Tarbert, The Gateway To North Kerry

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Tarbert, the first village in County Kerry. As you drive in from Limerick, gazing at the River Shannon on your right and drive past the Lanterns Bar and Restaurant you will see the sign “County Kerry” and then you are in Tarbert.

The last time I was in Tarbert I was playing Pool in The Swanky Bar, I had a very good dinner too, actually I beat Maurice four games to three.

Were your ancestors born near Listowel?


Tarbert, as far as I know, is famous for two great Greyhounds who won the Irish Greyhound Derby. The first was called Swanky and the second, His name escapes me at the moment, but I had £50 punts on him at Shelbourne Park in Dublin, I was there the very night.

I would be very grateful if you could let me know his name, I do remember he had a bad leg though.

Anyway Tarbert is the gateway to North Kerry. It is a quiet village, some people think it is a bit too quiet, but you must take every place as you find it, I found Tarbert most enjoyable, especially the night in O’Connor’s Bar.

An excellent car ferry, the Killimer Ferry, operates on the half hour every hour from Tarbert to County Clare, it is about a 20 minutes across the mighty River Shannon, where you can see her at her best, dolphins sometimes follow the ferry, and there is an excellent Bar on the Tarbert side.

If you are arriving in Tarbert by the Killimer Ferry you will drive past the Tarbert Gaol, take a look around, that is the way we were treated in days gone by.

Prior to Irish Independence, most towns and villages throughout the country had places of detention, and they were called “Bridewells”. The local community always regarded them as symbols of repression and During the War of Independence and the Civil War these buildings were destroyed.

Only two Bridewells, one in Cork and the other in Dublin, are in use today. The Bridewell in Tarbert, one of the very few to survive, has recently been restored and turned into a most interesting Heritage centre.

Do you know why these places were called “Bridewells”?

I know I am going off the track a bit, but I will tell you anyway.

In the reign of the great! King Charles 1, a hostel for the accommodation of homeless boys and “ladies of the night” was opened at St Brides`s Well in London. It started off with good intentions but as time went by the use to which this hostel was put underwent a sinister change.

It became a “house of correction” or place of detention. The name was shortened to “Bridewell” and when things kicked off in Ireland prisons were given this name.

Now you know!!

Where were we?

Just walking out of Tarbert Gaol, I think I will cross the road to the Swanky Bar and Have a pint of Guinness; it’s a very good pint in there.

There are only four ways out of Tarbert, one back to the Killimer Ferry, and we are not going there, into Limerick, we are not going there either, over to Moyvane or Listowel, we will go there later, or on to Ballylongford. That’s the direction we are going.

But before we go, a bit more information on Tarbert:

There is a Catholic church on the Moyvane / Listowel road,

Saint Mary’s Church (068-36111)

Next to the Swanky Bar is a good supermarket and newsagent; Maurice has purchased a bottle of lucazade there on several mornings.

The Pubs that I remember are The Lanterns; one of the best seafood chowders I have ever enjoyed was in there.

O’Connor’s Bar, Gerry Savage, Tomas Coolahan, and another bar I cannot remember, but the landlord owned that greyhound I Had 50 punts on. . By the way if you want to buy a good greyhound this is the place to do the business.

Tarbert also has a GAA Football team, if you know about their successes and failures give me an E-Mail, and I will put it on the site.

In fact if you know anything else of interest concerning the village of Tarbert, E-Mail me at


A reliable source has informed me that the pub I was enjoying a social tipple, and where I got the tip for the greyhound was Carmody`s, on the Listowel/Moyvane road just as you drive out of Tarbert.

The famous greyhound was called Joyful Tidings, no wonder I had a bet on him.

Where can you stay while you are in Tarbert, wether just passing through or catching the ferry next morning.

Click on the link below and find out.

Bed and Breakfast in Tarbert

Articles and news on Tarbert

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