County Kerry

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This information on County Kerry is useful and interesting.

Coastal county in the southwest of Ireland, in the province of Munster. Kerry, covering an area of 1,855 square miles, has a population of 132,424 (2002 Census). Kerry is bordered by Cork and Limerick to the east and by the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Known as “the Kingdom,” the county is one of the most scenic counties in Ireland and has distinctively diverse regions. The north is mostly lowland, much of it good dairy-farming county, with scattered bogs. The south and west are mountainous, and sheep farming is the main land use. There is some fishing in the west, Dingle being the main fishing port. The coastline is rocky, with several sandy beaches, and many islands. Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntuohill (3,414 feet), is in the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks range in the southern part of the county.

Kerry’s mountains, coastline , and the famous lakes of Killarney make it one of Ireland’s main tourist destinations. The Ring of Kerry is a famous circular drive around the spectacular Iveragh Peninsula, stretching from Killorglin to Kenmare. Other attractions include Ross Castle and Muckross House, both near Killarney; Derrynane House – once the home of Daniel O’Connell; the annual Puck Fair, held every August in the town of Killorglin; and the jagged Skellig Islands, where the monks established a settlement in the seventh century. The county has a great many archeological sites and monuments. Many are concentrated on the Dingle Peninsula, and the county’s only complete round tower is in the north at Rattoo, near Ballyduff.

Kerry has never had much industry besides farming. The county capital, Tralee, is a busy market town, with few factories and a nearby port at Fenit. Killarney, a smaller town, which has long depended on the tourist industry, is the seat of the Catholic bishop of Kerry and has a late nineteenth century cathedral. Listowel, in north Kerry, is a market town. Since the Famine, Kerry has had one of Ireland’s highest emigration rates to the United States.

The southern part of the county was little affected by the Norman and English settlements, though this only partly explains Kerry’s distinct political history. The county was one of the main centers of the Land War of the 1880s, and many violent incidents occurred there during the War of Independence. During the Civil War, the county was the last place where the Free State army established its authority. Free State executions and massacres in the war’s last days left a lasting political bitterness in the county, and strong support for republicanism endures today.

Kerry is known for its Gaelic football teams, which have been the county’s most successful, and also for its literary tradition. The great Gaelic poets, Aodhagan O Rathaille (1670-1729) and Eoghan Rua O Suilleabhain (1748-84) were born in east Kerry in the Sliabh Luachra district. The Blasket Islands produced several works of literature in Irish, based on oral storytelling. These have been translated, including the classic autobiography An tOileanach (The Islandman) (1929) by Tomas O Criomhthain (O’Crohan).Twentieth century writers from north Kerry include Maurice Walsh, the Abbey playwright George Fitzmaurice , and more recently the writers Bryan MacMahon and John B. Keane, and poet Brendan Kennelly.

Atour of Ireland would not be complete without a visit to this wonderful county.