Rare glimpse of old Tralee

Rare images of Tralee in the 1860s, believed to be the earliest-ever of Kerry’s county town, will form part of a two-day conference to explore the complex and “eventful” 800-year-old history of the Anglo-Norman settlement.

Rare glimpse of old Tralee

In a town where history still strides the streets and provokes a passionate argument, attempts in 2012 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the granting of Tralee’s charter by the English King James were dampened, after objections by Sinn Fein.

A compromise proposal by officials, however, was to celebrate the ‘800th’ anniversary.

Recently, the erection of monuments to the Munster Fusiliers, the town’s old regiment, also met with heated objections.

The mid-19th-century images on display later this week were discovered in a box in the attic in a house in Dorset, England by Tom Denny. An artist, he has renewed contacts with the family’s ancestral town where there has been a connection for hundreds of years.

The images were taken by his great-grandfather, Rev Edward Denny who lived at Churchill and they feature Blennerville and other surrounding villages. The glass negatives remained intact and are being dusted down and put on a CD in time for the conference where Mr Denny will give a talk on the Denny history in Tralee.

The conference will be officially opened next Friday by former tánaiste Dick Spring, who will give the keynote address, and continue in the Rose Hotel on Saturday.

It has been organised by the Kerry Archaeological & Historical Society (KAHS) and Tralee Municipal District and supported by Kerry County Council.

Mayor of Tralee, Cllr Terry O’Brien said: “The pivotal role that Tralee played in Kerry, Munster and Irish history needs to be highlighted.”

The town was founded by John FitzThomas Fitzgerald in 1216 and was capital of the Munster Geraldine territory that extended from Tralee to East Cork until the Desmond Wars of 1580 and the Plantation of Munster.

The Tralee Fitzgeralds were, as a former Sinn Féin councillor once put it, “thrown out on the lawn of the castle” by the Elizabethan Dennys who dominated the history of the town for the next 350 years and retained its status as capital of Co Kerry.

Conference speakers will include those who have helped to unlock Tralee’s pre-history: county archaeologist, Michael Connolly, medievalist Dr Paul MacCotter from UCC, while historians Helen O’Carroll and Vincent O’Mahony will look at the industrial age.

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