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Your Are Here - Home > Counties > Kerry County > Listowel
Listowel (Lios Tuathail, "Tuathal's fort", in Irish) is a market town in County Kerry, Ireland, and is situated on the River Feale, 28 km (17miles) from the county town, Tralee. The combined population of Listowel Urban and Rural Districts is 22,668; the town itself has a population of 3,901 (CSO census 2006).

The town is sometimes described as the "Literary Capital of Ireland", and a number of internationally known playwrights and authors have lived there, including Bryan MacMahon and John B. Keane.

History
In July 2000, Listowel was officially designated as one of Ireland's 26 "Heritage Towns" - in part because of modern environmental and renewal works, but also because of its architectural heritage and "historic importance".

Lartigue Monorailway -
A unique part played by Listowel in Irish railway history is that of having hosted the world's first monorail operation. The Listowel and Ballybunion Railway was built to the Lartigue system, with a double-engined steam locomotive straddling an elevated rail. It connected the town with Ballybunion. Coaches, with a compartment on either side of the rail, had to be kept balanced. If a cow was being brought to market, two calves would be sent also, to balance it on the other side. The calves would then be returned, one on either side of the rail. In 2003, a 1000m long replica of the original monorailway was opened.

Listowel Castle -
Listowel’s long history dates back to 1303 where it first appears in the Plea Roll. Fortress to the Fitzmaurice family, the town developed around Listowel Castle and its significant Square. The last bastion against Queen Elizabeth I in the Desmond campaign, Listowel Castle was built in the 15th century and was the last fortress of the Geraldines to be subdued. It fell after 28 days siege to Sir Charles Wilmot on the 5th November, 1600, who had the castle's garrison executed in the following days.

The castle became the property of the Hare family, the holders of the title of Earl of Listowel, after reverting away from the Fitzmaurices, Knights of Kerry. It is now a national monument.


Sport
The origin of Listowel races can be traced back to an annual gathering at Ballyeigh, Ballybunion, about nine miles from Listowel. This event, which can be traced back to the early nineteenth century, consisted of a variety of games, horse-racing and a pre-arranged faction fight which concluded the event. Due in no small part to the disturbances surrounding these faction fights, the meeting at Ballyeigh was suspended and racing transferred to Listowel, where the first meeting took place in 1858.

It is now the joint longest racing festival in Ireland, at 7 days in duration the same as the Galway races and second in attendances only to that great event. It is the last major festival of the Summer and the last one before Christmas so the crowds make the most of the festivities. Traditionally it was the meeting where the farmers of Ireland came to spend/gamble the money they made from the harvest but it has since grown into something much larger and more wideranging than that and everybody and anybody now attends with a warm Kerry welcome guaranteed to all.

The Listowel track consists of a 1 mile, 2 furlong mile oval left-handed track with National Hunt fences and hurdles. The hurdle course is adjustable after each day's racing to give new ground. The track has been extended over the last number of years to allow extra race permutations and to enable our Festival Meeting in September to extend to seven days. The Listowel Racecourse is located adjacent to the town and is within easy walking distance of the town centre.

 
 
Killarney
Tralee
Kenmare
Listowel
Cahersiveen
Dingle
 
 
     
     
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Listowel
In: Kerry
People: 3,901
Speak: English, Irish
Type: Market Town
GPS: -9.486179, 52.446594