Main Street, Castleisland, Co. Kerry
|Elevation||32 m (105 ft)|
|Irish Grid Reference|
Castleisland (in Irish Oileán Ciarraí, meaning "people of Ciar's island") is a town and commercial centre in County Kerry in south west Ireland. The town is renowned for the width of its main street. According to the 2011 Census, Castleisland has a population of 2,513.
Castleisland was described by one of its best-known citizens, journalist Con Houlihan, as "not so much a town as a street between two fields".
Castleisland was the centre of Desmond power in Kerry. The village got its name, Castle of the Island of Kerry, from a castle built in 1226 by Geoffrey Maurice (or de Marisco), who was the Lord Justice of Ireland during the reign of King Henry III. The island was created by turning the waters of the River Maine into a moat around the castle.
Sometime in the 120 years after its construction the castle was taken by the forces of the Earl of Desmond. It is known that in 1345 the castle was being held for the Earl of Desmond by Sir Eustace de la Poer and other knights when it was captured by Sir Ralph Ufford, Lord Justice of Ireland. Sir Eustace and the other knights were captured and executed. Little is known of the further history of the castle and few ruins are left of it today. The main ruin is the de Marisco tower, located behind some private houses at the western end of the town, on the Killarney Road.
The Black and Tans and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were active in Castleisland during the Irish War of Independence in the 1920s. On 9 May 1921, two Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men were shot by the IRA outside Castleisland Parish Church; one of the men died. On 10 July in the same year, five IRA men and four British soldiers were killed during a gunfight in the town.
Castleisland is a town in east County Kerry. It is close to the Limerick border and close to the Cork border, as the main road to all towns in western and southern Kerry passes through here. The N21 from Limerick continues on to Tralee while the N22 goes to Killarney and other towns in southern Kerry.
The Glanaruddery Mountains to the north and the Stack's Mountains to the west define the beginning of the 'Vale of Tralee', at the mouth of which Castleisland is situated. Most of the land around Castleisland is pasture for dairy stock, with bogland located at various locations around the town, particularly to the east and south. It is in the barony of Trughanacmy.
Buildings and places of note
There are several buildings of note in Castleisland, including the Gothic styled Church of St. Stephen and St. John which was designed by Doolin and built in 1880. The town's Carnegie Trust Library building was designed by R.M. Butler for Tralee UDC. Tender of James O'Connor, Castleisland, for £1,451.4s.7d. accepted, subject to approval of architect. Completed by 1915. Burnt down, 1920, and replaced by present structure in 1929 and located at the eastern end of Castleisland's main street. Though this was destroyed by fire in the same year, it was subsequently rebuilt on the same site. The function of town library was moved to new premises in 2008, but the original building is still used as the district court for the area.
Castleisland railway station opened on 30 August 1875. It closed for passenger traffic on 24 February 1947 and for goods traffic on 3 November 1975, finally closing altogether on 10 January 1977.
Since the 1990s traffic congestion had been an issue of concern to the people of Castleisland and its hinterland. This was because the main road linking most of County Kerry with large urban centres, such as Limerick and Dublin, passed through the centre of the town. As a result, the main street through Castleisland dealt not only with local traffic and commercial traffic for the Castleisland area, but also with traffic destined for other Kerry towns such as Tralee and Killarney. Likewise traffic originating in other parts of Kerry was directed through the centre of Castleisland. This resulted in traffic congestion in Castleisland, and on most of its approach roads. During peak traffic times, and particularly at bank holiday weekends, delays of over half an hour were common for traffic passing through Castleisland.
It also caused inconvenience for local people over many years, and eventually the local community decided that action was needed. In 2007 with a General election looming, a committee was formed and an organised campaign was formally started, to lobby for a bypass in Castleisland. The campaign was successful and a promise of funding for the new road was obtained from the National Roads Authority.
After over a year of planning, construction of the new road was started in May 2009 with a projected completion date of December 2010. The project involved creating two major new sections of road and one smaller section. It consists of a 3.4 km dual carriageway linking the Limerick road roundabout north of Castleisland to the Tralee road west of the town, and a 1.6 km single carriageway continuing south from the roundabout on the Tralee road to meet the Killarney road roundabout southwest of the town. At the Limerick road end, there is also a smaller section consisting of 0.4 km of single carriageway plus climbing lane. This minor section links the newly constructed Limerick road roundabout to the pre-existing N21 Limerick road.
Castleisland Desmonds is the local GAA club. They won the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship in 1985, beating St. Vincents of Dublin in the final. The club were also the winners of the 2010 series of RTÉ reality television show Celebrity Bainisteoir, while managed by singer Derek Burke of Crystal Swing.
Castleisland Rugby Football Club U16s was the second rugby club in Kerry, under all age groups, to win a Munster League title in 2008. Tralee under 18s were the first, winning the Munster under 18 League in 2006.
An Ríocht Athletics Club, established in 1973, is located at Crageens in Castleisland. Its facilities include an international standard 400-metre tartan athletics track and a soccer pitch.
- Con Houlihan, (6 December 1925 – 4 August 2012) was an Irish sports journalist and columnist for the Evening Herald. He previously wrote for the Irish Press group newspapers, until the group's demise in 1995.
- Charlie Nelligan, who was the Kerry GAA goalkeeper for many years during the 1970s and 1980s. He won 7 All-Ireland football medals playing with Kerry and has also trained the Kerry Minor Footballers in recent years. Charlie played his club football with the Castleisland Desmonds, who won the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship in 1985. Charlie now runs coffee shops in Tralee and Castleisland.
- Mick Doyle (rugby player), (October 13, 1941 - May 11, 2004) was an Irish rugby union international player and coach. While Doyle was coach, Ireland won the Five Nations Championship and subsequent Triple Crown. He also hails from Currow.
- The British actress Katherine Kelly, best known for her role as Becky McDonald in the ITV soap opera Coronation Street, is the daughter of John Kelly, who originally hails from Castleisland.
- Denis Mary Bradley (b. 25 February 1846 - 13 December 1903) Catholic priest, who became the first Bishop of Manchester, New Hampshire and co-founded Saint Anselm College. He was the first alumnus of Saint Joseph's Seminary of Troy, New York (now in Yonkers, NY) to be consecrated a bishop.
- Redmond Prendiville, (11 September 1900 – 28 June 1968) Archbishop of Perth reputedly the youngest archbishop ever was aged 32 at the time of his consecration.
- Mary Anne Scollard, (1847–1927) grandmother of former twice-Taoiseach Dr. Garret FitzGerald and mother of Desmond FitzGerald, Irish revolutionary and first Minister for External Affairs.
Twin towns — Sister cities
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