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

Teampall Bán

Beautiful butterflies and moths photographed in Ardgillan by Éamon OMurchú.


Teampall Bán

Teampall Bán has been undergoing some changes so I was delighted to have an opportunity to visit with my houseguests. It is always an opportunity for a history lesson and a time for reflection on our many blessings in life today.

Killian and Cora are standing at the magnificent new gate sponsored by Beasley Engineering. As you can see the painting isn’t quite finished yet.

The Celtic Cross is beautifully repainted.

Last time I visited the gable wall mural was looking a bit shabby. This time it had been painted over. The mural with its dark sky and gaunt crosses added a sombre air to the place and was very much part of the experience for me. Maybe they will be able to get someone to redo it.

The tree of contemplation.

The “scores on the doors” are blood chilling.

The quiet little chapel is perfect for prayer and reflection.

It’s hard to call a place of such awful sorrow a visitor attraction. In the manner of war cemeteries and and holocaust museums it is a reminder to us all of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. I believe we should market it more. It’s a truly hauntingly beautiful place. Credit for its upkeep goes to Listowel Tidy Towns and friends.


Flocks of Birds

Thank you, Rose McGinty for sharing this


R.I.P. Sinead O’Connor

A verse of a traditional song in tribute to the sweetest singer of them all

I’ve seen the lark soar high at morn,
Heard his song up in the blue.
I have heard the blackbird pipe his note,
The thrush and the linnet too.
But there’s none of them can sing so sweet,
My singing bird, as you,
Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah, Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah
My singing bird, as you

Below is the poem Sinead’s brother, Joseph, said at her funeral ceremony. Sinead, in her internet rants, was wont to refer to her f…ing family. There is no doubt her family loved her dearly, if she could only have believed that.

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire

When I’m walking with my sons

Through the laneways 

Called ‘The Metals’

By the train-tracks. 

And he sings among the dandelions 

And bottle-tops and stones, 

Serenading purple ivy, 

Weary tree-trunks. 

And I have it in my head 

That I can recognise his song, 

Pick him out, 

I mean distinct 

From all his flock-mates.

Impossible, I know. 

Heard one blackbird, heard them all. 

But there are times 

He whistles up a recollection. 

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire – 

And I’m suddenly a kid, 

Asking where from here to Sandycove 

My youngest sister hid. 

I’m fourteen this Easter. 

My job to mind her. 

Good Friday on the pier – 

And I suddenly can’t find her. 

The sky like a bruise 

By the lighthouse wall. 

We were playing hide-and-seek. 

Is she lost? Did she fall? 

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire 

And the terror’s like a wave 

Breaking hard on a hull, 

And the peoples’ faces grave 

As Yeats on a banknote. 

Stern as the mansions 

Of Killiney in the distance, 

As the pier’s granite stanchions, 

And Howth is a drowned child 

Slumped in Dublin Bay, 

And my heart is a drum 

And the breakers gull-grey. 

The baths. It starts raining. 

The People’s Park. 

And my tears and the terns, 

And the dogs’ bitter bark. 

There’s a blackbird in Dun Laoghaire, 

And I pray to him, then, 

For God isn’t here, 

In a sobbed Amen. 

And she waves from the bandstand, 

Her hair in damp strings, 

And the blackbird arises 

With a clatter of wings 

From the shrubs by the teahouse,


Where old ladies dream 

Of sailors and Kingstown 

And Teddy’s ice-cream. 

And we don’t say a word 

But cling in the mizzle, 

And the whistle of the bird 

Getting lost in the drizzle. 

Mercy weaves her nest 

In the wildflowers and the leaves, 

There are stranger things in heaven 

Than a blackbird believes. 

– Joseph O’Connor, 2010 



Young Houseguests


Hurling and Knitting


  1. Mary Hanlon

    Mary that was sad but beautiful The Singing Blackbird brought tears to my eyes!
    Thank you also for acknowledging the wonderful work being put into a project very close to my heart Teampall Ban ❤️
    Since Beasleys wonderful gates went up Stary O’Shea (as he is known as!) Has cleaned up the marble sign ot the entrance and T.Ts have cleaned up inside. Brendan Lynch C.E.Participant has also finished the painting! The Cross was skilfully painted last year by John Curtin. So great efforts. Thank you Mary

  2. Sue

    Not a cheerful post today, Mary. Still I thank you for sharing the story of Teampall Ban and the poem by Joseph O’Connor. Very touching.

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