Carnegie Arts Centre

The Carnegie Arts Centre is the Community Theatre for the area. With a cinema projector, fully equipped theater and a gallery space available for public events, this is an excellent resource for the community, and there’s always something fascinating to see here. Below is an

The Carnegie Hall

Andrew Carnegie was born at Dunfermune near Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1835. When he was scarcely twelve years of age, the family emigrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Four years later the father died and as a telegraph messenger at the age of sixteen Andrew had to support his mother and a younger brother. He rose to be a multi-millionaire and distributed over £70,000,000 in gifts during his lifetime. Before he died in Pittsburgh in 1919 he said: “The man who dies possessed of wealth which he was free to distribute, dies in disgrace.”

In the same year (1919) Kenmare Library Committee directed the librarian to provide the Shamrock paper for the reading room and also to purchase a scythe tree (handle) and some “Brasso” for the library. The Carnegie Trust built Kenmare library, like many others throughout the English speaking world, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War of 1914 – 18.

The inaugural meeting of the management committee was held in the Board Room of the Kenmare Union Workhouse, on the 24th January 1916. This was the year of the Easter Rising in Dublin, an event that was to shape the course of Irish history from then onwards. In the early 1920’s the library building did not escape unscathed events of the War of Independence and of the Civil War in Kenmare. The Clerk of KENMARE R.D.C summoned the inaugural meeting. It consisted of ten clergymen and ten laymen nominated by Kenmare Rural District Council. The library committee had full powers to manage and regulate the library, appoint the necessary staff, purchase books and furniture and take all steps necessary for the regulation and control of the building. The following members were nominated: Ven. Archdeacon O’Leary, P.P. V.G., Kenmare; Mr. T. J. O’Sullivan, J.P.; Rev. Jeremiah O’Shea, P.P., Kilgarvan; Mr. John Game, R.D.C.; Rev. Wm. O’Connor, P.P., Bonane; Mr. J. Harrington, R.D.C.; Rev. James Scanlan, P.P., Tuosist; Mr. Jeremiah O’Sullivan, R.D.C.; Rev. James McDonnell, P.P., Sneem; Mr. John J. Sheehan, J.P.; Rev. P. J. Brennan, C.C.; Mr. P. W. Palmer, R.D.C.; Rev. M. Daly, C.C.; Mr. D. I. O’Donoghue, R.D.C.; Rev. Fr. Hillee, C.C.; Mr. E. I. Tuohy, R.D.C.; Rev. Fr. Dennehy, C.C.; Mr. C. A. Aldwell, R.D.C.; Rev. P. Rowan, Rector, Kenmare; Mr. Denis I. O’Sullivan, M.C.C.

The composition of the committee shows a fine balance between church and state. The numeral ten symbolic of the Decalogue which was written on stone, emphasises the unshakeable foundation of the management committee. The huge pitch pine table which was used for their meetings and which still forms part of the furniture adds to the concept of solidarity. What a pity it was not made of ancient Irish Oak, the sacred tree of the Druids, as was Craftine’s harp which revealed the long kept secret of Labhra, the Dé Danann king. He was born with horsy ears but this physical defect was kept a secret from his infancy. According to the Brehon Laws any such deformity might bar a candidate from succeeding as king. Labhra did become king by never uncovering his head in public. The barber summoned in private audience to trim his hair was immediately put to death and the king absolved himself by telling his secret misdeeds to the sacred druidical oak tree. Unknown to Labhra, Craftine the King’s bard, was presented with a new harp fashioned from the same oak. To celebrate the occasion Labhra arranged a great feast at which the bard would entertain the guests with the music of his new harp.

When Craftine struck the strings the harp spoke not music but repeated the words-“King Labhra has two horse-ears”. Labhra was distraught and his subjects were shocked. Labhra made open confession of his sins and betook himself on a long pilgrimage to a distant land to do penance, especially for the host of barbers he had put to death. The story, an allegory, foreshadowed the confessional of the later Christian era. If that pitch pine table, like Craftine’s harp, could play back the discussions that took place among those who sat round it, they would be an invaluable source of social history.

At their subsequent meetings the committee proceeded with the furnishing, lighting and purchase of books for the library. The selection of books was reserved to the clerical members. When the building was ready for public use the committee invited applications for the position of librarian and caretaker. Two names, Michael O’Sullivan (G.) of Killowen, Kenmare and James O’Sullivan of Davitt’s Place were considered at a special committee meeting and the former was appointed at a yearly salary of £30. By the summer of 1916 the library was in full operation. In those years it was a great boon not only to those who availed of the free books on its shelves but especially to those of the town who could now use the reading room which provided a variety of newspapers and periodicals. It must be remembered that back in those years, many households could not afford to buy a daily newspaper. In rural districts it was the common custom for neighbours to gather in a particular house to hear the newspaper being read out and discussed. The progress of World War I was then the main news topic. The European War influenced even the affairs of the committee when at a meeting in 1917 they granted a war bonus of £0-5s-0d per week to the librarian for the duration of the conflict.

The first list of papers selected by the committee for the reading room included The Kerryman, Cork Examiner, Leader, Sketch, Catholic Bulletin and the London Illustrated News. However, the list was revised from time to time reflecting the rapid political changes that evolved especially from 1916 to 1926. In 1917 there was the threat of conscription by the British Government. In 1917 those interned after the Easter Rising were released from English jails and in 1918 Sinn Féin won a resounding victory in the General Election. In May 1918 the library committee discontinued the London Illustrated News and substituted the Freeman’s Journal. In that year also, the committee had a new chairman in the person of P. J. Marshall, P.P., V.G., who played a very dominant part in the affairs of the library for many years after. The composition of the committee had changed radically as well. 1920 had transformed the reading room papers. Irish Ireland seemed to have taken over, as the list by this time included An Lochrann, Scéal Nua Éire Óg, Misneach and The Shamrock. This list was supplemented with the Irish Catholic, The Messenger of the Sacred Heart and the Dublin Herald. The librarian was directed to procure a list of “Anglo-Irish” authors of the Young Ireland period so that their books would be available in the library for the readers, and books like Our Irish Heritage and By Strange Paths were also ordered. It was not until 1926 that the anti-climax set in. In that year the librarian was ordered to arrange for the following publications to be on the table of the reading room – the weekly London Illustrated News, the weekly edition of the English Times, The Irish Field and Dublin Opinion.

By 1926, the wall map of Ireland had been replaced by the new post-Treaty edition showing the geographical and political divisions of Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. Nobody took a great deal of notice. Our geography lessons were still more concerned with the carve up of Europe after World War I but we did learn to name the six northern counties. Our history continued to be concerned with the Battle of Clontarf and “Stand Ye Now For Erin’s Glory”, the Battle of the Boyne, Kinsale, etc., the various Sieges, the Penal Laws, Catholic Emancipation and Repeal. Partition was beyond our comprehension and was more associated with what the house carpenter erected in the kitchen. But the new Department of Education had issued their edict that the poor old national schools were to revive the Irish language and a new corps of inspectorial entrepreneurs rattled the drooping latches of those aged buildings and tramped the sagging floor boards disturbing the itinerant rodents that had squatted underneath. The new police force, The Garda Siochana had already settled in, but not as yet in the former R.I.C. barracks which was still a burned out shell.

Prior to the building of the library, the Band Room, now the Commercial and Workingmen’s Club, had been the centre of local social activities for almost sixty years. After 1916 they gradually shifted to the Carnegie Hall and especially so, from 1926 onwards. In Nov. 1916 the committee refused the use of the library rooms for dancing but in May 1918 Cumann na mBan were granted the use of the hall for first-aid classes. In Feb.1920 with P. J. Marshall, P.P.,V.G., in the chair the committee refused to grant the use of the hall to the Irish Club. Later on the 1st May in the absence of the chairman this decision was rescinded and the Irish Club was granted the use of the hall for Irish classes. I remember attending some of the classes. The fee was 2d per class. In July 1920 the hall was granted to local concert parties and in the following August a special committee meeting was held to make regulations for the holding of dances as follows:

1. That at least 50% of the dances be Irish dances.

2. That the rooms be properly washed and disinfected after each dance by the organising committee.

3. All dancing to be on the ground floor. The second floor may be used for catering-teas only.

4. The dance committee would be held responsible for any damage to the library or furniture and would pay a fee of £1.

However with the rising tension of the War of Independence social activities ceased altogether and the British garrison used the library as an outpost during the seven months prior to the Truce in July 1921. As the Civil War escalated in Kerry in 1922, it was used as a military post by Free State Troops when they occupied Kenmare for the first time in late summer of 1922. Shortly after, when the Republican forces attacked and re-occupied Kenmare it was badly damaged. Later on in September before the Republican forces withdrew it was burned down. The burned out shell was now in a dangerous state and the committee instructed the librarian to have some of the walls pulled down as a safety precaution. At a sitting of Tralee Circuit Court on 3rd December, 1923, the Co. Court Judge awarded £3,000 damages for the destruction of Kenmare Carnegie Library and the committee appointed Mr. Butler, a Dublin architect, to proceed with the re-construction of the building.

In 1925 when Mr. Sean O’Farrell was County Commissioner for Kerry all Carnegie Trust Libraries were amalgamated under the administration of the Kerry Co. Council through the appointment of a Co. Librarian at a salary of £250 p.a. By the end of 1925 the library was back in business once more and social activities were gradually emerging from the sombre atmosphere created locally by the Civil War. In 1927 the Golf Club was granted the use of the hall for dancing to 5 a.m. The question of allowing a piano into the hall was discussed in committee and it was decided to seek a ruling from the Co. Librarian. In 1928 the committee had before them complaints from anonymous custodians of town morality.

It concerned a book, The Sultan’s Slave, which somehow had escaped the vigilance of the committee and had got on the library shelves. They were satisfied that the complaints were well founded and requested that the book and any others by the same author should be withdrawn from circulation throughout the county. Copies of the resolution were forwarded to the Co. Librarian and the Dean of Kerry.

By 1930 social functions were in full swing in the Carnegie Hall. Applications for dances, whist drives and concerts poured in from Kenmare Social Club; Town Development Committee, Regatta Committee, Golf Club, Ladies’ Golf Club, the Bankers, G.S.R. Headquarters Staff, Kenmare Hurling and Football Club, Kenmare Commercial and Workingmen’s Club, etc. A note in the minutes at this time instructed the librarian to purchase one hair broom. By the early 1930’s cultural activities were reaching new heights. Bowyer and Westwood the Light Opera Company, Anew McMaster and his Shakesperian Players, Frank O’Donovan and his variety shows, William Dobell, Harry’ Lenten. All these returned each year to grace the stage of the Carnegie Hall together with our local Kenmare Dramatic Society which had been established.

At a special committee meeting in August 1931 it was decided to tighten the regulations governing the granting of permission for holding dances in the hall, including those laid down in 1920. Only six all-night dances would be allowed yearly. During the summer dancing was to extend from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and in winter from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m permission for such dances would have to be granted in the first instance by the library committee. The organisers would then have to seek the sanction of Archdeacon Marshall who had added his particular stipulation namely – the names of the three matrons. These ladies of impeccable local standing would sit-out the dance (in the hall) and observe that everything was in proper order.

It happened that selected delegates of a local committee called at the presbytery to obtain final permission for their dance. It was granted, but through an unusual oversight on his part, the P.P. forgot to ask for the names of the three matrons. The boys were gone like a bullet, leaping through the old stile next to the entrance gate. He suddenly realised his omission and called after the disappearing deputation. “You did not name the three matrons?” One lad who lagged behind turned back. “I beg your pardon, Archdeacon,” said he. “You did not name the three matrons, to be sure,” he repeated. Your man looked up again. “Couldn’t I do one Archdeacon,” he murmured. “To be sure now, you could not,” and the Presbytery door closed with an ominous bang. You who still recall those days must surely hum: “I dreamt I dwelt in Marble Halls, Scenes that are Brightest, and in Happy Moments Day by Day.” All echoes of happy memories.

Michael O’Sullivan, Librarian and Caretaker

So far I have referred but casually to Michael O’Sullivan (G.) the first librarian and caretaker appointed in the spring of 1916. His report to the library committee in September, 1916 reads “I beg to report that I have lodged in the Munster & Leinster Bank, Kenmare, the sum of £0-4-0d to the credit of Kenmare R.D.C., being fines from persons who carried away books and did not return them in due time.”

He was known simply as Mike (G.) even though many years later a gentleman who had a tendency to indulge in Malapropisms referred to him as the Liberian.

Mike always reminded me of Charles Dickens’ Mr. Pickwick and he became a kind of personal institution dwarfing the very library itself. He walked with a tumbling waggy gait, his large watchchain and pendant swinging to and fro like a pendulum across his ample paunch. His large head jerked forward as if pursuing a moving point ahead. But it was his volubility and power of invective, when annoyed, which surpassed anything I ever heard. Picturesque adjectives and expletives rolled out like a cataract. When the library was burned down in 1922 most of the books and furniture were saved especially through the efforts of the Archdeacon and stored in the Military Barracks at Kenmare Workhouse. In October 1922 the library committee rented an upstairs room from Mike Coffey, Main St., and served as a temporary library until the Carnegie was re-built. In this shadowy and cramped book-lined room, exuding the atmosphere of The Old Curiosity Shop, Mike now resembled an enlarged Mr. Pickwick.

One night as I reached the top of the narrow steep stairs I was greeted with a tornado of ornamental language. At that moment a young girl scurried past me like a scalded cat, and disappeared down the stairs. Her companion was still undergoing third degree as Mike flicked through the pages of her returned book. She too made a quick exit. I was alone with the Librarian. He called me over to the table and flicked through the pages once more pointing out thumb marks and daubs. Suddenly he jerked up his head and glared at me over spectacles perched on the tip of his nose saying-“Not only did she pizzle on it but she shakoed on it as well.”

But years later I got to know him intimately and with all his bluster he was a great soul. His books were his pets and the Carnegie his only baby during his many years as librarian. 1930s it was a delightful experience with Archdeacon Marshall in the chair, when the librarian read his monthly reports at our meetings. Mike and P.J. were extremities of two extremes. Still, even the ascetic and rigid theological face of the chairman often relaxed into smiles when Mike, in an outburst of ornate language completely forgot the presence of the Venerable P.P. V.G. Perhaps he deliberately left himself go at times. He was a superb impressario and always his own man. He received no salary for nine months during the turmoil of 1922-23 and passed to his eternal reward in 1941.

1982 Kenmare Literary & Historical Society

View More

Connections to the Past

The American Connection:

William Penn who departed from Cork to found the State of Pennsylvania drafted an agreement for a lease of land in favour of Sir. Wm. Petty March 3rd. 1687. Lansdowne is a town of approx. 12.000 in Delaware County Pennsylvania named for the Lansdowne Estate.

The Dublin Connection :

The Petty-Fitzmaurice’s owned most of the ground around St Stephen’s Green and the Ballsbridge area. “Kerry House” located close by the present day Shelbourne Hotel was the ‘Town House” for the family. William Petty-Fitzmaurice. great grandson of Sir. Wm. Petty was born in Dublin in 1737. he succeeded to the “Title and Estates of Shelburne”. He was to become Prime Minister of Britain in 1782 later created “Marquis of Lansdowne”. The family were close friends of Dean Swift, Tom Moore and other notables of the day.

Sir William Petty – Biographical Note

Born the son of Romsey (Hampshire) cloth worker May 26th. 1623 showing an genius for Scientific & Practical matters. At the age of 13 he went to sea, being shipwrecked off France, later studied at the Academy of Caen with the help of the Jesuits. He studied medicine and chemistry, becoming assistant to Thomas Hobbes, eminent Mathematician and Philosopher. Petty returned to London 1648. published important educational works and new invention of duplicating writing of documents.

He had also made acquaintance with other scientists and thinkers whose meetings foreshadowed the formation of the Royal Society.

Petty moved to Oxford 1648 to study medicine becoming M.D. and a fellow of Brasenose being appointed Professor of Anatomy & Vice-principal of Brasenose 1651. He also became Professor of Music at Gresham College London. Dr. Petty came to Ireland in 1652 as Physician – general with the Cromwellian forces. He surveyed and laid down onto the measurements of the confiscated and fortified lands of Ireland the first of its kind which was to become known as the “Down Survey”. Petty also worked on an atlas of Ireland Hibernial Dilineatio published 1685. In 1657 he received in reward for his services 3.500 acres in Kenmare & Tuosist. A further 2,000 followed by a quick purchase of lands allotted to various Cromwellian soldiers. Just before the “restoration” Dr. Petty returned to London where he became friendly with Samuel Pepys and renewed acquaintance with scientists of the day. Despite his strong “Cromwellian” connections he succeeded after the restoration in finding favour with Charles II who was interested in scientific matters resulting in his being knighted in 1661 and also making him a grant of the entire parishes of Kenmare, Tuosist & Bonane. Sir William became a founder member of the Royal Society 1662, inventing a double bottomed ship the same year. Petty’s rapid rise to fortune in the locality did not go altogether unopposed.

The O’Sullivan Beare were the owners of Tuosist before 1641. The reigning O’Sullivan Beare in 1657 was Donal Crone (i.e. The Swarthy), grandson of Sir Owen O’Sullivan Beare. During the civil war in England he had strenuously espoused the cause Charles II and his father. As late as 1653 he was still holding out against the Cromwellians in Dursey Island. He escaped to the Continent shortly afterwards. Instructions issued to the Sheriff 1660 directing he be repossessed of all his lands came to nothing.

O’Sullivan never recovered an acre of his lands. In 1667 Sir William married Elizabeth, widow of Sir Maurice Fenton & daughter of Sir Hardress Waller, she was created Baroness Selbourne by James II 1688. After Sir William’s death 1687 his fortune (Possessor of approx. 270,000 acres) together with the title passed on to John Petty-Fitzmaurice, son and daughter Anne who was thus enabled to purchase Bowood Estate, Calne. Wiltshire in 1754, which, to-day as Bowood House & Estate is one of the “Big Houses” to see on the visitor circuit in Britain.

Sir Wm. Petty lived through one of the most exciting periods of English & Irish history it his work however, in the field of political economics his name lives on. He had proposals for union with Ireland, a state medical service, land registry & reforms in taxation in works published 1690 & 1691 “Political Arithmetic” and “Political Anatomy of Ireland”.

Kenmare town (pop. approx. 1,250) steeped in its historical heritage located in one of the most beautiful parts of the World at the head of Kenmare Bay or to use it’s old name “Inbir Sceine” in the South West corner of Ireland. The Irish name for Kenmare is Neidin, the “Little Nest” however, there is no connection between the two. The “Little Nest” nestling as it does among the high green mountains surrounded by ice age lakes and rivers balmed by the waters of the Gulf Stream. Long before the town of Kenmare was established by the Marquis of Lansdowne there existed in this place a local population in the valley.

Kenmare Town…

The connection with Sir William Petty 1623 -1687.

Modern history of Kenmare town and valley commences with the arrival of Dr. William Petty in the mid 1650’s as he was known at that time being Knighted in 1661. Petty had two sons and one daughter. Anne Petty married Thomas Fitzmaurice of Lixnaw Castle 21st, Kerry and 1st. Earl of Kerry forebears of the historical “Petty Fitzmaurice’s”. Ann Petty’s brother Henry, Earl of Shelburne dies 1751 without issue leaving his Estate to Anne’s younger son John Petty-Fitzmaurice.

The title Earl of Shelburne was revived in his favour in 1753. At his death 1761 John was succeeded by his son William who was born in Dublin 1737 and in 1760 at the age of 23 succeeded to the Title & Estates Shelburne. This then was the man responsible for the planning and layout of the town of Kenmare as seen to-day. William Petty-Fitzmaurice 2nd. Earl of Shelburne instructed the surveyor John Powell to plan the town Kenmare. This was to become known as the “X: plan in keeping with its layout.

This Earl was to become Prime Minister of Britain in 1782 and to remain in office to conclude the Treaty of Paris 1783 which ended the war of the American Revolution. He was created 1st. Marquis of Lansdowne 1784. One of the first buildings in the town of Kenmare was the Estate agents residence the Lansdowne Inn Lodge 1775 and by the 1790’s work began the other important buildings which included Shelburne House, the Earl’s town residence, An Inn (Lansdowne Arms), of Market House, Butter Market, Schoolhouse,

Bridewell and a Malt House which in fact was not built. There were many skilled tradesmen introduced from outside, many of them staying on. The principal street names reflect the towns origins.

William St. – 1st. Marquis of Lansdowne
Henry St. – Son of 1st. Marquis (Sound Road)
Selburne St. – Earl of Selburne.
Victoria Terrace, Wellington Row & Downings Row.

Irish history once again asserts itself and we remember our heroes honouring them with Davit’s Place and Parnell’s Place. Reenagros Park was laid out as an idyllic oak island 3 min. from the town centre on the inner waters of Kenmare Bay and alongside Kenmare Golf-links (18 holes) planned by Lord Lansdowne early 1900’s, all which can only be described as “Heaven on Earth”.

‘Reenagros enchanted isle

On thee bright nature seems to smile

Thy velvet walks and cooling shade

Shall never from my memory fade’

We gratefully acknowledge ‘Kenmare Journal’ – A Bridge to the Past with special reference to articles by the late Liam Cousins, the late David Leahy. Gerard Lyne & Danny Moriarty(R.I.P) and The Hanley family of the Lansdowne Arms Hotel .

View More

Dromore Castle

We have all heard the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and we know the many songs associated with him: the Skye Boat song, My Bonnie lies over the Ocean, My Ghile Mear, etc.

What is not generally known is that his companion during the campaign in Scotland 1745-46 was John O’Sullivan of Cappanacuss Castle near Kenmare. O’Sullivan’s ancestors were the O’Sullivan Mor, Lords of Dunkerron, but by the laws of Tanistry the title passed out of their family and they had to move from Dunkerron Castle to Cappanacuss, which was the official residence of the Tanist to the O’Sullivan Mor. During the Cromwellian Confiscation’s, John O’Sullivan’s grandfather, Owen, forfeited his lands, which were given to Sir William Petty.

John O’Sullivan was born in Cappanacuss in 1700. “His parents,” says a contemporary memoir printed in London 1743, “being very desirous of his making a figure in the world, they spared no expense their small estate would admit to make him a complete gentleman. Accordingly, being Roman Catholics, they sent this, their only son, at the age of nine years, to Paris, the best place in the world for the education of youth

At fifteen years of age young O’Sullivan went to Rome where he began to study for the priesthood. Some time later he returned to Ireland to sell what was left of his estate as his parents had died. He returned to France and became secretary to the French Marshal Maillebois and tutor to the Marshal’s son.

With Maillebois, O’Sullivan saw active service in Corsica in 1739 and he soon gained a reputation as an expert in guerrilla warfare. He acquired such fame among the French Generals that one of them wrote:

“Mr. O’Sullivan understood the irregular art of war better than any man in Europe, nor was his knowledge of the regular much inferior to that of the best General then living.” O’Sullivan also saw action in Italy and Germany.

In 1744, he joined the household of Bonnie Prince Charlie to whom he was Adjutant General. Charles’s father, the Old Pretender, wrote to his son from Rome: “I am glad to find O’Sullivan is now with you, you will find it both of ease and advantage to you, because you can depend upon him.”

In 1745 Charles was living in Picardy and getting ready an expedition to sail to Scotland to regain the Crown for his father. He had surrounded himself with Irish Officers some of whom were veterans who had fought with his grandfather James II at the Battle of the Boyne 1690. Since 1633, Paris and Rome were centres of intrigue against the throne of England from which James II had been removed. The latter’s son lived in Rome and was known to his followers as James III of England and VIII of Scotland. Many exiled Irish rallied to the cause of James III and his sons, Charles and Henry (who became a Cardinal).

On 16th of July 1745 Charles set out for Scotland with two ships, the ‘Du Teillay’ supplied by an Irishman, Anthony Walshe, and the ‘Elizabeth’ a 67 gun frigate provided by another Irishman, Walter Rutledge of Dunkirk. The ‘Elizabeth’ carried 70C men, 1,500 muskets, 1,300 mounted broadswords, etc. On board the ‘Du Teillay’ with Charles were: William Murray, 2nd Duke of Atholl in Scotland; Colonel Francis Strickland, an Englishman; Aeneas Mac Donald, the Expedition’s banker, and four Irishmen: Sir Thomas Sheridan, a veteran of the Boyne and one time tutor to Prince Charles, and then over 70 years old; George Kelly; Sir John Mac-Donald; Colonel John O’Sullivan of Cappanacuss.

After a few days at sea, the ‘Elizabeth’ had to return to Brest having been attacked and badly damaged by H.M.S. ‘Lion’ and her Captain killed. So Charles was without men, arms and ammunition.

The ‘Du Teillay’ landed 24th of July on the West Coast of Scotland at Loch na nUamh, where the Clansmen gave Charles no great welcome and all but O’Sullivan and Anthony Walshe urged him to return to France. Soon, however, the MacDonalds, Stewarts, MacLeods, Camerons and many other Clans rallied to him, and the British Government placed a price of £30,000 on his head. O’Sullivan was the second most wanted man in Scotland. Charles retaliated by putting a price of £30 on the head of King George II but his advisers urged him to raise the sum to equal what was offered for his own capture. By September, Charles was on the road to Edinburgh, with 5,000 foot soldiers and 500 horse under two Lieutenant Generals: Lord George Murray and the Duke of Perth. John O’Sullivan was appointed Quartermaster General to the army.

O’Sullivan and Donald Cameron of Lochiel with eight or nine hundred Highlanders captured Edinburgh and Charles was declared Regent and his father declared King James III of England and VIII of Scotland. Of O’Sullivan, a contemporary English view states “to the abilities of this man we may justly attribute the success with which a handful of Banditti have so long been able to overcome and plunder a large part uf this opulent and powerful nation.”

Not content with taking Scotland, Charles and his “Banditti” swept down into England as far as Derby. The aforementioned memoir of 1748 says: “to the abilities of this gentleman (O’Sullivan) we are chiefly to attribute the success with which the inexperienced Charles with a handful of raw Highlanders so long maintained a sharp, and for some time, a doubtful, dispute (conflict) with the whole force of his Britannic Majesty, by which he so surprisingly over ran and as far as he pleased plundered not only the major part of the Kingdom of Scotland but also a great part of England itself.”

Word reached Charles’s army in Derby that two huge armies were massing against him, 6,000 men led by Wade and 3,250 infantry and 2,200 horse led by William Duke of Cumberland, son of George II, Butcher Cumberland as he was to become known. Lord George Murray advised Charles to retreat to Scotland and the Prince expressed his disappointment in ‘very abusive language.’ The Highlanders were equally sorry at having to leave when they were only 129 miles from London. The English army caught up to them at Falkirk and Charles’s soldiers scored a victory.

One of the casualties on the English side was Sir Francis Ligonier who commanded the dragoon regiments. It may be of interest to note that the slave ship that brought Kunta Kinte of ‘Roots’ fame from Gambia to Annapolis in July 1767 was the ‘Lord Ligonier’.

By now the Duke of Cumberland’s army was advancing from Aberdeen and Charles camped at Nairne near Culloden Moor. The choice of the Moor as a battlefield was O’Sullivan’s and Lord George Murray strongly objected as it would be too open a place for his Highlanders. There was plenty of hilly marshy land nearby where Cumberland’s cannon would have bogged down. But Prince Charles stood by the choice of ‘Sylvan’ as he called his friend.

It turned out to be an unfortunate choice. The Clansmen were decimated by the cannon and the English dragoons with musket and bayonet proceeded on a bloody massacre. All wounded men were bayoneted or clubbed to death after the battle. Any survivors who took to the hills were followed by Cumberland’s soldiers and cut down. Charles and a few friends, including O’Sullivan, escaped and for five months they found refuge in isolated places. In spite of the hardships facing the Clans Charles was not betrayed, even though he still had a price on his head. It was at this time that Charles met Flora Mac-Donald who took him to her home in Skye, disguised as her Irish maid Betty Burke.

His flight was not without its lighter moments. One morning when Flora “was addressing of him, he was like to fall over with laughing . . . as if he had been putting on women’s clothes merely for a piece of diversion.” On another occasion he exchanged his usual clothes of vest, breeches and coat for a Highland outfit of kilt, etc. “When the Prince got on his Highland clothes,” says O’Sullivan, “he was quite another man. ‘Now,’ says he leaping, ‘I only want the itch to be a complete Highlander’.”

On the 1st October 1746 O’Sullivan got on board a French cutter that had to outrun a British ship that was searching for Charles, and head for Norway. From thence he sailed to France to find a neutral ship that would return to take the Prince to safety. The ‘L’Heureux’ was at last dispatched and picked up Charles at Loch na nUamh where he had landed about fourteen months previously.

From Paris Charles wrote to his father in Rome 19th December 1746: “I cannot let slip this occasion to do him (O’Sullivan) justice by saying I really think he deserves your Majesty’s favour.” James replied April 1747, “I have made him a Knight since you desire it and he deserves it.” So John O’Sullivan was ‘for his attachment to us and his services to Charles, Prince of Wales, created by James III and VIII a Knight and a Baronet’. O’Sullivan was married to Louisa Fitzgerald. Their descendants were not without note, their only son: Sir Thomas Herbert O’Sullivan, was an Officer in the Irish Brigade in France, but because of an assault on his commanding officer, Paul Jones, he was obliged to fly from France to America where he entered the British service under Sir Henry Clinton at New York. He served through the American War of Independence on the British side. Did he know that General John O’Sullivan, who served in the Revolutionary Army with George Washington was the grandson of Major Philip O’Sullivan of Ardea Castle, across Kenmare Bay from Cappanacuss and a distant cousin of his own? Sir Thomas later left the English army for the Dutch service in which he died in 1824.

Sir John William Thomas Gerald O’Sullivan, son of Sir Thomas, was educated at Montreal, settled in the United States and became a naturalised American citizen. He was American Consul at the Canary Islands and at Magador in Africa. After a ‘romantic career of successful adventure’ he was drowned in May 1825 while swimming ashore with a rope in an attempt to save the crew of a shipwrecked vessel.

Sir William O’Sullivan (elder son of Sir John), and a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy was lost at sea.

Sir John Louis O’Sullivan, younger brother of above, was born in Gibraltar 1813. He was United States Minister to the Court of Portugal 1854-58. In a letter from Lisbon August 26th, 1861, he says ‘Of our name in this line I am now the last. A fatality has seemed to pursue us. By what sudden end the name has to expire with me, time has yet to show.’ This last direct descendant of John O’Sullivan of Cappanacuss died 24th March 1895 in New York.

Little did the nine year old John O’Sullivan think as he set sail down Kenmare Bay for France in 1709 what Fate had in store for him. He and his descendants were like the Wild Geese celebrated by Emily Lawless in her poem “Clare Coast”:

War-dogs, hungry and grey,

Gnawing a naked bone,

Fighters in every clime,

Every cause but our own.


The Ruins of Cappanacuss Castle can be found as follows although it will be a tough job since its now hidden by trees:

Take from Kenmare the Sneem road, after 5 miles (you are in Templenoe) you will see an old church on your left hand side, it’s now a private residence “The Vestry”. Park your car there.

Go by foot another approx. 500 meters in the direction of Sneem, now you will reach the side entrance, with an iron pole, of Dromore wood.

Take that path when you come at a T-Junction you see a bridge on the left. The ruins are over that small bridge approx (40M)on the left hand side approx 20 meters on the left of the path in the woods. now hidden by trees (April 2006)

View More

The Irish Language

Irish is an Indo-European language, a member of the Celtic language group. The Celtic language family is made up of the Continental Celtic languages (consisting of Celtiberian, Gaulish, and Galatian), and the Insular Celtic languages of the so-called British Isles. This insular group is further divided into the Brythonic group, consisting of Cumbrian, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton of which only Welsh and Breton have survived into modern times, and the Goidelic group of Scots Gaelic, Manx Gaelic, and Irish Gaelic, known in Ireland simply as Irish.

Irish has its roots in the original language of the Celtic peoples who emerged in south central Europe sometime around the 5th C. BCE. Theirs is known to archeologists as the La Tene culture. The extension of this proto-Celtic culture and language into virtually every region of Europe accounts for the many branches of Celtic languages. Celts in western continental Europe spoke Gaulish; Celts in Spain spoke Celtiberian; Celts in the Balkans spoke Galatian; Celts in the region of modern Switzerland spoke Lepontic.

All of these languages are now long extinct, as are most of the other branches of proto-Celtic. Celts who migrated onto the western edge of the known world spoke the Brythonic and Goidelic (also sometimes written Gaidhdelic) forms of the Insular Celtic language family.

Today Welsh is spoken fluently on a daily basis by approximately 300,000 people, Scots Gaelic by about 60,000, and Irish by about the same number. There are also tiny remnants of Patagonian Welsh and Cape Breton Gaelic in the New World. Liberalizing the definition of fluency could allow the numbers of Scots Gaelic and Irish speakers in Scotland to Ireland to as many as 600,000.

In recent years the Celtic languages of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, and the Isle of Man, have experienced something of a upsurge in interest and popular commitment as a result of intensely nationalistic feelings by Celtic peoples who believe deeply in their cultures and wish to protect them from the encroachments of an alien language and way of life. In some cases, as with Celtiberian, Galatian, Gaulish, Lepontic, Cumbric, and others, it is too late.

Irish cannot be said to be reborn, since it never died. But some of the current success of the language can be traced to the revivalist activities of The Gaelic League, founded by Douglas Hyde and Eoin MacNeill in 1893. This group of Irish patriots sought to save the embattled language and its rich cultural associations from the continuing pressure of English, a pressure that began to be felt in Ireland as early as the twelfth century with the arrival of the Anglo-Norman invasion. At the core of the Gaelic League’s convictions was their concept of Irish culture as a distinct and unique national trait, and the Irish language as an absolutly essential component of that culture and the nation to which it belonged.

The Irish language first became an official part of the national educational curriculum in 1922. Today every Irish child learns Irish in school, but proficiency in the language varies considerably. Despite the fact that Irish is the first official language of the Republic of Ireland, most Irish people have only a nodding acquaintance with genuine fluency in their native tongue, and Ireland is far from a monoglot country. In the west of Ireland, there are substantial regional areas of native speakers called the Gaeltachta, and in these areas the language is spoken on a daily basis and English is a second language. These areas are in Counties Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Cork, and parts of Waterford and Wexford. In the Gaeltacht areas children are taught in Irish in the schools, and throughout Ireland more and more schools are being created that treat Irish as the principal language.

Today in Ireland the Irish language is far from being a quaint remnant of a different time. The language has its own radio stations, newspapers, a vibrant contemporary literature, and even a recently established television channel. The Irish language today is an emphatic statement of Irish intellectual independence and the indisputable vitality and richness of Irish culture.

For information about an introductory Irish language workshop, taught in Ireland by a native speaker, and about other unusual travel adventures in Ireland, send your postal address to…

THE CELTIC TRAVELER +1-308-772-9994
Text Copyright 1993, Robert Brummett

Thanks to Robert Brummett, who gave me permission to use his article.

View More

Kenmare Lace

The history of Kenmare Lace goes back to 1860 when the building of the convent and church in Kenmare provided several years of much needed employment for local tradesmen and labourers. However, after the Holy Cross Church was completed in 1864 the workmen and their families began to experience a most difficult time-poverty was extreme and there was no remunerative employment for women. It was then that the Poor Clare nuns under the leadership of Mother Abbess O’Hagan set upon a practical course to help the needy to help themselves, by establishing an industrial school in the convent building. There, young girls were chiefly employed in producing Kenmare Lace, but embroidery, woodcarving and leatherwork were developed also.

Inevitably, much of the early work was spoiled and soiled but gradually, through patience and encouragement the products began to improve and many girls were capable of earning from five to eighteen shillings a week, a very considerable wage at that time. Sales figures reached £500 per annum by 1869 and it was about that time also, that the making of fine needlepoint lace began. Only Irish Crochet had been produced up to this but this had been developed so skilfully in design and execution that it became known as “Point d’Irelandaise” and it could be bought in Paris and London. At home, the wealthy tourists who traveled “The Prince of Wales Route” (Killarney to Glengarriff) on the long cars, were encouraged to call to the convent to view and purchase some lace, while four fresh horses were being harnessed for the continuation of their journey. At the Cork Exhibition of 1883 medals were awarded to Kenmare lace. This Exhibition created great interest in the art world of that era, where it was remarked that the designs generally were not worthy of such skilful and perfect execution.

To improve matters, the Art Department, at Kensington, London, sent over Alan S Cole, C.B., a lace expert, to give illustrated lectures throughout Ireland. The Kenmare Lace School began at once to study design under competent masters and an art class was established. James Brennan, R.H.A., Headmaster of the Science and Art School, Cork, was retained to give lessons at the Convent School and the Art Director in London co-operated fully by arranging for examinations to be held in Kenmare.

Local boys were not neglected. They got lessons in drawing and design and were trained to do leatherwork and wood carving. In these mediums Celtic ornament was freely used. Sr. Gertrude Courtenay, a native of the town, took an Art Masters Certificate and several others gained Art Class Teachers Certificates as well as certificates for special subjects.
Kenmare needlepoint lace, designed and worked at St. Clare’s Convent Kenmare in 1885

Later it became the turn of the girls to distinguish themselves and medals and prizes were constantly awarded to them in competitions with entries from all the art schools of Great Britain. The Department of Education now paid the school according to results and money received was used to improve facilities. Queen Victoria ordered a piece of lace in one of the prize designs and several connoisseurs-notably Mrs. Alfred Morrison of Forthill, Wiltshire and Mrs. Winacles, the wife of an American millionaire-placed many orders. A bedcover designed and worked specially for Mrs. Winacles, fetched £300 in 1886.

Urged on by S. C. Hall the well-known travel writer more and more English people supported the industry. Mr. Hall, who up to then wished to win people away from the Church of Rome, was so impressed by the work of the nuns that he composed, printed and distributed all over England, verses in praise of the work and asking that it be supported. He became and remained till his death one of the greatest benefactors.

Many pieces of fine embroidery were produced. A picture of the Crucifixion worked on fine linen is so perfectly stitched that one can scarcely believe it to be embroidery at all. Sr. Bonaventure Smith was the first artist to use Celtic tracery in 19th Century Ecclesiastical Vestments. She made Mitres for many members of the Irish, American and Australian Hierachy. Professor Lamour of Queens University came across her work in many places and gives her honourable mention in his recent book on “The Celtic Art Revival”. Two outstanding local lace-workers were Katie and Mary Jane Leahy who worked the well-known Tabernacle Veil, now in the National Museum.

With a steady flow of fees from good results the nuns purchased the most sophisticated tools and equipment available at the time. With their savings, supplemented by a donation from an unknown benefactor, they erected a new wing which contained a spacious, well lighted room for the lace workers and a beautiful kindergarten. Teachers, who had obtained their art certificates in Kenmare, were readily employed in England and some of them were appointed “Specialist Teachers of Drawing” in London schools. With the changes brought about by the 1914-’18 war the market for lace declined and the workers emigrated, but the lace room with its display of antique and modern lace is still visited today by hundreds of tourists. Continentals, Americans and Australians have seen samples of the lace in foreign museums and traced it to its source. Washington D.C., has in the National Museum a needlepoint hanging which depicts Eire with the Round Tower and Wolfhound.

Linen and lace collar in Kenmare needlepoint purchased by King Edward VII at St. Clare’s Convent, Kenmare on July 31, 1903

King Edward VII purchased a collarette for Queen Alexandra and Queen Elizabeth II received among her wedding gifts an antique bed-cover of Kenmare Needlepoint. The Vatican has a needlepoint rochet designed in Kenmare and presented to Pope Leo XIII by the Irish Hierarchy and an embroidered mitre presented to Pope John Paul II in 1980 I name but a few of the well-known pieces extant.

The Folk Museum and the National Museum are very interested in photocopying the large collection of designs preserved in Kenmare and thus keep a record of past achievements. The producer of “Hands” on R.T.E. has also filmed much of the lace for his programme.
Due to economic factors Kenmare Lace was brought about its decline and apparent demise. But local pride, initiative and skill have come together, so that Kenmare Lace is being made again.

Published in the Kenmare Journal 1982

You also might want to visit for some pretty stunning stuff.

View More

Kenmare Stone Circle

For an article and photo’s taken by Fr Aquinas T. Duffy click below:

View More

Kenmare Suspension Bridge

The photo was taken by a D. Mc Carthy in secret on May 3, 1921.It shows the funeral of Lt. Denis Tuohy who had been murdered by the Black and Tans and who is buried in the old Cemetery

The photo was taken by a D. Mc Carthy in secret on May 3, 1921.It shows the funeral of Lt. Denis Tuohy who had been murdered by the Black and Tans and who is buried in the old Cemetery

In the early nineteenth century Ireland’s primitive road network was being greatly expanded and improved. As part of this improvement a direct road from Kenmare to Bantry was proposed. The first official reference to this direct route appears in the report on Public Works in 1833. The desirability of such a road is set out and the distances by the then existing and proposed roads are stated to be 80 miles and 26 miles respectively.

Work on the road began in 1834 and as the work progressed the question of a bridge across the Kenmare River was discussed. The proposal was investigated by one William Bald, F.R.S.E., M.R.I.A. at the expense of the Marquis of Lansdowne who had offered to build at his own expense “a floating chain or fly bridge” over the Sound at a cost no exceeding £1,500. Bald also designed the road from Kenmare to Glengariff.

Bald produced several designs for the proposed bridge. The major proposals ranged from multi arched stone bridges through double arched wooden bridges to iron suspension bridges. The Board of Works selected one of the iron suspension designs as being the most appropriate. The estimated cost of such a bridge was £6000. The Board’s choice of bridge did not however meet with universal approval. Isamund Brunel who was the most famous British Engineer of the time and Alexander Gibb who was described as “one of the most skilful and practical bridge builders in the Empire examined both all of the proposed designs.
Old Kenmare Suspension Bridge

Both of these illustrious gentlemen considered a design consisting of one single arch of wood, one hundred and thirty feet span, and four stone arches each fifty feet span, to be the best available design.

The technical journals of the time also contained alternative proposals for the bridge. In the September 1838 issue of the Civil Engineer and Architect’s Journal a pair of Scottish Engineers John and Thomas Smith of Darwich proposed a single arched stone bridge which if economically conducted might be done for somewhere around £2,700. Other proposals contained in the journal included a suggestion for a hinged bridge, which would allow shipping to pass above the Sound. There was general opposition to the idea of a suspension bridge because they were more liable to accidents and required “constant attention and expensive repairs.”

The Board of Works however appears to have ignored these criticisms and in the sixth report on Public Works (1839) it is stated that £3,000 had been granted to the Marquis of Lansdowne towards the construction of a Suspension Bridge over the Sound at Kenmare. Lansdowne had earlier offered to contribute £3,000 towards its construction himself.

Sir Samuel Brown offered to complete the bridge for £6,150. His tender was only partly successful as the Board of Works decided to construct the tower of suspension and wing walls itself and the contract for the ironwork was given to Sir Samuel.

Work on the bridge commenced in 1840 and Lord Lansdowne laid the foundation stone. Here is his own description of the ceremony. “I laid the first stone of the new bridge in town, all the population of Kenmare turning out to witness the grand ceremony and a seat in my boat which wafted us from the pier

to the rock was as much prized by the Aristocracy of Kenmare as a Coronation ticket-indeed so much so that at one time I thought the cargo would have swamped it altogether. Old Mr. Godfrey, bareheaded, christened and prayed standing upon one rock, whilst I handled the trowel and pronounced an elegant discourse of three sentences on the utility of bridges from another, all of which excited such admiration that even Irish voices were silent and nothing heard but the sound of the waves till all was over.

It is fair to assume that there was at least one person in the throng who was not as pleased or excited as the rest. Henry Duckett had been operating a ferry across the Sound and would now be deprived of this source of income. However, he later received some measure of compensation for his loss.

In August 1841, he was employed by the Board of Works as a working gangman to “assist in the repair of 3 or 4 miles of the road and prevent damage being done to the bridge when more than usual traffic is expected on it.’, His wages were one shilling per day.

The construction of the bridge took approximately one year and was completed in 1841. The total cost was £7,280 of which the Marquis of Lansdowne contributed £3,200. The original decking was of timber but this proved inadequate because of the exposed position of the bridge. Messrs. Westwood of Millwall who installed a system or-inch wrought iron buckled plates 3 feet square replaced the timber in 1861. (Some of these are still to be found in the vicinity of Kenmare). Macadam was placed on the buckled plates to form the road surface.

The books show also that Denis Horgan was paid £13-4-8 on 9th feb 1844 for painting the bridge.

Westwoods carried out further repairs in 1908. These consisted of strengthening the suspenders and the links with the cross girders, which supported the road surface. Considerable repairs were also necessary to the connection of the main chains to the tower. To strengthen these vital points massive steel plates were built into the top of the tower.

The most imposing feature of the bridge was undoubtedly the massive centre tower from which the supporting chains were suspended. This tower designed by a Mr. Barry was thirty-six feet long by twenty-one feet wide at the base and ten feet by seven feet at the top on each side of the roadway arch. It rose to a height of approximately 55 feet above low water. The roadway was eighteen feet wide and narrowed at the archway through the tower to twelve feet. The tower was constructed using entirely local labour from hard grey limestone quarried locally.

The effects of traffic far heavier and speedier than was ever contemplated by the original designer took their toll however. A number of the cross girders became badly warped and this caused the lowering of the road level in several places. These depressions were periodically filled and by the time of its demolition nearly 18 inches of stone had been placed on top of the buckle plates at the south end of the bridge. Under traffic of even a very light nature the bridge deck sagged and rose in an alarming manner and gave the impression of being in danger of imminent collapse. In the early 1930’s Professor Pierce Purcell, one of Ireland’s foremost Civil Engineers, was asked by Kerry County Council to investigate the problem of reconditioning or replacing the bridge. It was decided to replace the bridge.

Early in 1932 the bridge was declared unsafe and closed to traffic. In March 1932 the demolition of the bridge began with the removal of road metal and railings. A massive wooden frame supported on piles driven from the old decking was used to support the decking while the tower and chains were dismantled.

The piles used were of timber obtained locally from a wood belonging to the Marquis of Lansdowne.

Ireland’s first suspension bridge was disappearing and had only one last function to perform ironically that of a working platform for the construction of its replacement.

Date of contruction: 1932 – 33
Contracts: Messrs. A.E.Farr (London)
Designer: L.G.Mouchel & Partners Ltd
Span: 1 x 150 foot
Consultant: Prof. P.F.Purcell
Works Engineer: Mr C.J.Buckley BE
Cost: £9,900-11-6
Road size: 19 feet
The wrought iron handrail was manufactured by Shannon Foundry Limited. All sand used for the concrete was brought by rail from the Sutton Sand Company at Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

Quote from a works engineer: “The job was done with very little plant the main reason being that the labour was excellent and cheap. They had the finest labour that could be got in this country at 9d an hour and the men if necessary were prepared to work for 18 out of the 24 hours each day.”

Opening ceremony was performed on March 25, 1933, by Mr Sean T.O’Kelly, Minister for Local Government.

PAT QUINLAN <C>1982 Kenmare Literary & Historical Society

Published in the Kenmare Journal 1982

View More