1st January 1837
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A snapshot of pre-famine local history, as described in the "Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" by Samuel Lewis, 1837. (The information collected here was submitted by members of the local gentry and clergy of the time).

KERRY, a maritime county of the province of MUNSTER, bounded on the east by the counties of Limerick and Cork, on the north by the estuary of the river Shannon (which separates it from county Clare), on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south by the same ocean and the county of Cork.

  • It extends from 51° 40' to 52° 37' (North Lat.), and from 9° 8' to 10° 27' (West Lon.); and comprises an area, according to the Ordnance survey, of 1,148,720 acres, of which 581,189 acres are cultivated land, 552,862 are unprofitable bog and mountain, and 14,669 are under water.
  • The population, in 1821, amounted to 216,185; and in 1831, to 263,126.

The inhabitants of this tract, according to Ptolemy's chart, were in his time designated Velabri or Vellibori; "Hibernice," says Dr. O'Connor, "Siol Ebir, obviously meaning Illiberi Iberiae." They are supposed to have been descended from the Iberi of Spain, to which their country lies opposite; but Camden derives their name from the British Aber, signifying an estuary, thus making it descriptive of the nature of the country. The Lucanij, or "people of the maritime country," were placed by Richard of Cirencester in this county, near Dingle bay. Ptolemy calls them Luceni, and they appear to be the Lugadii of Irish writers, which in a general sense comprehended all the inhabitants on the southern coast, from the harbour of Waterford to the mouth of the Shannon, though sometimes confined to those of the county of Waterford.

The present name of the county is variously derived. Some trace it from Ciar, the eldest, son of Fergus, King of Ulster, from whom it was called Carruidhe, or Cair Reeght, that is, "the kingdom of Ciar." According to Ledwich, it was called Cerrigia, or "the rocky country," from Cerrig, or Carric, "a rock." Ciaruidhe, or "the rocky district on the water," from ciar, or cer, "a rock," and uidhe, or ui dha, "a district on the water," was the present barony of Iraghticonnor, on the south bank of the Shannon, and from which may be derived Cerrigia and Kerry. The chiefs of this country were called Hy Cain air Ciaruidhe, by contraction O'Connor Kerry, whose descendants were in possession of their ancient patrimony in the beginning of the last century. This district was sometimes denominated Ciaruidhe Luachra, or "the rocky district on the great lake or water." By some ecclesiastical writers the whole is called the country of St. Brandon, to whom the principal cathedral in the county was dedicated, and from whom a very remarkable mountain on the western coast takes its name. Camden calls that part of the sea into which the Shannon discharges itself Mare Brendanicum.

The great portion of the county lying to the south of the river Mang formed, with the whole county of Cork, the old native sovereignty of Desmond, or South Munster, granted by Hen. II. to Robert Fitz-Stephen and Milo de Cogan, but of which these adventurers were able to make themselves masters only of the districts near the city of Cork. On the arrival of the English, the O'Connors were in possession of the northern part; the middle parts were in the possession of the Moriartys: the southern portion was occupied by the O'Sullivans, from whom the district now named Dunkerron barony was called O'Sullivan's country; also by the O'Donoghoes, distinguished into the septs of O'Donoghoe More and O'Donoghoe Ross, and by the O'Mahonys.

The McCarthys, who had been the most powerful sept in the South of Ireland before the landing of the English, being subdued by the invaders, their chief took refuge in the fastnesses of Kerry, where he was afterwards compelled to have recourse to the aid of Raymond le Gros to put down a rebellion of his own son, and in recompense for this service he gave him the northern district, then called Lixnaw. Raymond here settled his son Maurice, who gave its present name to this part of the county, which was henceforward called Clan-Maurice, in like manner as the family bear to the present day the name of Fitzmaurice. The ancestor of the Earls of Desmond, John Fitz-Thomas, also, soon after the arrival of Hen. II., acquired large possessions in Kerry and the contiguous districts, including the country of Desmond, by marriage with the daughter of Thomas Fitz-Anthony, another Anglo-Norman leader; and these were augmented by Prince John, in 1199. Henceforward, the family of Fitz-Gerald exercised a predominant authority in this quarter of the kingdom. The county was made shire ground, with its present limits, by King John, in 1210.

  • Desmond was included with the Decies in the confirmatory grant made, in 1260, by Prince Edward to Lord John Fitz-Thomas; but in the following year this family received from the native sept of the McCarties a complete overthrow in Glanerought, in this county, from which they did not recover for twelve years, when quarrels among the native chiefs again admitted the rise of their power.
  • Lord Thomas, towards the close of the thirteenth century, sat in parliament as Lord Offaly, and claimed, under the grant of Edw. I., to be the king's sheriff of Kerry. In these early ages, therefore, the districts forming the present county were subject to the power of three great families, the Fitz-Geralds, lords of Desmond; the Fitz-Maurices, lords of Kerry in the north; and the McCarties, tanists of the elevated central and southern regions.
  • Edw. III., in 1329, granted to Maurice Fitz-Thomas the name and honour of Earl of Desmond, and all royal liberties within the county of Kerry; the church or cross lands thereof, and the four usual pleas of burnings, rape, forestal, and treasure trove alone excepted. In the following year, the earl deemed this sufficient authority for entirely excluding the king's sheriffs and other ordinary ministers of justice from the county. The extraordinary power of this nobleman, however, brought upon him for a time some jealous persecution by the officers of the crown.
  • In 1345, having presumed to summon a parliament in opposition to that called by the Lord Justice, Sir Ralph Ufford, the latter overran and seized upon the whole of his possessions, which were not restored to him until 1352. In 1388, Gerald, Earl of Desmond, was formally appointed keeper of the peace in the counties of Kerry and Limerick, with very extensive powers and authority, and in conjunction with Patrick Fox.
  • In 1386, we find John Fitz-Gerald, Earl of Desmond, made sheriff of the Crosses of Kerry; being the lands of the church within its limits, in which the king's ordinary jurisdiction had course. James, Earl of Desmond, about 1425, as lord of the liberties of Kerry, entered into a deed with Patrick Fitz-Maurice Fitz-John, Lord Kerry, "captain or head of his nation," whereby the latter was bound to answer to the earl and his heirs at his assizes.
  • James, the 15th earl, surrendered, by his deed in the chancery of Ireland, his old family prerogative of exemption from attendance on a parliament summoned in any walled town, except at his pleasure; and covenanted that he would suffer the laws of England to be executed in his county, assist the king's judges in their circuits, and permit subsidies to be raised upon his followers; but these conditions were never fulfilled either by himself or his successors.
  • Thomas, sixteenth Lord or Baron of Kerry, is styled, even in the 5th of Edw. VI., "Captain of his nation," an extraordinary mark of the absence of English laws of property and society in this as well as the other old palatinates down to that period: he held his seat in parliament by the title of Baron of Lixnaw.
  • But a great change in the political condition of the inhabitants soon afterwards took place. Gerald, sixteenth Earl of Desmond, restless, ambitious, and raised to a still higher rank among the most powerful subjects of Europe by the oppressions which his family had exercised over their weaker neighbours, united with these qualities and circumstances a great want of discretion, and disaffection to the English crown, which, in the reign of Elizabeth, arose by mutual jealousies between the government and such of the leading men as had not joined the Reformation. He was imprisoned for a short period in 1568, during which the government of this and of the two contiguous counties was vested in commissioners.

The remote southern situation of Kerry rendered it, in the subsequent sanguinary periods, a principal medium of foreign correspondence maintained by the insurgents, whose first attempt was suppressed by Sir John Perrot, in 1572; and the leaders, heads of the native clans of the south, with a few of the old Anglo-Norman knights, submitted to mercy.

  • Although a reward was offered for the apprehension of the Earl of Desmond, after his escape from Dublin in 1574, when he was declared a traitor, he remained quiet in his own territories until 1576, when Sir William Drury was made Lord-President of Munster, and the earl nominally appointed one of his council. Sir William, with a view to the general reform of the province, resolved to break through Desmond's liberties, and hold assizes in the palatinate of Kerry, which he regarded as a sanctuary for rebels and disturbers of the peace. The earl endeavoured to dissuade him from his design, but without effect. He then, reserving himself for an appeal to the chief governor, assured Drury that he should be received in Kerry with all honour and submission, and invited him to reside at his castle of Tralee. This invitation was accepted, when, on the near approach of Sir William with 120 men, he observed at some distance a body of 700 of Desmond's followers advancing to meet him. The president at once concluded that he had been betrayed, and hastened to charge without waiting an attack. Desmond's followers dispersed at the first onset, and it was explained by the countess, who received the president at the castle, that they had been assembled by her lord merely to entertain him with hunting. Drury then proceeded to execute the laws without control or opposition, except in the unavailing complaints made to the government by the earl.

In 1579, a party of Spaniards and a few native insurgents having landed at Smerwick, in this county, with Saunders, the Pope's nuncio, Sir John of Desmond, the earl's brother, to ingratiate himself with them, procured the murder, at Tralee, of Henry Danvers, an English gentleman, and the two provincial judges sent there to execute justice in the queen's name, together with all their attendants. This transaction completed the determination of the government totally to abolish all the Earl of Desmond's powers of exclusive jurisdiction, which his subsequent rebellion gave an opportunity to effect. This wavering and indecisive conduct, in which he was joined by the Lord of Kerry, brought a protracted war of extermination on the whole province, and, his defection proving every day more certain, he was at length proclaimed a traitor, and his country entered with fire and sword.

  • The Earl of Ormond and Sir Warham St. Leger wasted his lands, slew numbers of his men, burned his towns, and took his castles (putting both Spaniards and natives to the sword) as far, with the aid of the lord-justice, as the mountains of Slievelogher. They then ravaged and destroyed the district of Corkaguiney from Tralee to Dingle, slaying many of the people. While this desultory warfare was proceeding, however, additional forces, with military stores, landed at Smerwick from Spain; but these troops, after a long siege, surrendered at discretion and were barbarously murdered, together with all who had joined them.
  • Captain Zouch was then appointed, with 450 men, to govern the county and pursue the insurgents, which he did with the utmost rigour; but the English army being soon reduced to an insignificant force, the war again revived with all its horrors; and it was terminated only by the death of the earl, who was slain by a party of common soldiers in a wretched hovel in a wood, where he had taken refuge, a few miles east of Tralee.
  • Sir John Perrot shortly after gave the government of the palatinate to the Queen's sheriff and the lord of Kerry, who had submitted and received pardon from the Queen.

In 1599, a fresh rebellion had broken out, headed in this county by the "sugan" or mock Earl of Desmond; his brother John; Patrick, the seventeenth Lord of Kerry; Pierce Lacy, the knight of the Glin or Valley; and Thomas Fitzmaurice, son of the late Baron of Lixnaw, or Kerry: Florence McCarty also took secret part with them. It was, however, suppressed prior to the landing of the Spaniards in 1601, when this event encouraged another general revolt, in which the most noted parties in this county were the McCarties, O'Sullivans, O'Connors, the Lord of Kerry, the Knight of Kerry, and all who had been pardoned for their previous acts of insurgency. They raised and maintained in active service a guerilla force of about one thousand men. A warfare of ravages, with a view to destroying all means of subsistence, conducted by Sir Charles Wilmot, at length forced the insurgents through absolute famine to surrender. The lands forfeited by these successive rebellions, including the vast possessions of the Earl of Desmond, were portioned out to English adventurers, of whom the principal were Sir William Herbert, Sir Valentine Browne, Sir Edward Denny, Robert Blennerhassett, and Capt. Jenkins Conway, besides whom other settlers obtained grants, from whom the families of Spring, Rice, Morris, and Gunn, descended. About this period it was considered to be the most flourishing part of the South of Ireland, abounding with corn, and the best inhabited County of Munster. But the state of misery, depopulation, and ruin to which the whole was reduced by these wars was most appalling. The old custom of tanistry was formally abolished here by a judgment of the King's Bench, in 1605.

On the breaking out of the war in 1641, the old native families took part with the insurgents, appointed a governor of the county, and levied men, whose hostilities caused as many of the English gentlemen as were able to retire to join the Lord-President St. Leger, or to pass over into England, while others fortified themselves in places of strength.

  • By the end of 1642, the Irish were masters of every place in the county, with the exception of Ballingarry castle. Rinuncini landed here in Kenmare bay in 1645, and died in a wood near Tulligaron, in the vicinity of Tralee; but the county was finally reduced in 1652, by Gen. Ludlow, who took Ross castle and compelled Lord Muskerry to surrender his troops, amounting to about 5000 men.
  • Extensive grants were now made to new English settlers out of the estates forfeited in these disastrous commotions; and a colony of English was planted on the Kenmare river in the south by Sir William Petty, who obtained large grants of land here, and carried on the iron trade with great activity so long as timber could be procured for smelting.
  • In 1689, the colony was attacked by the Irish in King James's interest, to whom, after some resistance, it was compelled to surrender on terms; and the Protestant settlers of the entire county were much harassed and plundered, and for the most part driven out.

In a report made to King William's government, and now among the Harleian MSS. in the British Museum, this county is described to be "of large extent, almost surrounded by the sea, and in it the most and best harbours of any county in the kingdom; full of woods, bogs, and mountains, yet intermixed with pleasant valleys, full of people, and the most quiet and peaceable part of Ireland; the country full of cattle and great store of corn in the ground; and in the last wars, when all Ireland was reduced, this one county kept near 10,000 men almost two years in action; and hither came the Earl of Clancarty and all the officers of his army, and in Ross, a place by nature of great strength made good terms and so went off. It may cost more men to reduce it than half Ireland, for the county is full of fastnesses and plenty of provisions. The greatest advantage may be made of its harbours, that are for all winds, and near which all ships from the western seas must pass, and if in possession of the French might destroy more merchants of England than out of any parts in France or Ireland." In 1691, a detachment of William's army under Brigadier Levison completely subdued the country, although the Irish inhabitants everywhere rose to oppose them, and burned Tralee. About 1710, the southern coast was greatly harassed by French privateers, to check whose inroads a redoubt was ordered by parliament to be erected on Valencia island.

This county is entirely within the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe. For purposes of civil jurisdiction it is divided into the baronies of Clanmaurice, Corkaguiney (Corkaguiny), Dunkerron (Dunkerron North & Dunkerron South), Glanerough (Glanarought), Iraghticonnor, Iveragh, Magonihy (Magunihy), and Trughenackmy (Trughanacmy). It contains

Prior to the union it sent eight members to the Irish parliament, two knights of the shire, and two representatives for each of the boroughs of Tralee, Dingle, and Ardfert; but since that period its sole representatives have been the two members for the county at large, and one representative for the borough of Tralee, in the imperial parliament.

  • The county constituency, as registered at the last general election, amounted to 1212, of which number, 989 polled. The election for the county takes place at Tralee.
  • The county is included in the Munster circuit: the assizes and general quarter sessions are held at Tralee, and quarter sessions are also held at Killarney, in the former of which towns are the county courthouse and county gaol; and there are bridewells at Cahirciveen, Castleisland, Dingle, Kenmare, Killarney, Listowel, Milltown, and Tarbert. The number of persons charged with criminal offences and committed to the several prisons, in 1835, was 636; and of civil bill commitments, 199.
  • The local government is vested in a lieutenant, 17 deputy-lieutenants, and 122 magistrates, including the Provost of Tralee and the Sovereign of Dingle, who are magistrates of the county for the time being; besides whom there are the usual county officers, including three coroners.
  • There are 30 constabulary police stations, having in the whole a force of 7 chief and 26 subordinate constables, and 130 men, with 11 horses, the expense of whose maintenance, in 1835, was £5818, of which, £2830 was defrayed by grand jury presentments, and the rest by Government.
  • Along the coast there are 15 coast-guard stations, 4 in the district of Valencia, having a force of 4 officers and 31 men; 6 in that of Dingle, with 7 officers and 36 men; and 5 in the district of Tralee, with 3 officers and 35 men; each district is under the control of a resident inspecting commander.
  • The county infirmary, lunatic asylum, fever hospital, and dispensary are at Tralee; and there are a dispensary and fever hospital at Killarney, and dispensaries situated respectively at Tarbert, Listowel, Milltown, Dingle, Castleisland, Cahirciveen, Kenmare, and Sneem, supported equally by private contributions and grand jury presentments. The entire amount of grand jury presentments, in 1835, was £30,951. 4s. 7.50d., of which £19,672 was for the public roads, buildings, institutions, and all other charges on the county at large; and £11,279. 4s. 7d., for the public roads, being the baronial charge.
  • In the mountainous districts the applotments are made by what are called reduced ploughlands, each being divided into 60 acres, called reduced acres; but these ploughlands are determined rather by their proportionable quality and value than by their superficial extent; for the larger they are, the coarser and less fertile; the smallest being the most fruitful.
  • In the military arrangements that part of the county south of the river Flesk is included in the Southern District, the other part to the north of the river being in the South-western District, and containing a barrack station for infantry at Tralee, affording accommodation for 17 officers and 456 non-commissioned officers and men; and the two batteries on the islands of Carrigue and Tarbert, each mounting six 24-pounders and containing bomb-proof barracks for about 20 men.


Kerry is the most western county of Ireland, and the fourth in extent; it is surpassed by many in fertility. From its aspect it seems well adapted to become a valuable tillage country, but, though improvements have been very rapid of late years, a great part of it lies still in a very unproductive condition. The northern part lying towards the Shannon is comparatively low. From the mouth of the river Cashen to Kerry Head, which forms the south side of the mouth of the river Shannon, stretches a bank of upland which is chiefly a heathy moor, and near Kerry Head rises to a considerable elevation. The coast towards the ocean is partly high sand hills and partly steep cliffs, on which the ruins of some dismantled castles are boldly situated: that of Doon stands almost perpendicularly over the ocean. The northern tract of low country has on its south a range of upland, rising gradually into the boundaries between counties Limerick and Cork: this upland, in passing eastward, expands to a great width. Still more southerly is an extensive range of mountains, many of the summits of which are among the highest in Ireland: they commence at the eastern side of the bay of Dingle, and, with little interruption, pass along the southern side of the lake of Killarney and onward to the county of Cork, embracing some deep and extensive vales. The general aspect of this part of the county is rude: the valleys are commonly occupied with bog, round the upper edge of which, and along the margins of the streams, are narrow stripes of cultivated land, behind which the mountains rise to an elevation of from 1500 to 2000 feet, presenting bold rocky cliffs towards the bay of Dingle and the Atlantic.

  • The southern baronies of Iveragh, Dunkerron, and Glanerough are the wildest and most uncultivated tracts in the county: the last-mentioned, which takes its name from the river Roughty, that flows through it, is separated from the adjoining barony of Bere, in the county of Cork, by a range of lofty mountains, the greater part of which was formerly the estate of the O'Sullivans.
  • Macgillycuddy's Reeks, in North Dunkerron, are the highest mountains not only in the county, but in Ireland; their most elevated summit, called Carran Tual, or Gheran Tuel, being 3410 feet above the level of the sea. Mangerton is next in height. Towards the west are the mountains of Drung and Callee, the highest summits of the range that separates the baronies of Iveragh and Dunkerron. This chain proceeds eastward to the south of the lakes of Killarney, along Tomies mountain, Glena, Torc, Mangerton, Crohane, and the Paps, which latter are particularly remarkable for the regularity of their convex or conical form. The range of which they form a part is connected with the hills of Glanflesk, which overhang O'Donoghoe's country.
  • North and east of Tralee are the ranges called Stack's mountains and the Glanruddery mountains: and between the harbours of Castlemaine and Tralee is a range of high mountains, called Slieve Mish, attaining an elevation of upwards of 2200 feet; and hence mountains extend westward into the peninsular barony of Corkaguiney under various names, among which, one of remarkable conical shape is called Cahirconrigh. Considerable tracts of these mountains have been improved and brought into tillage.
  • This barony is esteemed the granary of the county: the northern side, called Litteragh, is richly cultivated and rendered very productive by the great facility of obtaining sea manure. Brandon hill rises to a great height, and its top or sides are often enveloped in clouds. From the base of the mountains, various brooks run into both bays. From the southern coast a long peninsula of sandhills, called Inch island, extends into the bay of Castlemaine.

The lakes in the mountainous regions are numerous, but few are of large dimensions. The most remarkable, both for extent and beauty, is the celebrated Lough Leine, the principal of the lakes of Killarney, three in number, which are connected by straits, or short rivers. They are distinguished by the names of the Upper, the Torc, and the Lower lake. The last is about six miles in length and of great breadth, with mountains of the richest grandeur on one side, which is increased by the contrast of the level shore on the other, and overspread with islands of the most luxuriant beauty. Torc Lake is separated from it by the richly wooded peninsula of Muckross and Dinis island, and is still more picturesque; but the wildest sublimity is that of the Upper Lake, about 2.50 miles in length, and wholly surrounded by the mountains. (For a more detailed account, see the article on Killarney.) The other lakes are as follow:

  • Lough Currane, near the shore of Ballinskellig bay, which has several islands, and is fed by a stream called the Cummaragh river, flowing from the smaller lakes of Derriana and Elaineane, in the mountains;
  • Lough Scall, about halfway between Tralee and Dingle; Lough Cara, near the harbour of Castlemaine; and Lough Quinlan, near that of Kilmacalogue, which contains several small floating islands.
  • The Devil's Punch Bowl is a very deep hollow near the summit of Mangerton mountain, upwards of 1500 feet above the level of the sea, which discharges its surplus water by a large stream that rolls down the mountainside in a succession of cataracts distinguished by their white foam at a considerable distance. At the foot of the same mountain is Lough Kittane, a secluded and picturesque lake.

Several of the mountain ridges form headlands projecting boldly into the sea, the intermediate valleys being the basins of noble bays and estuaries, into which the rivers empty themselves. Commencing at the southern extremity of the county, the first of these is the bay or estuary of the Kenmare River, which penetrates 25 miles into the country, and is navigable at high water up to Kenmare town at its innermost extremity: it contains, on the south side, the harbours of Ardgroom and Kilmacalogue, and on its northern side, that of Sneem; and along the northern shore is a succession of small islands, of which the principal are Rossmore, Ilansherky, Cappanacoss, and Dunkerron. The next bay is that of Ballinaskellig, near the entrance of which are the Hog islands, and towards the west are the Skellig Islands, which, with the other principal islands here noticed, are described under a separate head. Beyond these is Puffin island (see Killemlagh), and beyond it is Valencia island, forming a harbour by the channel that separates it from the mainland, which has an entrance at each end; it is considered one of the safest and most commodious on the western coast. Between Valencia island and the Blasquets is Dingle bay, an extensive opening with steep shores on each side, in which a ship may anchor in any part above a mile from the shore: it contains the harbours of Ventry, Dingle and Castlemaine. Dunmore Head, the most western point of Ireland, forms the northern extremity of Dingle bay: the natives call it Tig-vourney-Geerane, or Mary Gerane's house. Off this headland are the Blasquet or Ferriter's islands, between the largest of which and the mainland is a deep sound with a rapid current. Beyond Dunmore Head is Smerwick bay, the whole of which was originally bog, now invaded by the sea. Pursuing eastward the north coast of the peninsula of Corkaguiney, between Magharee Head and Brandon Head, lies Brandon bay, on the eastern side of the mountain of that name. The Magharees, or Seven Hog islands, lie at the extremity of a peninsula which separates Brandon from Tralee bay. Between Fenit island (behind which is the inlet called Barra harbour) and Kerry Head is Ballyheigue bay, in which there is no shelter, and from an error in laying down the latitude of Loop Head in the charts, it has often been fatally mistaken for the mouth of the river Shannon. The only harbour in Kerry within the Shannon estuary is that of Tarbert: off its mouth is the island of the same name.

The climate is mild, and though moist from its vicinity to the Atlantic, the height of the mountains, and the extent of the bogs, is salubrious: several trees which are deemed indigenous to warmer latitudes, particularly the arbutus, grow here naturally to great size and beauty. In some instances cultivation extends up the sides of the high lands in the mountainous region to an elevation of 700 feet above the sea. The soil in the northern parts is of a coarse quality, much inclined to produce rushes, and retentive of surface water, a considerable portion of it having been reclaimed from a state of bog; but in summer it is very productive of grass, and is chiefly de-pastured by dairy cattle. The middle district, bounded as it is by mountains of considerable elevation, is in general of an alluvial aspect: the soil and gravel transported from the uplands on each side forms the cover, and limestone the substratum to an uncertain depth. The south side is generally a stone-brash of the slate and rubble stone mingled with sand; the northern, a gravel of blue flag, tightened with sandy clay. The valley from Tralee by Castleisland and down the river Maine has a sandy and clayey loam on limestone: the upland on the north is argillaceous, being chiefly composed of slate clay and hard argillaceous sandstone. A band of limestone is found to traverse the lower part of this tract. In the mountainous district, which occupies nearly the whole of the south of the county, there are deep and extensive vales, which are almost entirely occupied by bog, but which, though at present little better than wastes, appear, from their favourable exposure and the facility with which their produce may be exported, to be well adapted to a more improved mode of cultivation.

The bogs are not confined to the mountainous districts, but occur frequently in large continuous tracts in all parts of the county, and cover an extent of 105,577 acres, exclusively of the small mountain bogs which were not estimated in the general survey of the bogs of Ireland. One species of bog, found chiefly in the barony of Corkaguiney, peculiarly deserves notice: it is called in Irish Meagh Vone, which signifies flat turf. In its natural state it is of a glutinous or saponaceous quality, lying upon the gravel under shallow peat bogs, which are of a black and brittle nature, with a grassy surface, often producing rushes. It lies about three spits deep, in a stratum of from eight to twelve inches thick, and is of a light brown colour, mixed with a clayey white. When found, it is carefully laid aside, not for fuel but for light; as two or three sods of it, broken small and placed successively on the top of the fire, supply light for the family during the longest night. When kept it is carefully dried, in which case it is nearly as light as cork and has a similar smell when burning. A chymical analysis showed it to be wood much decayed and highly impregnated with bituminous matter: when distilled it yielded a considerable proportion of a thick oily inflammable matter, with a residuum of soft charcoal.

In a country so extensive as Kerry, and until of late so difficult of access in its mountainous districts, where the inhabitants of its several baronies seem to be precluded by nature from a free communication with each other; and where, throughout the whole, agriculture is in a backward state, no regular system of tillage can be supposed to prevail. The general crops are potatoes, wheat, barley, oats, and flax.

  • Green crops, with a few exceptions, are little known; nor are any grass seeds sown, except by a few gentlemen farmers.
  • The Irish oat, which is but of indifferent quality, is that usually raised.
  • Barley has been tried on boggy land but found to be a failing crop, being liable to be overrun by the weed Persicarium.
  • In some places, rape is partially cultivated for seed, and is well adapted for boggy land: the crop is stacked when cut, and threshed when a market occurs.

Dairies abound, particularly in the district about Castleisland. In some the proprietor of the land and stock lets out a certain number of cows on a given tract of land by the year, for a particular sum, engaging that all shall have calved before the 21st of June, with a drawback in cases of failure. In other cases, the land and cows are given up to the management of a dairyman, who gives his employer a certain quantity of butter of prime quality, and one guinea horn-money for each cow, by which is meant an allowance for the sale or value of sour milk. To every dairy farm, a certain portion of meadow ground is annexed for winter provender, which the dairyman is obliged to save at his own cost. Should his supply fall short, the proprietor buys elsewhere and the dairyman draws it home.

  • In the northern districts the dairy system is very prevalent, and the method used there for making butter has been deemed worthy of a particular description by an agricultural writer.
  • The butter produced in Kerry, to the annual amount of 100,000 firkins, or full-bounds, as they are here called, formerly found a market in the city of Cork, but of late butter has been sold to a large extent at Tralee and Killarney. Much is sold in the public market; but a considerable quantity is also disposed of by private contract to particular merchants.

Limestone is extensively used as a manure in those districts where it can be easily procured: the quarries which supply a very large tract of country are at Ballymacelligot, four miles from Tralee, and there are others about seven miles from Killarney, isolated by a district of bog and mountain: the former also produce building stone of superior quality. The vicinity of the sea shore has an inexhaustible supply of manure of two kinds, sea-weed and sand, which on loamy soils act jointly with the best effect, and on soils where either is found to be injurious, the other operates as a correction.

The agricultural implements are few and simple. In the mountainous parts the plough is scarcely used; the process of tillage being wholly managed by a spade of peculiar construction, called a "loy." Until the late general improvement of the roads, wheel carriages were little known in these districts, but their use is now becoming general. From the introduction of the improved kinds of cattle from Great Britain, the county now possesses the long-horned Leicester, the Hereford, the Holderness, and the Devon breeds: the common cattle of the country are partly of the long and partly of the short horned, varying in size according to their pasture: in mountain farms they are very small and chiefly short-horned. The mixtures of blood have operated towards the extinction of the original Kerry breed of small cattle, so beautiful in their shape, so valuable for their milk, and so easily fattened to the best quality of fine grained meat. Yet some of their good qualities still remain: they frequently prove good milchers, and almost all, when brought into rich pastures, increase considerably in size arid make excellent beef. The dairy stock is of a very good description, not of any distinct breed, but what may be termed an excellent grazier's cow, of good shape and thrifty appearance, weighing from four to six cwt. when fat.

  • The sheep are of the mountain kind, in some parts of good size, and in general with very good wool of clothing quality: from their strong resemblance to the Merino, particularly in the formation of the horns of the males, and from the former communication between Spain and this part of Ireland, there is every reason to suppose that the mountain flocks of this county are deeply crossed with Merino blood.
  • Numerous herds of goats are fed on the mountains, which, though apparently suffered to ramble at large, are collected every evening for milking by dogs trained for the purpose.
  • Little attention is paid to the breed of swine. In some places a very bad description of long-legged, thin, flat-ribbed pig, difficult to fatten, is met with; in others, a well-formed white pig, easily fattened and weighing from two to three cwt., is reared.
  • The Suffolk breed of horses has been introduced, but has not spread largely through the county.
  • The Kerry ponies, once so famed, and originally of Spanish or rather of Moorish extraction, were formerly strong enough for farming purposes, but now, by injudicious crossing, are so degenerated as to be fit only for the saddle and for very light weights. Numbers of them are brought down from the mountains to Killorglin fair, in droves of perhaps a score together, not one of them having been ever embarrassed by a halter, till sold there. Ponies of a superior description are occasionally offered for sale here, and command high prices.
  • Some of the wilder mountains are still haunted by the native red deer, and a few of the fallow deer still remain wild about Ballyheigue; the hunting of the former through the mountains of Killarney, with their resounding echoes, affords sport of the most animating description.

This county was once almost entirely covered with timber of large size and of the best description, and even now in the mountain valleys the growth of timber is kept down only by the grazing of the cattle; for it has been found that wherever these were excluded, timber spontaneously grew up, insomuch as, in some cases, to choke up and prevent the growth of young plantations. Some of the great landed proprietors are very attentive to the planting of their property.

  • The Marquess of Lansdowne planted 100,000 trees, principally oak, ash, Scotch fir, beech, and larch, in the twelve years between 1800 and 1812.
  • The extent of the Earl of Kenmare's woods is estimated at 2,000 acres; and Mr. Herbert's, of Muckross, at nearly double that number.
  • Extensive and important improvements have been effected by Lord Headley on his estates at Glenbegh, Castleisland, and Aghadoe, particularly the first, where the change produced in a few years, not merely in the cultivation of the land, planting, draining, embanking, &c., but in the habits and manners of the peasantry, excites the admiration of all who were previously acquainted with this wild, mountainous, and lawless district.
  • Orchards are not unfrequent in the northern district. This county produces the celebrated Kacageogh cyder: the trees which bear this famous apple are the worst-looking and least productive of any; they appear to be falling down, are ill supplied with leaves, unhealthy in appearance, so knotty as to resemble trees grown from pitchers, but unrivalled in the quality of liquor they produce. The next in quality is made from an apple called the Speckled Moss. The fuel universally used is turf, of which the supply may be said to be inexhaustible.


Coal is rarely used for fuel, except by a few respectable families. The western portion of the north of the county, which has been described as lying low, is a great limestone basin, the eastern boundary of which is formed by a line from Knockanure hill southward to Listowel, and thence south-westerly to Ardfert, where it sinks under the ocean in Ballyheigue bay. This limestone is secondary, with marine remains and calcspar, usually of a light blue or smoke-grey colour: it seldom rises more than forty or fifty feet above high water, appearing sometimes in crags and low cliffs, but mostly concealed by a cover of yellow clay. Its northern boundary, the hill of Knockanure, about 700 feet high, is composed of grey sandstone; the junction on that side is everywhere concealed by a deep cover of clayey loam. To the west of that hill, the contiguous rock sinks under the level of the ocean, and permits the tide to enter the mouth of the river Cashen, the navigation of which is obstructed by sandhills; but these, being partly calcareous, afford a useful supply of manure to the upper country.

  • From the River Cashen to Kerry Head stretches a bank of upland, which, as it proceeds westwardly, becomes chiefly a heathy moor, rising to a considerable height at its termination: it is composed of thick beds of argillaceous sandstone, nearly horizontal, in the partings of which the beautiful quartz crystals called Kerry stones are found: they are transparent and regular, and very hard. Steel-grained lead is also found traversing this formation. On its southern side this bank is more slaty and somewhat calcareous, being mixed, near Ballyheigue, with lesser masses of close-grained conglomerate. On the west is a low sandy flat and salt marsh, defended from the ocean by a screen of sand hills extending from Ballyheigue to Barra harbour.
  • In the northern upland formation of the middle district of Kerry are beds of culm, which has been worked only in its eastern range, in the county of Cork. Specimens of the culm from Killarney, Tralee, and Castleisland were nearly incombustible, which may be accounted for from their having been taken from the surface.
  • In a drift in the river Awineeghrea, a branch of the Flesk, the specimens resemble plumbago. It is possible, by sinking, to obtain coal like that of Kilkenny. A band of limestone, containing a few organic remains, traverses the southern part of this formation: it is chiefly blue, compact, with chert over it, and to the west partly regularly stratified. Where it shows itself in the middle of the Slieve Lughar bogs, in Lord Kenmare's quarries, it is also blue and compact, without any chert, but a good deal of calcareous spar. It next appears about two miles west of Killarney, on the Flesk, much intermingled with horn-stone or chert, and, finally, constitutes the great deposition which forms nearly all the islands and promontories on the north side of the Lower lake. The limestone there meets the brown transition rocks of the mountains; and near the junction it is traversed by metallic veins of copper and lead. A second band is found in various places along the course of the Gheestan, where it is blackish and mingled with chert.
  • The whole bottom of the valley of the Maine consists of limestone lying in strata, which, though generally confused, appear to lap on each side above those of the mountain. The limestone is generally compact, much impressed with marine remains; black and hard towards Tralee, where it is dressed as marble; whitening and more tender towards Castleisland and the Maine, and of course more readily calcined: both kinds are excellent and nearly pure. Towards the northern side of the beds they become more flinty, and are separated from the mountain rocks by thin beds of Lydian stone, black or blueish grey, with the cross fracture slightly conchoidal. Towards Tralee this becomes a complete horn slate, the shiver of which is highly valued for road gravel. There are large banks of shell sand in Castlemaine bay: it is of a muddy blueish cast, containing numerous whole shells of the species of cardium.
  • One of the Skellig rocks, which has often been called marble, contains nothing but bolts of quartz traversing the brown slate. The mountain of Slieve Mish, which runs parallel to the Maine on its northern side, and terminates in the peninsula of Corkaguiney, is composed of old sandstone or grit, dipping about 40° to N. 8° W.: towards the interior the dip is greater, and the rock more indurated. It is covered with thick beds of millstone grit, or coarse-grained conglomerate, with pebbles of quartz, jasper, and feldspar. The component rock of the mountains which form nearly the whole of the southern part of the county is of the transition class, being a clay-slate or ardesia, which dips to the S. 55° E., at an angle of 68° from the horizontal; so that, though nearly on edge, it presents its cliffs and sections to the north-west. This position is favourable to its decomposition. From the facility with which the water penetrates, the strata split and crumble down the mountain side, leaving a considerable detritus at the foot of all the cliffs, finally decomposing into an adhesive loam well suited to the production of grain crops, and forming a principal component of many fertile soils in the South of Ireland.
  • The range of mountains which separates the bay or river of Kenmare from Bantry bay is composed of beds of schist and sandstone of various clay-slate is quarried for roofing in some places, but as the works have seldom proceeded far below the surface, that raised is generally shivery and small, yet much of it is equal in quality to the Easdale and Ballahulish, in the West of Scotland. It is blue, purple, and green, according to the intermixture of iron or chlorite; splits readily and bears piercing, is slightly foliated or wavy, harder and more silicious than Bangor slate, and very durable.
  • The convenience of export has hitherto only admitted of quarries being opened at Cahir, Begnish, and Valencia; at the last place flags of large dimensions are quarried, which find a ready market in London.
  • The general slate rock, especially towards the south and centre, is in many places penetrated with veins of quartz; is highly indurated, and in some places the traces of stratification are entirely obliterated in the smaller specimen, though always recognizable in the great, where the rock is found in situ. From the colour communicated by the chlorite, the rock is provincially called greenstone, being similar in aspect, though of different composition, to that so-called by mineralogists. When the red oxyde is more abundant, it is called brownstone. Where the induration is not so great as to destroy the schistose as well as the lamellar structure, the rock is used as flag or rubble stone. Flags of this sort are common on the surface. But the most common land stones here are the blocks of more highly indurated rocks, which, parting from the mass by cracks and fissures, have had their angles decomposed and worn off, and are to be met with in the form of round boulders at great distances from their original seat in the mountain.
  • One of the most singular rocks occurs close to the road from Killarney to Ballyvourney, at the head of the glen of Glenflesk: it rests on the transition slate of the county, and is a close-grained compact sandstone, imbedded in which are minute prismatic crystals of flesh-coloured feldspar, and here and there geodes, six or eight inches in diameter, containing sparry iron-ore and white quartz. It thus comes under the description of porphyritic rocks, and is the only one at present known in the South of Ireland. It may also be mentioned that in all the mountains the common grit-stone contains large quantities of spar or crystal, or both; also sparry iron-ore, and iron pyrites in crystals. The Roughty stream separates beds of limestone from others of clay-slate; and near the head of the Kenmare river are several islands abounding with limestone and beautifully variegated marbles. Limestone occurs on other parts of this coast. Iron is found plentifully in the southern baronies, where there were two manufactories of it, one at Killarney, the other at Blackstones, but both have been long since, discontinued from want of fuel. Lead-ore is found in many parts.
  • Copper of a golden colour was raised at Muckross, and when the mines were worked, grey cobalt and cobalt bloom were found in considerable quantities; purple copper at Ardfert, and marcasites of copper in Glanerought.
  • The marble of Tralee has spots like that of Kilkenny, but larger and fuller of sparry substance: it takes a high polish. Marble of inferior quality is found in several other parts. In some of the islands in the bay of Kenmare is a variegated marble of red and white, interspersed with yellow, green and purple spots. A grey marble in Cappanacoss island was formerly extensively worked by Sir William Petty.
  • Near Castleisland is found the Lapis Hibernicus auctorum, or "Irish slate:" its taste is sour, and it abounds with common green copperas, for extracting which works were erected at Tralee, but were relinquished for want of a market.
  • Pipe-clay, potters'-clay, fullers'-earth, brown ochre, and rotten stone, like tripoli, are met with in various places. Very fine amethysts have been found in the cliffs near Kerry Head; and sulphur appears on the north of Cashen river, near Ballybunnian.
  • A kind of whetstone used for razors is found near the Devil's Punch Bowl. Fossil shells are to be met with in most places where there is limestone: they are chiefly of the cockle kind, and generally consist of lumps of sparry matter, the shell being wholly decomposed, and only the shape remaining. Coraloids are also discernible.


Of the plants peculiar to this county, or only found on the ridge that separates it from the county of Cork, the most remarkable is the arbutus, which, with the yew and holly, gives a perpetual verdure to the natural woods of Killarney. The prostrate juniper occurs on the shore near Derriquin, on the Kenmare estuary. Saxifrages in numerous varieties descend from the summit of the Reeks to the seashore; and those plants that luxuriate in a moist climate are more numerous and diversified in Kerry than in any other county in Ireland: such are of the orders Musci, Hepaticae, and Lichenes, and of these, several new species have been added to the British list.


The chief manufacture, that of coarse linens, is nearly confined to the barony of Corkaguiney, where it was formerly much more extensive than at present; and the word "Dingle," impressed upon the cloth, procured for it a ready sale at foreign markets.

  • The flax is uniformly raised on potatoe soil, and yields abundantly; latterly, since attention has been paid to saving the seed, half the quantity of imported seed is found to be sufficient. The kind of linen most in demand was known by the name of "Box-and-trip," and owed its character to the careful method of preparing the yarn; but the sale has latterly declined, in consequence of the inferior method of manufacture: it is wrought in pieces from 140 to 200 yards in length.
  • Another kind of linen is also made here, called Bandle linen, from being of the width of fourteen inches, which makes the measure called a bandle: both sorts were in much demand, as well for domestic consumption as for the army and navy.
  • The woollen manufacture is carried on for domestic purposes only; all the wool being sent to Cork or Limerick, where it is purchased and made up into cloth. The Coomduffe mountains form an exception to this remark, for the tenants there pay their rent by flannels, which are sold at the markets of Tralee and Dingle.

The fishery is carried on chiefly from the ports of Valencia and Dingle; the kinds taken are cod, ling, hake, glasson, and some haddock. Along the shores of the Kenmare river the fishery is also carried on to some extent; and here that of pilchards was also a great source of profit, but the fish have quitted the coast many years since. Salmon is also abundant, though much thinned by the seals, which frequent the shores in such numbers that the rocks are covered with them in Summer: these are killed sometimes with musket balls, and sometimes by moonlight in the caverns where they sleep. Dingle bay is famous for its crayfish, and for lobsters on its northern side; oysters and other shellfish are to be obtained in many places.


A great disadvantage which the entire county labours under is the want of means for exporting its produce: there are but few quays, so that it loses nearly all the advantages of its maritime situation. Much might be done in this respect by opening the mouth of the Cashen, and by improving the harbour of Tarbert, which is capable of being made one of the most useful ports on the Shannon. A ship canal from Tralee to the bay of that name has been for some time in progress.

The rivers are numerous, but none of great length.

  • The Feale rises in the mountains that separate Kerry and Limerick, and receives the Gale or Galey near Rattoo from the north-east, and afterwards the Brick from the south. From the junction of these three, the united stream takes the name of Cashen, and discharges itself into the estuary of the Shannon, near Ballybunnian. The tide flows up the whole of the Cashen, and boats proceed as far as Lixnaw, on the Brick, at high water.
  • The Mang, or Maine, rises near Castleisland, and proceeding south-west is augmented by the Fleskroe, and after passing by Castlemaine, to which place it is navigable, it falls into the harbour of that name.
  • The Lee is a small stream rising a few miles east of Tralee, but when augmented by the mountain streams after rain, its body of water is so considerable as frequently to overflow a great part of that town, to which it is navigable from the sea by boats.
  • The Flesk, the second river in size, rises near the eastern boundary of the county, and flowing in a very winding course through the valley of Glenflesk, discharges itself into the Lower lake of Killarney. The only outlet for the waters of these lakes is the Laune, or Lane, which empties itself into Castlemaine harbour, after receiving the Gheestan.
  • The Cara rises in the mountains of Dunkerron, passes through Glencarra, and after forming a lake, falls into the same bay.
  • The Fartagh and Inny, or Eeny, rise in the Iveragh mountains and flow westward, the former into Valencia harbour, the latter into Ballinaskellig's bay.
  • The Roughty empties itself into the inner extremity of the arm of the sea called the river or bay of Kenmare, into the northern side of which the Finihy, Blackwater, and Sneem also fall. Most of these rivers abound with salmon and trout.
  • The Great Blackwater rises in the north-east of Kerry, and after forming the boundary between this county and Cork, flows eastward through the latter county into the Atlantic at Youghal.

The roads have of late years been considerably improved. A government road from Castleisland to King-William's-Town is in progress, and another under the Board of Public Works, from Kenmare to Glengariff, in continuation of a line from Killarney to Kenmare (completed about ten years since), which will open a communication through a wild and mountainous tract. Several other new roads-are also in progress or projected.

The vestiges of antiquity scattered over the county are very numerous, though the most common are the traces of the military struggles of which it has been the scene.

  • It had formerly three of the ancient round towers, of which the one that stood near the cathedral of Ardfert fell in 1771; of another, at Aghadoe, there are about 20 feet remaining; and the third is still standing nearly entire at Rattoo.
  • Staigue Fort, in the parish of Kilcrohane, is an extraordinary circular building of the most remote date: there is another stone fort with seats around it, about three miles distant, but in ruins, from the inferior solidity of its workmanship; and a similar enclosure is likewise to be seen in Iveragh, on the opposite side of the river from Cahirciveen.
  • Perhaps of a remoter age are the Ogham inscriptions near the church of Kilmelchedor, near Smerwick harbour; where there is another inscription in a running character of various ancient letters. At Ballysteeny is likewise a stone with an Ogham inscription; and, in the ruined church of Aghadoe, another.
  • Among the most curious of the ancient fortifications is the circular enclosure at Caherdonnel, which is attributed to the Danes; and on the mountain of Cahirconree, or "the fortress of King Con," is a circle of massive stones, also piled in the manner of a Danish intrenchment. There is also a Danish camp, called Caher Trant, on the shores of Ventry haven; and another at Rathanane, in the same vicinity. Clee Ruadh, or the Red Ditch, is a singular line of defence, commencing at a place called Caher Carbery, near Kerry Head, and carried eastward to the Cashen river, beyond which it re-appears, and proceeding over Knockanure mountain it enters Limerick county, where all traces of it are lost: it is conjectured to have been an ancient line of demarcation between the principalities of Thomond and Desmond.
  • The most curious of the minor remains of the more remote ages is the bronze instrument, resembling a kettle-drum, found at Muckross, and now deposited in Charlemont House, Dublin.
  • Eighteen religious houses are said to have anciently existed in this county; and there are remains of those of Aghamore, or Derrynane, Ardfert, Ballinaskellig, Innisfallen, Irrelagh or Muckross, Killagh or de Bello Loco (in the parish of Kilcoleman), Lislaghtin, O'Dorney or Kyrie Eleison, and Rattoo or Rathtoy. There are also the ruins of the ancient cathedrals of Ardfert and Aghadoe; a ruined religious building, called Monaster in Oriel, in the parish of Kilgarvan; chapels or cells, built entirely of stone with arched roofs, on Skellig and Blasquet Islands, from the former of which the abbey of Ballinaskellig was removed to the mainland; a curious church and cell, dedicated to St. Finian, on an island in Lough Currane, in the parish of Dromod; a stone-roofed cell at Fane, in the parish of Ventry; one also at Kilmelchedor; one near Gallerus, at the bottom of Smerwick harbour, which is very perfect and curious; Mac Ida's chapel, near Ballyheigue; and an anchorite's cell in the solid rock near Kilcrohane church. Ruined parochial churches are found scattered over the entire county; but their features are generally very simple.
  • The old castles still remaining in a more or less perfect state are those of Ardea, Barra, Ballybeggan, Ballybunnian, Ballycarbery, Ballyheigue, Ballymalus, Ballinaskellig, Beale, Cappanacoss, Carrigafoyle, Castledrum, Castlefiery, Castleisland, Castlelough, Castlesybil, Clonmellane, Doon, Dunkerron, Dunloh, Fenit, Gallerus, Killaha, Kilmurry, Lick, Listowel, Littur, Molahiffe, Pallis, Rathanane, and Ross, which, as well as the modern castles and seats, are noticed in the parishes in which they are respectively situated.
  • In the western part of the county the houses were built after the Spanish fashion, with stone balconies in front; as there was a great communication with the Spaniards and Portuguese, who visited the coast annually in considerable numbers to fish for cod, which circumstance also accounts for the names given to some of the towns.
  • The mountainous parts are chiefly inhabited by herdsmen, who feed and clothe themselves from their own lands, consuming but little of the produce of other places: their habitations are low smoky huts covered with coarse thatch.
  • In some parts the women have a becoming dress, consisting of a jacket of cloth, with loose sleeves, made to fit close round the neck and bosom, and fastened in front with a row of buttons: this is considered to be a relic of the Spanish costume. They marry at a very early age.
  • The peasants are generally well-proportioned, with swarthy complexions, dark eyes and long black hair, exhibiting, in the opinion of some, strong traces of their Spanish origin.
  • They are a frank, honest race, of very independent spirit, acute in understanding, and friendly and hospitable to strangers.
  • The Dingle mountains being dry and healthy, are very populous: those to the south are but thinly peopled.

The state of the peasantry in the northern part of the county is much worse than that just described.

  • In many places they are badly housed, the family and the cattle, including the pig, being inmates of the same apartment; the floors sunk below the level of the soil; the bedding, straw, hay, or dry rushes;
  • their clothing scanty; nearly two-thirds of the population bare-legged;
  • the diet, potatoes and sour milk;
  • the wages, tenpence a day in spring and harvest, and at other periods the labourers are wholly unemployed.
  • Between Tarbert and Listowel many of the cabins are built of stone without cement, the doors being of wicker.

The people in general, though superstitious, querulous, and, from want of regular employment, of an idle disposition, are inquisitive and extremely intelligent. It is well known that classical learning was sought after even to a fault among the lower orders throughout the county, many of whom had more knowledge of the Latin language than those of the higher classes in other parts.

  • The practice of "keening" at funerals, which in many parts is falling into disuse, is here retained in full force.


Mineral springs, simply chalybeate, are numerous. Of sulphuric chalybeates the principal is that called the Spa, about three miles from Tralee; and at Ballybeg, north-east of Dingle, is another highly impregnated. A saline spring at Magherybeg, in Corkaguiney, rises a little below high watermark out of a clear white sand: though covered twice a day by the tide, there is no variation in it.

Near Dowlas Head are several large natural caves, one of which is of magnificent dimensions, and in calm weather may be entered for 100 yards in a boat; the reverberation of the human voice in the interior sounds like a speaking trumpet. At Minegahane, near the Cashen, the sea breaking into the cavities of the shore produces a loud sound like the discharge of artillery; the noise generally precedes a change of weather, and not unfrequently occurs on the approach of a storm.

A columnar cliff, called by the country people the Devil's Castle, stands to the north of Lick Castle, in the mouth of the Shannon, and is inaccessible except to the sea-fowl. The whole shore hereabouts presents a succession of romantic caverns, extending from Ballybunnian to Kilconly Point.

But the great natural curiosities of this county are those of Killarney and its vicinity, described in the account of that place; besides which may be enumerated

  • the transposed limestone and sandstone rocks, and the fairy rock, covered with impressions of feet, both near Kilgarvan;
  • Lough Quinlan, with its floating islands, in the parish of Tuosist;
  • and the caves and subterranean stream in the parish of Ratass.

Kerry gives the inferior titles of Baron and Earl to the Marquess of Lansdowne, who also enjoys the titles of Viscount Clanmaurice and Baron of Lixnaw and Dunkerron, in the peerage of Ireland, all derived from districts in this county.

SOURCE: A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis (pub 1837)

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  • I would love to obtain a print of the wonderful map. Is that possible? Im in Australia.


    Saturday 15th August 2020 07:54AM
  • The LBrown Collection can print high resolution sepia versions of these maps to order. See... https://www.lbrowncollection.com/ireland-counties-samuel-lewis-1837-a-1…

    Rua, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘︎

    Saturday 15th August 2020 11:49AM
  • What a treasure this account is. The historical connection to Spain is much stronger than I thought. I must get a map to try & orientate me to this history. My Kerry ancestors the Savages came from Curraheen. Mark Australia

    Mark Quealy

    Saturday 7th November 2020 12:08AM
  • Thanks for sharing this resource!

    I too am impressed by the Spanish connections mentioned in this account, particularly that the inhabitants according to Ptolemy, were  "supposed to have been descended from the Iberi of Spain, to which their country lies opposite;". My grandmother from County Kerry believed that the dark hair and eyes of some of her family were due to the sailors from the Spanish Armada who had been shipwrecked offf the coast of Kerry, and had  supposedly had intermarried with the natives, but I have seen that theory rejected by historians who said that those sailors were robbed and murdered by the local inhabitants. I think my grandmother must have heard some old confused folk memories  which still had a grain of truth!

    My Murphys, Sullivans, Caseys and Sugrues all came from Bolus Head or nearby townlands on Iveragh Peninsula.in Co. Kerry. Some of them married into Keatings in Valencia.


    Julie HU


    Saturday 7th November 2020 03:16AM
  •  My maternal grandfather's greatgreat grandmother was said to be Spanish.She was Mrs Lynch of Valentia.

    Three Lynch brothers are said to come to Valentia but the offspring of one of them

    was supposedly very dark -skinned..This folklore may have a grain of truth.Lots

    of Spaniards fished close to the South West Kerry Coast. My family are from the same parish

    as Julie Hu's, the Parish of Prior.

    Pat O'Leary.

    patrickjoseph35, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 7th November 2020 05:11PM
  • Thanks Mark!

    We'd love if you added your Savages to our Ancestors roll-call for https://irelandxo.com/ireland/kerry/annagh-kerry

    (There are 2 Curraheens in Kerry)


    Sunday 8th November 2020 10:03AM
  • Thanks Julie!

    The Spanish connection is fascinating for us all!

    We'd love if you added your Murphys, Sullivans, Caseys and Sugrues to our Ancestors roll-call for


    Sunday 8th November 2020 10:07AM

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