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

Winter Chills, Lyreacrompane, Sr. Aidan Quinlan, Sive at the Everyman and afternoon tea in The Arms

Rough Seas in Ballybunion

The wind was skinning as well.


Lyreacrompane Mass Walk

Photo: Joe Harrington

This was the scene at the recent official first walk on the refurbished mass path walk in Lyreacrompane.


Sr. Aidan Quinlan, A Martyr with a Listowel Connection

The extraordinary story of this exceptional lady was told to me by Mrs. Ella Corridan, née Quinlan. Mrs Corridan was a first cousin of Sr. Aidan and she is justifiably proud of her cousin’s achievements.

Sr. Aidan was born Elsie Quinlan, in Cork. She studied at UCC and obtained a Science degree. She entered the Dominican convent and, after further study, qualified as a medical doctor. She served in the Dominican mission in South Africa until her death.

Mrs. Corridan will never forget hearing of the death of her cousin. She remembers her mother’s awful distress on reading the account in the paper. 

It was a death that shocked the world.

Sr. Aidan was 37 and had been in South Africa for 14 years. She loved the people and they loved her in return.  These were the days of the very repressive apartheid regime, when black people lived in horrendous conditions of poverty and disease and they had no rights. Sr. Aidan lived among them and ministered to them. There are lots of stories of her kindness and her medical interventions which saved many lives. On the day of her death, her car was filled with food and clothes that she was taking to the poor people of her mission.

On November 10 1952, a mob had gathered in Duncan Village , a township in South Africa, to protest against the repressive regime. The ANC was organizing a campaign of defiance and these riots were happening frequently all over South Africa. Sr. Aidan had no reason to fear for her safety because she was on the side of the rioters. But when her car drove into the view of the rioters they saw only a white woman and not their friend. They attacked her car with stones and, while she was still inside, clutching her rosary beads, they set her car on fire. Then came the worst part of her vicious death. They took knives and cannibalised her body. This act shocked South African people and they were thoroughly ashamed of it, apologizing for years afterwards to the family and community of Sr. Aidan.

The police killed many black people in that Duncan Village riot. The killers of Sr. Aidan were subsequently prosecuted, tried and executed. Luckily all of her fellow sisters escaped before the rioters attacked and burned the convent.

Sr. Aidan is not forgotten in South Africa. A community centre in her name has been set up in the township where she worked. She is also remembered by her Irish family and especially by her Listowel first cousin, in whose home a framed picture of this brave lady has pride of place.

Sr. Aidan Memorial Centre in Duncan Village, South Africa


Sive at The Everyman

When I lived in Cork in the 1970’s two of the greats of Cork drama, James N. Healy and Dan Donovan were treading the boards at The Everyman Theatre. I was lucky enough to see them in their prime.

Dan Donovan passed away earlier this year and a blog follower sent me these photos from his biography.


Afternoon Tea in The Listowel Arms

On Saturday afternoon October 20 2018 I was at afternoon tea with some seriously stylish ladies. Here is how that lovely invitation came about.

There is a cohort of ladies in this country whose hobby is putting beautiful outfits together and wearing them to Ladies’ Day events. It is cheaper than golf or skiing, it helps the fashion and retail industries and it adds colour and enjoyment to so many events.

These ladies come from all different parts of the country and from all different backgrounds and over the years of repeatedly meeting up at these events and sharing a common interest in lovely clothes, a friendship has formed.

Where do I fit in? you ask

These ladies come to Listowel Races for Ladies Day and one of them, Anne Leneghan is a lady I know since she was  a child growing up next door to me in Kanturk. I used to take her to school in my old Anglia when I was a teacher and she a pupil at Scoil Mhuire, Kanturk more years ago than either of care to remember. 

Maria Stack and Anne Leneghan at Listowel Arms on Ladies Day 2018 (Photo; Listowel Arms)

Through Anne and her friend, local fashionista and milliner, Maria Stack, I have also got to know another seriously stylish Dublin lady (with a few Kerry connections) Mary O’Halloran.

Mary O’Halloran at Listowel Ladies’ day 2018

At the 2018 Listowel Harvest Festival of Racing, the Listowel Arms held a best hat competition on the evening of Ladies Day at the Races. 

Photo; Listowel Arms on Facebook

Mary O’Halloran won and her prize was afternoon tea for 12 in the hotel. 

Mary invited me to join her, when she cashed in her prize on Saturday last. We had a lovely afternoon. The food was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. 

Mary in the hotel with her daughter, Louise and friend, Caoimhe.

I had a lovely afternoon in lovely company.


October horsefair, Ballincollig Remembers the Army, and a photo of some Kerry legends


Billy MacSweeney Remembers, Leahy’s Corner, and a Listowel Connection to Ireland’s Fittest Family

1 Comment

  1. Unknown

    Lovely read forwarded to me by a niece of Sr Aiden Quinlan. Also great to read about the ladies tea at the Listowel Arms. I have lovely memories of the hotel from my 3 months spent in Listowel this summer. Kind regards, Belinda (Port Elizabeth South Africa

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