Video of Castleisland, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland
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
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 often considered the Gateway to Kerry, 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 Glenaruddery mountains to the north and the Stacks 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.
Castleisland (Irish: Oileán Chiarraí) is a town and commercial centre in County Kerry
in south west Ireland. The town is renowned for the width of its main street. Castleisland
has a population of 2,170.
Castleisland was described by one of its most well-known citizens, journalist Con
Houlihan, as "not so much a town as a street between two fields".