From Waterspouts to Moving Bogs: the weather in Kerry

Adverse or favourable, discussion about the elements is part of our daily lives.  Our literature abounds with tales about weather-related events and their effect on people and the environment.


In times gone by, before the improvement of roads and bridges, people in everyday situations were often caught out by freak weather conditions.  In Castleisland, three men and a horse were swept into 20 feet of water while trying to cross the river near Kilsarcon.  On this occasion, the men were rescued but it was forewarned that ‘unless a bridge is built life and property will be lost’.1


Destruction caused by nature remains long in the public mind, such as the Moving Bog Disaster of late December 1896 when the Donnelly family of Knocknageeha was engulfed in the landslide at Quarry Lodge near Rathmore, where Cornelius Donnelly worked as a steward.2


Search: The bodies of children Daniel, Hannah, Humphrey, Lizzie and James were recovered between January and July 1897


Cornelius and his wife Johanna and their six children, the youngest about 18 months, perished.  Only one child, Katie, aged 14, who was visiting friends in Cork, survived.3  The cause of the ‘slipping mountain with the force of an avalanche’ was attributed to unusually heavy rainfall.


London Artist Joseph Holland Tringham (above) drew on-the-spot scenes of the disaster


A sudden and violent torrent termed a ‘waterspout’ fell over the Cordal mountains in the summer of 1885 and carried away all in its path including the houses and dairies of two farmers named Garr and Brosnan at Cloun, many acres of potatoes and other crops, and a few bridges near Monteagle.


The storm however, did not equal that which occurred in the Clydagh Valley on the afternoon of Thursday 4th August 1831.  At least eight people lost their lives, with reports of up to 38 deaths.  The storm was described as ‘unprecedented in the memory of man’.


Recent view of the Clydagh Valley


Initial reports claimed that the storm struck at midnight, drowning many poor people in their sleep ‘without a second’s notice’.   It would seem, however, from an account given by a man named Connor, a sportsman living and working in the valley, that the storm struck in the afternoon. This is how Connor described the scene:


Between the hours of two and three o’clock in the afternoon, a few distant claps of thunder were heard which were soon followed by a dense darkness.  The thunder rolled with increased fury, clap followed clap.  Previous to its raining there appeared a great increase of water in the river.  Shortly afterwards it commenced raining – not raining, but cascading – from the heavens, and before one hour elapsed, we could neither see a rock nor a bush but sheets of water rolling down from the mountain with irresistible fury.


Connor’s residence near the base of the Clydagh mountains joined that of James Lehane and his family.  A third house belonged to John Lucey, who was in conversation with a journeyman tailor as the storm struck.  The men saw a 20 ft wave, ‘an arm of the sea’ careering towards them.  The tailor escaped but Lucey and his family were washed away.


The wife of James Lehane and two of his children took refuge in the loft of their house but the roof was soon lifted and all were washed to their deaths.  Another two of Lehane’s children were saved by Connor.  He recalled rushing to their assistance:


I put one of them on the window stool of the cottage, while I was carrying the other to a place of safety.  When I returned back for the second child, she had water up to her chin and I had it up to my arm pits.  The child and I were tossed about for some time but succeeded in reaching a spot beyond the level of the flood.


Tringham’s illustration of Flesk Bridge published in 1897


At the Flesk Bridge in Killarney, people gathered in stunned silence to witness the scene of life and livestock being dashed along under the arches ‘without the slightest possibility of saving either life or property’.4


It is not known if there are descendants of those who perished on that fateful day.  Some years later, however, the name of James Lehane of Clydagh Valley appeared on a register of applicants to vote.  It is a useful document, and is given in full at the foot of this page.5


1 Freeman’s Journal, 28 December 1901.

2  Tringham sketched Quarry Lodge as part of a series of illustrations of the disaster which were published in the Illustrated London News in January 1897. Joseph Holland Tringham, son of John Andrew and Emily Tringham, was born in Hammersmith, London in 1861.  He was a Civil Engineer and artist and was described as one of the greatest artists of his time; Sir Hubert Herkomer rated him as ‘a master of tree life’.   He married Beatrice, daughter of solicitor William Champain Hall in 1886 and had two children, Gordon Leslie Tringham (who seems to have died in Cornwall in 1957) and Kathleen Queenie Tringham.  Tringham was a philanderer and fathered an illegitimate son with his lover, Annie Austin, in July 1897.  Beatrice petitioned for divorce in 1901. Tringham, who accompanied King Edward VII on a tour of India and China and was a well-known artist on the principal pictorial papers in America, died at the Isle of Man Lunatic Asylum, Ballamona, Braddan on 26 March 1908 (Beatrice died the month before). 

Tringham’s friend was Thomas Edwin Park, a butcher of Thornton Heath, where Tringham spent many hours painting.  Park collected about 200 of his friend’s oils, watercolours and black and white sketches.  He exhibited them at the Modern Gallery, New Bond Street, London in 1911 including an oil painting, A View of the Lake Killarney, measuring some 8.5 x 6.5 ft. 

It was reported that an American buyer had interest in the collection and also that a Frenchman had offered to buy it for £20,000 after the First World War.  However, they were still in Park’s thoughts if not in his possession in 1939 when in the King’s Bench he sued Herbert John Jackman of Cobham, Surrey for return of the artwork.  It seems that Mr Park had suffered an accident in 1935, been confined to bed and had incurred debts.  He sold his butcher business to Jackson on the proviso the artwork remain in an upstairs room until he could reclaim them. However, Jackman subsequently claimed they had been included in the sale.  The judge, after listening to the opinion of John G Day,  art valuer, concluded the collection was of little value and ruled in Jackman’s favour.

Tringham was the author of A Ramble through Sandwich (1890).  Examples of his work can be seen in Marlborough House and its Occupants (1896) by Arthur H Beavan. The Cathedral Pilgrimage (1934) by F Irving Taylor contains a number of his architectural sketches.

My thanks to Marie Wilson, Tralee, for genealogical research of Tringham.

3  The bodies of Cornelius and Johanna were soon recovered and buried in Knockacappul (otherwise Knocknagappul) at the end of December 1896.  An account of the children is given in Arm of the Sea (2018),

4 A fuller account of the tragedy is contained in Arm of the Sea (2018), as above.

5 Application lodged in September 1839.  Edited from list published in Kerry Evening Post, 28 September 1839.

Agar, James W, Killarney

Almon, John jnr, farmer, Faha, formerly of Rockfield

Barry, Garrett of Coolbane, lands at Sheans, Aglis

Blennerhassett, Sir Arthur, Churchtown

Bonane, James, farmer, Carregeenkelty, Killarney

Bonane, James, farmer, Scart

Bourke, John, farmer, Scart

Bourke, Patrick, farmer, Caherdean

Breen, Daniel, farmer, Gortnascary, Knockane

Breen, David, farmer, Cooleanig

Breen, John, farmer, Kilbonane

Breen, Malachy, farmer, Kilbonane

Breen, Patrick, farmer, Droumreage

Breen, Patrick, farmer, Droumreague, Kilnanear

Brenan, John Esq, Belville Esq, formerly of Coolbane, lands of Gearah

Brennan, James, Goulanes

Burke, Patrick, farmer, Kellugh

Callaghan, Daniel, architect, Killarney

Casey, Denis, farmer, Glaunvoughenagerah

Casey, John, farmer, Coolroe

Clifford, Daniel, farmer, Coolaorheen, Kilbonane

Clifford, Thomas, farmer, Kilbonane

Cluvane, James, farmer, Barleymount

Coffey, Darby John, farmer, Coolmagort, Knockane

Coffey, Darby Tim, farrier, Keel

Coffey, Michael Darby, farmer, Coolmagort

Collins, John, cartmaker, Killarney

Connell, Denis, farmer, Ballymalis

Connell, Patrick, farmer, Droumreague

Connor, Cornelius, farmer, Rockfield, Knockane

Connor, Daniel, farmer, Milleenbane

Connor, David, farmer, Dromin

Connor, James, farmer, Derryreague

Conyers, Rev Edward Fitzgerald, Knockane

Cooper, Clement, farmer, Droum

Cooper, Florence, farmer, Droum

Cooper, Giles, gentleman, Droum

Cooper, James, farmer, Droum

Cooper, Thomas Giles, farmer, Droum

Cooper, Thomas, farmer, Droum

Counihan, Edmond, carpenter, Killarney

Counihan, James, farmer, West Faha

Cronin, Daniel, Esq, The Park, Killarney

Curtayne, John, gentleman, Knockanearoulty and Moulikivane

Curtayne, Timothy, farmer, Ballynamona

Daly, Charles, farmer, Doneen

Daly, Patrick, farmer, Reanasup

Decourcey, Maurice Esq, Molahiffe Castle

Denahy, Timothy, farmer, Annagarry

Dodd, James, gentleman, Cove, Co Cork

Doherty, Cornelius, farmer, Annymore

Doherty, John, farmer, Droumcarbur

Donoghue, James, farmer, Rusheenbeg

Donoghue, John, farmer, Gortlickie

Donoghue, John, farmer, Killaha

Donoghue, Michael, farmer, Annymore

Donoghue, Patrick, farmer, Killaha

Donoghue, Roger, farmer, Gortlickie

Donoghue, Roger, farmer, Killaha

Donohue, John, farmer, Coolavhorheen

Doody, Thomas, farmer, Lisroe

Downing, Francis Henry, attorney, Killarney and formerly Kenmare

Drew, Rev Browning, Churchtown Glebe

Drew, Rev Samuel Browning

Dwyer, Bartholomew, farmer, Killeenbeg

Eagar, Rev Edward Charles of same place

Eagar, Rev Edward, Kilronan Glebe, Co Roscommon (rent charges Killeen, Gortacouse, Kealmore)

Eagar, William, gentleman, Groinmore

Egan, The Right Rev Doctor Cornelius, Roman Catholic bishop, Killarney

Fitzgerald, Garrett, farmer, Clahane

Fleming, David, farmer, Aglish

Fleming, James, farmer, Ardmoniel

Fogarty, John, farmer, Cappagoneen

Foley, John Malachy, farmer, Barleymount

Foley, John, farmer, Barleymount

Foulue, John J, farmer, Barleymount

Gallivan, Patrick, farmer, Ballymalis

Gloster, James, farmer, Clounmelane

Gloster, Maurice, farmer, Clounmelane

Glyn, Andrew E, gentleman, Clasheens

Goggin, James, shopkeeper, Killarney (Main St and New St)

Healy, Cornelius, farmer, Amybeg

Healy, Jeremiah, farmer, Ballymakera, Co Cork

Healy, John, farmer, Garrihees

Healy, Timothy, farmer, Coolick

Hegarty, John, farmer, Fileadown

Herehy, John, farmer, Gullane

Holihan (Houlihan?), Jeremiah, shopkeeper, Killarney

Horgan, Daniel, farmer, Keelcoloughty

Horgan, Darby, farmer, Maul

Horgan, Patrick, farmer, Carhuebeg

Houlehan, Denis, farmer, Stagmount

Howard, Edmond, gentleman, Doon

Huggard, Abraham, farmer, Milltown

Huggard, Abraham, farmer, Rathpogue

Joy, Martin, farmer, Droumavally

Joy, Maurice, farmer, Killeenmore

Kealiher, Michael jnr, farmer,Kilgobnett

Kealiher, Thomas, farmer, Kilgobnett

Kealiher, Thomas, farmer, Roseborough

Kelly, Thomas, gentleman, Droumtahilly

Kenna, John, farmer, Aunagarry

Kerisk, Daniel, farmer, Nauntenane

Leary, Daniel, farmer, Knockacoppul

Leary, Daniel, farmer, Knockaneiery

Leary, Daniel, farmer, Knockaneriry

Leary, Darby, farmer, West Faha

Leary, Denis, farmer, Killeen

Leary, Eneas, farmer, Leamaglissane

Lehane, James, Clashacormick, commonly called Clydagh

Leslie, Thomas, farmer, Kellcloherane

Leyne (or Lyne), Daniel, farmer, Rockfield

Lucy, Cornelius, farmer, Cummeenavrick

Lucy, Cornelius, farmer, Derrinafina

Lucy, Cornelius, farmer, Derryreague

Lynch, Denis, farmer, Annymore

Lynch, John, Esq, Dromin

Lynch, John, gentleman, Dromin

Lyne, Denis M, shopkeeper, Milltown

Mahony, Arthur, gentleman, The Point Killarney

Mahony, John, gentleman,  Killorglin

Mahony, John, gentleman, Gunsborough, formerly of Killarney

Mahony, Patrick, gentleman, Cahirciveen

Mahony, William, Esq, Killarney

Mangan, Patrick, farmer, Dromin

Mangan, Timothy, farmer, Dromin

Mangan, Timothy, farmer, Dromin

Mara, Daniel, farmer, Killelee

Mara, John, farmer, Rosnagoril

McCarthy, Charles, gentleman, Knocknamucklagh, formerly of Mounthenry

McCarthy, Daniel, gentleman, Inchilaughney

McCarthy, Darby, farmer, West Stagmount

McCarthy, Darby, Meentogues

McCarthy, Florence, gentleman, Inchilaughney

McCarthy, Florence, gentleman, Shronederragh

McCarthy, James, Esq, Killarney

McCarthy, Markham, gentleman, Shronederragh

McCarthy, William, farmer, Baune

McCartie, Denis, Esq, Headfort

McCartie, John, Esq, Killaha House

McDonagh, Francis, medical doctor, Killarney

McGillycuddy, Patrick, farmer, Lisnaneal

McKenna, Denis, merchant, city of Cork (lands of Annagerry)

McKenna, Martin, farmer, Aunagarry

McSheehy, John, gentleman, Killarney (lands Ballycasheen)

McSweeney, Edmond, shopkeeper, Killarney

McSweeny, Daniel, gentleman, Killarney formerly of Maulearkane

McSweeny, Edmond, gentleman, Dromin

Meara, Daniel, farmer, Killalee

Moriarty, Eugene, gentleman, Gneeves

Moriarty, Owen, gentleman, Gneeves

Moriarty, Thade, gentleman, Gneeves

Morphy, Richard, Esq Killarney

Moynehan, Denis Daniel, farmer, Rathbeg

Moynehan, Francis, farmer, Behenegh

Moynehan, John, farmer, Stagmount

Moynehan, Malachy, farmer, Behenegh

Moynehan, Maurice, farmer, Shronederragh

Moynehan, Michael, farmer, Milleen

Moynihan, Alexander, farmer, Islanduagh

Moynihan, Daniel, farmer, Islanduagh

Moynihan, Daniel, farmer, Readrinagh

Moynihan, Darby, farmer, Knockduragh

Moynihan, Denis, farmer, Baunard

Moynihan, Patrick John, farmer, Knockduragh

Moynihan, Patrick Owen, farmer, Mulleenbane

Murnane, Michael, farmer, Annymore

Murphy, John, farmer, Coolmagart

Murphy, Martin, gentleman, Aghadoe

Murphy, Martin, gentleman, Kenmare

Murphy, Martin, gentleman, Killarney & Inchicullane

Murphy, Thadee William, Esq, Kenmare Place Killarney

Murphy, Timothy, farmer, Knockanes

Murphy, William, carpenter, Gortnaglaught

Murrogh, James, gentleman, Cudena, formerly of Ardmoniel

Nash, William, Esq, Mallow, Cork (land at Sunday’s Well)

O’Donoghue, Francis, druggist, Killarney

O’Leary, Arthur, farmer, Leamaglissane

O’Leary, Cornelius, farmer, Knockamencrush (Knockanimerish?)

O’Leary, Richard, farmer, Corrigeenkilly

O’Leary, Richard, farmer, Knockanimerish

O’Sullivan, Daniel J, Esq, Tomies

O’Sullivan, Daniel senior gentleman, Tomies

O’Sullivan, Daniel, Esq, Shinagh

O’Sullivan, Rev Sylvester, parish priest Rathmore

Pickett, William, farmer, Ballymalis

Pierce, Michael, farmer, Annagarry

Rahilly, Owen, hatter, Killarney

Reilly, James, farmer, Keilleigh

Riordan, Daniel, farmer, Ballydaly

Riordan, John, painter and glazier, Killarney

Roche, Edward, gardener, Cloghereen

Roche, John A, gentleman, Killarney

Saunders, Arthur H, Esq, formerly of London now of Flesk Cottage Esq

Scanlon, Edmond, gentleman, Ardshanavoly

Scanlon, Michael, gentleman, Fossa

Scully, Denis, farmer, Dunloe

Shea, James, farmer, Keelohane

Sheahan, Rev Timothy, parish priest, Hermitage

Sheehan, Daniel, farmer, East Toureencahill

Sheehan, William, farmer, East Toureencahill

Smith, John, farmer, Knockaderry

Spillane, Jeremiah, carrier, Killarney

Sugrue, Darby, farmer, Aglish

Sugrue, Robert, Killarney

Sullivan, Daniel, farmer, Barleymount

Sullivan, Daniel, farmer, East Toureencahill

Sullivan, Humphrey, farmer, Stagmount

Sullivan, John, farmer, Droumbrick

Sullivan, John, farmer, Lahard

Sullivan, John, farmer, Pallace

Sullivan, Mark, farmer, Gurtnaglough

Sullivan, Morto, farmer, Rathcommane

Sullivan, Morty, farmer, Lahard

Sullivan, Owen, farmer, Maul

Sullivan, Patrick, farmer, Corrobally

Sullivan, Patrick, farmer, Ightereaugh

Sullivan, Thomas, farmer, Banlandmerish

Sullivan, Timothy, farmer, Rosnacartin

Sweeney, Eugene, farmer, Kileigh

Thompson, John, gentleman, Droumadesart, formerly of Rockfield

Thompson, William senior, gentleman, Rockfield

Tuohy, James, farmer, Knockanadough

Tuomy, Cornelius, farmer, Derryreague

Tuomy, Daniel, Reanasup