County Kerry is one of Ireland's richest counties, in terms of the quality and quantity of places to visit. Most people come to Kerry to see its striking scenery and rich historical and cultural sites. Those looking for evidence of Ireland's long and eventful history are spoilt for choice in County Kerry. Almost everywhere you look there are fine examples of historic buildings.
Scattery Island lies between Kerry and Clare
The county of Kerry can be divided broadly into four main areas: Northern County Kerry, The Iveragh Peninsula and Killarney, the Dingle Peninsula, and the Beara Peninsula.
The village of Tarbert is in Northern Kerry and borders the estuary of the River Shannon it gives the visitor a different experience to the rest of the county. The main town, Tralee, houses the Kerry County Museum, a narrow gauge steam railway, and Blennerville Windmill. Other highlights of Northern Kerry include Listowel, the Medieval Ardfert Cathedral and the Tarbert Bridewell Jail & Courthouse.
Tarbert house the home of the Leslie family since 1690, is a Queen Anne /Georgian period building dating from 1690. It is still preserved in its original form with furniture and pictures from the same period. It is a Heritage house recognised by Irish and European authorities. Notable visitors included Benjamin Franklin who visited Sir Edward Leslie after 1776, Lord Kitchener, Winston Churchill, Charlotte Bronte, Daniel O' Connell and Dean Jonathan Swift.
North Kerry really does offer the complete holiday package. Here you will find Ireland's best indoor visitor attractions, beautiful beaches, golf courses that are ranked in the world's top ten, priceless archaeological gems such as Rattoo Roundtower and Ardfert Cathedral, and a culture rich in music and literature. With its rolling plains and busy market towns, the area has something for everyone, whatever the weather. Fly, drive, or take a train to us and you will be welcomed with legendary Irish hospitality. The locals are very friendly, and always happy to help tourists see and experience the best of North Kerry. There truly is something spectacular for everyone. Of course, Tralee is the county capital, the centre of local government, a town booming at the seams, and world famous for its amazing Rose festival. You could say that, like the sparkling Kerry diamond quartz found at Kerry Head, North Kerry is a jewel in the Kingdom's crown. Of course, Tralee is the county capital, the centre of local government, a town booming at the seams, and world famous for its amazing Rose festival. You could say that, like the sparkling Kerry diamond quartz found at Kerry Head, North Kerry is a jewel in the Kingdom's crown.
The Iveragh Peninsula and Killarney is perhaps the busiest of these areas in terms of places to visit. The 180 Kilometre long road which encloses the Iveragh Peninsula is known as the Ring of Kerry. This route takes at least a day to drive and longer if you intend to spend time visiting some of the sites along its route.
The Dingle Peninsula, though smaller than the Iveragh Peninsula, hold much for the visitor to see. Here you will find the bustling port of Dingle (officially renamed An Daingean in 2005) with its narrow streets and lanes bustling with activity. Ireland's most westerly point, Garraun Point, is located on the peninsula with nothing between it and North America for over 3000 Kilometres.
The Beara Peninsula is shared between County Kerry and County Cork, and this is the southernmost tip of Kerry. Less visited than the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsuala, the Beara Peninsula offers the visitor a quieter alternative to it's northern neighbouring peninsulas.
At a glance information & travel guide for North Kerry:
ABBEYDORNEY: (Irish -Mainistir O Dtorna)
A nearby Cistercian Friary called Kyrie Elison gave its name to this pleasant village, which lies north of Tralee
The Lough lies just inside the Sand Dunes immediate to the South of Ballyheigue. As a site that has habitually attracted rare species of birdlife, this small Lough and surrounding wetland became a household name among the army of people interested in bird watching in all parts of Europe. The attraction for the birds is due to it being a large stretch of open water and that it rests on a limestone base, that the waters of the Lough are brackish (that is, a combination of fresh and saline), and it's location on the western seaboard where it attracts migrants coasting down the edge of Ireland as well as those using the Shannon Valley as a flyway. It is also nearer to America than other potential attractive waters in Ireland or elsewhere in Europe. There has been up to 16 North American birds at the Lough on a particular day, every one of which should have been in Florida or it's equivalent on the far side of the Atlantic. It was not surprising that European birdwatchers were coming in ever increasing numbers with an excellent chance of seeing species that otherwise would require a journey to America and back.
Every year, without fail, some of the following birds were absolutely guaranteed - Killdeer, Pectoral, White-rumped, Stilt, Buff- Breasted, Semi Palmated, Solitary and other Sandpipers, Dowitchers, Green-winged Teal, Baldpates, Bluewinged Teal and several others; some remain for weeks, others for just a few days. Likewise, the Lough was the only site in Kerry where Roughs were commonplace, where such rare European species as Greensandpiper and Woodsandpiper could be absolutely guaranteed as annual visitors.
ARDFERT: (Irish - Ard Ferta, the height of the burial Mounds)
Ardfert Cathedral: here you can see the partially restored mainly 15th century Cathedral. Originally the site of a monastery founded by Saint Brendan (Brendan Moccu Altai) the Navigator in the 7th century, it later became the headquarters of the Anglo-Norman Church in Kerry. The Cathedral retains an Irish Romanesque doorway with fragments of an arcade on each side and stylish lancet windows. There is an exhibition dealing with the churches historical background in the South Transept. A number of ancient tombs and a 5th century carved Ogham Stone can be seen in the graveyard. Nearby is the late 12th century Temple na Hoe (Temple of the Virgin) and 15th century Temple na Griffin (Temple of the Griffin), which on its north wall window-jam carries an image of two winged dragons with crossed necks, apparently an emblem of evil devouring itself.
Ardfert Friary: a Franciscan House, which was founded in 1253 by Thomas Fitzmaurice the 1st Lord of Kerry. It has a well-preserved tower and chancel.
Golf: Ardfert has a 9-hole Golf Course.
ASDEE: (Irish Eas Daoi originally Caislean Eas Daoi - the Black Waterfall).
In this beautiful village one can stop for some refreshments in a pub named Jesse James so called because the father of the notorious American Outlaw was born here.
BALLYBUNION: (Irish Baile an Bhuinneanaigh - town of The Bunnions)
Ballybunion is essentially a seaside resort with several fine beaches and an extensive network of caves. Hot seaweed baths can be had. The remains of Fitzmaurice Castle standing on the promontory at the end of the main beach, has become the towns most recognisable landmark. There are fine views from the ruins to Loop Head and the Dingle Peninsula.
Nine Daughters Hole - on the cliff top walk is a 12-foot wide blowhole, where one can hear the sea crashing on the rocks 100 feet below. In the 13th century an O'Connor chief discovered that his nine daughters had plans to elope with his sworn enemies, the Normans. Furious at what he called their betrayal, he hurled them one by one to their death into the blowhole. To this day the place is known as Nine Daughters Hole.
Golf: Ballybunnion has two 18-hole courses; one of them is world famous. It was here on the 5th September 1998 that U.S. President Bill Clinton played a round of Golf while in Ireland.
BALLYDUFF: (Irish An Baile Dubh - Black Town)
Here one can visit the Rattoo Heritage Museum. It contains local Archaeological finds and houses exhibits covering the history of the area in all ages, including a Bronze- Age ferry - boat carved from a split oak trunk.
Rattoo Round Tower: on the other side of Ballyduff is an exceptionally well-preserved round tower dating from the 10th or early 11th century. These were thought to be bell towers, which doubled as places of refuge for the monks during times of attack. The entrance is several feet above the ground. The ruins of a 15th century church mark the spot where an earlier abbey, founded in 1200AD and taken over by the Augustinian order after two years, was burnt to the ground in the 1600s
BALLYHEIGUE: (Irish Baile Ui Thaidhg - The Town of O'Teige)
Ballyheigue Bay shoals a long way out and due to this many ships have foundered here. "Golden Lyon" the most famous wreck is a Danish ship heading for India bearing twelve large chests of silver bullion among her cargo manifest. Despite the efforts of her captain Johan Heitman and her 87 crew the vessel was driven on to the sands near Ballyheigue Village. The ship was in danger of being looted and the landlord of the area Thomas Crosbie took charge of the situation. An old tower nearby served as a vault for the bullion until arrangements could be made to return it to its owners. Thomas Crosbie died soon afterwards and his widow, Lady Margaret lodged a claim for salvage. A legal battle ensued and the silver remained under guard. Eight months went by and on a June night the Crosbie mansion was surrounded by a gang of 100-armed men with blackened faces. They broke into the vault, shot two sentries and took the chests of bullion away in horse and carts. Sir Maurice Crosbie of Ardfert conducted an investigation and charges were brought against various individuals. The subsequent trial in Dublin in 1735 was overshadowed by suicide, perjury and the suspected poisoning of a witness. The jury returned a verdict of "not guilty". A small part of the silver was recovered. The rest has being the subject of much speculation to this day.
Ballyheigue Castle: giving a distinctive character to the village is- now a ruin. Up to the 16th century the Norman Lords, the Cantillions ruled the Ballyheigue area. They had their Castle and Keep where the present Castle now stands.During the Wars and Plantations of Queen Elizabeth 1st they were dispossessed and the Crosbie family came to power as landlords.They held sway in the area until they sold out during the war of Irish Independence. The present Castle was designed by the renowned architect Richard Morrison and built for Colonel James Crosbie in 1809. It was a beautiful building with panoramic views of the Bay. As the war of Independence progressed the place became a compound during a roundup of local men of the Clanmorris area. This occurrence gave the I.R.A. of that time the valid reason to fire the place so that it would not become an interment camp-like prison. The grounds in recent years have been turned into a golf course and the Castle Façade recently renovated by FAS is retained to front the entrance to the course.
Sir Roger Casement: a bronze statue can be seen nearby, also the small boat that Roger Casement used to land at Banna.
Ballyheigue Beach - on Ballyheigue Beach you had Teampall Fe Thuinn (Church under the waves) - according to legend this Church stood on what was once an island in Ballyheigue bay. This island was the traditional burial ground of a local family the Cantillions. When the island became submerged the family continued to use the cemetery. Tradition held that the corpse was carried to the Muchan na Marbh (Rock of the Dead) on Ballyheigue Beach,where the family ancestors spirited the body away to the island. This tradition continued until the death of Florence Cantillion when a mortal, Connor Crowe saw the ghosts removing Florence's remains to their watery grave. One of the spirits was heard to say "the time has come, a human eye looks on the forms of the ocean, a human ear has heard their voices. Farewell to the Cantillions. The sons of the sea are no longer doomed to bury the dust of the Earth."
Mucklaghmore: or the Mucklagh as it is commonly called, is the dome-shaped rock in the centre of Ballyheigue Bay. Nearly 30 metres above sea level it is virtually impossible to land on and remains a safe home for sea birds.
BALLYLONGFORD: (Irish- Beal Atha Longfoirt - Town of the Long Ford)
Northwards from this town lies the Gothic ruins of Lislaughton Franciscian Friary, built in 1478 by John O'Connor Kerry. The walls of the friary are still intact, and a number of attractive windows and well-preserved sedilia make viewing worthwhile. A fine processional cross from the friary, known as the Ballylongford Cross, is now in the National Museum in Dublin.
Carrigafoyle Castle: to the west of Ballylongford was the main seat of the O'Connors built by O'Connor Kerry, from where he profitably raided ships in the Shannon Estuary. The castle stands over 60 feet high, but only three of its walls are standing as a result of the destructive assault launched by the Cromwellian forces in 1649. It is now being restored. The church opposite the castle dates from the same period.
The O'Rahilly: one of the heroic nationalist figures in the 1916 uprising was a native of Ballylongford, the public house which his family owned was built in 1806 and is still operating as a public house in very much the same as it originally was. Worthwhile visiting to see all the memorabilia. He died outside the General Post Office in Dublin from wounds received in battle.
Brendan Kennelly, the distinguished present day writer, poet and lecturer, was born here also. A Brendan Kenneally weekend is held here the 2nd week in August.
A Regatta is held on 3rd Sunday in July.
An Oyster Festival is held the weekend before the Listowel Races having their own oyster beds nearby. Ballylongford also boast their own Races. (see list of Festivals and Events.)
BANNA: (Irish - Beannach)
This beach which is 5 miles long was also used in the filming of Ryan's daughter in 1968. Here to one can find a memorial to Sir Roger Casement, who was born in Dublin in 1864 to a Protestant father and a Catholic mother. Casement had a great love for his native country and had become disillusioned with colonialism. He organised a consignment of guns from Germany to be dispatched to the Kerry coast in a ship named "Aud" to arrive in time for the Easter rising of 1916.Casement arrived at the same time in a German submarine U-19 and hid out in McKenna's Fort, an ancient ring-fort a few miles from Ardfert, where he was arrested. He was tried for treason in England and hanged on the 3rd August 1916. Eventually his remains were returned to Ireland in 1965 and now rest in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. The "Aud" having been intercepted, was scuttled by her crew and the guns went down with her. The Rebellion broke out on Easter Monday 1916. Banna Strand is an ideal place for shore fishing.
BLENNERVILLE: (Irish - Baile an Sceilig).
Blennerville: (Irish- Cathair Ui Mhorain) on the approach to Tralee is Ireland's only remaining commercially operated windmill. Built in 1780 and recently restored, it now produces 5 ton of ground wholemeal per week.
Here also we find the terminus for the Tralee- Blennerville Steam Railway. This was originally part of the Tralee and Dingle line, which closed in 1953; it is now operating since 1993. In a shipyard nearby a replica of the Triple-Masted passenger ship named the Jeanie Johnston, which carried emigrants to New York and Quebec during the Great Famine, was constructed. At present it is moored in Fenit Harbour and eventually it hopes to retrace the steps of the original ship on its150th anniversary. In the year 2002 it is being taken to Cork City and put in dry dock.
CASTLEISLAND: (Irish- Oilean Ciarrai - the Castle of the Island of Kerry)
This town lies due East of Tralee, Castleisland! The very name conjures up
visions of ancient kingdoms and castles deep in the heart of Kerry. The castle
at Castleisland is dated 1266. At this time the area North of the River Maine
was known as Kerry and South of the River Maine was known as Desmond. It was
here that Geoffrey de Morisco, an Anglo-Norman nobleman built his castle. He
diverted the waters of the River Maine into a moat around the stronghold,
calling it the Castle of the Island of Kerry. The remains of the castle can
still be seen; it was once the power base of the Earl of Desmond. To the old
Earls of Desmond Castle Island was the "jewel of the Kingdom". Shortly after
this Kerry passed into the hands of the Earls of Desmond and remained linked
with the family until 1583. The castle was once a massive structure, stretching
northwards, from the bank of the river, to the foot of Maam Hill, a distance of
well over a mile, and the same distance, east west along the bank of the Maine.
It has sister castles in Kilmurry, about 5 miles east of the town, and in
Molahiffe, and another important one in Castlemaine.
During the reign of Elizabeth 1, the whole of Munster was laid waste, and Kerry did not escape this ravishing. However, the castle continued to be occupied until the mid-seventeenth century when Cromwellian forces shelled it from Camp Hill, some two miles west of the present town.
Today Castleisland is a thriving town, with one of the largest Cattle Marts in the country. Even though quite a small town Castleisland is a major market centre. It has the biggest Cattle Mart of Kerry, in the town itself and a smaller one on the outskirts. Within a 10-mile radius of Castleisland are 9,000 farms most of which use it as a trading centre. The range of shops in Castleisland covers all the needs of the local community. Very few towns of much larger size would have the same range of shops.
Crag Cave: A right turn at the library leads to Crag Cave where nearly 4Km of limestone cave has been explored and an extensive show cave of 350 metres has been opened to the public. A thirty minute guided tour is time well spent, and to browse in the souvenir shop.
River Walk: The River Walk is a very attractive scenic area within the town itself. Lose yourself for an hour as you stroll along the bank of the River Maine watching the fish swim by in its clear and fast-running water.
The Castleisland Gun Club and Shooting Grounds: this amenity caters for clay-pigeon shooting in a wide variety of disciplines.
Ivy leaf Theatre and Art Centre: this small but beautiful theatre hosts the annual Kerry Amateur Drama Festival every march, and other events. Check the local papers.
The annual Horse Fair - is held on 1st November. It is a must for anybody coming to Castleisland at that time of the year.
Patrick O'Keeffe Weekend - the October Bank Holiday Weekend sees the gathering of the cream of Irish traditional musicians in the town, to celebrate the famed fiddle master Patrick, and listen to the best of Irish traditional music.
Memory Lane Museum: - just over 4 miles outside Castleisland on the Cordal road, is the Memory Lane Museum. This unique museum is owned by the Bunt family, and was opened to the public in August 1990. The tastefully presented collection includes numerous vintage cars and tractors, horse drawn carriages, an array of car mascots (including one of John Lennon's), motormobilia and rural implements. The various antique cars and farm machinery are housed overlooking a panoramic view of Carauntoohil (Ireland's highest Mountain). Of special interest to car lovers are the 1930 Silver Wraith and the 1929 Barker, which are in pristine condition. There are numerous artefacts of local interest including a crane made by Jack Leonard, which dates back over a 100 years. The firehouse embodies some very rare fire fighting equipment. In a secure little spot can be seen some very old farm fixtures including a sheepshearer dating from 1929.
The China Craft: antique bric-a- brac displays are of special interest to the antique collector. The Brunt family have being diligently collecting and restoring the various memorabilia for almost a generation and have presented them in a superb way. The Museum is open daily from 10 am.
Pitch & Putt and Tennis Club: has its championship course near to the centre of the town.
FARRANFORE: (Irish- An Fearann Fuar-The land of the underground streams)
Arriving in Kerry gets easier. There are daily flights from Stansted, England, to Kerry Airport at Farranfore. There are also weekly services from Düsseldorf and Frankfurt, Germany. Car hire can be arranged at the Airport.
Mass Rock: (Irish-Poll an Aifrinn) situated at Killaclohane Wood (Coill Chill an Chlochain) about 5 miles from Farranfore on the Castlemaine road. It was here in 1653 that Fr. Tadgh Moriarty was arrested by Crown forces while saying Mass - Fr. Tadgh Moriarty was born in Castledrum in the parish of Castlemaine about 1603. He went overseas to prepare for the priesthood,studying in Toledo and later in the Dominican College of Corpo Santo in Lisbon. After ordination,Tadgh returned to his native Kerry. He soon became Prior of Holy Cross Abbey,Tralee and became one of four professors in the short-lived seminary founded in Tralee by Bishop Rickard O'Connell.
With the final destruction of Holy Cross Abbey by Cromwellian forces Tadgh left Tralee and withdrew to the Castlemaine/Miltown area. Disguised as a merchant he continued to celebrate Mass and administer the Sacraments to people under his care. He was aware that if he was caught he would be executed. In spite of the obvious dangers he continued to celebrate the Eucharist at the Mass Rock in Killaclohane Wood. It was said that during that time the Mass Rock there became the parish church of Miltown. On the 15th August 1653 while celebrating Mass at "Poll an Aifreann" Mass Rock, Fr.Tadgh was taken prisoner by Cromwellian soldiers. He was forced to walk all the way to Killarney (approx. 15 miles) where he was imprisoned in the dungeon at Ross Castle. For two months he was grossly ill-treated but did not complain. He was hanged on 15th October 1653 at Martyr's Hill, Killarney. Even the Cromwellians were forced into admiration. One of them remarked: "If ever a papist were a Martyr, he certainly should be accounted one."
Fr. Tadgh Moriarty is linked to two other Kerry martyrs, Fr.Dermot Francis O'Sullivan, O.F.M. cut down by the sword on the island of Scariff in Derrynane Bay on 23rd June 1653, and Fr. Conor McCarthy, Parish Priest of Killeentierna, who was hanged in Killarney on 5th June 1653. Their cause for Beatification are being considered by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. Moladh go Deo Le Dia.
FENIT: (Irish - An Fhianait- The Wild place)
Situated 8 miles outside Tralee, reputed to be the birthplace of Saint Brendan, here we find Sea World, an aquarium filled with sea creatures from round the Irish Coast. Fenit also boasts a very modern Marina with 110 berths. Fishing from the pier is very popular, and boats can be hired for deep-sea fishing. Whatever else Fenit is, it is not a wild place. It is a sheltered, fertile place, warmed by the waters of the Gulf Stream, a haven by the sea to refresh the tired spirit. Another explanation to the meaning of Fenit is "a place frequented by the Fianna".
Na Fianna: in ancient Ireland we had a band of legendary warriors known as The Fianna. Under their leader, Fionn McCool, the Fianna were charged with the defence of Ireland against invading tribes and hostile warrior chieftains. They rested from their battles in selected pleasant surroundings, and attended to their battle-wounds.
The healing properties of seawater and aquatic plants are recognised by the medical profession, and were well known to our ancestors. The favourite pastime of the Fianna was the deer-hunt. Close by Fenit is Knockanish, the Hill of the Deer, from the Old Gaelic. The fact that venison and the fruits of the sea were readily available in the Fenit area, is significant.
The hunting lodges of the Fianna were known by the name, "Fian-bhotha", and always the prefix "Fian" indicated the presence of the Fianna. For all these reasons and from its Gaelic spelling, "Fian-ait", the name Fenit could mean nothing else but "a place frequented by the Fianna".
The road runs to Churchill and Barrow, presenting lovely views of Barrow Harbour.
At Barrow Point is a 13th century castle, while opposite, on Fenit Island, is an Anglo-Norman Fitzmaurice castle.
Tralee Golf Club with an 18-hole course is sited at Barrow.
LISTOWEL: (Irish- Lios Tuathail - the Fort of Tuathail)
Due North from Castleisland lies the attractive town of Listowel, on the River Feale. Listowel appears for the first time in the Plea Roll of 1303-1304 as Lystothyl. In ecclesiastical taxation records of 1320 it appears as Lismokill, and in several other documents as Lissmoll,Lestowell, Lystuayl and Listowhil. It first appears as "Lios Tuathail" in the annals of the four masters of 1582. Its main landmark is the ruined 15th century Fitzmaurice Castle, set in its fine central square. It was the stronghold of the Fitzmaurices, the Anglo-Norman Earls of Kerry. In its original state it would have been similar to Bunratty Castle in Co.Clare,but all that remains today is the fascade, which is over 15 metres in height. It was declared a national monument in 1923.
The town is dominated by two facing neo-gothic churches,Saint Johns (Protestant) and Saint Mary's (Catholic). Saint John's Gothic style church was deconsecrated in 1988 and today houses a theatre, arts and heritage centre and the local tourist office. It was built in 1819. The church has associations with the main Anglo-Irish families of the district, including the Hewsons,Sandes,Raymonds, Sir Arthur Vicars and the Kitcheners. Saint Mary's was built in 1829. Additions such as the porch and spire took place in 1865/1867 and in 1910 the side aisles were added and the mosaic work in the sanctuary was completed.
In the South -West corner of the main square, built towards the end of the 18th century, is the Listowel Arms Hotel, where many historic figures, including Daniel O' Connell, William Makepeace Thackeray and Charles Stewart Parnell, stayed on occasion. It is from the Hotel's upper window that Parnell is reputed to have made his famous declaration, "no man has the right to set a boundary to the march of a nation". During the 60s the hotel was owned for a period by the famous tenor Josef Locke.
At one time the town was a terminus for the world's first monorail system. Called the Lartigue Railway after the Spanish Engineer who installed it, the system ran successfully from 1888 to 1924 and linked Listowel and Ballybunion, at present plans are afoot to rebuild this Railway system using the original plans and to lay a mile of Monorail Track exactly as it was, 2002 being the intended finishing time.
A Garden of Europe was started in 1995 to coincide with the commeration of the ending of the Second World War, close to Childers Park. It consists of a monument made from railway sleepers and chains and is dedicated to those who died in the holocaust. It is set among gardens where thousands of shrubs from all over Europe symbolically recall the innocent victims of a campaign of genocide. There is a splendid bust of "Schiller" who was the author of "The Ode To Joy" the unofficial anthem of the European Union.
Listowel Bridge Referred to locally as the "Big Bridge" This Bridge replaced a smaller wooden structure, which had been destroyed by floods. Richard Griffin built the five-arched bridge over the River Feale at a cost of £2,500 in 1829.
Childers Park: Lord Listowel granted Gurtinard Wood and a beautiful riverside walk to the people of Listowel in 1946 for a nominal sum of £5.Listowel Urban District Council acquired the nearby "Cows Lawn" in the late 60s, a 30 acre field on which a number of townspeople had pasture rights, and developed it into one of Ireland's finest municipal parks. Today, Childers Park contains an 18-hole Pitch & Putt course, a children's playground, two tennis courts, football pitches and a well-equipped sports complex. Visitors are welcome.
Dandy Lodge: This cottage was built of squared limestone blocks and much admired. The design was adapted from George Smith's "Essay on the construction of cottages" published in Glasgow in 1835 and appears as the Bridge Road's first house in the OS map of 1897. It was first used as a gate lodge to the Manor-House of the agents of Lord Listowel. In 1994 it was dismantled and relocated in the town park.
Teampaillin Ban (the little white Churchyard): outside Listowel on the Ballybunnion Road lies a Famine Graveyard where many nameless victims of the Irish Famine 1845-47 were interred in mass graves.
RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) Barracks - the present day Garda Barracks. It was the scene in June 1921 of a police mutiny, when the police officers resisted an attempt by a British Military Force, to occupy the Barracks. The 1st force of Garda Siochana (Irish for Police) in Listowel operated initially from 5 Upper William Street, then from Tea Lane, before finally moving into the Barracks. Integration with the local community was aided by teaching local boys the game of hurling.
Maid of Erin Listowel has striking shop fronts, which display a variety of unique plasterwork. This is due mainly to the outstanding craftsmanship of Pat McAuliffe (1846-1921). The "Maid of Erin", which can be found on the Main Street, adjacent to the Square, is one of his most imposing pieces. She sits serenely surrounded by the harp, the wolf Hound and other images of romantic Ireland, which were in fashion during the latter half of the 19th century. Other examples of his work can still be seen on Main Street, Market Street Church Street and William Street.
Literary Traditions: Listowel is justifiably proud of its literary traditions. Maurice Walsh, author of the Quiet Man (film starred John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara) lived here, and the writer Bryan McMahon born in 1909 in Listowel was headmaster of the local boy's national school. He lectured extensively in Ireland and abroad, particularly in the U.S.A. He has also written a number of travel books, and his best-selling autobiography, "The Master", was published in 1992. But probably the town's most famous son is John B Keane, born in Listowel in 1928, author of "Sive" and "The Field", which was adapted for the screen in 1990 and the film received an Oscar Nomination. One can drop into John Bs pub for a pint of Guinness. John Bs name is also associated with one of the town's best-known events, the Writer's Week held in June each year.
Carnegie Library: The site of the former Listowel Library was bought from Mr. James McCarthy for £160 in 1928. The library was built in 1929 and its first Librarian, Miss Patricia Gleeson, took up her duties in 1930 at a weekly wage of £1.50 The library replaced an earlier one, built on the Bridge Road, which was burnt down by the Black and Tans (English forces so called because of the colour of their uniform) on March 7th 1921. Kerry County Council took over the administrative control of the library from the Carnegie Trust in 1953. In 1955 the Library moved to a purpose built building at Charles Street, and the Kerry Diocesan Youth Service now operates from the Carnegie Library building.
Saint Michael's College: Was established in what was once an old Fever Hospital. On the 16th January 1879 it opened as a school and it absorbed some private schools of the classified tradition. In 1879/1880 the annual fee per student was £6.00.It had risen by 1952/1953 to £10, and the year before the introduction of free post primary education in 1967/1968 the fee was just £16.00. A sizeable extension was added in the mid 80s to the front of the college.
Courthouse: it is an imposing building of neo-Roman style. The republicans burnt down an earlier building constructed in 1840.
Vintage Wireless Museum: this museum's displays, range from Miniature Gramophone to three feet high radios. Sets ranging from 1922-1960 with such titles as "Grampian", "Pye", and "Phillips", can be seen as well as "Magic Lanterns" and "Paris Aerials".
Church Tower: this tower dates from the early 18th century. It rises to a height of over 9 metres and was constructed of limestone. In 1819 most of the stones were removed and reused in the construction of Saint John's Church. The oldest part of the graveyard is situated around the tower.
Events: The other events that galvanise the local energies are the "Fleadh" (a feast of Irish music) held in August and the annual Listowel Horse Racing, held in the third week of September and the Food Fair in November.
Fishing: The local river is a favourite spot for fishermen; here one can catch Salmon, White trout or Brown trout.
Golf: Listowel also has a nine-hole golf course.
LIXNAW: (Irish- Leic Snamha).
Here we find the ruined castle of the Earls of Kerry.
Also situated here is an Agricultural Museum which houses a rare collection of farm implements, used by previous generations of Kerry farmers.
Ceolann in the village is a centre, which incorporates a theatre, music shop and a museum/library.
SPA: (Irish - An Spa)
Pronounced "Spaw" many people came here to take the waters of the local sulphur spring. Traces of the old Pump House still remain and the well from whence the water was drawn, as do many of the mansions built in this once fashionable suburb. On the foreshore nearby one can find springs rich in iron which have curative properties. We recommend a visit to The Oyster Tavern for a drink or a coffee and to sample their superb cuisine.
In fields nearby are 3 fine examples of Ring Forts (on private property). These 3 forts are connected by souterrains. Ring Forts - sometimes called "Raths" or "Lioses" - are very numerous throughout Ireland. As far as can be ascertained they were enclosed farmsteads with a domestic rather than military purpose. They date from periods between 400AD and 1200AD.Their survival down through the years can be attributed in the main to the superstition associated with them. These old survivors were, and indeed still are, known as "fairy forts" and dare not be violated for fear of bad luck.
TRALEE: (Irish - Tra Li - the strand of the River Lee)
Tralee is the capital of Kerry an expanding town of 20,000 people (and rising). It was founded in the 13th century by the Anglo - Normans and takes its name from the River Lee, which flows into Tralee Bay. By the 12th century it became the seat of the Earls of Desmond whose influence extended throughout Munster. The main features of the medieval townscape were the Great Castle, which stood on the site of present day Denny Street, and the Dominican Friary (now the Abbey car park) founded by John Fitz Thomas Fitzgerald. It was burnt in 1580 because of a revolt against policies of Queen Elizabeth 1st of England, and in 1587 she granted it to Edward Denny, this family association with the town continued for over 300 years. The town became a borough by Royal charter in 1613 (now held in the County Library), but was mainly destroyed during the wars of the 17th century. The incoming planters laid out new streets that were the basis for the modern town, which took shape in the 19th century. Day Place, Staughtons Row and Princess Quay were constructed in the early years of the century and the town's most elegant street; Denny Street was completed in 1826 on the site of the Great Castle.
Pike Man Memorial - situated in Denny Street. Sculptured by Albert Power, RHA, commemorates the 1798 rebellion.
The Dominican Statue - Dominic Street commemorates the Dominicans long service to Tralee, despite persecution, standing near the site of the original Abbey.
Saint John's Church - situated in Castle Street it dominates Tralee's landscape from all approaches. Built in 1854- 1870. Designed by J.J. McCarthy, it is one of the great examples of Gothic-Revival Architecture in Ireland.
The Court House, designed by Richard Morrison, restored in recent years, was built in 1835. Its imposing portico of Ionic columns is flanked by two cannons in commeration of the Kerrymen, who died during the Crimean and Indian wars of 1854 and 1860.
The port grew steadily, but chronic silting forced ships to anchor in the bay - smaller boats ferried cargo to the quayside in the basin, which over the years silted up from lack of use. The basin has now been dredged and will be open in 2002 to take small yachts and pleasure boats.
Ashe Memorial Hall in Denny Street now houses the Kerry Museum, which is an ideal starting point for tours of County Kerry. It consists of 3 superb attractions, which tell the story of Kerry and Ireland over 8,000 years:
Kerry in Colour - a panoramic multi-image audio- visual tour of County Kerry.
Kerry County Museum - a museum with a difference. Interactive media and reconstructions stand side-by-side with priceless treasures dating from the Stone and Bronze Age to the Present Day. The Museum also hosts major international temporary exhibitions.
Geraldine Tralee - This is well worth a detour on its own! Imagine being transported 600 years back in time to the Middle Ages and experiencing a day in the life of an Irish medieval town. Visitors are seated in time cars and brought on a fascinating journey through the reconstructed streets, houses,Abbey and Castles of Geraldine Tralee complete with sounds and smells.
Commentaries are in 7 languages.The Tourism office is also situated in the Ashe Memorial Hall. Named after Thomas Ashe, a dashing hero of Ireland's fight for Independence. Handsome and Cultured Ashe died on hunger strike in prison in 1917. Siamsa Tire, the national folk theatre also makes its home in Tralee and Duchas, the headquarters of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, fosters Irish culture and present Irish traditional music,song and dance in a beautiful informal atmosphere.
The Aquadome in Tralee features a wide range of indoor water pursuits,amongst them a wave pool, lazy river, falling rapids and a medieval castle. There is a beautiful 75 acre Town Park alongside Ashe hall, it's Rose Garden blooms richly each August during the international "Rose of Tralee" festival, a celebration of female charm that attracts entrants of Irish extraction from many countries around the world.
Tralee also has its own horse and greyhound racing tracks and a Gaelic Football Stadium.
Approximately 7 miles outside Tralee on the Listowel road is the experience "A day at the Bog" well worth a visit.
In Tralee there are two 9-hole Golf Courses.
During the first week in October Tralee hosts it's own Film Festival.
Ballyseedy Castle - was built by William Blennerhassett in the 1760s on the site of a ruin of and old family castle. It is now a Hotel.
Ballyseedy Monument - Breton artist, Yann Renard-Goulet, who did the memorial at Customs House Dublin and also cast the relief of Austin Stack outside Tralee Sportsfield, created the sculpture here. The work depicts a mortally wounded man being attended by women, while another member of the family purposefully strides away to take the place of the fallen man.
After the Treaty was signed with England in 1922, Sinn Fein and the I.R.A. split and civil war broke out. One side feeling that the best deal was negotiated, while the other saw it as a betrayal of the ideals, which had been the motivating force of the Volunteers. It was at this site on 7th March 1923 that nine Republican prisoners were bound and tied to a log. Beneath which Irish Free State soldiers had placed a mine. Eight were blown to bits; their remains were released to their relatives in nine coffins. The conditions of the bodies was such that there was no way of knowing that one of the nine had been blown clear with only minor injuries. His name was Stephen Fuller of Fahavane, Kilflynn, and his name was on one of the coffins.
The History of the Earls of Desmond -In 910 a branch of the Geraldine family left Florence and went to live in Normandy, France. When William the Conqueror went to England in 1066 they went with him. In 1169 Maurice Fitzgerald came to Ireland with the Normans. A branch of the family got some lands in Munster. The first Earl of Desmond was created in the year 1329. By the time the last Earl of Desmond assumed office in 1559, the territory of Desmond stretched from Kerry to Youghal in County Cork and encompassing Limerick and Tipperary. By the 16th century the Earl of Desmond had adopted many Gaelic Laws and Customs and had become "more Irish than the Irish themselves". Unfortunately Queen Elizabeth 1st of England was not very happy to see such a powerful family in control of Munster as she would see them as a threat to her crown. By 1569 she had laid claim to their lands. The Desmonds revolted and fought desperately to save them. By 1583 Elizabethan forces had captured all the Desmond strongholds and Gerald the Earl of Desmond became an outlaw and hid with a small band of loyal followers at a remote Glen in Glenaneenty Wood. The Desmonds had an old castle there and the remains of it are on the farm of Willie Lenihan.
A few of Desmond's followers went to Castlegregory in search of food on the 9th November 1583. Some cows and horses were taken from the Moriartys who appear to have been hostile to the Earl. The Moriartys immediately sent for help to Lieutenant Stanley of Dingle. Having been reinforced by four English soldiers and with 18 kern (lightly armed Irish foot soldiers), the Moriartys tracked the thieves and about five miles east of Tralee, entering late in the evening the Vale of Glenaneenty, they observed a fire in the Glen below. After having reconnoitred the place Donnell Moriarty reported that the party they sought was there. They decided they would wait for the dawn to attack. At first light, Owen and Donnell Moriarty, with Donie O'Kelly, on of the soldiers, attacked the cabin where the Earl slept. The Earl's followers fled but an old man with a beard, a woman and a boy remained. Donie O'Kelly, who entered first, aimed a blow at the old man with his sword and almost cut off his arm. The old man said "I am the Earl of Desmond, do not kill me". The Earl was not killed at first but because he was wounded so severely that he could not walk, one of the Moriartys carried him along the Glen on his back. The soldiers feared that the Earl's followers would return, and decided to kill him. Donie O'Kelly cut off his head and sent it to Queen Elizabeth 1st in London, for which he received a pension from her of £20 per annum. The Earl's body was buried temporarily on this spot. Desmond's Grave was on a ledge about 120 feet down and three feet above the level of the present roadway on the left hand side. The Earl's body was eventually brought to the little graveyard at Killnamana near Codral, about 4 miles east of Castleisland. This was the family cemetery of the Fitzgerald's.
It was popular belief that the place where he was slain, long after the Earl's death, was stained with his blood. The spot in Irish is called Bothar an Iarla (Road of the Earl). The Irish name for Glenaneenty is Gleann na gCaointe: meaning the Glen of the Mourning, and the wind wailing through it is said to mourn the last Earl of Desmond.
Our self-catering holiday cottage is an ideal location in Kerry to visit the above towns and villages.