Local Heritage

"Castleisland was described by one of its most famous citizens, Con Houlihan, as 'Not so much a town as a street between two fields'.

The town of Castleisland owes its origins to the 13th century Norman Conquest of Kerry; it was the centre of Desmond power in the county at the time. The name Castleisland (translated from Irish: Castle of the island of Kerry) alludes to these Geraldine origins. Geoffrey de Marisco is accredited for constructing a fortified castle here in 1226, the ruins of which are still visible in the last precariously standing tower. The town came into the hands of the plantation lord Sir William Herbert in 1587 and the estate was leased by several other lords during the 1600’s . By 1686 it had developed into a reasonable market town with a market every Thursday and 2 fairs yearly. By 1747 a market house ( known today as J.K. O’Connors ) was built. Castleisland seemed to be often at the centre of agrarian disturbances including the Whiteboy movement of the 1780’s. 1798 is a noteable year in the history of Ireland because of the rebellion. Though Kerry was very quiet it would seem the only disturbance of any kind occurred in Castleisland. The survival of Castleisland was due to the engineer Richard Griffith who was dispatched to the area with the task of road building during the uprising of 1821. The Rathkeale-Castlisland road was completed in 1827 and by this time the district was changed out of all recognition. This road building connected the town to other centres of trade during the turbulent famine times and the later trouble of the 1900’s."

Contribution from: Castleisland and District Culture and. Heritage Society