County Kerry, Ireland – Part II

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JJ Meehan
jjmeehan13@hotmail.com

WEB Site
http://themeehanfamily.com/

Contributor
Michele Kerrigan

Ireland is “God’s Country” and County Kerry maybe the gem of all Ireland.  On May 8th, 1860 my great grandfather John O’Connor married Mary O’Connor in Cascade Iowa.  Father Jeremiah O’Connor was the Priest who celebrated the wedding Mass.  None of them were related.  John O’Connor was the son of Jeremiah O’Connor and Eleanor Grady.  Mary was the daughter of Thomas O’Connor and Bridget Quirk.  All were from County Kerry, Ireland.  Until he died in 1903, John O’Connor considered Ireland God’s County and he as did most the Irish emigrates had a deep desire to return to his native land.  On his grave stone he entered “A NATIVE OF BALLY-NA-BUNK A SUB-DIVISION OF MOORESTOWN, PARISH OF DINGLE, CO. KERRY, IRELAND.”

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County Kerry and Ireland was his dream and both are now my dream and this blog is written in honor of John and Mary O’Connor and all the other good folks in Ireland and who have emigrated from Ireland.  You can view the John and Mary Family Tree at http://themeehanfamily.com/oconnor/index.htm.   The following blog will try to capture the beauty of Ireland via pictures and video’s from folks who have visited this jewel of a land and will have information from several sources on the history of the area.  These sources include; Wikipedia on County KerryAncient History of County Kerry and Ancient Kerry (Rootsweb).

Conor (Connor) Pass

Conor Pass is near the home of my great grandmother, Mary O’Connor – Village of Camp which you will pass through on the way to the mountain.

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The Conor Pass is the highest mountain pass in Ireland. It is situated on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, on the road that crosses the peninsula between Dingle Town and the coast the other side. The Mountains the Pass crosses are the Brandon Mountains and contain Ireland’s second highest peak Brandon Mountain at 3127 ft. From Dingle Town the road runs some 4½ miles rising to 1500 ft as it winds its way to the pass. There are wonderful views of the coast. At the Pass there is a carpark where you are confronted with this magnificent sight. The road then carries on down towards Brandon Bay past cliffs, a waterfall and lakes.

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The route from Blennerville passes for a time along the north coast of the Peninsula, with some fine views down to the sea. Follow the road on through the village of Camp and past the turning for Castlegregory, when the road will turn south and head across the mountains through the spectacular Conor Pass, with views of Tralee Bay to the north and Dingle Bay to the south.

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Conor Pass is one of the scenic highlights on Dingle Island and makes a great place for an excursion from Killarney. The narrow mountain-road is going from Dingle town to the northern part of the peninsula – the panorama is simply overwhelming…The road over Connor Pass is restricted to cars with less than 3,5 tons – the street is a one-way-track with several passing places – the rocks hang over at some places and might scratch or damage your motor home…

Lake Killarney

With its three famous lakes and great mountain ranges, Killarney in County Kerry Ireland has been the inspiration of poets and painters over many centuries. The Killarney National Park is internationally renowned both for its scenic beauty and scientific interest. Added to the beauty of the three main lakes are many other lakes in the folds of the mountains, numerous picturesque cascades and, rising to the west of the valley, the peaks of MacGillicuddy’s Reeks. There are many walks and trails around Killarney ranging from a two hour tourist trail around the town itself to the 215km (135 miles) long distance walking route (“The Kerry Way”) from Killarney around the Ring of Kerry.

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TORC WATERFALL Visitors can enjoy various day trips around the area. The Gap of Dunloe Tour is highly recommended and discovers Killarney at its mystical best, Torc Waterfall is one of the finest waterfalls in Ireland and Ladies View offers some of the most spectacular views of the Killarney valley. Visitors without their own transport can travel in the traditional jaunting-cars, water buses or in modern coaches around the area.

Muckross House

Muckross House (Irish: Theach Mhucrois) is located on the small Muckross Peninsula between Muckross Lake and Lough Leane, two of the lakes of Killarney, 6 kilometers (4 mi) from the town of Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland.

Muckross House is a mansion designed by the Scottish architect, William Burn, that was built in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the watercolourist Mary Balfour Herbert. With sixty-five rooms, it was built in the Tudor style. Extensive improvements were undertaken in the 1850s in preparation for the visit of Queen Victoria in 1861. It is said that these improvements for the Queen’s visit were a contributory factor in the financial difficulties suffered by the Herbert family which resulted in the sale of the estate. In 1899 it was bought by Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun who wanted to preserve the dramatic landscape.

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Killarney National Park was formed principally from a donation of Muckross Estate, which was presented to the state in 1932 by Senator Arthur Vincent and his parents-in-law Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn II, in memory of Senator Vincent’s late wife, Maud. The park was substantially expanded by acquisition of land from the former Earl of Kenmare’s estate.

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The house, gardens and traditional farms are all open to the public with guided tours of the house’s rooms.

Muckross Abbey

Muckross Abbey is one of the major ecclesiastical sites found in the Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland. It was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary for the Observantine Franciscans by Donald McCarthy More.

It has had a violent history and has been damaged and reconstructed many times. The friars were often persecuted and subjected to raids by marauding groups. Today the abbey is largely roofless although, apart from this, is generally quite well preserved. Its most striking feature is a central courtyard, which contains a large yew tree and is surrounded by a vaulted cloister.

Ground plan of Muckross Abbey

In the 17th and 18th centuries, it became the burial place for prominent County Kerry poets O’Donoghue, O’Rathaille and O’Suilleabhain.

Gallarus Oratory

The Gallarus Oratory (Irish: Séipéilín Ghallarais, literally “The Church of the Place of the Foreigners”) is believed to be an early Christian church located on the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland. Though the building is believed to have been built between the 6th century and 9th century, some believe it could have been built as late as the 12th century because the east window has a rounded top made of two carved stones (not a true arch). According to local legend, if a person climbs out of the oratory via the window, their soul will be cleansed.

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As early as the 6th century, monastic settlements were being built in remote areas of Ireland. This small oratory, built without mortar, uses corbel vaulting, a technique developed by Neolithic tomb-makers. It is dimly lit, with only a tiny window opposite the entrance door. Shaped like an upturned boat, this miniature church overlooks the harbour at Ard na Caithne (formerly also called Smerwick) on the Dingle Peninsula.

It is a corbelled-roofed building, built with the stones being laid at a slight angle, lower on the outside than on the inside, thus allowing rainwater to run off. This design has kept the interior relatively dry despite the lack of mortaring, allowing the building to remain in excellent condition.

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Kerry was predominantly a Catholic county. More than 155,000 people in the county were Catholic: this equated to more than 95% of the population. There were small Church of Ireland (Frederick Barton, a handyman in Fenit), Methodist (George Forde, a clergyman in Killarney) Presbyterian (Neil Brownlee, a Presbyterian customs officer in Fenit), Plymouth Brethren (John Brennan in Kenmare) and Jewish communities, but the institutions of the Catholic church were visible in every corner of Kerry (see Convent of Mercy in Tralee). So too were its mores (see interesting return for Katie Joy from Listowel). The Bishop of Kerrry was domiciled at St. Brendan’s Cathedral in Killarney, from where he oversaw a network of parishes (Fr Timothy Griffen was the parish priest in Ballyferriter). There were also various religious orders based in the county. The Dominicans had a house in Tralee and the Franciscans established a house in Killarney.  For more information please visit http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/exhibition/kerry/government_politics_institutions.html.

You can see all of our blogs on our WEB Site for IRELAND at http://themeehanfamily.com/blogs/ireland.htm

If you are interested in helping me with blogs on Ireland please contact me at mfmeehan@live.com.

The following is an Irish Blessing:

IRISH BLESSING

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