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Ireland Gazeteer

Killarney in 1839

KILLARNEY, a market and post-town in the barony of Magonihy and county of Kerry, in Ireland: distant from Dublin 147 Irish or 187 statute miles.

The establishment of iron works by Sir William Petty on the eastern shore of the Lower Lake of Killarney led to the erection of the town, which is distant from the lake about a mile and a half.

It continued a small place till about the middle of the last century, when the proprietor, Lord Kenmare, invited several respectable families to settle there, and erected some houses for the linen manufacture in the vicinity.

Soon after a new street, now the High Street of the town, was built, and a commodious hotel erected for the accommodation of the numerous visitors who about this time began to be attracted by the beauty of the neighbouring scenery.

The working of the copper-mines at Ross and Muckruss contributed to the increasing prosperity of the town; and it has now become a place of permanent residence for many inhabitants of the better class, as well as a favourite resort for great numbers of tourists each summer and autumn.

It consists of two principal streets at right angles, with several smaller streets leading from them.

At the southern end of the main street is the best part of the town, called Kenmare Place, near which is the entrance to Lord Kenmare's demesne, a finely timbered park, which greatly ornaments the approach to Killarney on this side.

In the main street are two excellent hotels. Besides the church, which is a respectable old building, there is a large Roman Catholic chapel, a nunnery, and two subscription reading-rooms.

The general appearance of the town is neat, and, during the summer and autumn, very animated.

Quarter-sessions are held here four times in the year, besides weekly petty-sessions.

The court-house is a handsome stone edifice, having a bridewell attached.

The old court-house has been converted into a theatre.

Balls are occasionally given in the upper part of the market-house, which is an old building, now chiefly appropriated to the sale of linens.

There are a fever-hospital, dispensary, and almshouse for the aged women, the last supported by the countess of Kenmare.

There is a free-school for 400 males, under the superintendence of the Roman Catholic clergymen, and another for 300 females, attached to the nunnery, both of which are liberally patronized by the Kenmare family.

There is also a free-school for 44 males and 34 females, under the superintendence of the clergymen of the Established Church, and a national school.

The number of inhabited houses in Killarney, in 1831, was 936; and of inhabitants 7,910, of whom 6,715 were in the parish of Killarney, and 1,195 in the parish of Aghadoe.