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Ireland Gazeteer

Dingle in 1837

DINGLE, a corporate town on a bay of Ihe same name, in the barony of Corcaguinny and county of Kerry, in Ireland; distant from Dublin 164 Irish or 208 English miles.

The limits of the corporation embrace a circuit of two Irish miles by land and sea, measured from the parish church.

The ancient name was Dangan-I-Cushy, or the fortress of Hussey, an adventurer of English descent, to whom one of the family of Desmond granted the tract of country on which the town stands.

The name has been corrupted to Dangan-I-Couch and Dingle-I-Couch, in which latter form it is still commonly used.

During the latter end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century.

Dingle enjoyed a considerable traffic with Spain, from which large quantities of wines and spices were annually imported here , in return for its exports of tanned hides, Irish friezes, woollen stockings, salt beef, butter, and salmon.

The town was erected into a corporation by Queen Elizabeth in 1585, at which time it sent members to the Irish parliament.

About the same time it was walled in; but the walls being built of clay mortar, from the difficulty of procuring lime, soon fell to decay.

It is now governed by charter of the 4th of James I. The corporation consists of sovereign, twelve burgesses, and an unlimited number of freemen.

There are held a Tholsel court, court of conscience, and petty sessions once a fortnight; but the quarter-sessions which were formerly held here have been removed to Tralee, a. distance of 27 miles, which is said to be productive of some inconvenience.

The town has an antique appearance. Some of the old houses are in the Spanish taste, with stone balconies, &c. and several bear date as early as the reign of Elizabeth.

The vaults of the old castle built by Hussey were standing in 1780, and used as the town-gaol.

The parish church, dedicated to St. James, is said to have been built at the charge of the Spanish who frequented the port; it was a large structure, but is now much decayed.

The residence of the proprietor, the knight of Kerry, is the principal modern building, attached to which are some well laid out gardens.

A new bridewell has lately been built here. There are also a market-house and small barrack.

The town is not lighted or watched; the streets, roads, and bridges are repaired by county presentments, and the duties of a police are performed by a portion of the constabulary force of the county.

The harbour, a land-locked creek on the northern side of the great estuary called Dingle Bay, is capable of floating vessels of 300 tons up to the town, and is pretty well protected from the westerly winds which prevail on this coast.

From the difficulty however of distinguishing the entrance, vessels bound for Dingle in a westerly gale run a risk of going to leeward on the dangerous shoals of Castlemain harbour at the head of the estuary.

In 1765 a sum of £1,000 was voted by the Irish parliament in aid of the building of the quay.

The town has improved very much within the last twenty years, although the linen trade, which formerly flourished here, has declined.

The chief trade is an export of butter and corn to Liverpool. The foreign trade is confined to a single vessel.

Average coasting tonnage for Great Britain, inwards. 550 tons; outwards, 500 do.; for Ireland, inwards, 200 tons: outwards, 100 ditto.

Population in 1821, 4,538; ditto. in 1831, 4,327: decrease in 10 years, 211.

Total population within the limits of the borough in 1831, 9,329.

In the parish of Dingle there were, in 1834, 5 schools, educating 284 males and 106 females; of these two were small free schools.