An Open Letter to the Families of Poff and Barrett

‘Better one hundred guilty men go free than one innocent man hanged’   History’s tide has turned and has burst onto the shore with tidings of great news and joy of the recommendation of Posthumous Pardons for Sylvester Poff and James Barrett.  It is a clear record of a great injustice put right for the…Continue Reading

Spotlight on Reineen: An Outline of Con Houlihan’s Ancestry

A number of folkloric compositions collected by Con Houlihan during his national schooldays in Castleisland survive in a school exercise book held among his papers, recently acquired by Castleisland District Heritage.  They were contributed to what is now known as The Schools’ Collection, and illustrate the value of the 1930s project in the teaching of…Continue Reading

A War of Words: Houlihan and Johnnie, the man who answered Connie

In the early 1980s, Johnnie Roche, Chairman of Castleisland District Heritage, appeared in the Tops of the Town entertainment competition in Castleisland.  As far as Johnnie can recall, he was reciting a monologue, perhaps one of his favourites from the Harry Brogan show, such as The Man at the Back of the Hall.[1]   To…Continue Reading

Worship, War and Eviction at Cahereenard, Castleisland

Cill Fionáin, otherwise Kilfinnaun, the ancient church of St Finian was located at Cahereenard in the townland of Kealgorm, Castleisland.[1]  Little of it remains but an account of its origins is contained in The Schools’ Collection, which suggests its founder, St Finian, was a disciple of St Brendan the Navigator:   St Brendan lived on…Continue Reading

Hold the Front Page: Charlie Lenihan and the Kilcow Cottage Affair

In December 1957, the first issue of The Taxpayers’ News appeared in Castleisland carrying an editorial, ‘Charlie – V – The Rest’ which alluded to the conduct of members of Kerry County Council.  ‘Charlie,’ otherwise Kerry County Councillor, farmer and victualler Charles Lenihan of Woodville, Castleisland, was behind the production, its editor Con Houlihan.[1]  …Continue Reading

‘O’Donoghue of the Hills’: The Knocknaboul Eviction

On 18th May 1881 about sixty police under the command of Sub-Inspector Davis assembled at Knocknaboul near Kingwilliamstown on the Cork/Kerry border with land agent Arthur Edward Herbert JP of Killeentierna to evict Denis O’Donoghue and his family of nine children.   The scene was described by one who witnessed it:   There was no…Continue Reading

Heaps of History: Brewsterfield House in the Twentieth Century

Brewsterfield House, Glenflesk, Co Kerry was built by Sir Francis Brewster in the second half of the seventeenth century.  The proximity of the property to Sir William Petty’s iron works at Kenmare suggests that it was at about this time that Sir Francis Brewster, author of Essays on Trade (1702), set up a substantial iron…Continue Reading

Profile of Castleisland Entrepreneur, W H O’Connor

There is such a thing as inability to relax … His active life was his whole life.  To the end, he was working.  There was no let up. – Rev Brother Francis writing of his brother, W H O’Connor In 1955, Brother Francis of the Presentation Brothers, Cork, wrote an account of his older sibling,…Continue Reading

Mass on the Mountain: Plight of the Kerry Clergy in Penal Times

It is difficult today to imagine how life must have been for the religious in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries during Penal oppression.  Glimpses are given in notices from the times, this one from 1650:   All the Papists are to be turned out of the city; and from the Jesuits, priests, friars, monks, and…Continue Reading

‘Father Arthur – the True and Tried Champion of the People’[1]

In 1885, the inhabitants of Listowel presented an Illuminated Address to their parish priest, Rev Arthur William Murphy, on his transfer to the parish of Prior.  Rev Murphy, later Canon Murphy, had formerly served the parish of Castleisland and later, as Parish Priest of Brosna, assumed – together with Rev William Casey of Abbeyfeale –…Continue Reading