Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Kerry


Kerry, a maritime county in the province of Munster is bounded on the north by the mouth of the river Shannon, on the south by the Kenmare River and Cork county, on the east by counties Limerick and Cork, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. Its greatest length from Tarbert to Bolus Head is 69 miles and its greatest breadth from Mweelin Mountain east of Kenmare to Ballydavid (Smerwick Harbour) is 53 ½ miles.


The name Kerry I derived from Ciar (pronounced Keer), son of Fergus, ex-King of Ulster. Ciar settled in Munster, and his descendants who were called Ciarriaghe (pronounced Keeree) possessed the country from Abbeyfeale westward to the sea, and lying between Tralee and the Shannon. The name of the tribe was originally restricted to this territory, but eventually it became the name of the whole modern county. Kerry is frequently spoken of as “The Kingdom”, and this is explained by the fact that, by Letters Patent dated August 27th, 1329, Maurice FitzJohn FitzGerald was created Earl of Desmond, with a Royal Jurisdiction or Palatinate over the Co. Kerry, and by virtue of his Royal Seignory as a Count Palatine, he created his three sons by his second marriage to be hereditary knights, thus originating he titles of the White Knight, the Knight of Glin and the Knight of Kerry.


The three principal Mountain Ranges run westward to the end of the peninsulas of Dingle, Cahersiveen and Bearhaven, the latter chain belonging partly to county Cork. The Dingle Range rising over Tralee Bay includes Baurtregaum (2,796’); Cahirconree (2,713’); and Beenoskee (2,713’); north west of this is Brandon (3,127’); and westward is Mount Eagle (1,696’), a spur of which – Dunmore Head – is the most westerly point of the mainland. The Cahersiveen Range is divided into two chains. The first includes Magillicuddy’s Reeks – Carrauntuohill (3,414’) the highest summit in Ireland; Beenkeragh (3,314’) and Caher (3,200’). The Gap of Dunloe separates the Reeks from the Killarney Mountains – Tomies (2,413’), Purple Mountain (2,639’), Torc (1,764’), Mangerton (2,756’), Stoompa (2,281’) and Knockbrack (2,005’). This chain terminates east of Killarney with the Paps (2,284’) near Headford Railway Junction.

West of the Reeks, on Dingle Bay, are Drung (2,104’) and Knocknadober (2,267’) with Coomacarre (2,541’) to the south. The second chain includes Boughill (2,065’), Mullaghanattin (2,539’) and Coomcallee (2,135’) in the Kenmare district. The Bearhaven Range includes the Caha Mountains and the Derrynasaggart Mountains both lying on the boundary with Cork. Knockboy (2,321’) rises over Glengarriffe.

Isolated Peaks – near Tralee are the Glanruddery Mountains (1,097’) and the Stack Mountains (1,170’).

Beginning at the Shannon mouth the Headlands are Beal Point and Kerry Head; on Dingle peninsula are Brandon Head, Sybil Head, Clogher Head, Dunmore Head and Slea Head; on the south west of Valencia Island is Bray Head, south of it is Bolus Head and also Hog’s Head; at the mouth of the Kenmare River is Lamb’s Head.

The largest Island is Valencia. North of Valencia are the Blasket Islands, comprising the Great Blasket which is 3 ½ miles long with its two peaks, Croaghmore (961’) and Slievedonagh (937’); also Inishtooskert (573’) and 1 mile long; Tearaght (602’), Inishvickilane and Inishnabro.

The Magherees or Seven Hogs are in Tralee Bay, and Carrig Island is near Ballylongford at the mouth of the Shannon. South of Valencia are Puffin Island and the Skellig Rocks, the largest being the Greater Skellig (714’); also Scariff (839’) and Deenish outside Darrynane, and at the Kerry side of Kenmare River are the islands of Sherky, Rossdohan and Rossmore.

The Bays and Harbours beginning on the north are Ballyheigue Bay, Tralee Bay, Brandon Bay, Smerwick Harbour, Dingle Bay, Dingle Harbour, Ventry Harbour, Valencia Harbour, St. Finan’s, Ballinskelligs and Darrynane Bays. Lastly, there is the Kenmare River from which Kilmakillog and Ardgroom Harbours branch off on the south side, the latter belonging partly in county Cork.

Beginning on the north there are the following Rivers: The Shannon, washing the north shore of the county; the Blackwater rising in Kerry, then running along the county border with Cork and entering Cork; the Cashen formed by the junction of the Galey, the Feale which for 14 miles forms the county boundary with Limerick, and the Brick. The River Lee flows by Tralee and gives name to that town. The Maine (whose tributary is the Brown Flesk) and the Laune (which takes the overflow of Killarney Lakes) flow into Castlemaine Harbour. The Flesk (whose tributaries are the Loo and the Clydagh) flows into the Lower Lake of Killarney; the Gearhameen(whose tributary is the Owenreagh) flows into the Upper Lake. The Glenbehy and Caragh Rivers flow into Dingle Bay. The Ferta runs by Cahersiveen into Valencia Harbour, the Inny into Ballinskelligs Bay, the Cummeragh into Lough Currane, and the Boughty (whose tributaries are the Slaheny and the Finnihy) enters the sea at Kenmare and opens into what is known as the Kenmare River.

The Lakes of Kerry, combined with its mountains and valleys constitute the chief attractions of this picturesque county. The principal of them are the Lakes of Killarney – the Upper, the Middle and the Lower – also called Lough Leane. The Lower Lake which is 5 miles long by 2 ½ miles wide, contains several islands including Inishfallen and Ross. The Middle Lake is 2 miles long by ¾ mile wide, and the Upper Lake which is 2 ½ miles long by ½ miles wide contains a number of islands, and is connected with the Lower and Middle Lakes by a channel 3 miles long called the Long Range.

Near the Upper Lake is Looscaunagh Lough. The Devil’s Punch Bowl called in Irish Poulahyffrin (or the “Hole of Hell”) is near the summit of Mangerton. The other lakes in this county are Loughs Erhagh, Managh and Garragarry in a glen between Mangerton and Stoompa Mountains; near them is Lough Guitane, Inchiquin Lough, south of Kenmare River; Lough Caragh, 3 ½ miles long is at the base of Carrantuohill; Lough Currane or Waterville Lake is near Ballinskelligs Bay. Lough Derriana and Cloonaghlin Lake send their overflow into Lough Currane by the Cummeragh River.





Total Pop.

108,617 107,568 216,185

131,696 131,430 263,126

147,307 146,573 293,880

116,511 121,743 238,254

99,999 101,801 201,800

97,913 98,673 196,586

101,208 99,831 201,039

91,017 88,119 179,136

84,427 81,299 165,726

81,474 78,217 159,691

77,589 73,276 149,171

Families and Houses in 1926
The number of families in the county was 23,718 the average number in each family being 5.2. The number of inhabited houses was 27,541, showing an average of 5.4 persons to each house. The special inhabitants of public institutions are omitted from these calculations.

There were in the county 22,841 Occupiers or Heads of Families, who were in occupation of less than five rooms, being 96.3% of the total for the county. Of these 1,352 or 5.7% of the families in the county occupied one room; 6,638 or 27.6%, two rooms; 9,052 or 38.3%, three rooms; and 3,799 or 16%, occupied four rooms.

There were in the county 449 tenements in which the room had only one occupant; 688 cases where the room had 2-4 occupants, 175 cases in which there were 5-7 occupants and 40 cases where the occupants of one room exceeded 7 in number, including 4 cases where ten persons, and 1 case where eleven and 3 cases where twelve or more persons occupied the same room.

Birthplace of Inhabitants
Of the population in 1926, 94.96% were born in the county, 4.03% in other counties in Saorstat Eireann. 0.11% in Northern Ireland, 0.4% in Great Britain, and 0.4% were born abroad.

In 1911 there were in the county 127,672 persons aged 9 years and upwards; of these 110,469 or 86.5% could read and write; 2,051 or 1.6% could read only and 15,152 or 11.9% were illiterate. As this census is the starting point where the age was raised from 5 years to 9 years; no comparison can be made with previous figures from other censuses. The report states that the percentage of those of 5 years and upwards who were unable to read and write was 24.9% in 1891, 17.1% in 1901 and in 1911 had fallen to 14.8%.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

No. of people 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
Irish only 24,971 12,009 6,871 4,481 2,495 1,891
Irish & English 90,130 69,959 92,467 69,701 69,176 58,828
Irish Total 115,101 81,968 99,338 74,182 71,671 60,719
% of population 57.0 41.7 49.4 41.4 43.2 38.0

RELIGIONS, 1861-1911 (% of population)

Religion 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
Presbyterian 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.13 0.17
Church of Ireland 3.1 2.9 2.9 2.8 2.67 2.33
Roman Catholic 96.7 96.8 96.6 96.7 96.85 97.26
Methodist 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.22 0.17
Others 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.13 0.07

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
54,672 40,480 27,036 50,855 38,599 23,074