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Information On Tralee Town
Click here for Places of Interest or here to see a map of Tralee

Tralee is the capital town and administrative centre of County Kerry, a region of spectacular beauty and Ireland's premier visitor destination. The town is almost 800 years old.

The town was founded in the early 13th century by the Anglo Normans and takes its name from the River Lee, which flows into Tralee Bay.

The main features of the mediaeval townscape were the Great Castle, which stood on the site of the present Denny Street, and the Dominican Friary (now the Abbey carpark), founded by John Fitz Thomas Fitzgerald. The Earls of Desmond, descendants of John Fitz Thomas, later used Tralee as a base to consolidate their power in the province of Munster.

The mediaeval town was burnt in 1580 as a consequence of the revolt against the policies of Queen Elizabeth of England. In 1587 Elizabeth granted Tralee to Edward Denny, whose family association with the town endured for three hundred years. Tralee was created a borough by Royal charter in 1613 and the Town Charter is now held in the County Library, Tralee. The modern town of Tralee took shape in the 19th century. Day Place, Staughton's Row and Prince's Quay were constructed in the early years of the century and the town's most elegant street, Denny Street, was completed in 1826 on the site of the Great Castle. The Courthouse, restored in recent years, was built in 1835. The Tralee Ship Canal was put in place in 1846 (and is now being restored) and the arrival of the railway in 1859 both added to the town's prosperity.

Writing in 1854, the historian Archdeacon Rowan reported:

"If ever there was a new town, Tralee is one. There are in it men old enough to remember the building of almost every house now standing. Everything in it is new. There is a new court house - and a new jail - and the new barracks and the new poor house - new houses - new scouts hall - new shops on all sides of the street - new plate glass fronts in their windows - new flagway underfoot - new lights (gas light) overhead - the new canal - and we soon hope to see the new railway station."

Tralee, being the capital town of County Kerry, is it's busiest market town - with it's shops and stores drawing people from the districts all around. With the nation's leading department stores lining the town's main streets and a host of bookshops, antiques and craftshops tucked away in old lanes and stylish new arcades, shopping in Tralee offers choice in abundance whether looking to stock the larder or find a good book to read on the beach. The town boasts leading department stores - a plethora of new boutiques catering for all ages have opened alongside long-established names. Jewellery shops dotted around town present eye-catching displays of their craft and are great places to browse for jewellery old and new. Antique shops and art galleries as well as bookshops which all promote the best of Irish writing and culture makes shopping in Tralee a unique combination of old-fashioned quality and modern convenience.

Tralee currently has a population of 23,000 approx. and is administered by a 12-member Urban District Council. It has

  • a developing Institute of Technology,
  • its own radio station,
  • an abundance of recreational facilities including the Aquadome,
  • a County Museum,
  • a thriving National Folk Theatre,
  • a working windmill,
  • a bustling shopping streetscape,
  • a steam train,
  • several golf courses,
  • a greyhound stadium,
  • a horse-racecourse,
  • a beautiful town park
  • and a most scenic hinterland.

While Archdeacon Rowan would find much that was still familiar, he would certainly be astonished and perhaps approving of the changes to his town.

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Places of Interest to see in Tralee

The Dominican Statue, Dominic Street
The Dominican Statue in Dominic Street commemorates the Dominicans long service to Tralee, despite persecution, standing near the site of the original Abbey.

The Pikeman Memorial, Denny Street The Pikeman Memorial, Denny Street
Sculpted by Albert Power, RHA, it commemorates the 1798 rebellion. This imposing monument - known locally as The Croppy Boy - commemorates the famous rebellion of 1798 when Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter united briefly in the name of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

The Ashe Memorial Hall, Denny Street The Ashe Memorial Hall, Denny Street
An imposing structure of local sandstone, housing the Tralee Tourist Office, Kerry The Kingdom Museum and Geraldine Experience. Travel by time-car through the reconstructed streets and houses and Abbey of Geraldine Tralee - the seat of power of the Anglo-Norman Fitzgeralds during the Middle Ages.

Kerry In Colour
A multi-lingual audio-visual presentation on Kerry's spectacular scenery - also in The Ashe Memorial Hall.

Dúchas Theatre, Edward Street
This traditional setting is the centre of traditional song, dance and céilis.

Tralee Town Park with St. John's Church in the background The Town Park
Formerly part of the Denny Demesne, now 75 acres of restful expanse of parkland with leisure walks, rose gardens and a fountain commemorating William Mulchinock, who composed the song 'The Rose of Tralee.'

On summer evenings the air is scented with the fragrance of roses; the park's rose garden holds one of the most extensive collections in Ireland. Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, mother of the famous Kennedy clan, is remembered here. The remembrance stone was unveiled by her daughter, Jean Kennedy Smith, US ambassador to Ireland. The old lady, who died at the age of 105, left behind a message of fortitude which is recorded on the plinth: "I find it interesting to reflect on what has made my life, even with its moments of pain, an essentially happy one. I have come to the conclusion that the most important element in human life is faith."

The Courthouse, Ashe Street
Designed by Sir Richard Morrison in the 19th century and recently restored. Its imposing portico of Ionic columns is flanked by two cannons in commemoration of the Kerry men who died during the Crimean and Indian wars of 1854 and 1860.

Siamsa Tíre Theatre, Town Park
The National Theatre of Ireland was founded in 1974 - its aim is to present on stage a dance/theatre entertainment based on the wealth of music folklore and dance which evolved from an Ireland long since passed. The performances do not use dialogue and are therefore easily and immediately accessible to visitors from every land. If you miss Siamsa Tíre, you miss the most unique theatrical experience that Ireland has to offer. Fr. Pat Ahern was founder. Entertainment at Siamsa...

The restored Blennerville Windmill Blennerville
The old Port of Tralee one mile west of the town but within the Municipal Boundary. The village retains much of its late 18th century character. The restored windmill dominates. The mill was painstakingly restored to full working order between 1984 and 1990. The village is linked to Tralee by road, canal and steam railway. Adjoining the windmill is the specially constructed boat shipyard where the replica Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship was built in preparation for her maiden voyage to the US and Canada.

St. John's Church, Castle Street (1854-70)
St. John's dominates Tralee's landscape from all approaches. Designed by J.J. McCarthy, it is one of the great examples of Gothic-Revival Architecture in Ireland. The stations of the Cross are by Sean Keating, RHA and the Sanctuary Window (1860) is by Michael O'Connor.

A New book on Tralee called 'Tralee's Old Stock Reminisce' - compiled by Mick O'Neill and edited by Timmy Griffin A Brief History of Tralee

A most interesting book on Tralee long ago, called 'Tralee's Old Stock Reminisce' has been published and was launched on 19th May 2001 in Siamsa Tíre, Tralee by Dick Spring, T.D. and is well worth a read for those interested in Tralee in the old days.

It includes memories from Tim Aherne, Michael Scannell, Donie Kelly and many more. Full of interesting information on those who lived in and contributed to the development of Tralee down through the years. The illustrated book was researched and compiled by Mick O'Neill from Spa Road, Tralee and edited by Timmy Griffin.

Highly recommended for existing residents and those living abroad.

Available where all good books are sold.


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