Local History

Irish Civil war and the Ballyseede Massacre

At midnight on March 6th 1923, nine prisoners were brought to Ballyseedy Wood near Ballyseedy cross. They were Pat Buckley, John Daly, Pat Hartnett, Michael O Connell, John O Connor, George O Shea, Tim Tuomey , James Walsh and Steven Fuller. As they were getting into the van, the guard told them that this would be the last cigarette they’d ever smoke. When they got there, they were tied around a log and the mine was detonated. Most of them survived the initial blast but the soldiers threw grenades at them. All died, except for Steven Fuller – the force of the blast threw him into the nearby river Lee where he crawled for about 500 yds to Currans House. They took him in and hid him in a dug-out at the back of their farm for some weeks. He was the only one who survived the blast. There were two more mines detonated at that time also – one at Cahersiven and the other at Countess Bridge in Killarney. Only one man survived those two blasts. However the Ballyseedy massacre remains one of the worst atrocities of the Irish Civil War. In 1959, a bronze monument was erected on the site of the massacre to remember the suffering of the Irish people over the centuries of occupation. This is known as Ballyseedy Monument.

The Monument at Ballyseede

This monument was comisioned by architect Uinseann Mac Eoin and sculpted in bronze by French artist, Yann Renard Geoult in 1959. Yann died in 1998. It was erected on the 30th of August in that year. The prostrate figure represents the prisoners who made the great sacrifice for Ireland. Behind him the figure of a lady stands for the Irish mothers, wives and daughters who suffered loss and symbolised Ireland. She carrys a child, symbol of the future, innocent though in the presence of death. The fourth figure is a strong determined youth, who strides manfully on to continue the struggle. This monument is the property of Oglaigh na hEireann.

Ballyseedy Castle

Ballyseedy Castle is located on the main Tralee/Killarney road, two miles east of Tralee and about a mile north of our school. It was the principal residence of the Fitzgerald family, the Earls of Desmond, many of whom refused to swear allegiance to the Queen of England. This eventually, resulted in the Geraldine Wars that continued for nearly three centuries and ended when Gerald, the 16th Earl of Desmond was captured by the Queens forces at his hiding place in the Stack’s mountains and was beheaded in the demesne of Ballyseedy. His head was exhibited in a cage on London Bridge as a warning to all those who dared dis-obey the crown. The queen then instructed the Governor of Kerry – Sir Edward Denny to lease the estate of 3000 acres to Robert Blennerhassett. The annual rent was the payment of one red rose, picked from the garden of the castle, on mid-summers day.

The Blennerhassetts lived in the castle until 1966-over 300 years in all. It was then taken over by an Irish-American family – Mr Bart O’Connor, his wife and daughter. It is now owned by an Irish family.

The Ghost

There has always been a rumor that Ballyseedy Castle was “haunted” but is it true or is it simply a myth? Well nobody really knows what to believe. However, there has been many reports that this could be true. During the St. Patrick’s weekend some years ago there were three American tourists staying in the Castle. During the night they heard a “ghost” and left suddenly in the early hours of the morning leaving no explanation. At about 2a.m.the night porter found their keys on the hall mat.

Local History Place Names

Place Name Irish Version Meaning
Ballyseedy Baile Ó Sioda The Town of the Banshee
Caherleaheen Cathair Leithín Fort of the Small Grey Cow
Poulawadra Poll an Mhadra The Hole of the Dogs
Dromavalla Drom an Bhaile The Ridge of the Townland
Gortatlea Gort an tSléibhe The Field of the Mountain
Ashill Rath Chaibin Fort of the Spigot
Caherbreagh Cathair Bréach The Mansion of the Wolves
Clashdesmond Clais Desmond Edmond’s Drain
Curraghmacdonagh Currach Mhic Donnchadha McDonagh’s Bog
Ballycarthy Béal atha Ceáran Carty’s Town
Clogher An Clothar The Rocky Hillock

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