Castleisland - 1795 - sit. in barony Truaghnacmy, Co. Kerry, province Munster, above 133 miles from Dublin, about 8 miles east of Tralee, and 30 N.W. of Cork; it holds fairs on 1 Aug. and Oct. Here is a decent parish church, a good parsonage, house, a foot barack, a session and market house, with hansome assembly room for dancing, and some tolerable inns, tho' the town has been much decayed, owing, we are told, to some division of interest among the proprietors. In descending the mountains towards Castle Island, the country hath a vegetable agreeable aspect; the soil being mostly a fine limestone ground and yet there are fewer improvements, and less tillage here, than in other places, where the land is not so proper for it; tho' much has lately been by reclaiming bogs as well as by new roads.
This place gave the title of baron to the family of Herbert; and now gives that of visc. to the family of Gage. The castle is said to have been erected by Geoffrey Maurice, or de Marseis, lord justice of Ireland, anno 1226, during the reign of Henry IIIrd, the ruins of which castle still remain. Round the walls the river Mang, being here but an inconsiderable stream, flowed in a kind of ditch, over which were formerly drawbridges, etc.
In ancient times it was recokned a place of strength, and was taken anno 1345, bit sir Ralph Ufford, lord justice of Ireland, it being then held out for Maurice Fitzthomas Fitzgerald, the first earl of Desmond. by sir Eustace de la Poer, sir Wm. Grand, and sir John Cotterel, who were all executed by Ufford. Near this place also Gerald IVth. earl of Desmond, commonly called the poet, is said to have been murdered in 1397. In Q. Eliz's grant of this seignory to the family of Herbert, it is stiled the manor and seignory of Mount Eagle Loyal.
It extends about 12 Irish miles in length, and 10 in breadth, and contains 37,128 Irish plantation acres; of which only 14,211 are reckoned profitable, the remainder being mountain and bog.
Castle Island is a rectory in doc. of Ardfter; it has a charter-school, to which Rob. Fitzgerald, esq., in behalf of himself and the Rt. Hon. lord Branden, the Hon. Arthur Crosby, esq; John Blennerhasset, esq; Rich. Meredith, esq; Edw. Herbert, esq; granted about 26 acres of land; and the aforesaid gentlemen engaged to produce 200/. toward building the school, which was accordingly opened in 1762, for the reception of 40 children.
Castle-Island, (1837) a town and parish in the barony of Trughanackmy, county Kerry, and province of Munster, 8 miles (S.E. by E.) from Tralee; containing 6161 inhabitants, of which number, 1570 are in the town. This place derives its name from the "Castle of the Island of Kerry," erected by Geoffrey de Marisco in 1226, and which, in 1345, was taken by Sir Ralph Ufford, lord-justiciary of Ireland, from Sir Eustace de la Poer and other knights, who held it for the Earl of Desmond, and on being captured were immediately executed. In 1397, Gerald, the fourth Earl of Desmond, commonly called "the poet," having gone out of his camp here, was privately assassinated.
Queen Elizabeth granted the town and lands adjoining to the Herbert family, under the designation of "the manor of Mount Eagle Loyal," which, by a survey made by Hogan, in 1729, was found to comprise 36,920 plantation acres, valued at £3169.12.10 per annum. In 1733, a fee farm lease, subject to a reserved rent of £1900 per annum forever, was made of this property to five of the principal gentlemen of the county, who subsequently admitted a sixth; and hence it acquired the title of "the seignory of Castleisland." The proprietors afterwards made a division of the property, with the exception of the town and about 600 acres around it.
Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who had the seigniorial rights over the valley of the Maine and brown Flesk transferred to him by letters patent, never came over to take possession of his huge East Kerry estate. He farmed out all the lands to six English adventurers, called "undertakers", who paid him a yearly head rent for the confiscated Geraldine estate. Each of the six owned 1/6 of the land and each owned 1/6 of the town of Castleisland. (Popular History of East Kerry, p. 41) As the years went by, some Herbert descendants moved to Castleisland to watch over the family investments.
Lord Herbert received his title, "Lord of the Island Castle", upon receiving the Kerry estate upon his marriage to the daughter of Sir William Herbert, a Knight in the County of Monmouth in England. (Another English peer, Viscount Gage of Castleisland, received his honors for having served with the rapacious Cromwellian armies as Sir T. Gage. (Popular History of East Kerry, p. 73)
The castle, of which there are still some remains, was destroyed by the Irish in 1600. The town is situated on the river Maine, and at the junction of the mail coach roads from Tralee and Killarney to Limerick; and on the completion of the new Government road from King-William's town, it will be also on the direct road from Tralee to Cork.
It consists chiefly of one long and wide street extending nearly east and west, with a market-house at the western extremity, from which the road to Tralee branches off on the northwest, and that to Killarney on the southwest; it had formerly a market and daily post. The new Government road has opened a line for a new street, which will diverge at right angles from the south side of the main street towards King-William's town.
In 1825, an act was obtained for dividing the town and undivided lands, which was carried into effect, and under it various improvements were made in the town.
The total number of houses in 1831, was 266, several of which are neatly built of limestone; and since the construction of the Government road, several additional houses have been erected.
The river Maine rises suddenly from a well, called Tubbermang, about three quarters of a mile to the south-east of the town, and flowing by the south side of it, is crossed by three bridges at a very small distance from each other.
This was once the capital of the county, and the assizes were formerly held here; but since Tralee became the county town, the place has declined very much, and its market has been discontinued.
Fairs are still held on the first Monday in January and February, March 17th, April 20th, Easter-Monday, May 20th, June 24th, August 1st (which is a great horse fair), and October 1st, and there are two in November and two in December.
There is a penny post to Tralee, Newcastle and Killarney; a constabulary police force has been stationed here, and petty sessions are held at the courthouse every alternate Wednesday. A manor court for the seigniory was formerly held, in which small debts were recoverable; a weighmaster and other petty officers are still appointed by Lord Headley, one of the proprietors, to whom the tolls of the fair are payable.
The court-house is a neat and substantial building at the western extremity of the main street; and there is a small but neat bridewell near the old barracks; it is one of the eight in the county, and contains, besides the rooms for the keeper, six cells, two day-rooms, and two airing-yards.
The parish comprises 32,577 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act; the soil is various. Part of it is within that portion of the seigniory of Castleisland which belongs to Lord Headley, and consequently participates in the extensive and beneficial improvements which his lordship commenced in 1823 in this previously barren and unprofitable district. Among these are branch roads constructed at his expense from the new Government road between Castle-island and Abbyfeale, extending nearly 10 miles, and affording a facility of communication with every farm. Great improvements have been accomplished by a more efficient system of draining and fencing; upwards of fifty substantial farm-houses and cottages have been erected, Lord Headley having made stipulated allowances for that purpose; plantations to the extent of 350 acres have been made, and the appearance of the country has now an air of cheerfulness and comparative fertility.
Limestone abounds, and is extensively used for manure; and there are considerable tracts of bog.
The living is a rectory entire, in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, and in the patronage of Lord Headley, H.A. Herbert, Esq., Col. Drummond, and W. Meredith, Esq., as proprietors of the seigniory of Castle-island, also of Col. Townsend and W.T. Crosbie, Esq., who sold their respective shares to Lord Ventry and F. Chute, Esq., but retained their right of advowson.
The tithes amount to £638.18.6. Previously to the decease of the late incumbent, the parish was united with those of Balincuslane, Dysert, and Killintierna; but in consequence of the proprietors of the seigniory having omitted to nominate an incumbent within the limited time, the presentation for that turn lapsed to the bishop, who dissolved the union, and divided it into the three separate and distinct benefices of Castle-island, Ballincuslane, and Dysert with Killintierna, which separation was confirmed by act of council dated January 4th, 1836.
The church consists of the nave of a former structure, with the belfry thickly covered with ivy; and contains a neat mural monument to some of the Meredith's of Dicksgrove, and on the south side of the exterior is a small sculptured head supposed to represent that of St. Nicholas, probably the patron saint; it is about to be thoroughly repaired, for which purpose the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have granted £290.
The glebe house, at Kilbannevan, was built in 1818, by aid of a gift of £100 and a loan of £1200 from the late Board of First Fruits; the glebe comprises 32 acres, valued at £48 per annum.
In the R.C. divisions the parish for the greater part is the head of a union or district, comprising also the greater portion of the parish of Ballincuslane, and the remaining portions of both are included in the district of Brosna. The chapel at Castle-island, dedicated to St. Stephen, is a spacious cruciform structure, and has recently been repaired and newly fronted with hewn limestone; adjoining it is a dwelling-house for the parish priest, recently erected. There is also a chapel at Knocknagashel, in the north part of the parish, which is attached to the Brosna district; it was erected in 1834, on a site given by Lord Headley, who also paid one-half of the expense of its erection, the other half being defrayed by his lordship's tenants in that district. There is a third chapel at Scartaglin, in the south part of the parish, which belongs to the district of Castleisland.
Male and female schools are supported by the proprietors of the seigniory and the rector; and there are two schools under the superintendence of the R.C. clergyman. In these schools about 190 children are instructed; and their are also eight private schools.
A dispensary has been established at the courthouse.
Between the western and the central bridges, on the banks of the Maine, are the ruins of the castle, consisting of several detached masses, two of which are of lofty elevation, and the whole show the original structure to have been of considerable extent. At Kilbannevan, adjoining the glebe-house, are the remains of an old church with a burial-ground; and there is still remaining a portion of the old courthouse, in the rear of the present building. (from Topographical Gazetteer of Ireland, 1883)
Castle-Island - c. 1842 - a parish, containing a town of the same name, in the barony of Trughanackmy, co. Kerry. It contains also the village of Scartaglin: which see. Length, 8 miles; breadth 4; area, 29,633 acres. Pop. in 1831, 6,161; in 1841, 7967. Houses 1,180. Pop. of the rural districts, in 1841, 5,950. Houses 873
The surface consists of part f the vale of the river Maine, part of the glens of three of that river's head-streams, part of the upper end of the valley of Tralee, and intervening masses of bog, moorland, and mountain. The low grounds, if duly cultivated, would yield excellent crops; but a larger proportion of the area is altogether impracticable for tillage, and some is of no value even as upland pasture. The interior is traversed southward by the road from Limerick and Abbeyfeale to Killarney, and eastward by the direct road from Tralee to Cork.
This parish is a rectory and a separate benefice, in the dio. of Ardfert and Aghadoe. Tithe composition £638 18s. 6d.; glebe of Castle-Island £48, of Drumalton £4. Gross income £690 18s. 6d.; nett £553 16s. 1d. Patrons, the proprietors of Castle-Island. The church is old and in bad condition. Sittings 130; attendance 75. The Roman Catholic chapel has 2 officiates and an attendance of 3,000. Previous to 1832, the parishes of Ballycuslane, Killintierna, and Dysert, were united to Castle-Island; but now, the first of these forms one separate benefice, and the second and third constitute another. In 1834, the Protestants amounted to 156, and the Roman Catholics to hedge-schools were in operation, but made no return of their attendance; and 4 daily schools - two of which were wholly supported by the proprietors of the seignory and the rector, and two were under the superintendence of the Roman Catholic clergy - had on their books 125 boys and 60 girls.
The town of Castle-Island stands o the rivulet Many, at the head of the valley of Tralee, and at the intersection of the two principal roads which traverse Castle-Island parish, 8 3/4 miles east by south of Tralee, 11 miles south by west of Abbeyfeale, 12 miles north by east of Killarney, and 135 southwest of Dublin.
The descent both of the Cork road and of the Abbeyfeale road, the long traverses they make in order to gain an easy declination from their upland altitude to the valley at the town, commands a grand prospect of the fertile spreading strath on the foreground, and of the bold and majestic outlines of the Corkaguiney mountains in the distance. Several rivulets unite a little below the town to form the river Maine. Various comfortable residences are sprinkled over the environs; and mansions are comparatively numerous toward Tralee and Killarney.
Castle-Island, though once a principal town of Kerry, was suffered to fall into decay; and only a few years ago it lay in comparative desolation; but it is now in the course of being restored. It contains the parish church, the Roman Catholic chapel, a sessions house, a prison, several schools, two inns, a dispensary, and an old castle. It once had a court-house for the assizes of the county; a town-house, whose front was arcaded, and had a row of Tuscan columns; and capacious and constantly occupied barracks. The church presents haggard indications of having originally been a fine building. The prison is simply a district-bridewell, and is kept in admirable order. The dispensary is within the Tralee Poor-Law union, and serves for a population of 22,493; and in 1839-40, it expended £140 7s. 8d., and made 4,360 dispensations of medicine.
The old castle was formerly called the Castle of the Island of Kerry, and is said to have been erected in 1220 by Geoffrey Maurice, or De Mariscis, Lord-justice of Ireland. It's walls were formerly surrounded by the rivulet Many, which was deepened and stagnated into a fosse, spanned by drawbridges, and protected by portcullises. The castle was anciently esteemed a place of considerable strength; and, being held out by Sir Eustace Le Poer, Sir William Grant, and Sir John Cotterel, for Maurice Fitzthomas Fitzgerald, first Earl of Desmond, it was taken in 1345 by Sir Ralph Ufford, Lord-Justice of Ireland.
The town, though at no great distance from Tralee, is well situated for a retail trade; and it possesses facilities of water and fuel which might be advantageously subordinated to manufacture; but it appears to be nearly inert, and to depend for support mainly on agricultural labour, and on the thoroughfare of the public roads. Fairs are held on Aug. 1, and Oct. 1. The nearest point of projected railway is on t he Shannon line at Askeaton, 37 statute miles distant. The public conveyances in 1838 were a car to Listowel, a car in transit between Limerick and Killarney, a car in transit between Tralee an Cork, and a coach and a car in transit between Tralee and Killarney.
In 1397, Gerald, fourth Earl of Desmond, commonly called the Poet, is said to have been murdered in the vicinity of the town; and, in 1583, Gerald, the 16th Earl of Desmond, while in rebellion against the Crown, was slain by a common soldier, in the wood of Glanekinty, about a mile from the town.
In the reign of James I., Castle-Island gave the title of Baron to the family of Herbert; and, in 1720, it gave that of Viscount to Sir Thomas Gage. A grant of lands around the town was made by Queen Elizabeth, out of the forfeited estates of the last Earl of Desmond, to Thomas Herbert, the first Lord of Castle-Island, and was styled the manor or seignory of Mount-Eagle-Loyal.
The seignory, says Dr. Smith, "extends about 12 Irish miles in length, and 10 in breadth; and contains, by a late survey, 37,128 Irish plantation acres, of which only 14,211 are reckoned profitable, the remainder being mountain and bog. The whole of it is farmed from the Right Hon., the Earl of Powis, by Sir Maurice Crosbie, Arthur Crosbie, Esq., John Blennerhasset, Esq., Edward Herbert, Esq., and Richard Meredith, Esq.; who have greatly improved this estate, by cutting a new road from Abbeyfeale in the county of Limerick to Castle-Island, and from the last-mentioned place to Killarney."
Area of the town, 48 acres. Pop. in 1831, 1570; in 1841, 1687. Houses 258. Families employed in agriculture109; in manufactures and trade, 162; in other pursuits, 61. Families dependent chiefly on property and professions, 16; on the directing of labour, 177; on their own manual labour, 123; on means not specified, 16.
Brosna, a parish 10 miles (N. by E.) from Castleisland; containing 2168 inhabitants. It is situated on the small river Clydagh, and on the confines of the counties of Limerick and Cork, and comprises 18,013 statute acres, as apploted under the tithe act, and valued at £2180 per annum. A large portion of the land consists of coarse mountain pasture and bog, the greater part of which might be reclaimed.
A new line of road, about eight miles in length, is now in progress, at the expense of Col. Drummond and C. Fairfield, Esq., extending from the bridge over the Clydagh (an arch of 60 feet span), on the new road from Listowel to Newmarket, and passing through this and the adjoining parish of Ballincuslane to the village of Ardnagrath, on the old mountain road from Castleisland to Millstreet. It is in contemplation to extend this road to Scartaglin, to form a junction with Williamstown, by which the surrounding country will be greatly improved.
This place was occasionally the headquarters of the Whiteboys, during the disturbances of 1822; but since the opening of the road from Listowel to Newmarket, the neighborhood has enjoyed perfect tranquillity.
In that part of the parish which borders on the counties of Limerick and Cork is a constabulary police station. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £175.
In the R.C. divisions this parish is the head of the union or district of Brosna or Knocknagashel ("hill of the light-hearted"), which comprises also parts of the adjoining parishes of Castleisland and Ballincuslane; the chapel is a thatched but commodious building, dedicated to the St. Carthage, and during the summer months a school is held in it, under the superintendence of the parish priest; there is also a chapel at Knocknagashel, in the (civil) parish of Castleisland which is dedicated to the Blessed Mother. There are two private schools, in which about 120 children are educated. Some slight vestiges of the ancient parish church may still be traced in the burial-ground. (from Topographical Gazetteer of Ireland, 1883)
In the middle of the 18th century, when the penals were in full blast, the whole of East Kerry were under the sole administration of one Catholic priest, who strange to say, was under the protection of the Protestant Chute family.
The first pastor of the newly created Brosna Parish was the Very Reverend Bartholomew, born in 1755 in Liscarroll, who was the first Dominican to appear in Kerry after the Order was driven out of Ireland to the continent by the penal laws. His family was a contributor to the famous French University of Louvain which is where he did his studies and was ordained.
"Father Batt", was renowned for his holiness throughout the Diocese of Kerry and he is even renowned to this day for having performed many miracles. 100 years after his death people still visited his grave to gather moisture from dew or rain off of his tombstone to be used for cures. (Popular History of East Kerry, pp. 177-78)
One of the earliest references that we find to Knocknagashel is a census report for 1659 which states that "Cnocknegassell townland" had twenty-five households. A map dated 1729 shows a number of townlands which are in the modern-day parish: Knockbrack, Meinleitrim, & Banarorig. It wasn't until the early part of the nineteenth century when Richard Griffith (later of "Valuation" fame) undertook his road-building project that Knocknagashel figures more prominently.
The aim of the project was to build roads which would open up areas which up to then were inaccessible. This would make it easier to quell insurrection should there be a repeat of the "Whiteboy" disturbances which had broken out along the Cork/Kerry/Limerick border in 1821 due in part to the great hardship caused by the failure of the potato crop that summer. The "Whiteboys" were rural terrorists in Ireland who were active at various times between 1760 and 1830. There mission was to stop the eviction of tenants and to lessen the increases in rents and tithes to the Protestant and Catholic churches. The name comes from the white shirts worn by the original group but many names and tactics were used over the years..
The tactics included the terrorizing of landowners and new tenants, the tearing down of fences, the killing of livestock, physical beatings and even murder.
In 1823, John Kelly, on-site engineer who worked for Richard Griffiths, the Engineer who built the roads, and who later was responsible for the property assessment known as "Griffiths Valuation", described the area: "I may state, generally, that nothing could exceed the poverty and wretchedness of the people when Mr. Griffith sent me into this part of the country. At Abbeyfeale and Brosna, more than half the congregation at Mass on Sundays were barefoot and ragged, with small straw hats of their own manufacture. . . . Hundreds or even thousands of men could be got to work for 6 pence a day if it had been offered."
A local saying was "Kerry cows know Sunday." This stemmed from the weekly practice of bleeding cows for human nourishment because during the summer they had become fat on summer grass. The cause of this much poverty was the fact that Knocknagashel and the surrounding areas were inaccessible and the land was uncultivated. A similar local aphorism was "Kerry cows never look up for fear of missing a bite."
The Listowel-Newmarket and Castleisland-Newcastle roads, completed in 1827, turned out to be a boon for those who lived in the villages of Abbeyfeale, Brosna and Knocknagashel, as it opened up the whole countryside and made it possible to draw lime by horse and cart to fertilize the land. In addition, local people were employed in the road building projects.
In addition, besides opening up the area for commerce, the project provided much needed work for the residents of the area. Kelly, in a later report to his superiors, noted that many people became moderately prosperous due to the employment given them by road construction.
In particular, he tells of one John Grany [Greany], a neighbor of the Reidy's in Meenleitrim, who, "when he was young, his father and mother both died on the same day of fever; after that he lived as a servant boy with his uncle, John Walsh. When the roads began he left his service, and continued in the work four years; he bought cattle, and kept them at grass according as he earned money. This year  he sold all his cattle, and joined the works in the roads again. He has now about £55 in money and value." [Richard Griffith and the Roads of Kerry II, in KAHS].
Greany, the servant boy, owned about 24 acres in 1827 at the time of the Tithe Valuation. In 1852, the Greany family leased over 109 acres.
The extended Reidy family in Meenleitrim leased an identical 24 acres in 1827 plus a portion of a 31 acre plot. By 1853, this had increased to 232 acres! No doubt, they also took advantage of the road building projects of Griffiths and used it to increase their comparative wealth by stint of hard work. Remember, of course, that they were not allowed to own this land, and not being property owners, they still could not vote.
The Great Famine of 1847-9 struck with tragic consequences. Death and emigration took their toll. The population fell from 2,846 in 1841 to 2,031 in 1851. However, the population increased again to about the 1841 figure by 1871. No doubt, the increased prosperity due to better farm prices and remittances from emigrants helped to explain, in part at least, this rise in population.
While the Famine was devastating to all of Ireland, and especially, County Kerry, population figures for the Parish of Knocknagashel indicate that its effects were not the same in all areas. For example, in Meenleitrim North, the Townland inhabited by the Reidy's, the population remained stable between 1841 (124) and 1851 (122). Neighboring Ballyduff, for example, decreased in that time period from 331 to 113. Those townlands inhabited mostly by the laborers and cottiers (those who traded their farm labor for a small piece of land and a shack) were the most severely affected by the famine. Meinleitrim, occupied mostly by farmers with 20-100 acres of land, was able to survive, but probably not without much sacrifice. So perhaps the fertilizer referred to above, and luck, helped.
Knocknagashel was established as a separate parish in 1916. Prior to that time it was part of Brosna Catholic Parish. After the Protestant Reformation, the old Catholic parish boundaries were retained as the Civil Parish boundaries. As time past, changes were made in the Catholic parish boundaries, resulting in the fact that the Knocknagashel Catholic Parish today contains Townlands located in (mostly) Castleisland, Brosna and Ballincuslane Civil Parishes.
The first reference to a church in Knocknagashel came in a parliamentary study in 1824. That building was replaced by another building in 1834 with half the costs being paid by Lord Headley and the balance by the parishioners. By 1890, this building, which had a thatched roof and mud floor was in bad repair. There was only one chalice, one ciborium and four sets of vestments. As there were no seats, those who attended Mass brought their own stools.
The current church was built about 1905. As early as 1866, the parishioners had been petitioning their bishop to have Knocknagashel created as its own parish. Finally, 1n 1916, 440 members signed a petition requesting the Bishop make it separate from Brosna. The Bishop, who had been born in Knocknagashel, acceded to their request. (Knocknagashel Parish, O'Shea)
(pron. DOO ah) parish on the river Feale, 3 miles e.s.e. from LISTOWEL; containing 3750 inhabitants, of which number, 210 are in the village. It extends to the confines of the county of Limerick, and comprises 19,129 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, a large portion of which consists of coarse mountain pasture and bog. A kind of brown flagstone is found in several places.
The gentlemen's seats are Duagh House, the residence of M. Fitzmaurice, Esq., pleasantly situated on the Feale, and Duagh Glebe, of the Rev. R. Hickson; part of the beautiful demesne of Ballinruddery (a seat of the Knight of Kerry) also extends into this parish. It is in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, and is a vicarage, held by faculty with that of Kilcarragh, in the patronage of Robert Hickson, Esq.; the tithes amount to £124.12.5.
The glebe house was erected in 1829, when £415 was granted as a gift and £184 as a loan by the late Board of First Fruits; it stands on a glebe of 23 acres, which, with a glebe of 12 1/2 acres in the parish of Kilcarragh, is subject to a rent of £37.10. The church, a small plain structure, was built in 1814, by aid of a gift of £800 from the same Board.
In the R.C. divisions Duagh forms a union or district of itself, with the exception of a small portion which is attached to that of Listowel; a new chapel has been lately erected. In the school superintended by the parish priest, and two other pay schools, more than 100 children are taught. (from Topographical Gazetteer of Ireland, 1883)
Thanks to Ray Marshall for this contribution.