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

The Carnival

The Small Square looking towards the Square in August 2023


A Beautiful Shopfront in Main Street

The colourful corner pieces at either side of the nameplate are unique to here. Notice how Martin Chute signed his name in tiny writing. He should be announcing it loud and proud. Beautiful paintwork!

The sign writing is superb.


My photographs don’t so it justice.


The Carnival

In 1940s rural Ireland the annual village carnival was often the social highlight of the year. My interest in revisiting this phenomenon came about because of this photo.

To recap, this is Maria Stack wearing a vintage dress first worn at a carnival queen dance in 1948.

I enlisted help and went on a search for the back story. Thank you Margaret, Lisa and Anna for the hard work and the enjoyment.

The information about this carnival came from this invaluable local journal published in 1990, full of great local lore. The book is, of course, no longer available, but Anna in Kanturk library sourced the article in the local studies archive.

The carnival in question was held in Kilcorney, Co Cork in 1948. This was the second year of the holding of this three-day event. The selection of the carnival queen and her ladies -in- waiting was made at a dance in early June. The 1948 Kilcorney Carnival Queen was the lovely Mary Ring of Horsemount. Margaret, her daughter, took this photo out of its frame to photograph it for us.

The photograph was black and white but had some colour added later. Behind the photo in the frame was this.

A precious souvenir of one of the highlights of a young girl’s life.

The queen and her ladies were dressed in regal costumes with crown and sceptre for the festival as they presided over events like horse trotting, climbing the greasy pole, football matches and in 1948 a huge attraction was the mysterious Madam Know all, who, with the covert aid of a local assistant, could read very accurate fortunes in her crystal ball.

The Queen for the duration of the festival travelled on horseback or was carried with her royal entourage in “a four wheel car pulled by two beautiful steel grey horses”. The car was usually used for carting milk to Rathcoole railway station.

I loved reading the journal’s detailed account of the carnival and its picture of rural life in the days before mechanisation and technology.

There were carnivals and carnival queens in the areas around Listowel. Id love to hear the stories or see the photos.


There’s No Place Like Home

John McElligott welcomes home his niece, Helen (Gore) Mitchell.


They Did It!

Photo from the official announcement on Aug 26 2023

This extraordinary bunch of people organised a day Listowel will never forget. They assembled a record breaking number of people dressed as Dolly Parton in Páirc Mhic Shithigh, Listowel on June 25 2023. In the process they raised €74,670 for two great local charities, Kerry Hospice and Comfort for Chemo. 1,137 people took part in the fun challenge and many more made donations.


A Fact

This “fact” was sourced in a book called “Strong Absorbent Trivia for the Toilet” so don’t blame me.

On average a woman utters about 7000 words in a day while a man uses just over 2,000.



Listowel and Ballybunion



1 Comment

  1. Eleanor Belcher

    I never knew that the street where Listowel Travel is called Main Street. I thought it was the Small Square!

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