Tourist Information Office St. John\'s Church, The Square Listowel Kerry Republic of Ireland
About this listing
Set on the banks of the River Feale, the North Kerry town of Listowel has its origins in a fortress developed by the Fitzmaurice clan. And at its heart remains the 15th-century Listowel Castle, a sensitively restored Geraldine fortress distinguished by its two remaining towers (there were four originally), which are joined by a curtain wall.
Listowel has three interlinking heritage trails, laid out along blue (2.1km), green (1.5km) and red (2.8km) routes signposted through the town. Between them, the trails take in Market Square, the old famine memorial graveyard at Teampall Bán, the five-arch Listowel Bridge (dating from 1829), and the town racecourse (the lively Listowel Races take place in September).
Another stop is the Garden of Europe – an oasis in the Town Park boasting some 2,500 trees from all over the continent. The garden contains Ireland’s only monument to victims of the holocaust.
Listowel was once the terminus of the world’s first monorail system, the Lartigue Railway. From 1888 to 1924, this eccentric track ran between Listowel and Ballybunion, with engines and wagons hanging pannier-like on either side of a central rail. A restored section of the railway, along which visitors can undertake a short journey on the monorail, is complemented by an Interpretative Centre.
For a town of its size, Listowel also packs a mighty literary punch. This was the home of Maurice Walsh (author of The Quiet Man), and Listowel has connections with Bryan McMahon, poet Brendan Kennelly and John B. Keane – whose name you’ll find adorning a popular bar in the town. But then, it’s hardly surprising that a town so close to the Dingle Peninsula and Kerry Head is a source of inspiration.
As Keane put it: “Listowel, where it is easier to write than not to write / Where first love never dies, and the tall streets hide the loveliness / The heartbreak and the moods, great and small, of all the gentle souls / Of a great and good community.”