Guide to North Kerry

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Travelling through North Kerry


It is only when visitors to North Kerry wonder at our countryside and lifestyle, do we stop to reflect a little on what we have!
Idyllic country lanes, vibrant rural communities, stunning golden beaches, world famous links courses, great literary feats and the natural storytelling gifts of North Kerry locals.

Arriving to Kerry through Tarbert sets the scene! The Killimer ferry is an activity in itself offering the opportunity to dolphin watch enroute. Tarbert is home to the Bridewell, built in 1831 and for more than 100 years it served as a Courthouse and Jail. Its historically informative Exhibition depicts rough justice in 19th Century Ireland. Stop for a coffee in the Ferry House, a 200-year-old building that was once the Leslie Arms.
Heading towards Listowel, experience Moyvane’s Nature Trail and Village Walk. This takes pride of place in the village and has won the Kerry Open Gate Award.
Listowel is regarded as the “Literary Capital of Ireland”. World famous writers such as John B Keane, Bryan McMahon, Maurice Walsh and George Fitzmaurice are the foundation stones for Listowel Writers' Week. A designated Heritage Town, Listowel displays a myriad of wonderful architectural features and these can be viewed on the Heritage Trail. Take in the “Big Bridge” and the “Garden of Europe” that contains more than 2,500 trees and shrubs from all European countries.
Festivals include Listowel Writer’s Week; the famous Listowel Races and Harvest Festival of Ireland; Listowel Food Fair and check out the theatrical events and educational programmes at St. John’s Theatre and Arts Centre. Visit The Seachaí for cuppa or to take a tour of Listowel Castle. Other amenities include the Lartigue Monorail; Pitch and Putt; Golf; Angling, Horse Riding; Tennis; and a Sports Centre.

Heading towards Ballybunion, enjoy the rural countryside of North Kerry passing through Lisselton. Alternatively, should you take the coast road from Tarbert, you will visit Ballylongford, birthplace of one of Ireland's finest poets, Brendan Kennelly. Ballylongford hosts an Oyster Festival the highlight of which is the oyster swallowing competition! Carrigafoyle Castle, a listed National Monument is located on Carrigafoyle Island. Built between 1490 and 1500, it features a spiral staircase of 104 steps that visitors can climb to this very day. Standing 30m high it has stunning views from its battlements.



Ballybunion is truly a great seaside town. Blue Flag beaches, seaweed baths, buckets and spades, sandcastles, picnics, periwinkles, candy floss and blue Atlantic waves with sea breezes full of salty air! The iconic ruined castle on the cliff top separates Men’s Beach and Ladies Beach. There are the famous hot seaweed baths on Ladies beach and on Men’s beach visit the surf school and learn the art of balancing upright on a board while on water! The cliffs over the beach have a scenic walking path, featuring a blowhole, sea stacks and a multitude of wildlife. They are one of the best land based places to view dolphins. The path takes about 20minutes to walk, and goes around to the “Nun’s Beach”, a beautiful beach with no access that is overlooked by an old convent. The famous song the “The Cliff’s of Dooneen” is based on these cliffs

.Ballybunion’s Links Course established the village so firmly on the global map that it brought President Bill Clinton to Ballybunion and his statue, outside the Garda station, is now a reminder of his famous visit. Other favourites are fishing and horse riding. The Tinteán Theatre, regularly hosts shows and plays and the children’s playground is also very popular. Ballybunion Health and Leisure Club offers daily rates to visitors and is open 7 days a week.



Enjoy Ballyduff, a village successful in both Gaelic Football and Hurling.

Close to the village at Rattoo, a Round Tower reaches to a height of 28m and is the only complete round tower in Kerry and dates from the late 10th or early 11th centuries.



Listowel is regarded as the “Literary Capital of Ireland” World famous writers such as John B Keane, Bryan McMahon and George Fitzmaurice are the foundation stones for Listowel Writer’s Week.

A designated Heritage Town, Listowel displays a myriad of wonderful architectural features and these can be viewed on the Heritage Trail. Take in the “Big Bridge” and the “Garden of Europe” that contains more than 2,500 trees and shrubs from all European countries.

The Seanchai Kerry Literary & Cultural Centre

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.

Listowel Bridge

New lights have fitted to Listowel Bridge.


Lixnaw ( incorporating Iremore & Rathea)

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St Michael's Church                                                                                    St Michael's Well                                                                                                         The Hermitage in Lixnaw GAA Grounds

Lixnaw was once the seat of the Earls of Kerry. In 1320 Nicolas, the third baron of Lixnaw, erected the Castle of Lixnaw, built the old bridge, and improved the village. In 1600 Sir Chas. Wilmot and his forces garrisoned the castle and established it as their centre of operations. It was subsequently re-taken by Lord Kerry who entrusted its defense to his brother Gerald, who was eventually forced to surrender the castle due to a shortage of water. Today, nothing remains of the Castle of Lixnaw. An interesting point about the Earls of Kerry is that one of the descendants, later Lord Lansdowne, who was born in Dublin but was largely reared in Lixnaw (except when he was in Eton), became British Prime Minister in 1782. Later Lansdowne Road was named after him and it became the common name for that great rugby stadium in Dublin.

Lixnaw is situated near the River Brick over which there were originally two stone bridges, from which the village got its name.

Places of interest

Korean War Memorial


Erected to honour the Irish soldiers who died in the Korean War. A total of twenty-nine Irishmen died while serving under conscription in the US Army under the banner of the UN from 1950-1953. The monument takes the form of a stone arch, 12 feet (3.7 m) high and 17 feet (5.2 m) wide with three granite slabs on which all 35 names, addresses and dates of death are inscribed. Due to the intricate layout of Lixnaw village, this memorial has proven to be very difficult to find, even for the locals.

St. Michael's Church is a Roman Catholic church designed by Irish architect J.J. McCarthy but more Norman than Celtic in design, due to having to flank the nave with aisles that open off it through robust round arched arcades to the modernised interior.

St. Michael's Holy Well features a statue depicting St. Michael defeating Satan.


Listowel Castle

The earliest castle at Listowel dates to the 13th century but the present castle was probably built in the 15th century by the FitzMaurices. The castle stands on an elevation on a steep bank, overlooking the river Feale, above the location of a strategic ford. A substantial part of the front of the castle survives consisting of two large, square towers of four storeys, standing almost to the original height of 15.3 metres, connected by a wall of the same height and linked together by an arch on one side. A major programme of conservation works has been undertaken at the castle including the provision of an external staircase to allow public access to the upper levels.

Guided Tours:

Maximum number 12

Duration: 40 minutes

Admission: FREE

Please note site is very restricted and can only accommodate groups of 12. All tour groups should pre-book.
Additional Information: Restricted access for visitors with disabilities Contact Details Address: The Square, Listowel, Co. Kerry. Telephone No: +353 86 385 7201 Email:

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Opening Hours19th May - 31st August Daily 09.30 - 17.30 Last admission 45 minutes before closing Facilities Toilets and car/coach park close to site. Toilet for visitors with disabilities in the adjacent Kerry Literary & Cultural Centre. Restaurant Monday - Friday in the Kerry Literary & Cultural Centre

The Lartigue Monorail, Listowel


Located in Listowel, County Kerry, the Lartigue Monorail offers visitors of all ages the opportunity to experience a unique form of rail travel. The original steam-powered monorail (designed by Frenchman Charles Lartigue) ran for nine miles between Listowel and the seaside resort of Ballybunion. Operating from 1888 to 1924, it carried passengers, livestock and freight along a rail supported on A-shaped trestles. It occupies a special place in railway history as the only monorail of its type to operate successfully on a commercial basis. During its lifetime, the original Lartigue Monorail was an object of much interest, curiosity and amusement.

Nowadays, your visit includes a short demonstration journey on a full-scale diesel powered replica of the original monorail. During the journey you will experience the unique features of the monorail and will observe its ingenious switching system. Before or after your journey, you can visit the Lartigue Museum to watch film of the original Lartigue and see models, displays and memorabilia of the Lartigue and main-line railways. The friendly staff, consisting mainly of volunteers, will be on hand to provide information and answer your questions.

The Garden of Europe, Listowel

Opened in 1995, this garden contains over 3000 trees and shrubs. The garden is divided into 12 sections, each of which represents one of the 12 member countries of The European Union at the time of the commencement of the project.
At the lower end of the garden is Ireland’s only public monument in memory of those who died in the Holocaust and to all victims of injustice and oppression The other end has as its focal point a splendid bust of the poet Schiller who was the author of the European anthem, Ode to Joy, which was set to music in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Listowel Writers’ Week Ireland's Premier Literary Festival


Since it’s inception in 1970 Listowel Writers’ Week has been recognised as the primary event in Ireland’s literary calendar. North Kerry is the birthplace of many of Ireland’s most prominent writers past and present including Dr. John B Keane, Dr Bryan Mac Mahon, Professor Brendan Kennelly, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, George Fitzmaurice, Maurice Walsh and Robert Leslie Boland. Writers’ Week festival was established in 1970 to celebrate those writers and to provide an opportunity for Irish writers in general to develop their talents and meet new audiences. The event takes place in a unique atmosphere of learning and celebration which gives new and established writers an opportunity to discuss their work before a national and international audience. Authors worldwide travel to Listowel each June Bank holiday weekend to give readings, lectures and to be part of this very special festival.

When a Listowel man takes a drink from any tap in this lovely town

‘Tis not only water that's going down, but the purified secrets of the dead Flowing into his belly and through his head

No town here or in any land will do this for your body and mind,

Inspiration flows through the graveyard sod

Turn a tap in Listowel, out flows God!

- Brendan Kennelly

St. John's Theatre & Arts Centre Listowel


Theatre, Music, Dance & Visual Arts Centre

St. John's has become a premier venue in the South West for the promotion of a monthly programme of Visual and Performing Arts, featuring the best local, national and international product in Theatre, Music, Dance and Exhibitions. Annually St. John's hosts approximately 160 Arts events comprising of 80 Theatre presentations, 60 Music/Dance events and 20 Exhibitions

John B Keane’s Pub. William St. Listowel


Born in nearby Church Street in 1928, John B. Keane is something of a literary legend in Ireland. This pub which he took over in 1955 is still ran by his widow Mary & son Billy, (he passed away in 2002), It’s almost a museum to the man’s work, with posters of the countless stage productions & films, with many familiar actors, (The film of his play 'The Field’ starring Richard Harris for one), but the best reflection of the man is that it’s a hugely warm & lively, honest to goodness locals pub. Indeed apparently many of the colourful characters that have drank here over the years were source material for John B, s prolific output of poems, plays & novel.

JOHN B's hugely popular summer pub theatre kicks off in the William Street watering hole, with some great entertainment lined up for the months of July and August in the form of singing, storytelling and drama. Now in its 18th year, John B's pub theatre is undoubtedly one of the longest running events of its kind in the country, and will once again showcase a host of exceptional talents over the summer months. Proprietor Billy Keane explained that visitors to the Tuesday night sessions will be treated to some wonderful singing and storytelling from the likes of Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Mick McConnell, Paddy McElligott, Eoin Hand and Claire Keane, while the focus switches to drama on Thursday nights with groups coming from all over the country to take part in this free event. The entertainment kicks off at 9.15 pm each Tuesday and Thursday and is well worth a visit.

"Beautiful Listowel, serenaded night and day by the gentle waters of the River Feale 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. Sweet, incomparable hometown that shaped and made me." John B Keane

The Listowel Races


The Listowel Races. 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 wide ranging than that and everybody and anybody now attends with a warm Kerry welcome guaranteed to all. UPCOMING LISTOWEL RACES 3rd and 4th Jun 2012. Mon 17th Sep to Sun 23rd Sep 2012

Listowel Food Fair


Listowel Food Fair is renowned for promoting local cuisine raising the awareness of the range and quality of Kerry and Irish food products through a variety of seminars, tastings and cookery demonstrations.

Listowel Vintage Wireless Museum


The Museum was opened in 1986 to mark 50 years of Irish broadcasting. 1200 items are on display, there is an extensive collection of receivers, many of which are extremely rare. There is also an accompanying display of wireless paraphernalia: miniature crystal boxes, wireless trade signs, wet and dry batteries, and vintage wireless literature.

The museum is privately owned. Pre-booking is advised. 593d/

Teampaillín Bán (The Little White Churchyard)


The famine graveyard lies about a quarter of a mile outside Listowel on the Ballybunion Road. Teampaillin Bán (the little white Churchyard) is the Famine Graveyard where many nameless victims of the Irish Famine 1845 - 47 were interred in mass graves.

Plasterworks of Pat McAuliffe


Works of Pat McAuliffe The Maid of Erin and The Harp and Lion

Pat McAuliffe (1846 - 1921) left his mark on his native Listowel in the form of some unique items of plasterwork, the most famous of which is The Maid of Erin. This depicts a Romantic image of Mother Ireland surrounded by a harp and wolfhound and other symbols of Eire. Other examples of this craftsman's work can be seen on shop fronts around the town, notably Mai Quinlan's and The Harp and Lion in Church Street.

Accomadation in Listowel:

Millstream House

Millstream House is an award winning B&B run by Nora & Jim Sheahan. Situated just 1.5km outside the heritage town of Listowel, guests are assured of a warm Irish welcome. Upon arrival you can expect to be offered tea or coffee and a selection of Nora's home baked delights. The guesthouse is approved by Bord Failte (the Irish tourist board) and Nora & Jim have been awarded a number of prizes by the Family Homes of Ireland for the excellence of their service.     email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

John R'S Luxury Townhouse Apartment


Self catering Accommodation: This a beautifully maintained apartment in the heart of Listowel town, a few minuites walk from any place in town. It is well equipped and has every convenience with the holidaymaker in mind. This apartment consists of 2 double bedrooms and 1 single bedroom and a sofa  bed in the livingroom, 2 bathrooms, a laundry room, a large well equiped kitchen/dining room and a spacious living room.

Rates from €450 - €800. Phone 00353 87 9259674.


Luxury Accommodation : This is a newly built apartment completed in May 2011 & consists of a double bedroom en suite, a twin bedroom, main bathroom a very large spacious kitchen/dining/living room which contains a double sofa bed.

Rates : €450 - €900. Phone 00353 87 92599674.

Web Site :

E-mail : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Tucked away in the corner of Listowel's historic square, there is a beautifuk Georgian style hotel overlooking the River Feale, full of old worrld charm and character, the perfect venue for your stay in Listowel.

Open fires, wooden floors, crisp white linen, antiques, beautiful floral arrangements and candlelight create a wonderful setting.

The hotels reception room has a backdrop of stunning river views and panoramic Kerry countryside.

Telephone : 00 353 68 21500
Fax : 00 353 68 22524
Web Address :
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