County of Kerry in 1839
KERRY, a maritime county of the province of Munster in Ireland; bounded on the east by the counties of Limerick and Cork, on the south by the county of Cork and the estuary of the river of Kenmare, on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the north by the estuary of the river Shannon which separates it from the county of Clare.
The greatest length in a direct line north and south is from the Priest's-leap mountain, on the Cork boundary, to Carrigfoyle on the Shannon, 54 statute miles; and the greatest breadth in a direct line east and west is from the Cork boundary at Lisheen to Dunmore Head, the most westerly point of the mainland of Ireland, 56 statute miles. In a direct line from south-west to north-east, between Bolus Head and the Limerick boundary at Tarbert, the distance is 69 miles. The coast line with its various indentations is above 220 miles.
The area, as estimated, is 1,068,480 statute acres, or 1,669 square statute miles. It has been elsewhere estimated at 1,148,720 acres, of which 581,189 acres are cultivated land, 552,862 are unprofitable mountain and bog, and 14,669 are under water. In 1831 the gross population was 263,126.
Kerry, with a small portion of Cork, forms the south-western extremity of Ireland. The coast, which is bordered by the Atlantic, is deeply indented by the estuary of the Kenmare river, the bay of Dingle, and the bay of Tralee, the two former of which penetrate into the mainland about 30 miles in an easterly direction.
The peninsulas intercepted between these arms of the sea are occupied by the western extremities of the mountain system, which, commencing in Waterford, extends with little interruption across the entire south of Ireland.
The mountains of Bear and Bantry. spreading from the south-western boundary of Cork across the south of Kerry, occupy the district between the river of Kenmare and the bay of Dingle.
The peninsula intercepted between the bays of Dingle and Tralee consists in like manner of a prolongation of the mountain groups which occupy the north-western extremity of Cork and the south-west of Limerick; the heights connecting the extremities of this latter series of elevations extend across the middle of the county in a line nearly east and west.
Between the above-mentioned mountain-ranges there is a considerable plain, formed by the subsidence of the high table-land, which occupies the middle portion of the Cork boundary, and spreads with a gradual declivity towards the head of Dingle or Castlemain Bay.
Beyond the range of mountain which crosses the centre of the county extends a rich and generally level country, which rises into rough land in only one direction, towards Kerry Head on the Shannon.
At the head of the river Kenmare, which is in fact an arm of the sea, is a long and narrow valley, which is watered by the Roughty, the most considerable stream that falls into the Kenmare estuary.
The town of Kenmare is situated at the lower extremity of this valley in a fertile but confined tract, from which the Glancrought mountains rise on one side towards Cork, and the group of Mangerton on the other, towards that extensive mountain-tract which occupies the entire peninsula between the northern shore of Kenmare river and the bay of Dingle.
The extremity of this great peninsula, comprising the barony of Iveragh and part of the barony of Dunkerron, is divided into three principal valleys by ridges running nearly north-east by south-west.
Of these valleys the first towards the north is separated from the bay of Dingle by a steep range terminating towards the head of the bay in the mountain of Drung, and prolonged westward to the coast at Dowlus Head, opposite to which the island of Valentia, half a mile from the opening of the valley, includes between it and the mainland one of the safest harbours in Ireland.
The town of Cahirciveen is situated at the foot of this valley, where the river Fartagh expands into a small lake before falling into Valentia Harbour.
Separated from the valley of the Fartagh by a ridge of the same mountain-group is another valley terminating towards the sea in the open bay of Ballinaskelligs. so called from the Skelligs, two remarkable rocks in the offing.
The boundary of the bay of Ballinaskelligs on the north is Bolus Head, the extremity of the mountain-range above mentioned. Between this range and the Dunkerron mountains, on the south-east and east, then is a considerable extent of comparatively open country, subdivided into two valleys by the secondary ridge of Cahirbarna.
Of these valleys that to the west is drained by the Inny. which has its sources about 20 miles in the interior at a great elevation, among the Iveragh mountains. On the opposite side of Cahirbarna lie three lakes, of which Loch Currane is the most considerable: it is supposed at one time to have been an arm of the sea, and, owing to an accumulation of detritus at its mouth, to have been converted into a basin for the waters descending from the lakes above.
The village of Waterville is situated at the point where it discharges itself into the sea.
The southern boundary of the bay of Ballinaskelligs is formed by the extremity of the Dunkerron range, which terminates in lofty mountains above Derrynane, from which point their general direction is north-east, nearly parallel to the northern shore of the estuary of Kenmare.
Between the main range and the shore of this arm of the sea there are numerous lateral valleys drained by mountain streams running nearly north and south. Of these the principal are the valleys of Sneem and the little Blackwater.
Throughout this district the only spots of cultivated ground are either on the sea-coast, the banks of rivers, or along the upper margins of the bogs which universally occupy the valleys to a considerable height up the acclivities of the mountains.
In the barony of Iveragh alone are 26,896 Irish, or 43,599 statute acres of bog, among which the several mountain-chains appear insulated.
The Iveragh mountains are bounded on the north-east by the lateral valley of Glencare, which runs southward from the upper end of Dingle Bay towards the head of the similarly situated valley of Sneem, on the opposite side of the peninsula. Loch Carra, a considerable expanse of water, occupies the lower portion of the valley of Glencare, above which, in the recesses of the mountain, are the villages of Blackstones and Carramore.
In the interior and opposite the extremity of the central ridge of Iveragh, is situated the great group of MacGillicuddy's Reeks, among which Carran Tual rises to the height of 3,410 feet, being the highest ground in Ireland.
The Reeks extend about ten miles in a direction from north-west to south-east, subsiding into the plain at the head of Dingle Bay on the north, and separated from the external range of Tomies and Glena by a deep chasm called the Gap of Dunloe, on the north-east.
In a deep hollow between the south-eastern flank of this range and the group of Mangerton, which connects the extremity of the Dunkerron chain with the Priests-leap and Glanerough mountains, lies the Upper Lake of Killarney.
This beautiful sheet of water, which is three miles in length by three-quarters of a mile in breadth, is enclosed on all sides by mountains from 2,000 to 3,000 feet in height, except at one point, towards its eastern extremity, where it discharges its waters by a tortuous course of three miles between the southern declivities of Glena and the precipitous side of Turk mountain, which forms a portion of the group of Mangerton.
There are several wooded islands in the Upper Lake, the luxuriant foliage of which forms an agreeable contrast to the general sterility of the surrounding mountains.
There is however a considerable tract of natural oak forest towards its southern extremity, and the channel leading to the Lower Lake passes through a thickly wooded defile.
About midway between the extremities of the channel a remarkable detached rock, called the Eagles Nest, rises over the left bank to a height of 1,100 feet: the echoes here are of unusual continuance and distinctness.
Emerging from this defile, the river expands into the Lower Lake of Killarney, seven miles in length by three in breadth, skirting the eastern declivities of the mountain range of Tomies and Glena.
These mountains, descending abruptly to the western verge of the lake, are clothed with the richest natural woods of oak, ash, pine, alder, and beech, intermixed with hazel, whitethorn, yew, holly, and arbutus, from a height of several hundred feet down to the waters edge through a continuous distance of six miles.
O'Sullivan's river, descending by a thickly wooded ravine on this side, forms a cascade 70 feet high close to the shore of the lake.
On the opposite side the low alluvial banks are everywhere broken into promontories and islands, on which the arbutus grows with uncommon luxuriance.
The town of Killarney is situated on the plain about a mile from the eastern shore: half a mile south of Killarney runs the Flesk, the chief feeder of the lake.
About a mile south from the embouchure of the Flesk, the richly wooded promontory of Muckruss running into the lake about a mile and three-quarters, separates a portion of the lake which is called the Lake of Muckreefs, and sometimes Turk Lake, from its skirting the base of that mountain.
Two cascades descend into Turk Lake: of these the more considerable is fed by a pool called the Devil's Punchbowl, situated at a height of 1,700 feet on the ascent of Mangerton mountain, which, between the vale of Killarney and the town of Kenmare, rise to a height of 2,550 feet.
The castles of Dunlo and Ross, and the ruined churches of Aghadoe and Muckreefs, which are all situated on the eastern short of the Lower Lake, add considerably to the interest and extent of the surrounding scenery.
The waters of the lakes of Killarney discharge themselves at the northern extremity of the Lower Lake through the river Laune, which runs by a course of twelve miles into the head of Dingle Bay.
The remainder of the plain between Killarney and the mountains south of Tralee is drained by the river Main, which rises near the Cork boundary, and after passing the towns of Castle Island and Castlemain, discharges itself into the head of Dingle Bay. where it forms an estuary called Castlemain Harbour.
The valley of the Main is bounded on the north by the group of the Stack mountains, which sink into comparatively low hills as they trend towards the sea, leaving a pretty open communication with Tralee from the south. Westward from this point the lofty ridge of Slievemish occupies the entire neck of the peninsula of Corkaguinny, which bounds the bay of Dingle on the north.
Slievemish is interrupted by a lateral valley, beyond which the conical mountain of Cahirconree rises to a height of 2,784 feet. Westward from this a minor chain of hills extends to Dingle on the southern side of the peninsula; beyond and north of Dingle the mountains rise towards the Atlantic in great masses, of which the chief is Brandon, 3,150 feet in height, being the second highest ground in Ireland.
The extremity of the peninsula has an abrupt coast of about six miles from north to south, formed by Sybil Head, Maran mountain, Eagle mountain, and Dunmore Head, off which lie the Blasquet Islands.
North of Tralee the country improves in facility of access and cultivation. The plain of Ardfert, between Tralee and the high ground towards Kerry Head, is rich and well improved; its drainage is towards the sea, and the streams are insignificant.
The remaining district, extending from the plain of Ardfert to Tarbert on the Limerick boundary, is the most extensive tract of open country in Kerry; it is drained by the rivers Feale, Gale, and Brick, which, uniting within five miles of the sea, receive the common name of The Cashen river: the united length of their courses is about 50 miles.
A rough district extends from the mouth of the Cashen to Beal Point, where the estuary of the Shannon first assumes the character of a river.
The coast is here precipitous towards the sea, and near the bathing village of Ballybunion abounds in caves which are said to be of the most magnificent description.
On the Feale is situated the town of Listowel, which, with Lixnaw near the Brick, and Tarbert and Ballylongford on the Shannon, are the only other places of consequence in the county.
The district of the Cashen contains a large extent of bog. The total area of the bogs of Kerry is estimated at 150,000 acres.
The harbours on the south side of the river of Kenmare are in general badly protected from westerly and northerly gales.
From Dutch Island, which fronts the harbour of Ardgroom on this side, as far up as the tide runs, there is safe anchorage in eight to three fathoms water in the middle of the channel, the banks being a soft ooze on which vessels may be conveniently careened.
Opposite to Ardgroom, on the north side of the estuary, is Sneem Harbour, where vessels may lie landlocked in four fathoms water, or in the entrance may ride in ten fathoms.
Vessels parting their cables in any part of the estuary may safely run aground in Nideen Sound, which forms the upper extremity of the bay on this side.
Towards the middle of the west side of Ballinaskellys Bay is a small island, between which and the mainland is anchorage in four to five fathoms, but even here in hard weather a vessel requires very strong cables: the remainder of the bay is quite unsafe in southerly or westerly winds.
Between Bolus Head and Puffin Island is St. Finian's Bay, which is very much exposed to the prevalent run of the sea. The harbour of Valentia opens about a league to the north of Puffin Island; it possesses the advantage of a double entrance, so that ships may sail in or out with any wind.
It is quite landlocked, but the entrances are narrow, that on the north being contracted by the islands of Beginnis and Lamb's Island, between the former of which and Valentia there is a sunken rock, which farther contracts the entrance to a cable's length.
Valentia Island forms the southern boundary of the bay of Dingle towards the sea.
Dingle bay is open and unsafe, being full of shoals at its upper extremity; vessels embayed here should make either for Valentia or the creek of Dingle on the opposite side of the estuary.
A league west of Dingle creek is the bay of Ventry, with good anchorage and a sufficient depth of water, but open to the south.
Smerwick harbour on the opposite side of the peninsula has also deep water and good holding-ground, but is exposed to the north, the bottom of the harbour consists of turf bog, which shows that a portion of this coast must have been submerged within a comparatively recent date.
Under the neck of the peninsula on the northern side is the bay of Tralee, which is dry at low water, but now in process of considerable improvement by the construction of a ship canal, by which vessels of 300 tons will be able to come up to the town.
From Tralee northward the coast is low and encumbered with shoals and sandbanks. Vessels embayed here, if they cannot make Fenit Creek on the north of Tralee Bay, have no shelter for a distance of two leagues.
Beyond Kerry Head opens the estuary of the Shannon, in which the first sheltered anchorage is off the point of Tarbert, where ships may lie nearly landlocked in twelve fathoms water.
There are piers for fishing boats and small craft at Kenmare, Ballinaskelligs, Cahirciveen, Brandon, and Barra; and considerable improvements are projected at Ballylongford and Tarbert.
The roads in the south-western part of Kerry up to the year 1820 were scarcely passable for wheel-carriages, and there are some parts of the coast between Kenmare and Cahirciveen still inaccessible, except on foot or horseback.
From Cahirciveen the old line of communication was by the seaward side of Drung Mountain, at a height of 800 feet above the Bay of Dingle.
The difficulty of access to the district of Glanbehy situated southward of this line induced the proprietor, Lord Headly, in 1807, to commence the construction of a road on a more eligible level through his property: the development of the resources of the district which followed the first opening of this road was remarkably rapid; and the same result in a more striking manner attended the subsequent construction of a mail-coach road, connecting Cahirciveen, by the valley south of Drung Mountain, with the low country at the head of Dingle Bay.
In three years from the opening of the new road in 1821, there were upwards of twenty two-story slated houses built in Cahirciveen, together with an inn, a bridewell, a post-office, a chapel, a quay, a sail-work, and two large stores for grain.
Before this time the village consisted of a few thatched cabins, and the nearest post-office was thirty miles distant.
About the same time government commenced several new lines of road, which have since greatly contributed to the prosperity of the country.
Of these the most important is a line of 25 Irish or 32 statute miles in length, connecting the town of Listowel and the northern ports of Kerry with Newmarket in the county of Cork, by which the distance from the former town to Cork city is diminished 29 miles.
Another line 25 statute miles in length connects Castle Island with Newcastle in the county of Limerick, diminishing the former distance from Killarney and the southern parts of Kerry to Limerick city 29 statute miles.
The old roads in this direction had in some places a rise of 1 foot in 4; the present road has a maximum rise of 1 foot in 27 . It crosses the Feale River by one arch of 70 feet span, where formerly was a bridge of twenty-one arches.
Before the year 1824 there was no road passable for wheel-carriages between Kenmare and the south-western part of Cork, and the car-road from Kenmare to Killarney was of the worst description.
An excellent road has since been constructed between the two latter places, and the line across the mountains of Bear and Bantry is now in progress.
These lines will be united at Kenmare by a suspension-bridge, to which the Marquis of Lansdowne contributes £3,200.
This will complete a direct and very important line of communication between the Shannon at Tarbert, and the south coast of the county of Cork near Skibbereen, a total distance of 84 miles.
The other roads of the county are constructed and kept in repair by grand jury presentments.
The climate is very moist from the vicinity of the Atlantic, and the south-western district is much exposed to storms.
In the inland parts however, especially in the neighbourhood of Killarney, the air is mild and genial, and vegetation extremely luxuriant.
There have been some remarkable instances of longevity in this county, notwithstanding the prevalent use of ardent spirits.
The geological structure of the chief mountain-chains is similar to that of the mountains in the west of Cork, the main component being a red or grey conglomerate and sandstone supporting flanks of silicious flags, and overlaid in the low districts by fields of floetz limestone.
It is observed, that the arms of the sea which penetrate this county lie within the limestone troughs, that rock appearing at the upper extremity of each, while the promontories forming their sides consist of sandstone and conglomerate.
The chief limestone fields occupy the basins of the Feale, Main, and Roughty, which last runs into the head of the estuary of Kenmare. At the Roughty it is cream-coloured, hard, slaty, and has a vitreous fracture.
Along the Main it lies in strata, generally compact, much impressed with marine remains, and toward Tralee is black and dressed as marble; it is of a lighter colour and softer in the direction of Castle Island, where it burns readily for manure.
From Ardfert to Listowel, and thence north to Knockanure Hill, it is of a light smoke-colour, and rises occasionally in low crags from which it is procured with great facility.
Northward from Ardfert the country towards Kerry Head consists of thick beds of argillaceous sandstone, beyond which the limestone reappears in contact with beds of alum slate in the cliffs of Ballybunion.
This formation, which is the most extensive at present known, extends from Ballybunion to Baltard Point in the county of Clare, a distance of 30 miles.
From Tralee eastward the country rising towards the boundaries of Cork and Limerick a occupied with an extension of the great Munster coal district.
The upper strata of this tract consist chiefly of an indurated clay and lias with ochreous partings covering thin beds of anthraceolite or culm: those on the eastern extremity of the district have been found alternating with good coal-blende similar to that of Kilkenny, and have been wrought to a considerable extent, but not in this county.
The mountains of Glanbehy abound with iron-ore, which was formerly smelted in considerable quantities at Blackstones, in works erected by Sir William Petty, but, the supply of timber having failed, these works were given up about the year 1750.
An iron bloomery was also worked at one time at Killarney, the neighbourhood of which, as appears by some verses in Nennius, has been celebrated for its mines since the ninth century.
At Muckruss and Ross Island in the Lower Lake, copper-mines have been worked occasionally since about the year 1750, but are now discontinued.
Lead-ore has also been found in considerable quantities in the vicinity of the lake.
Copper-ore has been found at Ardfert and in Glanerought.
Works for extracting copperas were at one time in operation near Castle Island, but are now given up.
The slate quarry in Valentia, the working of which is carried on by the Knight of Kerry, produces flags to the amount of £1,800, and slates to the amount of £500 annually.
The flagging, which is of a very superior description, is bought at the quarries by a stone-merchant, who transports it to London, where there is a demand for it which, it is expected, will be limited only by the power of production.
In size, appearance, and strength, these flags surpass every other description of flagging in use in London.
The soil of the south-western district, where not encumbered with bogs, is an adhesive loam, fit for the reception of corn crops, and formed by the decomposition of the clay-slate rock, which, from the nearly vertical position of its strata, is readily disintegrated by the weather.
Up to the year 1810 the plough was totally unknown in the more western parts of this district, and spade cultivation is still practised to a considerable extent.
The improvements on the estates of Lord Headly and the Marquis of Lansdowne have latterly given an impetus to agricultural labour throughout the southern parts of the county, which has caused a marked alteration for the better in the farms and dwellings of the peasantry.
The soil of the middle district is a rich loam, which produces excellent crops of grain, and when laid down in pasture yields butter of prime quality.
The northern district has a stiffer soil, more retentive of wet, and inclined to run to rushes.
It also is grazed to a considerable extent by dairy farmers, who find a market for their butter in Tralee.
Cider is made here in large quantities, and of a superior quality. The condition of the peasantry however is inferior to that of the inhabitants of the southern districts.
The average rate of labourers' wages in the south is 8 pence per day, and in the northern parts from 6 pence to 8 pence.
The system of farming, except where the example of the great proprietors has caused some change in the rotation of crops, is not judicious.
Green crops are generally unknown, and grass seeds are little in use.
The native breed of cattle are very small, but well formed, good milkers, and easily fattened.
They are now chiefly met with in the mountain districts: the dairy farms and low pastures are stocked with the ordinary cattle of the country.
A breed of small ponies is peculiar to Kerry: they are too light for farming purposes, but answer for the saddle very well, and are sold in considerable numbers throughout the country.
The peasantry of the southern districts are distinguished by. the darkness of their complexion, and a peculiar cast of features which has been generally thought to indicate a Spanish origin.
The chief trade of the county consists in exports of agricultural produce, chiefly oats and butter.
The returns are defective, but it is estimated that 100,000 firkins of butter are annually sold in the markets of Tralee and Killarney.
The manufacture of linen is carried on with some activity in the neighbourhood of Dingle, the linens from which place were formerly in much repute.
There is also a general manufacture of coarse woollens throughout the county for home consumption.
In 1836 the fisheries on this coast gave occasional employment to 1 decked boat, 44 half-decked boats, 421 open sail-boats and 610 open row-boats, manned by 6,311 fishermen.
The condition of the fishermen has been gradually declining for the last thirty years: many of the men have emigrated and left their families mendicants.
The fish caught are turbot, haddock, gurnet, pollock, plaice, soles, dorees, mullet, mackerel, herrings, pilchards, &c., with a plentiful supply of oysters, crabs, lobsters, and scallops.
Great numbers of seals formerly frequented the river of Kenmare and the caves of Bally bunion; but they have latterly become more shy, and are now rarely caught.
Kerry is divided into the baronies of Iveragh on the south-west, containing the town of Cahirciveen, population (in 1831) 1,192: Dunkerron, occupying the remainder of the peninsula, containing only hamlets; Glanerought on the south-east, containing the town of Kenmare, pop. 1,072: Magonihy, in the centre, containing the town of Killarnay, pop. 7,910: Trughenacmy, north of Magonihy, containing the borough of Tralee, pop. 9,568; and the towns of Castle Island, pop. 1,570; Miltown, pop. 1,429; Killorglan, pop. 896: Blennerville, pop. 532; Castlemain, pop. 387 : Corkaguiney, occupying the peninsula between Dingle and Tralee bays, containing the towns of Dingle, pop. 4,327; Castle Gregory, pop. 970; and Stradbally, pop. 425: Clanmaurice on the north-west, containing the town of Ardfert, pop. 717: and Iraghticonnor on the north and north-east, containing the towns of Listowell, pop. 2,289; Ballylongford, pop. 1,300; and Tarbert, pop. 956.
1792, estimated by Dr. Beaufort:- 19,395 houses; 107,000 persons.
1813, ascertained under Act of 1812:- 31,000 houses; 178,622 persons.
1821, ascertained under Act 55 George III c.120:- 35,597 houses; 38,059 families; 108,617 males; 107,568 females; total 216,185 persons.
1831 ascertained under Act 1 William IV c.19:- 41,294 houses; 45,024 families; 34,043 families employed in agriculture; 4,621 families employed in trade, manufactures, and handicraft; 6,360 families not in preceding classes; 131, 696 males; 131,430 females; total 263,126 persons.
Prior to the Union, Kerry sent eight members to the Irish parliament: two for the county, and two for each of the boroughs of Tralee, Dingle, and Ardfert.
It is represented in the Imperial parliament by two county members, and one for Tralee borough. The county constituency in 1836 was 1,212.
The assizes are held at Tralee, and quarter-sessions at Tralee and Killarney; there are bridewells at Killarney, Dingle, Kenmare, Cahirciveen, Castle Island, Milltown, Listowel, and Tarbert.
The total numbers of persons committed for trial to the county goal in 1836 was 747, of whom 503 were convicted.
Of the offenders, at the time of their commitment, 283 males and 3 females could read and write, 123 males and 8 females could read only, and 243 males and 87 females could neither read nor write.
The constabulary force in 1835 consisted of 7 first class constables, 26 constables, 130 sub-constables, and 11 horse; the total cost of the establishment for that year was £5,818, 5 shillings, 8 pence, of which £2,830, 5 shillings, 3 pence was chargeable against the county.
The county infirmary and fever hospital are at Tralee; there is also a fever hospital at Killarney, and there are dispensaries, supported by voluntary contributions and grand jury presentments, in all the minor towns.
The district lunatic asylum is at Limerick: the proportion of the cost of its erection chargeable against Kerry county is £9,303, 16 shillings, 7 pence.
Kerry is entirely within the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe. The proportion of Roman Catholics to Protestants in this diocese is nearly 40 to 1.
The proportion per cent of the population under daily instruction in 4.63, in which respect this diocese stands last among the 32 dioceses of Ireland.
There is however a very general turn for classical learning among the peasantry, many of whom have a tolerable knowledge of the Latin language.
Kerry, according to some Irish writers, had its name from Ciar, the son of Fergus, king of Ulster, and signified Ciar's kingdom; and originally formed part of the kingdom of Desmond, or South Munster, of which the MacCarthies were sovereigns.
Dermod MacCarthy, chief of this country, having invited the assistance of Raymond le Gros, one of the early Anglo-Norman adventurers, to suppress the rebellion of his son Cormac, granted him as a recompense for his services a large tract in the north of the county round Lixnaw, where Raymond, about A.D. 1177, settled his son Maurice, from whom the Fitzmaurices, lords of Kerry, draw their pedigree, and the barony of Clanmaurice takes its name.
Soon after, the Fitzgeralds established themselves in the south of the county, where they rose to such power on the downfall of the MacCarthies that in 1295 Thomas Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald was captain of all Desmond, comprising the counties of Cork, Waterford, and Kerry, and lord justice of Ireland.
He left two sons, John, afterwards created earl of Kildare, and Maurice, created earl of Desmond, with a royal jurisdiction over the palatinate of Kerry. A.D. 1329.
The liberty of Kerry so erected included the entire county, with the exception of the church lands, for which the king appointed the sheriff.
The lords of the palatinate had their own courts, judges, and great law officers, the only distinction between the liberty and a regular county being that the executive was administered by a seneschal instead of a sheriff.
The possession of so great powers in a district removed from all direct control drew the succeeding earls of Desmond into frequent contempts of the royal authority, for which their territories were on several occasions wasted by the king's forces.
The rebellion of Gerald, the sixteenth earl in the reign of Elizabeth, caused the final suppression of their authority and confiscation of their estates.
The English knights and gentlemen who had grants from the queen of the forfeited lands in the county were Sir William Herbert, Knight, 13,276 acres: Charles Herbert, Esq., 3,768 acres; Sir Valentine Brown, Knight, 6,560 acres; Sir Edward Denny, Knight 6,000 acres: Captain Conway, 5,260 acres; John Chapman, Esq., 1,434 acres; and John Holly, Esq.. 4,422 acres.
On the breaking out of the rebellion of 1641, the native Irish again took arms, and laid siege to the castle of Tralee, to which a great number of English families had fled.
After a siege of six months the place surrendered, and the Irish remained in possession of the country till 1652, when Ludlow, with an army of 4,000 foot and 200 horse, again reduced them.
Extensive confiscations of the estates of the native Irish followed. Among the new proprietors was Sir William Petty, who obtained a large grant of lands in the neighbourhood of Kenmare, and commenced the smelting of iron, which was carried on with vigour while timber lasted.
A colony of Protestants was planted by Sir William Petty round the head of Kenmare river, who were attacked by the native Irish in 1688, and compelled to abandon their possessions. A detachment of King William's army, under Brigadier Levison, entered the county in 1691 and finally reduced it.
The confiscations consequent on the last rebellion amounted to 90,116 acres, of an estimated total value at that time of £47,484, 12 shillings, 9 pence. About 1710 the coast was harassed by French pirates, which led to the erection of a small fort on Valentia Island.The principal proprietors at present are, the Marquis of Lansdowne, in whom the Fitzmaurice and Petty estates centre; Lord Kenmare, the representative of the Brown family; Lord Headly, Lord Ventry, and the Knight of Kerry.
Kerry contains several monuments of a very remote antiquity, of which the most remarkable are the Cyclopean stone fortresses of Cahirconree, Staigue, and Cahir Donnell; and the sepulchral stones with ogham inscriptions in the neighbourhood of Dingle.
Stone cells, probably of the sixth and seventh centuries, are still standing on the greater Scellig Island, at Ventry, and at Smerwick.
There is a round tower at Rattoo, one in an island at Loch Currane, part of another at Aghadoe, and a fourth formerly stood near the cathedral of Ardfert.
There are also the remains of thirteen religious houses and thirty feudal castles.
The county expenses are defrayed by grand jury presentments. The amount in 1835 was £30,951, 4 shillings, 7 pence, of which £19,672 were for public roads, buildings, institutions, and other general county charges, and £11,279, 4 shillings, 7 pence for roads charged specially to the several baronies.