Rebranded History Festival sizzles in Bank Holiday sun

Hundreds visit Listowel for town's inaugural Bank Holiday History Festival

Simon Brouder

Comic book heroes and villains leaped off the pages of graphic novels and onto the streets of Listowel over the weekend as the town celebrated its rebranded military festival and its inaugural Comic Fest.

Formerly the Listowel Military Tattoo, it returned with a flash bang and a few smoke grenade explosions as the Listowel History Festival - reflecting the huge variety on offer this year.

Given the great weather under which it all played out, Year One of the History Festival certainly hit its mark in a direct strike, bringing loads of Bank Holidaymakers into the North Kerry town for a weekend of fun.

It was as ever a poignant affair too, however. It might have shed the 'Tattoo' part, but it remains true to its original mission in commemorating all Irish soldiers to have served in conflict zones across the globe and at home.

In focus in this year's commemorations were the Irish soldiers who served in the Lebanon over the 40 years of Irelan's part in the UNIFIL peace-keeping mission there. Up to 47 Irish solders paid for it with their lives, something all were mindful of in Listowel on Saturday as the military parade - attended by scores of veterans - culminated in a wreath-laying ceremony.

The ceremony also saw one of Listowel's own - honoured for his years of service in the Irish Army - as festival organiser Damian Stack presented Brendan Healy Lt Col RTD with a special framed piece marking the Defence Forces roles overseas.

Brendan Healy served as a lieutenant in the Lebanon in 1979, at the outset of a distinguished career that took him right across the world; including a stint in Afghanistan in 2003.

The weekend also saw the first ever Kerry Comic Fest held in the Listowel Arms on Sunday with scores dressed as their favourite comic-book characters, from the Joker to Judge Dredd and much more, amid loads of fascinating items and memorabilia that struck a chord with comic fans.

The characters went down a treat with the younger festival-goers in a weekend jam-packed with excitement at seemingly every turn in the sun-soaked town.