Milltown or in Irish “Baile an Mhuilinn”, meaning "town of the mill" is a small town between the major towns of Tralee and Killarney and roughly four miles from Killorglin. A market and post-town, in the parish of Kilcoleman, barony of Trughenackmy.
It is situated near the river Mang or Maine, which flows into the harbour of Castlemaine, and is navigable for vessels of 100 tons to within a mile of the town.
In 1831 it contained 260 houses, together with the parochial church, R. C. chapel, bridewell, dispensary, and school: it has a sub-post-office to Tralee and Cahirciveen. A patent for a market and two fairs was obtained by John Godfrey, Esq., ancestor of the present proprietor, Sir John Godfrey, Bart., whose seat, Kilcoleman Abbey, immediately adjoins the town.
The market, which is for corn and potatoes, is on Saturday; and fairs are held on April 26th and 27th, June 23rd and 24th, Aug. 23rd and 24th, and Dec. 15th and 16th, for general farming stock: the market-house is an old building.
At Rhapogue is a quay; a considerable quantity of corn is annually exported, and coal, salt, and other articles are imported. The bridewell is a neat building, consisting of two day-rooms, two yards, and six cells. A constabulary police force is stationed in the town, and petty sessions are generally held once a fortnight. The church is a neat edifice, with a square pinnacled tower.
In the R. C. divisions Milltown is the head of a union or district, comprising the parishes of Kilcoleman and Kilbonane, each containing a chapel: that of Milltown is a handsome and spacious modern building, with an ornamental belfry of hewn stone; there is also a meeting-house for Wesleyan Methodists.
In the school-house, which is built in the cottage style, about 120 children of both sexes are educated at the expense of Sir John and Lady Godfrey; and her ladyship, assisted by a loan from a London Society, affords employment in spinning, weaving, &c., to several of the poorer class.
The late Rev. T. Fitzgerald, P.P., of Milltown, bequeathed £4000 to the R. C. bishop of Kerry and his successors, the interest of which is to be applied partly to the establishment and support of schools, and partly in clothing and feeding the poor in the parishes of Kilcoleman and Kilbonane; and £1000 is to be applied in like manner for the benefit of the parish of Killeiny.
A large school is accordingly to be built in each parish, and placed under the National Board. The ruins of the ancient abbey, situated in Sir John Godfrey's demesne, are described under the head of Kilcoleman.
Between the 1200s and 1500s, much of land surrounding Milltown was owned by the nearby Killagha Abbey, the ruins of which now stand one and a half miles outside the town. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the estates were granted to the Spring Family and then, following the Irish Confederate Wars, to the Godfrey family.
The settlement at Milltown was developed by Captain John Godfrey in the 1750s as the central town of their estate. The development of Milltown was a deliberate attempt at urban planning by the Godfreys who hoped such development would increase the income and prosperity of their estate through rents, market tolls and the promotion of industries.
Milltown has six pubs, three take-away restaurants, a bakery, a vet, a butcher's shop, a Catholic Church parish church, a Church of Ireland, three schools and a shopping market. Milltown itself hosts a number of annual festivals and events including the World Bodhran Championships.
The village has grown substantially in the last number of years similar to other villages in Kerry such as Firies and Lixnaw with a number of housing development being built. The Census 2011 results showed that Milltown was the fastest growing village in Kerry between 2006 and 2011, in which time its population more than doubled from 401 to 838.
Bushfield House was remodelled for Sir William Godfrey,1st Baronet in the 1770s after the original Bushfield House was destroyed by fire. He renamed the house Kilcoleman Abbey, in reference to Killagha Abbey which formed part of the family estate.
Recent research indicates that the new Bushfield was constructed from the remains of an older tower house on lands that originally belonged to the MacCarthy Mor. More or less abandoned from 1800 to 1818, the house was renovated under the second Baronet, Sir John Godfrey, according to ambitious plans drawn up by the famous architect, William Vitruvius Morrison.
However the general economic decline of the 1820s and family misfortunes meant that only the stables and service wing, with its Flemish gables, were completed as planned.
Later, in the early 1840s, Sir William Godfrey, 3rd Baronet further modified the main block of the house, adding an attic storey, a turret emblazoned with the Red Hand of Ulster, the traditional shield of a Baronet and assorted gables, pinnacles and buttresses.
Inside, the main reception rooms were remodelled in the then-popular Gothic style with fine plasterwork by local craftsmen, making liberal use of the Godfrey crest. The entrance hall was dominated by a fine bust of Eleanor, Lady Godfrey, carved in Florence in 1817. The house was the centre of a 6,000-acre estate and was lived in continually by the Godfrey family until 1958.
The last owner, Miss Phyllis Godfrey, confronted by a dreadful infestation of dry rot, was eventually forced to abandon the house for the gate lodge where she died in December 1959. The house was eventually demolished in the 1977.
There is a flourshing market in the town. The direct relationship between the producer and consumer is what makes Milltown Market different. The word 'market' is too small a description for the weekly gathering in this little town, that is nestled with the backdrop of the Slieve Mish mountains. Its central location is the gateway to the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula.
Mary O Riordan, as a horticulturist, has always had a passion for promoting local and organically produced food. Marys idea took root with a group of local and like minded people, within the Old Church. This 1819 building had its last service in the 1980s and it was thus deconsecrated during that time.
The market opened in July 2000 (and privileged to be indoors) and since then has evolved and thrived into a vibrant community of producers, farmers and loyal and contented customers.
Mary encourages artists to display their creativity within the church walls and she welcomes musicians young and old, traditional and classical to add to the ambiance of the Saturday Market, thus creating a lovely social experience, meeting old friends and making new ones.
It is a totally different shopping experience, to quote one customer, 'the buzz and comraderie is unique on market day. The connectedness, the networking, the feeling of belonging, makes it a magical experience that uplifts the spirit'.
Milltown Organic Store grew alongside, complementing the Market, filling in the gaps of produce not available in the stalls, so the customer can find their weeks shopping under one roof, as in a supermarket, providing a vast array of products, at exceptional, keen and not elitist prices.
Just outside Milltown is the huge standing stone. Known as Gallán na Cille Brice or the Milestone it stands at 2.8 metres high and is 1.38 metres in width. This impressive stone is situated by the north side of the R559 in the garden of Milestone House B&B. There are a number of other standings stones in the area and also some rock art. About 70 metres north east of here is a stone pair known as Geatái na Glóire-Gates of Glory and 30m NE is a large recumbent stone bearing rock art.
The Standing Stone
Have You Found What You Are Looking For?