Beau­ti­ful Bal­ly­long­ford; where the past comes to life

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - Countywide -

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.

Photo by John Reidy

Key man: Gar­rett Dee is the key holder of the his­toric Car­ri­gafoyle Cas­tle out­side Bal­ly­long­ford.

Photo by John Reidy – www.rei­dypix.com

North Kerry Har­ri­ers Hunts­man, David Trant call­ing the pack to or­der at the start of the hunt in Bal­ly­long­ford on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

Photo by John Reidy

A close-up of The Mor­tata Brooch af­ter its dis­cov­ery in the kitchen range of Sheila and Pat Joe Edge­worth in Bal­ly­long­ford.

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