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

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Renewable Energy, Teacher Retirement, Cloch Liath and wartime in Cork

Harp and Lion

October 2019


The Future of Energy

They’re still laying the gas pipeline in Listowel.

A North Kerry wind turbine


One from the Archives…..A Teacher Retirement 

Photo credit: John Stack

Mary O’Flaherty and her husband with members of the board of management of Presentation Secondary School, Listowel on the occasion of her retirement. I can’t remember the year. R; Gemma Hannon, Mike Sheehy, Sr. Nuala O’Leary R.I.P. Mary Cogan, Owen MacMahon and Leo Daly


This Surprised me!

Recently someone lent me a book commemorating 100 years of The Cork Examiner. It was full of pieces of history that I had forgotten and some that I never knew. Below are two photos of women making and packing cigarettes in a Cork factory during the war.

Cigarettes were used as a panacea in the trenches


All Getting Pretty Real Now

Here I am in Mallow with Catherine O’Flynn of Philip’s Bookshop doing a little promotional work for my signing there of November 2.


Cloch Liath (from Islandanny School in the Dúchsas Folklore collection)

Cloch liath applies to a well known stonesituated in an ancient earth-work in the town land of Shrone-Beirne 3/4 of a mile NE of Kilmorna in the property of Mr. Tom O’Connor. It was standing but was knocked down by fortune-hunters.


The stone is the shape of a coffin and is in a Fort. Old folk had it that a Knockanure man dreamt of gold under the stone. In the middle of the night he came to seek it, but in lifting the stone it fell on him, breaking his leg. He died next day. There are many tales of men and women appearing there and leading others into the Fort.


Máire Bean Uí Catháin
T. O Connor
Shronebeirne, Co. Kerry

The Convent Bel, Preparing for the Races, l and Ballydonoghue WW1 Event

The King of all Birds

Photo: Chris Grayson


It’s That Time of Year

It’s THAT time of year.

The Kerry flags are out for the All Ireland Final. The children are back in school and Moriarty’s are putting up the lights for the Harvest Festival. And it’s still only August.

The Convent Bell

The old bell from The Presentation Convent has been installed at St. Mary’s Church.


“At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them”

We remembered them; soldiers of WW1 on Saturday August  24 2019 in Ballydonoghue, Co. Kerry.

In a moving ceremony organised by Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine Committee, their descendants and friends remembered the young men from the parish who soldiered in that “war to end all wars”.

Many of those who served in the British Army came home to a very changed North Kerry, where the upsurge in republican feelings meant that they dare not speak of their ordeals in the trenches and where their heroism and sacrifice were never celebrated.

When I arrived in Lisselton, preparations were in full swing. The National flag was at half mast and local people and participants in the pageant were arriving. Stevie Donegal was setting up the sound system, David Kissane was setting up his ladder in order to get a good vantage point to record the event for posterity, Noelle and Kate were preparing grub in the catering tent, Colette was making sure everyone had their lines.

Jim Halpin’s list of soldiers had pride of place. Many stopped to read the names and to talk about men they remembered. It was strangely reminiscent of pictures we are used to seeing of people in towns in England scanning the lists of the fallen that used to be displayed publicly after battles.

On Saturday August 24th 2019 children from local schools read out the names of the fallen and then, one by one descendants and relatives of some of the Ballydonoghue soldiers told us of their exploits in foreign fields. As well as the British Army, many fought in the US army or with the Australian army.

Some of the soldiers were remembered in great detail. Some memories were more sketchy as people struggled to remember relatives who rarely spoke about this part of their lives. We also remembered those who didn’t make it back to North Kerry and those who have no relatives left here to remember them. The day was spiced and made more poignant with songs and poems.

Then it was time to lower the flags  and play The Last Post.  Tom Dillon, our MC, told us that the Last Post is played at close of day to signal that the soldier’s work is over, he has done his duty.

A wreath was laid, the flags were lowered, we observed a minute’s silence, the piper played Reveille  the national flag was raised, we sang the national anthem and the colour party was led by the lone piper back down the lane from whence they came. It was a very moving ceremony and a credit to all the organisers and participants.

WW1survivor, John Moore, Café Hanna , Young Adult Bookfest 2018 and Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine

Photo: Jim MacSweeney


A Soldier of the Great War and many other wars as well (and with a Listowel connection)

On the centenary of Armistice Day, Tom Dillon, who is our local war expert, gave an entertaining and educational talk on some local aspects of WW1.

Present at that lecture was another local historian, Martin Moore. Martin had contributed some of his family memorabilia to the exhibition that accompanied the talk. On Facebook I found that he had talked to his dad on Armistice Day about the family hero of the war.

Here is what Martin wrote on Nov. 11 2018

“First World War ended 100 years today, one of the greatest conflicts of humankind. This was remembered tonight at a most dignified event organised by historian Tom Dillon and hosted by Cara. It was nice to sit down with my dad who is nearly ninety years. His uncle John served with the New Zealand forces in those eventful years ..from Gallipoli, Egypt and France. He survived the War even though wounded in 1917. One of the lucky ones. John Moore’s army life brought him to the 5 Continents and he was decorated by the King of Serbia along the way!! 

Remembered on this day by his family”

Martin Moore’s picture of his father, Michael holding photographs and medals of his uncle, John.

It sounds to me like there is material for another history talk in that man’s life. 


Lovely Old Photo

(Taken by Johnny Hannon R.I.P.)

I’m sure there are people who immediately recognise these ladies.


Listowel Food Fair 2018

Listowel Food Fair is going from strength to strength. This year I had lunch for the over 50s in Allos, brunch in Café Hanna, a demonstration of Lithuanian cooking in Scribes, the food trail to Jumbos, The Listowel Arms, John B.’s and Lizzies and on Sunday I enjoyed the craft and food market. I only got to a faction of the many events organised for this year’s event.

If you like getting dressed up, there was a gala dinner in The Listowel Arms with a kind of Oscars of the food world. There was a grand opening too and all kinds of talks and demonstrations. If you missed it this year be sure to put it on your list of marvellous festivals in Listowel for 2019.

I met Carol and Phil at the brunch in John R.’s Café Hanna.

Cliona McKenna was my dining companion.

This was the super menu. We both had the eggs Benedict and pancakes, me blueberries, she red velvet.

Here is Billy McSweeney telling me yet another tale.


Listowel Writers’ Week Young Adult Bookfest 2018

This marvellous one day event began life a s part of Listowel Writers’ Week June festival. The timing was not ideal for secondary school students who were usually doing end of year exams at this time. It was decided to change the date and this new stand -alone one day event took place for the first time in 2017. It was such a success that this year’s event sold out in jig time.

On November 16 2018 over 800 secondary school pupils, mostly Transition Year and Fifth Year students gathered in Listowel Community Centre for a feast of educational and entertainment.

Máire Logue is seen here commissioning two of the outdoor volunteers for their traffic duties. As you can appreciate buses and cars had to be marshalled into position to make sure everyone got to the venue safely and on time.

John Kelliher took this photo of the outdoor crew, Jim Dunn, Mike Lynch, Rose Wall and Tom Dillon. They did a great job in fairly showery and cold conditions.

 Liz and Elma were busy directing the audience to their allocated seats.

Seán McCarthy and Joanna O’Flynn helped early arrivals to take a selfie.

 Eilish Wren and Mairead Costelloe were busy meeting and greeting.

Rhona Tarrant was MC for the day. Here she is looking over her notes on the running order.

Teachers, Mary Twomey and Gerard Tarrant were enjoying the day.


Ballydonoghue Parish Magazine 2018

Saturday morning November 17 2018 and Eason Listowel gets its first drop of Ballydonoghue Parish Magazines

The people behind this magazine have brought us another cracker. Parish magazines are becoming a rarity. It’s hard to find dedicated people to collect the stories, take the photographs, edit, proofread and lay out the journal. And then they have to launch and distribute it. Its a mammoth task. I take my hat off to the great people who keep Ballydonoghue Parish going year after year.

Each year’s publication is eagerly awaited by the Lisselton diaspora. Postage charges have gone through the roof and it means that to buy a magazine and post it is now costs the bones of €30. I beg you to continue sending it. It means a lot to people missing home.

I caught up with the delivery detail again as they made their drop in Flavin’s of Church Street.


+ R.I.P.  Weeshie Fogarty+

Photo: Radio Kerry

Feale, Childhood Friends, Rose of Tralee 2019, a holy well and Armistice Day Ceremony in Listowel

River Feale, November 3 2018


Childhood Friends on Facebook

Bernard O’Connell of Listowel and Canada posted this great old picture on Facebook.

far left Mary Brosnan, Katrina Lyons, Myself, Noreen Holyoake, Mary Lyons, Mary Carmody, Maura Moriarity


Big Year next year for the Rose Festival

(Photo and text from

NEXT year is a very special one for the Rose of Tralee International Festival as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

It’s already been announced that there will be no regional finals and centres will put forward a Rose every two years (apart from Kerry, Cork and Dublin) resulting in just 32 Roses coming to Tralee next year for the festival.

Now, in another change, it’s been decided that the Festival will move back a few days. It will start on Friday, August 23 and the  2019 Rose of Tralee will be announced on Tuesday, August 27.

For the past number of years the Festival has started slightly later than mid-August (this year it began on August 17), but next year will bring it closer to what it used to be years ago, with the winner announced closer to the end of the month.


Holy Well in Tarbert

from the Dúchas folklore collection

There was a blessed well in Jim Woulfe’s field and one day they washed clothes in it and that night the well changed out to Tom O’Connor field which was two fields away. People used go there on Sundays and especially Sundays of May. Some people used go there to get cured from some disease they had and they would leave a piece of cloth of the bushes round the well. There used also around the well three times to every rosary they would say. It is called Sundays Well. If you were to be cured at some wells you would see a fish.
Eileen Shine
Gortdromasillahy, Co. Kerry


Armistice Day Centenary in Listowel

On Sunday Nov. 11 2018 the Listowel History Society organised a moving commemorative ceremony to honour all the North Kerry men who served in WW1. In the church, after an evocative memorial mass, local school children read out the names of men from their area who had died in the Great War.

I dont know if other people saw something very poignant in the sight of this drummer boy. 

Drummer boys were part of armies as far back as history goes. They were originally tasked with ensuring soldiers marched in time. By the time of WW1 these young boys (they were not actually soldiers as they were usually under 18) were more like regimental mascots. But young and all as they were, they went into battle alongside their regiment and many of them died.


Wreath laying Ceremony at the war memorial stone.

Sunday November 11 2018

Wreaths were laid.

The tricolour was lowered and then raised again.

The bugler played the last post.  We stood for two minutes silence and we played the National Anthem.

And we remembered.

John Stack shared with us this photo of those who were part of the Armistice Day Ceremony in Listowel on Sunday, November 11 2018


The Ball Alley Today

A blank canvas

William Street neighbours, Visiting Artist in Olive Stack’s and more from Athea

Photo; Mike Enright


A Photo from Paul Murphy’s Album

This photo, which Paul Murphy sent to me, was taken on William Street outside Murphy’s Butchers

Tommy Murphy, on the right, and  Berkie Browne, in the centre, were both butchers who had shops next door to one another and Danny Kelliher on the left, worked in Murphy’s. Tommy, judging from his attire, wasn’t working on this occasion.


Deb Aldo is Excita and Delira to be in Listowel

Deb Aldo is a mosaic and landscape artist, who is currently in residence in Olive Stack’s Gallery in Main Street. When I called into the gallery she was chatting to Kathy from Gurtenard House.

My photos are of some of Deb.’s work in Olive’s window. She is blogging her trip at Excira And Delira

Deb took this photo outside the gallery on Friday. The Cinderella carriage was on its way to a wedding in St. Mary’s.

 Deb followed it and managed to get a short spin. You can read all about this, her trip to Gurtenard House and lots more in her really interesting blog.


Athea’s Fairy Trail

Since I was last in Athea someone has put a commemorative plaque to Con Colbert and Bobby Sands near the entrance to the Fairy Trail.

My boys thought the place looked very bare since last time. Back then the trail was very overgrown.

 We are always anxious to see if there is anyone in residence in the bug hotel.

 Yipee, this is the first time we spotted a bug on holiday in the Bug Hotel in Athea.

The boys did not have too many worries to leave behind with Cróga but they posed for my picture all the same.


Lest we forget

Today on November 11 2015,  100years on from WW1, we remember all those who died in conflicts everywhere.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

May the sod rest lightly on all their souls.

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