put it on your Bucket List.

Now, Thanks to Frank Lewis and Radio Kerry, you can experience this tour at one remove, by listening to it on the radio.

I am honoured to be part of the tour. I was invited by Vincent to read from Listowel greats like D.C Hennessey, John B. Keane, Joseph O’Connor and Seán Ashe. On Sunday morning, when we recorded the programme, I was in the company of illustrious natives like Jim MacMahon, Kay Caball and Gabriel Fitzmaurice. They all had individual and interesting tales to tell. There also were ordinary people, whose voices we are  less used to hearing on the airwaves like Martin Griffin, Liam Grimes and Diane Nolan. What all these people have in common is that they are North Kerry born and bred. While my love for Listowel is undoubted, my pedigree is not pure. I only made my way to the Kingdom in 1975. But I think people are willing to forget that now and I am proud to take my place among native Listowellians.

Chalk it down: Radio Kerry, Feb. 22 2014 9.00 a.m.

Below are some photographs I took on the day of the recording, Feb. 2nd 2014

The gang are gathered at Jet O’Carroll’s, across the road from Galvin’s off licence and Vincent is telling the listeners the story of the mosaic shop front.

We called to this house, a few doors up from the post office in Upper William Street. In the front room, for we were expected, a candle burned before an icon of De Valera and the walls were adorned by memorabilia from the White House. This house was once the home of Kathy Buckley who, along with 2 other North Kerry girls, worked in the kitchen at The White House during the reigns of 2 presidents.

Back on the street, Brian MacCaffrey, who was married to Kathy Buckley’s niece, told Frank Lewis all about her and her adventures.

Martin Griffin, Brian MacCaffrey and his son, John listen intently while Vincent tells another story.

On Church Street Vincent told us about the place where it was easier to write then not to write. We heard the story of John B.s lovely poem, The Street. Several others of the street’s pantheon of writers were also mentioned.

You will not be able to see this on radio but we got to admire the work of Patrick MacAuliffe and The Cement God and the beautiful handiwork of The Chute Family, Listowel painters for 5 generations.  Vincent told us what John B. used to tell visitors who asked him to explain the significance of the inscriptions in three languages.

Gabriel Fitzmaurice sang, recited and told stories to beat the band.

At John B.’s statue in The Small Square I got to read John B.s account of the Tom Doodle adventure. Liam Grimes was actually there on the night of the great Doodle rally.

We finished our tour at the castle where Diane told us the history of the castle and Joan Mulvihill, who had entertained us with song all along the route, sang one final local ballad. I’m delighted that I recorded it for you.

So here it is again:


This recruiting poster is one of many photographs on a website devoted to Irish regiments in WW1.

Eternal Fame? I don’t think so.


Who is this?

This is Mark Pigott

What is his Listowel connection?

His family roots are in Listowel.

Why is he in the Listowel news right now?

Wait for it! This man is a very very successful business man in the U.S. His company is called Piccar. Read all about it here

AND he has just endowed Listowel Writers Week with a huge poetry prize. This man is a lover of the arts and a philanthropist. He has decided to share some of his vast wealth with poets. He has decided to do this in the form of a prize at Writers’ Week.

Read all about it here:

This huge prize, along with Kerry Group’s  long standing sponsorship of the Book of the Year puts Writers’ Week right up there with the big international Arts festivals.


Something old; something new….. and some Listowel schoolboys from 1966

This is Fumbling Buffoonery with Billy and John Keane in The Square for Writers’ Week…..2005, I think.


Another blast from the past

A group of Transition Year girls in Pres. Listowel providing the music for a Seachtain na Gaeilge Ceilí.


I took these 2 photos at either end of Charles Street in 2005. I took the 2 below in much the same locations in November 2013.


In response to my request for a photo of the 1966 6th class, an email came winging its way from Dan Doyle, formerly of Tanavalla and now living on the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia. Dan had the photo and he has shared it with us.

Dan is at the back, second from right.  I’m hoping that someone will name the boys for us. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know where are they now?


Philomena; The Movie

Definitely the best film of the year, I predict a slew of Oscars for this one.

 I went to see Philomena in Kieran Gleeson’s Classic Cinema in Listowel in the company of friends, all of us who grew up in the Ireland of the fifties and sixties. We all knew of girls like Philomena.

Philomena is based on the true story of Philomena Lee of Newcastlewest, a lovely woman who carried her grief and longing for 50 years.

“It is the story of a wronged woman’s exceptional capacity for forgiveness and how her compassion humbles a man of apparently greater intellectual capability. This is a story of the enduring nature of the human spirit.”

The reviewer I quote above put it very well. I recommend it to everyone.


Maeve Moloney from the US sent me these photos to share with you all.

This is what Maeve wrote;

“These pictures depict my uncle, Paddy Murphy, who died at his home at Bedford Cross in Listowel this past Monday, November 4th, 2013. Uncle Paddy was 97 years old. He was the youngest brother of my Mam, Mary Murphy. There were nine children in their family. Only my Mam and Uncle Paddy were able to live their entire lives in Listowel. Only the youngest of the nine, Esther Lynch, the widow of Dennis Lynch (also of Bedford Cross) is surviving. She lives in London but visits Listowel frequently. The top picture shows, from left to right, Paddy’s daughter, Margaret, Maeve Moloney, Paddy, and Maeve’s sister, Maureen. The bottom picture shows Paddy at home. 

Windows of Wonder; Words and Music; Michael Collins and Ladies Day 2013

Two Dates for the diary

This is actress, Florence Gabriel who plays teacher, Cathy MacMahon in a film of the great Bryan MacMahon story “The Windows of Wonder”

The Listowel premiere of the film will be screened in The Classic Cinema, Listowel on Thursday October 17 at 8.00p.m. The story is a lovely one and the film promises to be a faithful adaptation.

Preview here;

On the previous Saturday, Writers Week are holding what promises to be a great “Listowel Night”

Tickets for this one off gig are available from any Writers’ Week member or from the WW office in the basement of The Seanchaí.


This is Michael Collins’ bicycle. Jer. photographed it on show during the recent Ploughing Championships. For those interested in such things is a 1919 Rudge Whitworth deluxe double bar.

This is Michael Collins addressing a rally without any amplification except the human voice. It must have been all the cycling that gave him the lung power to be heard by all of these.


Still some more from Ladies Day at Listowel Races 2013


And the Listowel Connection?

 Kieran O’Connor, Listowel and New York in the centre of the picture with the cup and some team mates on the Kerry New York Senior Gaelic football team after their great win in  the New York Senior Championship 2013.

Let the Races begin

It’s that time of year again when the skyline over Listowel is dominated by Bird’s Ferris Wheel. Yesterday’s high winds meant that it had to be decommissioned for the day but hopefully it will be in full swing shortly.


This lovely one on Twitter was captioned “The Circle of Life”


 Jrr. Kennelly attended the opening of Daffy Motors in Lisselton and he took these photos on the night.


When Jer. was trawling through the internet for things of interest to Listowel people he came across this interesting photo of two handsome young ladies.

Danbury, CT, 1921,  Catherine Hanrahan née McNamara (1888-1975) and Annie Burns née McNamara (1895-1990). Their half-sisters’ grandfather-in-law William Nolan was from Listowel.


On Friday night last I went to the launch of Billy Keane’s new novel in The Listowel Arms. The launch was a great success. Rumour has it that 1000 books were sold. The entertainment was of a very high standard and we all had a great night.

The book is another matter. Let’s say it is the type of book I would never read and if it were anyone else who had written it I would not have persevered beyond the first chapter. It describes that violent amoral  subset of society we came to know in Love Hate on TV. I have no doubt that such people exist, but I just don’t like to read about them.

I took a few photos at the launch . I’ll share a few today and I ‘ll keep a few more for tomorrow.

Billy  enlisted some of his friends to help out on the night. Máire Logue and her son helped sell the books. They were very busy.

Billy is sitting in the audience listening to Madeleine O’Sullivan introduce the book.

It is a measure of Billy’s generosity that he endeavored to write a personal message in every book he signed.

The Writers Week gang were out in force.

Seán Moriarty was the M.C. for the night, a job he did with great good humour and tolerance.

Here Billy is pictured with his proud mother, Mary, and his brother, John

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