Snapshots of times past in the town

LAUNCHED before Christmas, local historian Vincent Carmody's second book 'Listowel: Snapshots of an Irish Market Town 1850 - 1950', has been immersing readers in the town's past over recent weeks.

It's a remarkable chronicle of the evolution of a market town through modern times. But far beyond that, it is an intimate and loving overview of the human life of Listowel - documenting so many families, characters and streetscapes.

The almost swashbuckling figure of Ballylongford man Michael Mason riding his cart and horse into market provides a stunning opening pic to the inside pages. Taken in the 1950s it has a smattering of the Wild West about it and, as an example of one Listowel scene, testifies to how lively the town must always have been.

Books like this one make it easy to get rosy-eyed about the past. We know how poor many people were of course, but simply looking at the happy faces - even those in barefeet - it's clear that many were fairly rosy-eyed themselves at the time.

It's a huge testament to the town that it retains so much of the character evident in the photographs contained in Vincent's masterwork.

We can only offer a tiny selection of the stunning range of pictures - of people, streets, buildings and the beautiful receipts and invoices of businesses of yesteryear. But it's probably clear to everyone that no Listowel home - whatever part of the world it may be in - should be without a copy of this tome. It's a landmark production, beautifully put together, that will go down as one of the greatest references on the modern history of the North Kerry capital.

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