The Castleisland Collection holds material pertaining to two nineteenth century elections in the county – the Kerry Election of 1835 and the Kerry ‘Home Rule’ By-Election of 1872.1
Michael O’Donohoe observed how in those years, ‘everybody had to go to Tralee to vote’.
In 1835, Daniel O’Connell urged that:
Deputations be sent from the wealthy parishes of the Tralee hinterland, round Clanmaurice and Trughenacmy to canvass the shopkeepers of the town.
O’Connell also called on individual parishes to meet and raise funds to pay the expenses of voters travelling to Tralee.2
In the Kerry By-Election of 1872, the ‘men of Kerry’ were urged to ‘join your hearts and hands’ and vote for Blennerhassett:
Here in Tralee and Kinmare says the shan van vauth
And Caherciveen will not fail says the shan van vauth
Dingle and Listowel Blenner Hassitt is our own
Our laws we’ll have at home says the shan van vauth.
So now no Fenianism says the shan van vauth
Nor Irishmen in prison says the shan van vauth
Brave Gladstone won’t refuse to sign for us home rule
In the year of seventy two says the shan van vauth.
Men of Kerry now come on says the shan van vauth
And join your hearts and hands says the shan van vauth
Come vote for Blenner Hassitt or else you will be sorry
And he’ll bring Home rule in a hurry says the shan van vauth.3
The collection also contains a list of MPs for Kerry (County, Dingle, Tralee, Ardfert) for the period 1613-1751.4
1 Michael O'Donohoe's study tended towards voting practice and statistics, comparing an electorate of 66,157 in North and South Kerry in 1992 to a total of 4,635 votes cast between candidates Blennerhassett and Dease in the 1872 Kerry By-Election. 2 IE MOD/43/43.2. For an account of Daniel O'Connell and the Clare elections of 1828, see Shell from the Shannon: Folk Tales of Co Clare by Margaret Wilhelmina Brew (2014). It is worth noting that a play about the life of Daniel O'Connell was written and produced in 1880 by John C Levey (1838-1891). Entitled Daniel O'Connell; or, Kerry's Pride and Munster's Glory, it played at the Alexandra Theatre, Sheffield; Pullan's Theatre, Bradford and Theatre Royal, Hanley in July and August 1880. A synopsis of the play (which seems to be lost) is held in the collection. Playwright John C Levey (1838-1891) hailed from an artistic family. He was the son of Dublin violinist and conductor, Richard Michael Levey (1811-1899) co-author of Annals of the Theatre Royal Dublin from its opening in 1821 to its destruction by fire February 1880 (1880) and brother of violinist Richard M Levey (1837-1911) – who went by the name of Paganini Redivivus – and composer William Charles Levey (1837-1894). John C Levey died 17 September 1891 at Seaforth, Liverpool; obituary in The Era, 26 September 1891. His widow died at 16 Dolcliffe-road, Mexborough 27 December 1900. 3 IE MOD/A11. 4 IE MOD/44. Evidently extracted from The Ancient and Present State of the County of Kerry by Charles Smith. Information is organised into five columns, the first column contains the year (1613-1751 – this column also identifies page numbers in which mention of the MP is found). The remaining headings: 'County' – 'Dingle' – 'Tralee' – 'Ardfert'