Thursday, November 10, 2011

Facts About County Kerry, Ireland

Our last play of 2011 opens this week at the Dragon Theatre and it's Marie Jones' smash hit, Stones In His Pockets. The story takes place in County Kerry, Ireland, and follows two local Irishmen who are cast as extras in a big Hollywood movie filming in the area. Because Ireland plays such a key role in this story, I thought it would fun to look up the location, County Kerry, to see what it's like. Here's some interesting facts about the region:
  • County Kerry is located in southwest Ireland

    • The population of the county is 145,048 according to the 2011 census.
    • Kerry is the 5th largest of the 32 counties of Ireland by area and the 13th largest by population.
    • Uniquely, it is bordered by only two other counties: County Limerick to the east and County Cork to the south-east.
    • The capital of Kerry is Tralee. The diocesan see is Killarney, which is one of Ireland's most famous tourist destinations.
    • The Lakes of Killarney, an area of outstanding natural beauty, are located in Killarney National Park.
    • The tip of the Dingle Peninsula is the most westerly point of Ireland.
    • Because of the mountainous area and the prevailing south-westerly winds, Kerry is among the regions with the highest rainfall in Ireland.
    • Kerry means the "people of Ciar" which was the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe who lived in part of the present county. The legendary founder of the tribe was Ciar, son of Fergus mac RĂ³ich. In Old Irish "Ciar" meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective describing a dark complexion.The suffix -raighe, meaning people/tribe, is found in various -ry place names in Ireland. The county's nickname is the Kingdom.
    • In the 17th and 18th centuries, Kerry became increasingly populated by poor tenant farmers, who came to rely on the potato as their main food source. As a result, when the potato crop failed in 1845, Kerry was very hard hit by the Great Irish Famine of 1845–49. In the wake of the famine, many thousands of poor farmers emigrated to seek a better life in America and elsewhere. Kerry was to remain a source of emigration until recent times. Another long term consequence of the famine was the Land War of the 1870s and 1880s, in which tenant farmers agitated, sometimes violently for better terms from their landlords.
    • In the 20th century, Kerry was one of the counties most affected by the Irish War of Independence (1919–21) and Irish Civil War (1922–23). In the war of Independence, the Irish Republican Army fought a guerrilla war against the Royal Irish Constabulary, and British military. Violence between the IRA and the British was ended in July 1921, but nine men, four British soldiers and five IRA men, were killed in a shootout in Castleisland on the day of the truce itself, indicating the bitterness of the conflict in Kerry.
    • Famous sightseeing stops in Kerry: Killarney National Park, Ardfert Cathedral, Muckross House and Gardens, St. Mary's Cathedral, the Skellig Islands, the Dingle Peninsula, and the Blasket Centre.

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