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
    Dunurlin
  • County
    Kerry
  • Parish
    Dunurlin
  • Content
    DUNURLIN, a parish, its the barony of CORKAGUINEY, county of KERRY, and province of MUNSTER, 6 miles (N. W.) from Dingle, on the west side of Smerwick harbour ; containing 1997 inhabitants.

    In 1579, Saunders, the Pope's nuncio, with a party of 80 Spaniards and a few English and Irish Catholics, landed here, and built a fort at Smerwick for their safety, expecting to be joined by the discontented Irish ; but their ships were seized by Capt. Courtenay. In the following year a reinforcement of 700 Spaniards and Italians landed with arms for 5000 men, besides cannon, ammunition and money, and added some works to the fort, named by them "Fort del Or." The Earl of Ormonde marched directly against them, on which they retired to the fastness of Glanigalt ; but finding the English not so powerful as they expected, 300 of them with their commander returned by night into the fort. The Lord-Deputy, with Captains Zouch and Raleigh, soon arriving with 800 men, and Sir William Winter at the same time returning to the coast with his feet, the Spaniards were attacked both by sea and land, and after an arduous siege submitted at discretion. On being dis-armed, all the Spaniards, except their commander and staff were put to the sword ; and the Irish who had joined them were hanged.

    The parish contains 5732 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, a large portion of which consists of coarse mountain pasture and bog. The portion under tillage is manured with sea-weed, abundance of which is procured on the coast ; and the state of agriculture is slowly improving. Some of the inhabitants are employed in fishing. Near the coast are three remarkable hills, called by sailors "the Three Sisters" ; and between the harbour of Smerwick and Ferriter's creek is the low promontory called Dunurlin Head, forming the western point of Smerwick bay : it is situated 2.25 miles (E. N. E. .50 E.) from Sybil Head and the latter is 5.50 miles (N. E. by N.) from Dunmore Head.

    The living is a rectory and vicarage in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe : the tithes amount to £150 ; there is neither church, glebe-house, nor glebe.

    In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Keel, which also comprises the parishes of Donquin, Kilquane, Kilmelchedor, and Marhyn, and contains the chapels of Boulteen and Carrig.

    About 40 children are taught in a public and about 55 in a private school.

    Overlooking the little cove, called Ferriter's creek, are the remains of Castle Sybil, or Sybilla's castle, formerly belonging to the Ferriters, and said to have been built by a widow of that family ; and on the north-west side of Smerwick harbour are the remains of the Spanish fortification of Fort del Or, which consisted of a curtain 60 feet in length, a ditch, and two bastions.