Beautiful Ballylongford; where the past comes to life
The picturesque village of Ballylongford is certainly one of Kerry's gems; situated amid rolling countryside not far from Listowel, the village boasts a wealth of history and heritage.
Ballylongford is situated by Ballylongford Bay on the estuary of the Shannon, close to Carrigafoyle Island on the coast road between Tarbert and Ballybunion.
One of the main attractions in Ballylongford is Carrigafoyle Castle; this stunning castle, listed as a national monument, was built in the late 1400s by Conchuir Liath Uí Conchuir.
Among its features is a spiral staircase of 104 steps that visitors can climb. The castle itself is almost 30 metres high and its battlements provide stunning views of North Kerry, extending as far as West Limerick.
The O’Connor Clan held political sway from this strategic base which allowed them to inspect ships passing to and from the port of Limerick.
In 1580, during the Second Desmond Rebellion, the castle was defended by an Irish, Spanish and Italian garrison of up to 70 led by the Italian Captain Julian.
The Siege of Carrigafoyle Castle by Elizabethan forces began on Palm Sunday and lasted two days until the castle was breached by cannon fire. Any surviving defenders were executed by hanging. The O’Connors also built the Friary of Lislaughtin in 1478 (known locally as Lislaughtin Abbey) which was named after Saint Lachtin. Two of the O'Connor chieftains are buried within its walls. The Abbey was raided twice by English forces however a processional cross survived the raids and was later discovered locally. The Lislaughtin Cross is now on display in the National Museum in Dublin.
Some famed Irish figures also hail from Ballylongford. Lord, Kitchener was born in Ballylongford in 1850. Michael O’Rahilly, (The O’Rahilly), one of the founders of the Irish Volunteers and a prominent figure in the Gaelic League, was born there in 1875. More recently, one of Ireland's most celebrated poets Brendan Kennelly was born in Ballylongford in 1936.
For visitors to Kerry, Ballylongford continues to be a popular destination, full of history and heritage, there is much to see and do. Notwithstanding the beauty of the surrounding countryside which is a draw in itself.
Key man: Garrett Dee is the key holder of the historic Carrigafoyle Castle outside Ballylongford.
North Kerry Harriers Huntsman, David Trant calling the pack to order at the start of the hunt in Ballylongford on Sunday afternoon.
A close-up of The Mortata Brooch after its discovery in the kitchen range of Sheila and Pat Joe Edgeworth in Ballylongford.