Béal Átha Longfoirt



Carrigafoyle Castle

The very name of this castle derives from the old Gaelic description of its foundations – ‘the rock with the chasm’. What survives today of the original fortress bears impressive testimony to the wealth and power of Cornelius (Conor Liath) O’Connor-Kerry, who had it built during the 1480s and 90s. He and his wife had also commissioned the exquisite Lislaughtin Cross. While the Renaissance was flourishing in continental Europe during the 15th century, Gaelic and Gaelicised-Norman Ireland was undergoing a major economic and cultural boom known as ‘the Gaelic Revival’. This great castle with its central keep or tower (five storeys high with 104 internal steps leading to the solarium at the top), and its inner and outer curtain walls and bastions is one of the finest examples of Irish architecture of that period. However, it has a most unique feature in that it had a fortified harbour within its walls. Similar features may be seen in Lisbon’s Torre de Belém on the Tagus estuary. From here, the O’Connor-Kerry galley fleets patrolled the Shannon estuary, and provided escorts to the merchants trading in and out of Limerick, Askeaton and Tarbert in return for fees and tributes in wine. On Palm Sunday, 1580, the castle fell to Queen Elizabeth I’s forces commanded by Sir William Pelham. The entire garrison of Irish and Spanish soldiers under the command of Captain San Julián, was hanged from the battlements. Later in 1605, King James I restored the O’Connor-Kerry to his castle and some of his estates, though most of his lands had already been granted to Trinity College Dublin in 1592. In 1652, the fortunes of the O’Connor-Kerry lordship ended when Cromwellian troops destroyed the castle, and executed its lord, John O’Connor-Kerry, in Tralee’s market square.



Lislaughtin Abbey

In 1470, the local lord, John O’Connor-Kerry and his wife, Margaret Nagle, founded Lislaughtin Friary for the Observant Franciscans. In 1477, Pope Sixtus IV licensed it as a religious house, and the friary was completed and its church consecrated in 1478. It is a fine example of the elegant Hiberno-Gothic style architecture with some contemporary Spanish decorative influences. For over 102 years it served as a spiritual, educational and charitable centre for the Shannon estuary region. Also it served as the mausoleum of the O’Connor-Kerry dynasty. The friary was built on the site of an early Christian monastery that was associated with St Lachtin (7th century). The Irish Observant Franciscan Province held its general chapter meeting here in 1507. In 1580, Queen Elizabeth I’s troops, who had besieged Carrigafoyle Castle nearby, sacked the friary, and three elderly friars Daniel Hanrahan, Maurice Scanlon and Philip O’Shea were killed in front of the high altar. Subsequently, Elizabethan officers, James Scolls, John Hollis and later Sir Edward Denny occupied the friary and its farm. However, by 1629 the Franciscans returned and re-occupied Lislaughtin until its final destruction by Cromwellian troops in 1652. Yet, the friars continued to provide pastoral care in the area right up until 1860.



Carrig Island Monastic Site

Dating from the sixth century, an early Christian church and settlement that was connected with the major monastery of St. Senan on Scattery Island (almost opposite on the Clare coast of the Shannon), stood within the lios or large circular earthen-work enclosure. The traces of various buildings on the ground are clearly visible from the air, and also in times of drought. Within the site is a well known traditionally as the Friars’ Holy Well. The remains of a stone church, nave, tower, staircase, chancel and sanctuary dating from the medieval period, possibly 13th century, are still standing, and suggest that the building was once a very impressive structure. Following the reform of the Irish Church in the early 12th century, this establishment, like its mother-house on Scattery Island, was occupied by the Canons Regular of St. Augustine until 1580.



The Gun Battery

The battery on Carrig Island, once formed part of an extensive network of coastal fortifications around Ireland and Britain that were designed to specifications to enable them withstand heavy naval bombardments from an expected Napoleonic French invasion. The network was built between 1795 and 1815. This Gun Battery is one of the few that have survived. It has a corresponding Gun Battery on Scattery Island on the opposite Clare Coast. In 1889, the artillery garrison was withdrawn and the great guns were dismantled.



Aghavallen Church

This was the original parish church of Ballylongford. The present structure dates from the 15th century, and it replaced an earlier one from the 6th century. It was endowed by John O’Connor-Kerry, and according to the Papal Registers of the 14th and 15th centuries, many of its parish priests were drawn from the hereditary clerical family of O’Kennelly. After the Cromwellian conquest was completed in 1653, the church was taken over by the newly arrived Protestant Community. Several landowners such as the Sandes, Ponsonbys (descendants of Cromwellian officers), and the Crosbies, Colts and Popes, have impressive tombstones and mausolea here. It was in this church that Herbert Horatio Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, Britain’s leading military strategist during World War I, was baptized in 1851.



Finucane’s Bar

This was the birthplace of the Irish patriot, Michael O’Rahilly, known as The O’Rahilly. He was born in this house in April 1875. A wealthy businessman, he was passionately interested in Irish economic, cultural and political affairs, and he was a founding member of the Gaelic League and of the Irish Volunteers. O’Rahilly participated in the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin, and he died on Moore Street leading a retreat from the General Post Office. Shortly after he was born, his family moved into their newly built three-storey residence around the corner from this establishment. The house in which he grew-up bears a plaque that was unveiled on the 50th anniversary of the Rising in 1966. 



Kennelly’s Bar

Kennelly’s Pub is the childhood home of the internationally acclaimed poet and writer Brendan Kennelly, former Professor of English at Trinity College Dublin.
This is just some of the information about Ballylongford, the rest can be seen in our
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Places of Interest
Carrigafoyle Castle
Lislaughton Abbey
Carrig Island Monastic Site
The Gun Battery
Aghavallen Church
Finucane's Bar
Kennelley's Bar
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