Abbeyfeale - Visitor Guide
ABBEYFEALE - A VISITORS GUIDE.
Abbeyfeale is a historical market town in County Limerick, Ireland near the boundary with County Kerry. In Irish it is called Mainistir na Féile, meaning "Abbey of the Feale". The town is situated on the beautiful banks of the river Feale in the foothills of the Mullaghareirk Mountains. It is in the south west of Ireland, some 21 km (13 miles) from Newcastle West on the N21 on the main road from Limerick to Tralee.
The main feature in Abbeyfeale's Square is a statue of Father William Casey that was unveiled back in 1910. Fr. Casey was the parish priest from 1883 to 1907 and helped the tenant farmers fight against their landlords. The local Gaelic football team is named in his honour (Fr. Caseys GAA Club). Recently the town celebrated the centenary of Fr. Casey's influence by having a Fr. Casey themed Saint Patrick's Day Parade.
The May Bank Holiday weekend sees the town host the "Fleadh by the Feale" traditional music festival. The 2009 festival was the thirteenth of these annual events. The International Bone Playing Competition is the highlight of the festival and is held on the Bank Holiday Monday evening on the open air stage in the town circle
The town is known for its extensive musical tradition, notably the exponents of traditional music such as Donal Murphy and Eibhlin Healy both living in the town.
There was a cinema in the town, opened by the Tobin family in the 1930s designed in the classical tradition and showing all the big movies of the time, its demise came about with the advent of the multi complex and it closed in the early nineties, it is now a protected building can be still seen today.
The town had a famous dancehall "The Abbey Ballroom" also established by the Tobin family in the 1930/40s this was where romances originated with all the big bands of the time playing there, with the opening of the dance/pubs it closed in the 1980s.
The town previously had an abbey, located in the centre of the town square, but this has since all but disappeared, and the only identifiable remnants are those used in the construction of the Roman Catholic Church in 1847, on the site of the current boys national school on Church street. Church street as it is now known was originally named Chapel Street, as can be seen in old period OS maps of the town. The Geraldine Portrinard Castle (or Purt Castle) is situated about 2.5 km northwest of the town, on the north bank of the Feale.
Phil Danaher, Irish Rugby International (28 senior caps) and Gaelic Footballer (Limerick Senior team, Kerry minor team), also grew up in Abbeyfeale. The family of William Webb Ellis, who 'while at school in rugby with a delightful disregard for the rules picked the ball and ran with it' and whose name is commemorated in the World Cup, also had strong connections with the town.
Michael Lenihan, a Franciscan missionary priest and the current Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of La Ceiba in Honduras, was born in Abbeyfeale.
Denis Behan, former striker for Cork City and Republic of Ireland U23.
Richard J. Hayes, World War II cryptographer and Director of the National Library of Ireland.
In 1418, Thomas FitzGerald, 5th Earl of Desmond was dispossessed of his lands and deprived of his earldom by his paternal uncle, James FitzGerald, 6th Earl of Desmond, after Thomas had concluded a marriage far below his station to Catherine MacCormac of Abbeyfeale; Catherine was the daughter one of Thomas's dependants, William MacCormac, known as "the Monk of Feale." A marriage between a man of Norman blood and a woman of Gaelic ancestry was in violation of the Statutes of Kilkenny.
Abbeyfeale Railway Station opened on 20 December 1880, but was finally closed on 3 November 1975. The Great Southern Trail is a greenway rail trail that follows the route of the former Limerick-Tralee railway line between Abbeyfeale and Rathkeale.
Schools include Coláiste Íde agus Iosef, a Secondary School serving Limerick and surrounding counties.The boys school is called St Mary's and the girls school is called Scoil Mhaithair De.
Abbeyfeale has a good sporting community with the focus on Gaelic Football (Father Casey’s),
Soccer (Abbeyfeale United FC) and Rugby (Abbyefeale RFC).
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