Things to Do
The Seanchaí is a visitor attraction in the Heritage Town of Listowel which presents the works of the great Kerry writers in a unique audio-visual experience. Located in a 19th century Georgian residence in Listowel’s magnificent Square, the Centre features five of the County Kerry’s most esteemed writers – John B. Keane, Bryan MacMahon, George Fitzmaurice, Brendan Kennelly and Maurice Walsh.
The writings of these national and internationally renowned literary figures are filled with an abundance of rich characters, humour, romance and tragedy drawn from the towns and villages of North Kerry. The words of the writers will make you laugh and cry, but above all you will come away from your visit to Seanchaí with a sense of the people and places that shaped Kerry’s literary genius. Open 7 days from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm – Last tours at 4.30 pm.
Situated in the heart of Listowel at 7 Church Street, Woulfe’s Independent Bookshop is a traditional bookshop for the discerning individual. The bookshop offers a wide range of interesting stock and includes a large Children’s Department as well as Antiquarian Books with an emphasis on Irish titles. There is also a good selection of audio books, cds, greeting cards and quality stationery. The bookshop’s very friendly and knowledgeable proprietor Brenda Woulfe will undertake searches for out-of-print books and will post worldwide, a special book to a friend or relative.
Tel: 068 21021
- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday: 10.00 am. – 5.00 p.m.
- Thursday: 10.00 a.m. – 8.00 p.m.
Occasional lunch time closures may be necessary. Details will be available at the library.
Located adjacent to the Seanchaí Centre in The Square, this 15th century Castle overlooking The Square was built as a fortress by the Anglo Norman Earls of Kerry, the Fitzmaurices. It ceased to be a significant defence in 1559. Two architectural features are worthy of not – there is the unusual two turrets joined, a feature shared with Bunratty Castle in County Clare. The other, that of the sculptured head is thought, by some, to represent an ape rather than a person. Credence can be given to this if one believes the legend relating to Maurice’s second cousin, Tomás an Ápa, father of the first Earl of Desmond. The story goes that after the Battle of Callan in 1261 Tomás was cared for by an ape who was a household pet. And there are other legends – and the protruding stone with its sculpted head holds the secret.
The Fitzmaurice family began what was to be a long association with Listowel Castle at the end of the 13th Century. Though the principal family seats were at Ardfert and Lixnaw, Listowel was of tremendous strategic importance to them, since they were constantly feuding both with their neighbours, the Desmonds and the O’Neills, but also with the Crown Forces.
Since Listowel Castle was built on the North bank of the River Feale, where the river could be forded, it provided a stronghold to control the movements of visiting would-be marauders across the Anglo-Irish neighbours – the English Crown ignored them all, happy to accept only nominal allegiance. But the end came on the 5th November, 1600, when, after centuries of turmoil, the Castle fell to an English force under the command of Sir Charles Wilmot after a 28 day siege. So, the Castle fell and a village began. It later grew into a town – Listowel. All that
remains of this national monument is a fine façade, which originally was the guards and servants quarters.
Recently renovated by the Office of Public Works, guided tours of the Castle are available daily from June to September and can be arranged through the Seanchaí Literary & Cultural Centre.
The Lartigue Monorail and Museum
The Lartigue Monorail and Museum offers visitors of all ages the opportunity to experience and learn about a truly unique form of rail travel. Designed by Frenchman Charles Lartigue, the original Lartigue Monorail ran for 12 kilometres between Listowel and Ballybunion, The only monorail system of its type in the world, it operated from 1886 to 1924, carrying passengers, livestock and sand balanced on either side of its central rail.
Since 2003 a full-size replica of the Lartigue locomotive with two carriages runs on a kilometre of elevated rail near the original Listowel site. The line has two turntables, where the loco is turned manually, and several switches and loop sections.
The journey begins and ends at the Monorail Museum, housed in the old main-line Goods Store. Here visitors can view film footage from the early 1900s of the original steam-powered Lartigue, as well as browsing models, displays and memorabilia of both the Lartigue and the main-line railways.
Listowel Community Centre & Town Park
Established in 1984, the Listowel Community Sports Centre is situated in the Town Park, surrounded by woodlands on the banks of the famous River Feale. There are lots of activities for all the family to enjoy: Children’s Playgrounds Pitch and Putt Golf, Outdoor Adult Exercise Machines, Tennis, Gaelic, Rugby and Football pitches unique Garden of Europe, Nature Trails, River Walks . The Centre offers a range of services and facilities: NEW indoor multi-purpose sports hall, Gym, Sauna, Steamroom, Birthday Parties, Bouncy Castles/Obstacle
Courses Fitness Classes, Training Rooms. Free bus and car parking.
The Garden of Europe
The Garden of Europe, Listowel’s – hidden treasure, occupies a secluded former landfill site in the Town Park. In 1995 it was transformed into Garden of Europe to commemorate, with the rest of Europe, the ending of World War II. Twelve mini-gardens, one for each member of the European Union, are filled with over 3000 trees and plants. The garden also has a bust of the poet, Schiller, and Ireland’s only Holocaust Memorial. The garden is also a winner of the Tidy Towns National Landscapes Award.