Traffic was stopped in the Co Kerry town centre for just under an hour as the march led by a lone piper, Denis O’Reilly from Tralee, moved from the Friary Courthouse at the eastern edge of the town to the Market Cross area in Main St.
Gardaí, who controlled traffic, put the turnout at around 850, while others said more than 1,000 had taken part.
The large turnout surpassed expectations and surprised observers.
A cross-section of people, mainly from the private sector, marched and they included the self-employed, shop workers, the recently retired, young families, and pensioners, as well as people from Tralee and other parts of Kerry.
Pensioner Noel Grimes displayed a handwritten list of recent allowances cut and charges raised, including electricity allowances, telephone, Christmas bonus, property tax, carbon tax, bereavement grant, medical card, VHI, and prescription charges.
He said he was not usually involved in such protests but said people like himself “simply had taken enough”.
Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, Labour, and former local PD party supporters were also well-represented on the march.
The Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae also joined the protest.
Chants of ‘Enda Kenny — not a penny’ were led by the organisers, Right 2 Water.
Mallow visitor Anne Miniter, in Killarney for the weekend, observing the gathering at the Market Cross and remarked: “At last, the Irish people are making themselves heard.
“I took part in a protest in Mallow. I had never before marched against anything.”
Brian McCarthy, one of the speakers in the event, drew a large cheer for his remarks demanding “a brand new system from the top down”.
In Waterford, meanwhile, more than 500 people took to the streets in another protest against Irish Water.