Kenmare, County Kerry

Kenmare has a rich and interesting history if you are on tours of Ireland.

Kenmare was founded by Sir William Petty , Cromwell’s surveyor general , to serve his mining works beside the River Finnihy.

Petty was extremely active in (and benefited greatly from) the dealings in confiscated properties that went on after the Cromwellian wars. Many soldiers were paid by the impecunious government in land , but not all of them wanted to settle in Ireland and so sold their land to dealers — such as Petty. His acquisition of land all over Ireland, including roughly a quarter of Kerry , was surely helped by his commission to survey the country on behalf of the government , when he investigated two-thirds of the Irish counties in the amazingly short period of fifteen months.

Petty’s other achievements were no less remarkable: a professor of medicine at Oxford at 27 , he was also a professor of music and founder member of the Royal Society in London ; an early statistician , economist and demographer ; and politically astute enough to get yet more land and a knighthood out of Charles II , even though he had earlier served Cromwell faithfully. 

In Kerry , he laid the foundations of the mining and smelting industries , encouraged fishing and founded the enormous Lansdowne Estate which once surrounded the town ; many of its buildings still remain today.

Evidence of a much more ancient settlement are the fifteen stones which make up the stone circle just outside the centre of town on the banks of the river ; go up by the right of the market house that faces the park , and past some estate houses. Then walk up the lane at the cul—de—sac sign , and a few yards after it meets another lane coming in from the left you’ll find the circle , behind a high ditch.

Yes…..Kenmare is a hidden gem well worth seeing on Ireland tours.