Kerry Writers

Maurice Walsh


Maurice Walsh

Brendan Kennelly




Maurice Walsh, novelist and short story writer was born in the parish of Ballydonoghue, just outside LIstowel on 2nd May 1879. He was the third child of ten and the first son born to John Walsh, a local farmer, and his wife Elizabeth Buckley who lived in a three-roomed thatched farmhouse. John Walsh’s main interests were books and horses and he himself did little about the farm, preferring to have a hired man. The most famous of these was Paddy Bawn Enright, whose name was to be immortalised by Maurice Walsh in his story The Quiet Man (though the name was not used in the movie version). John Walsh passed on to his son not only a love of books but also legends and folk tales and the theory of place that were later to be a feature of many of Maurice’s books.

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Early Years

1901, Scotland

He received his early education at Lisselton National School and then spent two years at St. Michael’s College, Listowel. He entered the British civil service in 1901 and was appointed to the excise department in the Highlands of Scotland. Maurice had always been interested in writing and, during his early years in Scotland, this interest started to bear fruit. He sent off some stories and had two published in the Irish Emerald in 1908. That year also saw his marriage, on 8 August 1908, in Dufftown,Banffshire, Scotland, to Caroline Begg (always known by her nickname “Toshon”).

Local Achievements

The Key Above the Door, 1926

When the Irish Free State was formed in 1922, Maurice transferred to its excise service and moved to Dublin. Fighting was still going on there at the time and he left his family in Scotland until it was safe for them to join him in 1923. The story The Key Above the Door was written during those months of separation although it was not published until some years later, appearing first in Chambers Journal as a serial between December 1925 and May 1926 and then in book form (published by W & R Chambers Ltd) in July 1926. Sales of Maurice Walsh’s books grew steadily, especially in the wake of an unsolicited and generous letter from J. M. Barrie (of Peter Pan fame), praising The Key Above the Door, that Chambers were subsequently able to use on dust covers of Maurice’s books

Brendan Kennelly

Literary career

Trouble in the Glen, 1950

Maurice retired from government service in 1933 but his success as a writer continued. Indeed it was in that year that he first sold a story to the Saturday Evening Post, then a well-known weekly magazine published in the United States. That story (later to be incorporated in the collection of stories published under the title Green Rushes) was The Quiet Man which was subsequently produced by John Ford starring John Wayne & Maureen O’Hara. His 1950 novel, Trouble in the Glen, was filmed in England 1954.

His other novels included While Rivers Run (1926), The Small Dark Man (1929), Blackcock’s Feather (1932), The Road to Nowhere (1934), Green Rushes (1935), And No Quarter (1937), Sons of the Swordmaker (1938), The Hill is Mine (1940), Son of Apple (1940), Thomasheen James, Man of No-work (1941), The Spanish Lady (1943), The Man in Brown (1945), Castle Gillian (1948), Son of the Tinker and Other Tales (1951), The Honest Fishermen (1954), A Strange Woman’s Daughter (1954), Danger under the Moon (1956), and The Smart Fellow (1964).


1964 , Blackrock

Maurice became President of the Irish branch of PEN in 1938 and visited the United States for an international meeting that year as the Irish delegate. His wife Caroline was able to accompany him although she had been in failing health for some years. She died in January 1941. Maurice himself died on February 18, 1964 in Blackrock (a suburb of Dublin) and is buried in the Esker cemetery at Lucan, County Dublin. In 2002 the papers of Maurice Walsh were purchased by the University of Limerick and are available to view in their Literary Archive.


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What people are saying about us
  • Popped in here to escape the rain and get a cup of tea and cake. Very reasonable prices and great service. Then noticed the little hare jumping around on the wall when I used the toilets! Looked very intriguing and prompted us all to buy tickets to the museum. Wow! So worth it as the exhibits and the way it was presented was lovely, really unusual. So informative and so different to other museums. Really good value for money and a real highlight to the town.

    Great Service (Trip Advisor Review)

    – March, 2023

  • Most impressive is how ingrained in both The Creative & local communities The Seanchaí is, from the workshops, coffee mornings & plain old drop ins, To Book launches, poetry recitals, projects & engagements with the local schools. The Seanchaí is a much loved and universally treasured cultural icon. By the inhabitants of Listowel, most of Co. Kerry and West Limerick.

    Mark Ollerhead (Google Review)

    – March, 2023

  • We had requested the 30-minute tour, but happily lingered for an hour longer than we had planned. As we exited, we looked at each other and laughed out loud at our good fortune. We could have so easily missed this experience that left us feeling moved, intrigued and a bit more educated about the Kerry writers. In our delight, we failed to tip our guide but I will be going to your donations page to make a modest pledge in gratitude for our host whose name we did not record to memory.

    Jane Braswell (Google Review)

    – March, 2023

  • Our visit to the Kerry Writers Museum was a very memorable experience from beginning to end. Cara, who was working at the centre that day, was very welcoming and most helpful. The exhibition of the Kerry writers was imaginative and most engaging. The seanchai relating the background stories each writer was magic! A wonderful experience all round.

    Cara (Google Review)

    – May, 2021

  • This museum has been developed with great care and meticulous attention to detail. The audio elements are matched perfectly to the installations which are beautifully presented. The option to activate the audio guides in each room without resorting to the use of handheld devices worked very well. This is a must see/hear for anyone with an interest in Irish writing. There is also a little coffee shop and gifts on sale.

    Beautifully Curated (Trip Advisor Review)

    – July, 2019


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