Stop Press: Michael O’Donohoe and the Kerry Newspapers

Michael O’Donohoe made great use of the local Kerry newspapers in his historical researches of Castleisland, most notably Tim Harrington’s Kerry Sentinel, printed in Tralee.


In 1902, twelve newspapers were published every week in Tralee. These included the Kerry Weekly Reporter, founded in 1882 as an advertising medium for merchants and traders, the Kerry News, founded in 1893 by John B Quinnell of Edenburn and devoted to ‘the protection of the ratepayers’ interests’ and, founded in 1899, The Killarney Echo and South Kerry Chronicle, ‘a nationalist organ specially devoted to the interests of east and south Kerry’ conducted by Thomas Quirke.


There followed the Kerry People and Kerry Evening Star in 1902, the former produced by Kerry journalist, Maurice Patrick Ryle (1868-1935), who earlier worked for the Dublin Evening Herald and the Kerry Sentinel (and later the Westmeath Independent), and the latter by Thomas Quirke, formerly of the Kerry Reporter and Kerry News.1


Of the earlier newspapers, Kerry historian Jeremiah King, in compiling a list of Kerry newspapers held in the British Museum Library in 1913, noted that in July 1784, a Kerry Chronicle was published.2


Other titles that come down to us from the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century include the Mercury (1793), Herald (1798) and McCartie’s Kerry Dispatch (1807).More firmly established was the Kerry Evening Post.


The Kerry Evening Post


The Kerry Evening Post was founded by Dr John Busteed, Postmaster of Kerry, who came into Kerry in the eighteenth century and bought up the Kerry Journal from James Graves, great-uncle of the Bishop of Limerick.4


Dr Busteed died in 1819.  His son, John Busteed, who also edited the paper for a time, died in 1863 aged 72.  A notice of his death stated that his father had founded the newspaper ‘89 years ago’ – or in 1774.5


Just a few scant references can be found to the Kerry Journal, including a notice of 1775 which stated, ‘Mr Fear No body.  The White Boys are rising in Kerry.  The nobility and gentry of that county have offered large rewards for apprehending these disturbers of the peace in last Monday’s Kerry Journal’.6


Following the death of John Busteed in 1863, the Kerry Evening Post passed into the Raymond family.  On the death of 50-year-old George Raymond in 1869, it was recorded that he had been editing the paper for 30 years.7


Alexander Raymond, proprietor in 1871, discovered that a whole file of the newspaper for the historic year of 1798 had been burned by an old woman in Blennerville.8


Alexander Raymond died on 10 February 1900 aged 76 and George Raymond continued its production.   George Raymond announced that the publication would be suspended from 29 September 1917, and it did not reappear.9


Chute’s Western Herald or Kerry Advertiser



The ‘Kerry Herald’ was founded in 1793 by Pierce Chute Esq, JP, at Nelson Street, Tralee.10  In 1828 Chute, who was for many years Provost of Tralee, was sued for libel by Daniel O’Connell, MP,  Chute died on 15 May 1843.  From c1828, Thomas Day was proprietor of the paper.  The following report appeared in 1836, the year after the Herald folded:


Thomas Day Esq of the late Kerry Western Herald newspaper was tried at Tralee Quarter Sessions for having struck with a stick on the head, Captain Charles Fairfield, a magistrate of that county, in the Tralee Club-room.  Capt Fairfield swore Mr Day called him a coward, robber and rascal and that the only provocation he gave was calling Mr Day ‘an unfortunate man’.  The jury found a verdict of guilty under gross provocation and the court sentenced him to be imprisoned a week from first day of sessions which week expired on the day sentence was pronounced and of course Mr Day was discharged without confinement.11


The Tralee Mercury



The Tralee Mercury was founded in 1829 by Tralee native, John Flynn Esq, elder brother of lawyer, Hon Cornelius O’Flynn (1810-1869).  Its object was to be ‘independent in every sense of the word, undaunted, unpurchasable and unpurchased’.12


John Flynn worked as a reporter in Dublin and London until 1828 when he returned to Kerry to establish his own paper.  He died from ‘consumptive decline’ at Upper Castle Street, Tralee, on 3 June 1831 after a ‘brief but brilliant and most useful career’.  His obituarist remarked that ‘if Tipperary has sustained a loss in Martin Lanigan, Kerry has suffered not less severely by the untimely end of John Flynn’. 13


The Mercury was subsequently in the proprietorship of Edward Lynch.14


In 1832, Tralee historian and antiquarian, John T O’Flaherty (1770-1851) had a connection with the paper and Patrick Tuohy, for 24 years publisher of the Cork Examiner, served his apprenticeship in the Tralee Mercury printing office.


The paper folded in 1839, though a notice in the issue of 5 October of that year announced intentions to republish the paper.


In 1845, Patrick Robert O’Loghlen Byrne, in a case taken for libel by Rev Charles Gayer of Dingle, was described as proprietor of the Tralee Mercury.  Byrne’s involvement in the paper is open to research, though he was certainly the proprietor of the Kerry Examiner.


The Kerry Examiner



Byrne founded the Examiner in 1840 and it flourished for 16 years until Byrne announced his intention to depart Kerry for Dublin – for the education of his children – in 1856.15


A writer in a rival publication remarked that ‘many a time has the editor of the Tralee Chronicle joined with the Kerry Evening Post in ridiculing and very properly too, the puffing practices so often and so glaringly resorted to by the defunct Kerry Examiner in writing and printing most laudatory and fulsome letters addressed to himself under various anonymous signatures’.16


Patrick Robert O’Loghlen Byrne, eldest son of John Byrne Esq of Hawthorn Lodge, Co Wicklow and second cousin of the Right Hon Sir Michael O’Loghlen (1789-1842), Master of the Rolls, married in Tralee in 1841 to Mary, eldest daughter of James O’Halloran Esq of Coolnaleen Cottage, Listowel, Co Kerry.  Byrne died in Dublin in May 1861.17


The ‘Dover Fenian’, a man named Whitstone, was a compositor who was one time apprenticed to the Kerry Examiner, Tralee Chronicle and Kerry Star.


The Tralee Chronicle



The Tralee Chronicle (The Tralee Chronicle and Killarney Echo from 21 April 1857) was founded in 1843 by James Raymond Eagar.18   Eagar, only son of Thomas Spring Eagar, JP, of Cottage, Kerry, never married, and died 12 July 1863 at age 57.  The journal was subsequently in the ownership of his cousin, John Weekes.19


The paper was later edited by Dingle native, James Joseph Long, who in his youth had performed the duties of sub editor and reporter.  Long’s career included work on various publications, the Munster News (Limerick), the Metropolitan Press, Ulster Observer (assistant editor), Freeman’s Journal, and Belfast Press.  He returned to Kerry in the 1860s where he edited the short-lived Kerry Star before taking up the editorial position with the Tralee Chronicle.20


In 1876, Long founded the Kerry Vindicator but by 1878, the paper was up for sale and Long was bankrupt.  Long returned to the Freeman, and the Vindicator was sold to Timothy Harrington MP, who founded the Kerry Sentinel. 


Long later joined the Kilkenny and Waterford Press and in 1881 was appointed editor of the Clonmel Nationalist until he retired through failing health c1895.  He died in Clonmel in December 1909 aged 68.  He was the author of Mount St Brandon Religious Celebration; The Scenery, Antiquities and History of West Kerry (1868) and Clonmel, Past and Present (1887).   His son, Brandon Long, edited The Nationalist.


The Chronicle was subsequently under the management of Mr Hassell.  A reporter at this time was Henry Brassill, formerly of the Kerry Post (Listowel correspondent), who in 1880 founded the Kerry Independent.  Brassill, author of stories and songs including Maria Daly, The Two Widows, Acushla and Rifles for the Boys, also worked for the Catholic Times, the Dartford Express, and London Irish Citizen.  His sons, T F and Henry John Brassill founded The Fulham Argus in 1901, and claimed the distinction of being the first newspaper established in the reign of King Edward VII, the first number appearing on Friday 22 March 1901.21


Another writer for the Chronicle in the early 1860s was B D Kelliher (1847-1881), son of John Kelliher, land surveyor, Castleisland.  He wrote his first newspaper paragraph for the Chronicle aged about 15.  He subsequently worked on the Newry and Dundalk Examiner, and in London, the Monetary and Mining Gazette and the Mining World and in South Africa, to where he had travelled for the benefit of his failing health, the Natal Witness.  He died in South Africa on 14 December 1881 aged 35.  Tralee man and stenographer, Thomas J Moynahan also wrote for the paper.  He died in Denver in January 1888.


Blanche Weekes advertised the Chronicle for sale in 1881 at which time it became defunct.


Raymond’s Kerry Herald



The most short-lived newspaper appears to have been Raymond’s Kerry Herald founded by William and John Raymond in 1856.22   It folded after six issues, the first appearing on 12 January 1856 and the last on 16 February 1856.


It was perhaps a little ahead of its time in proclaiming in its first issue, ‘Our columns will be open to the public to expose all local abuses’.23  A notice in the Tralee Chronicle of 22 February stated:


Died, aged one month, the Kerry Herald,  Indeed, it was very evident from the first appearance of the ridiculous bantling that the ‘three-halfpenny’ luminary would die in a few weeks of inanition. 24


Another short-lived publication seen off in the town of Tralee was Munster Life, which appeared from 6 March 1897 – 5 June 1897, ‘devoted to Munster sporting matters’.  It was promoted by Mr S B Roche of Nelson St, Tralee, Hon Sec to the Tralee Cycling Club and Kerry Cycling Clubs Committee.


Within months of its launch, it was described as ‘pert and precocious’, ‘too fast to last’ and to have adopted an untenable position from the outset:


We regret that our friendly words of warning have not had the desired effect on this erring little youngster, to whom we might have administered more condign castigation had we not felt disposed to make due allowance for the indiscretions of youth and to allow the delinquent off as a first offender.25


Mr S B Roche was Customs and Excise Officer, Stephen Barry Roche, son of Patrick Roche (died 1909), Civil Engineer, of Fair Hill, Cahirciveen.  In his youth, S B Roche composed verse on the O’Connell memorial church at Cahirciveen.


Roche subsequently lived in Monasterevan.  In 1915, three of his sons, Jack, James Patrick, and David were in the military services.  On 7 June 1917, 29-year-old Captain James Patrick Roche, Royal Field Artillery, 47th Trench Mortar Battery, was Killed in Action and buried in Kemmel Chateau Cemetery.26


The Captain Roche Memorial Committee was formed in Kerry to raise a ‘rustic cross’ over the family grave at Killavarnogue, Caherciveen.  On the second anniversary of Captain Roche’s death, 7 June 1919, the memorial cross was erected at the head of the family grave at the entrance to the Caherciveen churchyard.


In 1921, Mr Roche’s home at Monasterevan was raided and two of his sons, John and David, were arrested:


Both boys went through the horrors of the late Great War, one as a DB in the Royal Navy the other as a marine, a Royal Dublin Fusilier and finally as an MCC man.  Mr Roche himself has more than 40 years in the excise service to his credit, was an open supporter of the cause of the Allies and the untiring friend of the ex-soldiers of the district in their efforts to obtain means of living … Many of the poor and aged of this district will learn with regret that Mr Roche has sent in his resignation of his commission as excise officer as a protest against this treatment.27


Stephen Barry Roche died on 3 April 1931 at Monasterevan.  He was buried at Cahirciveen.


The Kerry Star



The bi-weekly Kerry Star was founded in 1861 by Dingle man Thadeus (Timothy) Joseph O’Kane (1820-1890), who also for a time worked for the Tralee Chronicle.  The publication’s mission was to be ‘Irish in tone as in heart and feeling’ and conducted on ‘Catholic and Independent Principles tied down to no political party’.


The issue of 17 February 1863 announced the auction of O’Kane’s household contents at 5 Castle Street, Tralee, following which the paper folded and O’Kane left the country.  He was later editor of the Australian paper, Northern Minor.  His brother was Rev John O’Kane, parish priest of Castlegregory.


The Kerry Sentinel



The Kerry Sentinel was Michael O’Donohoe’s favoured source of reference in his research of the nineteenth century.  It was founded in Nelson street, Tralee in 1878 by Castletownbere born Timothy Charles Harrington (1851-1910), MP and Lord Mayor of Dublin, with the following agenda: ‘In presenting to the People of Kerry a new Catholic Journal, independent of all influences hostile to their Faith and Freedom, we believe we but supply a want already much felt.  In a County where ninety-six per cent of the population is Catholic, the absence of an Independent Journal to advance Catholic interests, is no less an evil than a reproach’.


It was later edited by his brothers Edward (1854-1902), who wrote poetry under the pen-name ‘Jot’, and Daniel (1839-1915) and Daniel’s son, Joseph, the first four-page twice weekly issue costing three-pence appeared on Friday 26 April 1878.  The paper was suspended in summer 1918 ‘until such time as matters are more favourable’ (though the printing works, raided in 1919, continued).


It was not resurrected.  The following sketch of Timothy Harrington was published in 1915:


Harrington commenced life as a professor in a Dominican Seminary [Holy Cross, Day Place] in Kerry and graduated from teaching boys into a public instructor as editor of the Kerry Sentinel.  He threw himself into the land agitation and was appointed an honorary official of the Tralee Land League.  This body was accused by the police of holding a ‘court’ thereby acting illegally.  Mr Harrington and several other suspected members of the League tribunal were prosecuted on this charge and imprisoned under the Coercion Act.  Davitt says of him, at this time, that ‘he was one of the many Land Leaguers who proved themselves by marked ability and a courageous resistance to the local enemies of the people’s cause, capable of filling higher positions in the national movement and in the public service.’  He was soon afterwards selected as an organiser and made headway by a blunt, honest advocacy of the cause.  In February 1883, Harrington, who had been promoted to the position of joint secretary, made a speech at Mullingar ‘intimidatory’ of land-grabbers for which he was prosecuted and sent to prison for two months.  Nine days after he entered Mullingar jail, he was elected member of Parliament of the county in which the ‘crime’ had been committed.

He became in after years a town councillor of the city of Dublin and sat for three years successively in the mayoral chair of the capital.  On the suppression of the Land League he had become secretary to the National League and he secured the confidence of the party and the people.  The offices of the League in O’Connell Street, under his management, were conducted with splendid business capacity and success, and the flattering title of Organiser of Victory, bestowed upon him, was well won and well deserved.  His decisions were respected and upheld throughout the various branches of the League in Ireland and he wielded far more real authority in the country than could be claimed or exercised by the titular Chief Secretary in Dublin Castle.  On the redistribution of seats in Ireland, Harrington was returned for the Harbour Division of the city and retained that seat till his death.  In 1890 he was one of the delegation to the United States for the purpose of raising funds for the Home Rule struggle.  During his absence the unfortunate O’Shea incident developed differences in the Irish party.  He decided to throw in his lot with Mr Parnell – his colleagues on the mission reluctantly taking the opposite course.  The mission was abandoned and the delegates returned home.  Harrington used all his influence in support of Mr Parnell’s claim to the leadership and, after Mr Parnell’s death, remained a member of the party that had followed the fortunes of the old leader.  After a while he felt, with many others, the futility of continuing the fratricidal strife and was one of the principal movers towards a reunion in the ranks of the Irish Parliamentary Party which he lived to see happily accomplished.  Against the advice of his medical attendant, he crossed to London to take part in a critical parliamentary division, and was seized with an illness that proved fatal some months later.  He died at 70 Harcourt Street, Dublin on the 12th March 1910 at the age of 59 years.28


The Kerryman



The Kerryman, founded in 1904 by Dingle native Maurice Griffin (managing director), formerly of the Kerry Weekly Reporter, Thomas Nolan (editor) and his cousin, Daniel Nolan, remains one of Kerry’s long established newspapers.29


Some Kerry newspapers

Kerry Journal

Kerry Chronicle 1783

Mercury 1793

Chute’s Western Herald 1793

Herald 1798

Dispatch 1807

Kerry Evening Post 1811 (or before) to 1917

Tralee Mercury 1829-1839

Kerry Examiner 1840-1856

Tralee Chronicle 1843-1881

Raymond’s Kerry Herald 1856

Kerry Star 1861-1863

Weekly Chronicle 1873

Kerry Vindicator 1876-1880

Kerry Sentinel 1878-1916

Kerry Independent 1880-1884

Kerry Weekly Reporter 1883-1920

Kerry News 1894-1941

Munster Life 1897

Killarney Echo 1899-1920

Kerry Evening Star 1902-1914

Kerry People 1902-1928

Kerryman 1904-date

Kerry Advocate 1914-1916

The Liberator Tralee 1914-1939

Kerry Press 1914-1916

Kerry Reporter 1924-1935

Kerry Champion 1928-1958



1 Kerry News, 8 October 1902.

2 ‘Kerry Newspapers’ by Jeremiah King, Kerry Evening Post, 20 December 1913. 

3 ‘Looking back on Old Tralee’, Kerryman, 15 November 1974.  Jeremiah King in 1913 noted, from The Irish Book Lover, the following reference for the Kerry Dispatch: ‘No 13, Feb 17th Fol (Univ Lib Camb Hibi 785.1)’.

4 A History of the Kingdom of Kerry (1871) by Mary Frances Cusack, p422.

5 Died 14 July 1863 at Hilton Villa, Rathmines, John Busteed Esq, aged 72.  Mr Busteed’s father founded the Kerry Post 89 years ago which journal Mr Busteed subsequently owned and edited for some years (Southern Reporter, 21 July 1863).  John Busteed, founder, died in 1819 (The Obituary Book (2013), pp27-28).

6 Saunders Newsletter, 1 October 1775.

7 Death announcement, Irish Examiner, 12 March 1869. 

8 A History of the Kingdom of Kerry (1871) by Mary Frances Cusack, p422.

9 The death of George Raymond’s eldest son and namesake, 18-year- old George Raymond, occurred on 17 October 1912 at Waukegan, Lake County, Illinois, USA.  The death notice of George Raymond was published in the Kerry Champion, 6 May 1933.  He died following an operation, having been ‘proprietor of the Kerry Evening Post up to a few years ago when that paper ceased to exist’.  He was buried in Ballymacelligott.

10 A report of a meeting of the Milltown Yeomanry Cavalry on 15th June 1797, First Lieutenant Charles Martilli Esq in the chair, published in the Herald of 20 June 1797, was reprinted in the Kerry Evening Post, 6 June 1908,

11 Dublin Weekly Register, 30 April 1836.

12 Tralee Mercury, 14 February 1829.

13 Tralee Mercury, 4 June 1831.  The death of John Flynn’s sister, Catherine, in New Street, Killarney, was reported in the Kerry Examiner and Munster General Observer, 12 January 1841.

14 Edward Lynch died aged 62 in 1863.

15 Kerry Evening Post, 31 May 1856.  Very Rev Dean M’Ennery, Tralee; Rickard O’Connell Esq, BL, Tralee and Rev Charles O’Callaghan, parish priest of Ballymacelligott headed a committee to collect subscriptions for a presentation to Byrne.

16 Kerry Evening Post, 23 December 1857.

17 The sister of Mary, Byrne’s wife, was Catherine, who in 1841 married John Kenny Esq, Listowel.  James O’Halloran Esq died 31 May 1847 at Coolnaleen House Listowel aged 65.  His widow, Catherine, died in 1852 at the home of her son in law, John Kenny Esq, Bellevue Cottage, Athy.

It is worth noting that a P R Byrne Esq edited the short-lived Galway Free Press in the early 1830s after the death in 1832 of editor Hugh Clarke.

18 Kerry County website lists a newspaper entitled Tralee Chronicle and Killarney Chronicle, 1860-1867.

19 James (Jimmy) Weekes reported on the actions of the Tenants’ Rights Association. 

20 The first number of the Tralee Chronicle was published 18 March 1843.  Bi-weekly from 1857. 

21 In 1904, 22-year-old Henry John Brassill was reported to be travelling as secretary to a surveying and mining party to different parts of the world.  See Kerry Sentinel, 5 September 1903 and Kerry Evening Post, 18 May 1904.

22 The Weekly Chronicle, ‘specially adapted for Kerry friends in America’, was recorded on Jeremiah King’s list of Kerry newspapers held in the British Museum, 8 February 1873 to 28 June 1873. 

23 In its second issue, 19 January 1856, it reported on a libel case between the proprietors of the Chronicle and Kerry Examiner in which J R Eagar had been charged with having established his journal by means of money given to him by the secretary of the late Tralee Savings’ Bank.

24 The edition of 29 February 1856 (‘Sudden Death’) continued the ‘humour’, citing the death as a natural one caused by want of support and circulation.

25 Kerry Weekly Reporter, 5 June 1897. 

26 Another son was Michael Bertram Roche, BA.  The Census of Ireland 1911 records that Roche and his wife had 12 children living.

27 Irish Examiner, 11 July 1921. 

28 Historic Graves in Glasnevin Cemetery (1915) by Richard J O’Duffy, pp140-142.  An image of an address of congratulation presented to Timothy Harrington during his Mayorship (1901-1904) was published in the Irish Press, 16 October 1934.

29 The first issue was printed 20 August 1904.  Further reference, ‘Old Tralee newspapers’ by Con Casey, Kerryman, 26 February 1988; ‘The press at the start of the 1900s’ by Eamon Browne, Kerryman, 5 August 2004. 

Other local newspapers include the Kerry’s Eye, established by the Kennellys in 1974 which remains in production.  The Kingdom newspaper, Killarney, folded in 2011.  It was at that time owned by Thomas Crosbie Holdings Ltd.  It was founded by Daniel MacMonagle, a native of Rathmullen, Co Donegal, who established the Killarney Printing Works in 1913.  He married Kathleen Fogarty and had a large family.  He died in October 1964.  The paper ceased publication c1921 before being resurrected in 1981 under title Now & Then subsequently trading as The Kingdom.  Philip MacMonagle sold the paper in 1992 to Leo Keoghan and Shay McGain.  For a short period in the late 1990s, Michael and Anne Lundon, Dingle Post Office, had an interest in it.  Its former editor, John O’Mahony, currently edits the online newspaper, Killarney Today.