Castleisland in Deed

Notes on a number of legal agreements appear in the collection.  Michael’s interest appears to have been in the history of the land and property held in Castleisland by Daniel J Kelliher, one time shopkeeper and publican of Main Street.  The business no longer remains but a lease on the premises dated 21 March 1910 made between Richard Aremberg Blennerhassett and Maurice Kelliher adds a link to this family tree.


Daniel J Kelliher may have run his shop and pub from this premises (1)
Tomo Burke and Michael Costello pictured outside 70 Main St. Daniel J Kelliher may have operated his shop and pub from this premises


Another lease on farmland in Castleisland reveals that Daniel purchased eight acres at public auction on 28 July 1902 for £274.  It also records that he was born in 1855 and died on 12 June 1926.  Descendants of Daniel remain in the area.


In 1911 Daniel was summonsed for selling a half-barrel of beer without licence.  The case throws light on another former publican of the town, ‘Mrs Bongualimi’, the recipient of the half-barrel.


Chute Arms Hotel and the Bonguelmi family

This name interested Michael for in his notes, under the correct spelling of Bonguelmi, is a record of Mrs Bonguelmi’s husband, John Angelo.  Michael’s notes direct the reader to T M Donovan’s History: ‘The Chute Arms Hotel was built by Mr J Bonguellemi who made a big fortune in the gold fields of Ballarat. He was a native of Switzerland who had married a Castleisland woman in Australia’.


The marriage, recorded in New Zealand’s Westport Times, took place in November 1869:


At the Great North Lead Hotel, on the 14th inst, by the Rev Thomas Walsh, John Angelo, only son of the late Carlo Bonguelmi Esq of Switzerland, Cantons Graubunden, to Margaret, third daughter of Michael Horan Esq of Castle Island, Ireland.


The Great North Lead Hotel seems to have been Bonguelmi’s business as it was up for sale in October 1869 and October 1870:


The Great North Lead Hotel, Gladstone street, Westport is offered for sale privately as the proprietor intends leaving the Colony for home early in November.  The commodious hotel with bar fixings, furniture and license expiring on the 8th of January next may be had from the undersigned … J A Bonguelmi


The couple settled in Ireland.  In 1876, William Thompson of Parknageragh made a public apology to Mr and Mrs ‘Bongulimi’ of the Chute Arms Hotel for making charges against their character and reputation.  A few years later, John Angelo numbered among those who signed an address to the Most Rev Dr M’Carthy, Lord Bishop of Kerry, on his visit to Castleisland on which occasion the Bishop said:


I come to Castleisland as a stranger and yet I am received by you with demonstrations of respect and reverence which I did not expect from my oldest and dearest friends …The parish of Castleisland is second to none in the diocese in the intelligence of its people and readiness with which they respond to every call of charity.


Let Erin Remember the Days of Old

The bishop was entertained with a number of songs including Let Erin Remember the Days of Old and Children’s Ode to the New Bishop:


Welcome! Welcome! Welcome! Thrice welcome, great Priest of the Lord
Welcome! Welcome! Welcome! Thrice welcome, great Priest of the Lord
Welcome! Welcome! Welcome! Then bless us, my Lord, while we sing
Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!  Te Deum Laudamus we sing.


At a meeting of the Castleisland House League in January 1887 sympathy was expressed on ‘the sudden death of John Bonguelmi, proprietor of the Chute Arms Hotel, an honest, straightforward and most excellent townsman in every sense’.  It was remarked that ‘Mr Bon’ (as he was familiarly called by many friends) was a staunch supporter of the league.


John Bonguelmi’s widow Margaret applied for a transfer of the licence and continued to operate the business.  She died in 1915, in which year the Chute Arms along with stabling, coach-house, furniture and stock in trade was put up for auction.  The premises is now known as Tom McCarthy’s Bar.

Happy 60th at No 40: Mary McCarthy pictured outside The Central Bar / Tom McCarthy's with her son and proprietor, Tom McCarthy and daughter, Noreen. Photo by John Reidy 7-5-2012
Happy 60th at No 40: Mary McCarthy pictured outside The Central Bar / Tom McCarthy’s with her son and proprietor, Tom McCarthy and daughter, Noreen. Photo by John Reidy 7-5-2012


Lady Headley of Aghadoe House

The earliest lease agreement in Michael’s records is dated 4 July 1845 signed by Anne, Dowager Lady Headley and Right Hon Charles Lord Headley and witnessed by their agent, Andrew Talbot.


Lady Headley of Aghadoe House in Killarney was held in the highest regard by her tenants for her great acts of generosity. Her name was Anne Mathews (1776-1863), wife of Charles Winn (1784-1840) the 2nd Lord Headley. A nineteenth century poem, ‘Aghadoe’, inscribed to Lady Headley, records the early death of her husband:


Too soon remov’d! – not for himself too soon,
In spirit ripe for Heav’n, tho’ not in years;
For scarcely had he pass’d life’s vigorous Noon,
For others far too short, Fate’s ruthless shears
Cut his bright thread of life – the Tenants’ tears,
The poor man’s sighs, embalm the honour’d dead;
Sincere the Keening dirge that smote the ears
When he was carried to his narrow bed.
Yet one survives to dry the tears of mourning shed –
A Mother to his Tenants, and in his bright path to tread.
Long may’st thou, noble Lady, long enjoy
The means and luxury of doing good,
Thy Tenants to befriend, the Poor t’employ –
The bounteous Almoner of clothes and food.1


In 1841, the year that followed her husband’s death, Lady Headley’s order for clothing for the poor was described as ‘munificent’.  Some years before this, in 1835, she had been welcomed by several hundred tenants and 60 mounted horsemen for improvements on the Castleisland Estate.


In the 1850s Lady Headley started a movement for land revaluation and rent reduction, a move followed by several landed proprietors. In recognition of this, a grand dinner was held in her honour at the Castleisland assembly-room where people ‘of all classes and creeds’ united to bear testimony to one who was ‘as virtuous in private circles as she appears in the public eye’. As an evening of all night dancing commenced to the ‘lilt of O’Leary’s bagpipe’, her agent, Andrew Talbot, said no words of his could convey an adequate idea of Lady Headley’s generosity.


Aghadoe House Killarney
Aghadoe House Killarney


Flaghool ban maugh

Lady Headley’s motto was ‘live and let live’ and her approach was always practical: ‘Lady Headley is out here at present [Rossbeigh] … granting leases to some, building substantial slate houses for others, shedding comfort and happiness in the shape of clothing and gifts on every side with a benevolence seldom equalled.’  In 1854, Lady Headley sold ‘several large fat beeves’ to the butchers of Killarney and bought them back again ‘at a good price and divided them among the poor’.  Through her acts of generosity she became known as flaghool ban maugh (‘the good lady’).


Lady Headley, the ‘large-hearted ever open-handed Good Woman’, died at Aghadoe House on 16 February 1863.  Her death cast ‘a dark and gloomy cloud’ across her estates at Castleisland and Abbeyfeale, the valley of Rossbeigh and in Killarney at Aghadoe. Her generosity continued to her final days, for it was noted she had re-purchased, shortly before her death, four bullocks at market price for distribution to her tenants.


She was laid to rest in the family vault at Aghadoe Church of Ireland.  Her funeral was elaborate, her coffin ‘massive oak carved with rich Genoa crimson velvet by Mr Justin M’Carthy’ and the ‘wailings and lamentations’ of hundreds were heard as she was lowered to her final rest.


Headley tomb Aghadoe


The Mill Estate

One name among the mourners was William John Neligan, a name that also appears as signatory to the 1845 lease agreement (witnessed by W E Reidy).  Neligan was also associated with the Mill Estate when in 1825, William Neligan auctioned Ballyfereen or Charter House (which included part of the Mill Estate, Hayes’ Paddocks, furze fields and part of Knockananlig2):


To be sold by public auction on Thursday the 15th day of September 1825 at the office of W J Neligan in Tralee under authority and in pursuance of The Castle Island Division Act the following messuage and lands situate in and adjoining to the town of Castle Island in the County of Kerry and occupied under terms which chiefly expire the 25th March 1826.


Ballyfereen (or Ballyfirreen) seems to have been held by Rev Jeremiah O’Leary in the 1820s.




W J Neligan

Perhaps the same W J Neligan Esq (and of 5 Westmoreland Street, Dublin) was involved in the promotion of the railway from Tralee to Killarney.  At a meeting in the Record Court in 1852 chaired by Hon Dayrolles Blakeney De Moleyns (later the 4th Baron Ventry) two letters condoning the project were read out, one from Lord Headley and the other from William Denny, both addressed to William John and Richard Neligan.


During the Kerry Election of 1872, Maurice Harman of Garrynagore, Abbeydorney wrote to the local paper to express his regret at having signed, ‘at the request of my landlord’s son, Mr William Neligan’, a petition against Blennerhassett.


The name of Neligan crops up again in Michael’s records in a marriage settlement with the Lawlor family dated 22 April 1905.  Neligans mentioned include Michael, William, Richard, Jeremiah, Mary Anne and Kathleen.


Lady Miles and the Roche family

Michael Neligan was a yearly tenant of Lady Miles. This was perhaps Frances Elizabeth, daughter of Sir David Roche (1791-1865) and his wife Frances Vandeleur.  Her title came with her marriage in 1848 to Sir Philip John William Miles (1825-1888).


Sir David Roche was of Carass Court, Coom, Limerick and Barntick, Co Clare.  Carass was demolished in the 1940s, though Barntick, a seventeenth century building, remains.  Sir David evidently had interests in land in Kerry.  On his death in 1865, it was remarked that ‘as well in Kerry as in this county [Limerick], Sir David Roche was deemed a liberal landlord’.


Indeed the name of Roche can be found in a lease agreement between Lord and Lady Headley and Redmond Roche, apothecary.


Ventry Estate

Lord Ventry (Thomas Townsend Aremberg de Moleyns, 3rd Baron) also finds record in the documents.  The Ventry Estate, sold in 1910, is a considerable history. The main residence, Burnham House in Dingle, is today Coláiste (college) Íde. Ventry Church of Ireland, which held in its walls the history of this noble family, was demolished in 1963.


Burnham House Dingle former Ventry residence



1 Killarney Sketches (1862) by Fitz-Erin. Reproduced with notes in 2011, pp47-51.  Another poem, 'Elegy on Ganzey, the Celebrated Killarney Piper' records the life of Lord Headley's piper, James Gandsey (c1767-1857)  pp77-81.

2 A map illustrating the extent of the Mill Estate (outlined in green) is held in IE MOD/49/49.4/49.4.1.