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County Kerry

On the southwestern portion of Ireland, County Kerry is home to some of the most widely recognized locations in Ireland. Killarney, the Dingle Peninsula, and the County Town of Tralee make "The Kingdom" well known all around the world. The geography of County Kerry includes mountain and sea, with peaks that number among the highest in the country. Mount Brandon and Mount Carrauntoohill grace the coastal peninsulas. Rainfall is abundant here, and the proximity of the Gulf Stream just off the Kerry coast adds warm water temperatures to the mix, making Kerry the perfect environment for a wide variety of greenery and exotic plant life. 

Highlights of County Kerry

  • The Ring of Kerry is the premier path of visitors who want to experience a comprehensive collection of the best examples of Ireland's culture and scenery, and meet and interact with local residents.
  • Beginning at the Village of Cahirciveen, the birthplace of the "Liberator" Daniel O'Connell, the Dingle Peninsula contains some of the most breathtaking and unusual coastal scenery on the entire island, in fact, in the entire world. You will hear the rhythm of the Gaelic language here, in an area where it is spoken freely and studied in schools throughout this Gaeltacht region.
  • A trip to the Blasket Islands is a visit into Ireland's past, where life was difficult and primitive. Some of the country's great literary classics emerged from the hardship and isolation of this beautiful place.
  • The "Jewel of Killarney" shines brightly at Muckross Estate and Traditional Farms, where the manor museum holds relics of the traditional past in furniture, art and design.
  • Its working farms keep the agricultural past of the region alive, with a dairy, blacksmith shop, cloth weaving and live animals. The attractive gardens blend into the natural woodlands at the edge of Killarney National Park.
  • The complete history of County Kerry, The Kingdom, can be vividly experienced at the heritage centre of the same name in the Kerry County Museum at Tralee.
  • A variety of exhibits, presented with the use of a variety of interpretative methods accurately represent events and people of the region reaching nearly 8,000 years into the past.

History of County Kerry

On the Dingle Peninsula itself, evidence of human inhabitants extends back in time nearly 6,000 years to the Mesolithic period. The peninsula is dotted with interesting archeological finds from this period, as well as the Stone and Bronze Ages, on into Viking and Medieval Times.

Located in the western part of Munster Province, County Kerry once belonged to now defunct County Desmond, ruled by the family of the same name. It was called "the Kingdom", or Kingdom of Ciar, who was the forefather of the clan O'Connor. This is just one written explanation - there are several schools of thought as to where the name originated.

Modern history began with Henry II taking over rule from the clans of the region, and continues on through centuries marked by the valiant but failed rebellions of the locals against the English. The Penal Laws were strictly enforced here, persecuting those of the Catholic faith - preventing them from owning land, running for public office, and practicing their religion.

A well-known event in the local history of County Kerry was The Dingle Massacre. It took place in June of 1793, when a crowd of locals assembled to ascertain the future of the ongoing policy of the tithe--10% tariff. Rumors had been circulated that the policy was on the verge of being abolished. The gathering was deemed illegal and British soldiers stationed at a nearby post fired upon the crowd, killing fourteen local residents and wounding many more.

The eventful centuries that followed in County Kerry history were filled with struggle and persecution, and also by encouraging milestones such as the Catholic Emancipation, engineered in large part by County Kerry's own Daniel O' Connell, known as "The Liberator". The Famine impacted the region severely in the 1850s. The rural nature of County Kerry made it a prime location for many of the fierce guerrilla battles fought during the Irish Civil War.

Kerry Surnames

Common surnames in County Kerry include:

  • O'Sullivan
  • Galvin
  • Fitzgerald
  • McCarthy
  • Connor
  • Moriarty
  • O'Donoghue


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