Tucked away on the most northern peninsula of picturesque County Kerry is the bustling heritage town of Listowel. Internationally renowned for its Listowel Writers’ Week, the town draws the literary and wider arts community together at the beginning of June each year to present a world-class programme of readings, lectures, interviews and debates, as well as art exhibitions, theatre, pub trails, tours and guided walks. The name ‘Listowel’ derives from the Irish, Lios Tuathal, which means ‘Tuathal’s ringfort’. It is a market town in County Kerry on the river Feale, the largest river in North Kerry. The population of Listowel town is 4,802 (cso sensus 2016).
This unique festival, which celebrates its 49th Festival in May/June 2019 is the birthplace of many of Ireland’s prominent writers past and present including John B Keane (The Field), Bryan MacMahon, George Fitzmaurice, Seamus Wilmot, Brendan Kennelly, Gabriel Fitzmaurice and Maurice Walsh (The Quiet Man).
You will see evidence of Listowel’s literary heritage all around you as soon as you arrive in this colourful, lively market town. Why not start your cultural odyssey by enjoying lunch or taking in a little shopping in the Kerry Writers’ Museum – a splendidly restored 19th century Georgian residence in the town’s magnificent Square, which presents the works of the great Kerry writers and where you will be taken on a journey of discovery and be immersed in the world of rich characters, humour, romance and tragedy drawn from the towns and villages of North Kerry.
Stepping outside, you will immediately see the impressive St John’s Theatre & Arts Centre, housed in a former Protestant Church, and where you might decide to watch our afternoon or evening theatre events, or visit an art exhibition. Listowel Writers’ Week is only a 15 minute drive from the beautiful seaside town of Ballybunion on the Wild Atlantic Way, where you can stroll on the magnificent cliffs or take a plunge in its famous Seaweed Baths. Perhaps a half-day Historical Bus Tour is more your thing. Our very popular annual tours visit a different part of North Kerry every year, with stop-off points at places of literary and historical interest.
To round off the night, why not join our Literary Pub Trail and let us take you on a drama-filled tour of the hostelries of Listowel and perhaps end up at John B Keane’s Pub (still run by the Keane family). The pub is where John B Keane wrote all his famous works including Big Maggie and Sieve and where you can share a toast with writers, poets, comedians, actors and the locals of course! One thing is certain, you will come away from your visit with an awareness of the people and places that shaped Kerry’s literary genius and a lasting sense of the famous Magic that is Listowel.