North Kerry, flat, rich farming land that runs as far as the Shannon estuary, feels quite different from the rest of the county – and they’ve even been known to play hurling rather than Gaelic football up here. Instead of the remote, spectacularly set coastal villages of the peninsulas, you’ll find – or avoid – the traditional, kiss-me-quick resorts of Ballyheigue and Ballybunion, while the county town of Tralee seems quite anodyne if you’ve just come up from Dingle, for example. It is worth making time, however, for Listowel, a characterful small town that’s a hotbed of literary activity.
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LISTOWEL is a congenial market town in a leafy setting on the north bank of the River Feale. It’s best known for its literary associations, boasting an annual five-day festival of literary workshops and events, called, with due poetic licence, Writers’ Week and taking place over the bank-holiday weekend at the beginning of June (wwww.writersweek.ie). Listowel’s most celebrated literary figure is probably the late John B. Keane, author of plays such as The Field, a dramatization of a shocking murder that took place in this region in the 1950s.