The Tralee opposition seems not to have had any real difficulty with the constitution of the Corporation set up under the 1612 town Charter. This may be because the “village of Tralee” is said to have asked for a charter. At least this is what is written in the Charter itself. The opposition seemed only to refer to the usurpation of the Charter subsequent to the 1795 marriage settlement of Elizabeth Day and Sir Edward Denny which installed Justice Day, Elizabeth’s father, as the principal trustee. A widening of the corporation to admit more freemen might have been expected, but instead the Corporation remained closed, and opened very little at all to new freemen. This was no doubt a reaction to the decade of revolution in Europe and Ireland, culminating in the 1798 Rebellion and the career in France of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Act of Union was followed by a deterioration in the situation: now the two seat representation in Westminster was reduced to one, the one seat became a lucrative source of income, was treated accordingly by Judge Day who sold it to the highest bidder – usually an Englishman whom nobody knew locally -, and all of this was exacerbated by the fact that Sir Edward and Lady (Elizabeth) Denny became absentees as well, going to live in Worcester.
The Tralee democrats seem to have had an exaggerated view of what the Charter would allow if only these abuses were rectified and the corporation opened to new freemen. In actual fact the election of the members of Parliament was in the hands of the burgesses and Provost only, though the community of freemen should have a say in the appointment of the likes of the town clerk and the sergeants at mace.
The fact that the excluded voices appealed to the Charter’s constitution seems to indicate that in many ways the constitution worked fairly well, and for the benefit of the inhabitants of Tralee, in the days when the Dennys were resident and the MPs were locals and attended the old Irish Parliament. So we do well to leave aside our modern expectations when we attempt to see the positive contribution of the old Tralee corporation to the life of the town and its hinterland.