Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary, Co. Kerry

Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland. Here are From-Ireland.net’s records for Co. Kerry.


  • Place
    Ballyheigue
  • County
    Kerry
  • Parish
    Ballyheigue
  • Content
    BALLYHEIGUE or BALLYHEIGH, a parish, in the barony of CLANMAURICE, county of KERRY, and province of MUNSTER, 10 miles (N. N. W.) from Tralee; containing 3766 inhabitants.

    This parish is situated on a bay of the same name on the western coast, and includes within its limits the promontory of Kerry Head; it comprises 8100 statute acres, the greater portion of which is mountain, bog, and waste. With the exception of two farms only, the whole parish is the property of Col. I. Crosbie, who is resident ; the farms are large and are held on old leases immediately from the head land-lord. The lands under tillage are rendered fertile by the abundance of sea manure which is procured upon the coast: several of the low boggy tracts are defended only by sand hills from the irruption of the sea. From its exposed situation, being open to the Atlantic on the north, south, and west, timber attains little growth.

    Good brownstone for building is found near the shore. Ballyheigue Castle, the seat of Col. I. Crosbie, is a superb structure, in the later English style of architecture, erected after a design by Mr. R. Morrison, and situated in an extensive demesne tastefully disposed and highly embellished.

    Ballyheigue has been made a penny post to Tralee ; and a patent has been obtained for holding fairs, but none have been yet established. A seneschal's court is occasionally held for the Manor; and the petty sessions for the district are also held here.

    The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £290. 15s. 4d. The church is a small but neat edifice, erected on the site of the former structure by aid of a gift of £800 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1814. The glebe-house was built by aid of a gift of £350 and a loan of £450 from the same Board, in 1820 : the glebe comprises 20 acres.

    In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish forms part of the union of Killury or Causeway, and contains a chapel. In the parochial school are about 20 boys and 20 girls; and there are four pay schools, in which are about 480 children.

    The coast, for the greater part, is a long, low, and sandy strand, and very dangerous to vessels embayed near it. The bay of Ballyheigue lies between Tralee bay and Ballyheigue or Kerry Head, which latter is situated in lat. 52°24'40" (N.), and lon. 9° 54' (W.) ; it affords no shelter for vessels, and has been frequently mistaken for the river Shannon, in consequence of the latitude of Loop Head being inaccurately laid down in the charts. A coast guard station is placed here, forming one of the five which constitute the district of Listowel ; and there is also a constabulary police station. The scenery along the coast is bold and in some places strikingly grand ; the bay is frequented during the summer months for sea bathing; and in the neighbourhood is a remarkably fine spa. About two miles to the north of Ballyheigue are the remains of the small castle of Ballingarry, built by Col. D. Crosbie in the war of 1641, for the defence of a narrow isthmus leading to a small peninsula in which . he had sheltered his English tenantry from the attacks of the native insurgents ; they received supplies here , from the opposite side of the Shannon, sent by the friends of Lord Inchiquin; but the place was at length taken through the treachery of a servant. About two miles to the north of Ballyheige castle are the remains of a small chapel, dedicated to Saint McIda.

    Very fine amethysts and Kerry diamonds are found in the cliffs of Kerry Head; they are procured by persons suspended by ropes from the cliffs, and detach them with hammers from the crevices of the rocks. Near the ruins of Ballingarry castle is Mineghane, near which the swell that proceeds stormy weather produces a sound among the rocks resembling the discharges of a cannon.