This book provides a readable introduction to Kerry for the visitor and those with a general knowledge of history. It takes nothing for granted, which is why the table of contents is very detailed, and this has the additional benefit of enabling the reader to enter the book at any point he pleases.
The dawning of the Christian era provided many saints, and these appear naturally in the narrative (there is no easy resort to lists, and there are images throughout the book), then the great eras are covered with a light touch and with the awareness of a writer who is able to contextualise what he writes in the great events of England, Europe and the world. The Munster Plantation at the time of Queen Elizabeth took place in the aftermath of the great overthrow of the native world presided over by the famous Earls of Desmond, whose principal castles were in Tralee and Castleisland. Yet the South of Kerry was never easily conquered or settled. The Shelburne-Lansdowne dynasty controlled it finally, but they were really a mixture of the FitzMaurices (lords Lixnaw) and the family of the Cromwellian map maker Sir William Petty. Racial integration is a characteristic feature of Kerry history.
The great Fr Dominic O’Daly of Kilsarkan, Ballymacelligott, is a link between the overthrown world of the native Irish after Kinsale (1601) and the resurgent Irish of the eighteenth century. O’Daly founded colleges in Portugal for the formation of Irish priests, but his family were bards to the earls of Desmond, and through the efforts of the likes of O’Daly the Irish genealogies and Irish learning were conserved in continental Europe during the centuries of subjugation back home.
Daniel O’Connell was Ireland’s Liberator, taking his people, like some Messiah, out from under the penal laws on the journey to liberty and nationhood in the nineteenth century. He and his family created something of a dynasty in the politics of Tralee where they replaced the Elizabethan family of Denny. O’Connell was never a republican (he had seen the excesses of the French Revolution when a student at one of those continental colleges), but Kerry provided many founding fathers of the modern republican Irish state, Thomas Ashe among the leaders.