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LISTOWEL, a post-town and parish, in the barony of IRAGHTICONNOR. county of KERRY, and province of MUNSTER, 17¼ miles (N. E.) from Tralee, and 134 (S. W. by W.) from Dublin, on the road from Tralee to Tarbert; containing 4957 inhabitants. This place, according to some authorities, derives its name, originally Lis Tuathal, or "the castle of Tuathal," from Tuathal, one of the earliest kings of Ireland; and according to others, from an old Danish fort in the immediate vicinity of the town. This castle was the last that held out for Lord Kerry against the troops of Elizabeth during the Desmond insurrection; in 1600 it was assaulted and taken by Sir Charles Wilmott, who put all the garrison to the sword. Upon its surrender, the eldest son of Lord Kerry, then five years of age, was carried away privately by his nurse, who contrived to make her escape, but they were discovered in their retreat and the child was sent by Sir Charles to the Lord-President. The town is situated on the right bank of the river Feale, over which is a handsome stone bridge of five arches, each of 50 feet span: it consists of a spacious square, in the centre of which is the church, and of one principal street, from which some smaller streets branch off. The total number of houses, in 1831, was 273, of which many are well built and of respectable appearance; several new houses have been recently built, and there are two good hotels. Fairs are held on alternate Wednesdays, and also on the 13th of May, July 25th, and Oct. 28th, chiefly for cattle, sheep, and pigs. Salmon is very plentiful. The river Cashen is navigable for boats of 15 tons' burden within 2½ miles of the town; a canal with four locks would extend the navigation to the bridge. Behind the castle, on the river Feale, are the extensive flour-mills of Messrs. Leonard and Co., producing annually about 8000 barreis; and there are smaller mills at Island Gariff, also on the Feale. A chief constabulary police force is stationed in the town; a manorial court is held by the seneschal of Listowel every third Tuesday, and petty sessions every Thursday. There is a neat bridewell, and it is in contemplation to erect a court-house.

The parish comprises 7009 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, and valued at £3351 per ann.; it is completely encircled by a large tract of bog and morass, which might easily be reclaimed by lowering the bar at the mouth of the river. The soil is remarkably fertile, and the neighbourhood is celebrated for producing wheat of superior quality; the system of agriculture is greatly improved, and limestone is found in several parts and quarried chiefly for burning. The principal seats are Tullamore House, the residence of C. Julian, Esq.; Gurtinard, of S. E. Collis, Esq.; Dromin House, of Jas. Raymond, Esq.; Grenville, of W. G. Sandes, Esq.; Bedford House, of S. S. Raymond, Esq.; and Ennismore, of J. F. Hewson, Esq. Ballinruddery, the seat of the Right Hon. Maurice Fitzgerald, Knight of Kerry, is partly within this parish, but chiefly in that of Finuge, under which head it is described. A new road to Abbeyfeale and Newmarket was completed in 1829, under the superintendence of Mr. Griffith, the Government Engineer, which has been productive of great benefit to the district through which it passes, and in conjunction with the Government roads recently completed on the confines of the counties of Kerry, Cork, and Limerick, will contribute much to the improvement of this neighbourhood.

It is a vicarage, in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, forming part of the union of Aghavallin; the rectory is impropriate in Thos. Anthony Stoughton, Esq. The tithes amount to £197. 10. 8., of which one-half is payable to the impropriator and the other to the vicar. The church, which is the principal one in the union, is a handsome structure in the later English style, with a square tower surmounted by a neat spire, and is strengthened with buttresses terminating in pinnacles; it was erected by aid of a gift of £500 and a loan of £1000 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1819; the area surrounding the church which is enclosed by a neat iron railing, is about to be enlarged and planted. In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district comprising also portions of the parishes of Finuge, Galey, Dysart, Duagh, and Kilshinane. The chapel was built at an expense of £2000 on a site at the south-western angle of the square, given by the Earl of Listowel; it is a handsome and spacious cruciform structure, with a good portico, and the altar-piece is richly embellished. The parochial school, in which about 60 children are taught, is partly supported by the incumbent; there are two private schools, in which are about 50 children; and a large national school-house, with apartments for a master and mistress, is about to be erected. There is a dispensary in the town. Some very interesting portions still remain of the ancient castle, the front of which occupies part of the western side of the square, and formerly extended to the river; but the rear, which contained some noble apartments, was taken down several years since. The two square towers in the front are, near their summits, connected by an arch, which, from its great elevation, has a very imposing effect; and in the wall is a projecting stone with the remains of a sculptured face, supposed to have been a portrait of McElligot, the architect. The castle formerly belonged to the family of Fitzmaurice, of Duagh, to whose ancestors it was granted by Hen. II., together with the lands of Lixnaw and Clanmaurice; and the manorial rights were purchased from the late Earl of Kerry by the father of the present Earl of Listowel, who takes his title from this place. The ruins of the old church and the burial-ground adjoin the Tarbert road, in the vicinity of the town.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1840 by Samuel Lewis