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View From Castleisland

Castleisland, (Irish: Oileán Chiarraí) is a town and commercial centre about eight miles from Tralee otherwise known as the Island Of Kerry. The colour of the red marble, for which this town is noted, is due to the natural infiltration of iron oxide. There is a ruined 13th century castle in the town and the 1,097ft Knights hill rises north of Castleisland.

The town is renowned for the width of its main street, described by one of its most well-known citizens, journalist Con Houlihan, as "not so much a town as a street between two fields".

Castleisland is situated in the valley of the River Maine, only six miles from Kerry International Airport

Castleisland is often considered the Gateway to Kerry, as the main road to all towns in Western and Southern Kerry passes through here. The N21 from Limerick continues on to Tralee while the N22 goes to Killarney and other towns in Southern Kerry.

The Glenaruddery mountains to the north and the Stacks to the west define the beginning of the 'Vale of Tralee', at the mouth of which Castleisland is situated. Most of the land around Castleisland is pasture for dairy stock, with bog land located at various locations around the town, particularly to the east and south.

Castleisland was once the power base of the formidable Earls of Desmond. Today their once foreboding castle inside a moat is an ivy-covered stump.

Castleisland was the centre of Desmond power in Kerry. The village got its name, Castle of the Island of Kerry, from a castle built in 1226 by Geoffrey Maurice (or de Marisco), who was the Lord Justice of Ireland during the reign of King Henry III. The island was created by turning the waters of the River Maine into a moat around the castle.

Sometime in the 120 years after its construction the castle was taken by the forces of the Earl of Desmond. It is known that in 1345 the castle was being held for the Earl of Desmond by Sir Eustace de la Poer and other knights when it was captured by Sir Ralph Ufford, Lord Justice of Ireland. Sir Eustace and the other knights were captured and executed. Little is known of the further history of the castle and few ruins are left of it today. The main ruin is the de Marisco tower, located behind some private houses at the western end of the town, on the Killarney Road.

The Black and Tans and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were active in Castleisland during the Irish War of Independence in the 1920s. On 9 May 1921, two Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men were shot by the IRA outside Castleisland Parish Church; one of the men died. On 10 July in the same year, five IRA men and four British soldiers were killed during a gunfight in the town.

Close to Castleisland is a fossil cave system “Crag Cave”. The Caves, which were formed of limestone, display a colourful wonderland of Stalactites and Stalagmites. Over a million years old, there are about four km of caves although only 350 metres of these are open to the public.

The caves are open from March to November with tours available daily during this time. Crag cave is a great place to visit especially for the kids and on a rainy day.

A different kind of sport is readily available to the visitor at the ‘Visitor Farm and Shooting Ground’, which is proving extremely popular.

For the more active tourist, a new athletic track has recently been built in the town, which is unique to the county and boasts a landscaped walk along the River Maine for the less active individual!

Like all Kerry Towns, entertainment is very much to the front in Castleisland with the town really coming to life during its two annual festivals.

The first of these festivals is 'The Kerry Drama Festival' which is held annually during March. Later in the year during the month of September, the 'Padraig O’Keefe festival' is held. This is a traditional Music festival attracting traditional Music Players from far and wide all honouring Padraig O’Keefe, a fiddle player who came from the Sliabh Luachra region.

If you fancy a game of golf you won’t go far wrong knocking a round off at the new Castleisland Golf Club.

A new parkland course, built on 200 acres, with modern sand-based greens and tees. This excellent course is built to the highest championship standards, which allows the course to be played throughout the year.

Although a newly developed course, the architect skilfully utilises the mature wooded undulating terrain at his disposal to create a gem of a golf course.

The course has many challenging holes, taking advantage of the varying and unique nature of the site. While elevated and undulating the design has reduced to a minimum any difficulties in walking and playing the course.

Ask anyone in the town and you will be directed to the course.

As I said previously Castleisland is a fairly lively town with plenty of pubs, hotels and bars, there is Shiela Murphy`s, Brennans Bar, Harnetts Bar, Silver Dollar, Poets Inn, Kingdom House, Greyhound Bar, Shoemakers Bar, Skevena's Bar, Central Bar and many more and of course there is The River Island Hotel.

Talking about The River Island, I had a drink with my Castleisland mate Rob one Autumn evenning, now Rob is a very shy guy. We were enjoying a pint too many and Rob was getting a bit merry when in walks this gorgeous dark haired beauty.

After about half an hour I could see Rob gathering up his courage and he finally goes over to her and asks, tentatively, "Um, would you mind if I chatted with you for a while?"

She responded by yelling, at the top of her lungs, "No, I won't sleep with you tonight!"

Everyone in the bar is now staring at them. Naturally, Rob is hopelessly and completely embarrassed and he slinks back to my table.

After a few minutes, the woman walks over to him and apologizes. She smiles at him and says, "I'm sorry if I embarrassed you. You see, I'm a graduate student in psychology and I'm studying how people respond to embarrassing situations."

To which Rob responded, at the top of his lungs, "What do you mean 200 Euros?"

If you lived in or around Castleisland in the early 1980s you might recognise some people, old friends, and much more in these old videos.

Do you know who you are? Does your great, great grandfather come from Castleisland or nearby?

Castleisland Golf Course

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Castleisland Golf Club

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