University College Cork has a wonderful web site, known as CELT, containing original documents including the two great surveys conducted after the subjugation of the last reigning Earl of Desmond. These are the Desmond and the MacCarthy Mór Surveys. In pre-technological days there was no such easy availability, and historians had to make do with poor translations of the originals. Historian and Tralee native Mary Hickson had worked with the originals of both surveys at Lambeth (Palace) Library, in London, and in the following passage she brings her painstaking research to bear when noticing the treatment of Valentia’s name in one of the English periodicals.
Why Valentia exercised this intrepid historian is explained by her friendship with the Knight of Kerry who lived at Glanleam, on the island. This was Sir Peter FitzGerald, who, in the years immediately after the appearance of Hickson’s Old Kerry Records, 1872 and 1874, furnished her with the documentation she needed to complete his family’s pedigree. The pedigree duly appeared in a pamphlet produced by the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. By the summer of 1880 the Knight was very ill and Hickson was contributing articles again to the Kerry Evening Post, including one about his family and honours which appeared shortly before his death. In it is a passage on the derivation of the name Valentia.
‘It (Valentia Island, Ir. Dairbhre) was then with all Iveragh, Dunkerron, Glanerought, Magonihy, and a portion of Cork, the estate of the MacCarthy Mór, whom Queen Elizabeth created Earl of Clancar (i.e. Clan Caura or Carthy), and Baron or Viscount of Bealinche. A survey was made of all his estates for the Queen, and the finely coloured maps and schedules are still preserved in the Lambeth Library, in London. Tracings of three of these maps are given in my second series of Kerry Records, and by referring to them it will be seen that the English surveyors mark the island as Dairery, and the south-western harbour or strait between Dairery and Iveragh as the harbour of Bealinche. We find no mention of a Valencia in the maps at all. This surprised and puzzled me, when I was studying the survey at Lambeth. But where I came to read the letters and dispatches between 1589-1601 in the Rolls Office, Chancery Lane, I found that the only son of the Earl of Clancar, who bore as usual his father’s second title, as a courtesy title, was constantly mentioned as the young Baron of Bealinche, or the young Baron of Valencia. He is quite as often called in the letters by the one name as by the other. This assured me that the word Valencia was merely a very easy and natural corruption by Englishmen of the word Bealinche, as it is often pronounced Vaelinche by an Irish speaker. The title of the young heir apparent of the Earl of Clancar was taken from the harbour of Bealinche. Of this there can be no doubt whatever, and that the island up to that time was never called by any other name than Dairery is equally certain.’ (M. A. Hickson, Kerry Evening Post, July 31, 1880.)