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Béal Átha Longfoirt
Lislaughtin Abbey ruins and modern cemetery
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 52°32′46″N 9°28′41″W / 52.546°N 9.478°W / 52.546; -9.478Coordinates: 52°32′46″N 9°28′41″W / 52.546°N 9.478°W / 52.546; -9.478
CountyCounty Kerry
4 m (13 ft)
Irish Grid ReferenceQ996449

Ballylongford (historically Bealalongford, from Irish: Béal Átha Longfoirt, meaning "ford-mouth of anchorage")[2] is a village near Listowel in northern County Kerry, Ireland.


The village is situated at the top of a creek of Ballylongford Bay on the tidal estuary of the River Shannon, close to Carrigafoyle Island and on the coast road between Tarbert and the seaside town of Ballybunion.

The farmland in the area is used primarily for dairying, which is a mainstay of the local economy.[3][4]

Three kilometers to the north, on Carrigafoyle Island, stands the castle and anchorage commemorated in the name of the village. For centuries, Ballylongford shared the political, military and religious fate of the castle and the nearby Franciscan Lislaughtin Abbey.[3][5]


Carrigafoyle Castle
Carrigafoyle Castle

Carrigafoyle Castle was built between 1490 and 1500 by Conchuir Liath Uí Conchuir (Connor Liath O’Connor) using a design borrowed from the Normans.[6][7] In addition to its windows and archways, it features a spiral staircase of 104 steps that visitors can climb today.[8] The castle, now a listed National Monument, stands almost 30 m high and its battlements provide views of the estuary and the monastic Scattery Island in County Clare. The O'Connors of Kerry held political sway from this strategic base which allowed them to "inspect" ships passing to and from the port of Limerick. Thus, "taxation" and smuggling were the main sources of income. The castle was fortified and the narrow spiral staircase ascends clockwise thus disadvantaging any attacker, particularly right-handed ones.[citation needed]

In 1580, during the Second Desmond Rebellion, the castle was defended by a garrison composed of some 70 Irish, Italian and Spanish troops, led by Captain Julian, an Italian.[8][9] The Siege of Carrigafoyle Castle by Elizabethan forces under Lord Justice Sir William Pelham began on Palm Sunday. After two days, it was breached by cannon fire and taken, following which the surviving defenders were all hanged. The cannon breach remains visible to this day. Towards the end of the Nine Years War, taking advantage of the distraction of the English, Chieftain John O'Connor briefly re-occupied the castle only to be put out again in 1603 by George Carew, the Governor of Munster.[10]

King James I restored the castle to the O'Connors in 1607 but in 1651 during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, it was again captured, this time by Cromwellian forces under Edmund Ludlow. Ludlow was Henry Ireton’s second in command and, after Ireton's death, commander in chief in Ireland. Ludlow ensured that the castle could never again be fortified and garrisoned, by knocking the outer defensive walls.[10]

The O’Connor lands were confiscated under the Act for the Settlement of Ireland of 1652 and given to William Sandes of Cumberland, who had arrived in Ireland with Oliver Cromwell in 1649. Following the restoration of the monarchy the lands were subsequently granted to Trinity College Dublin in 1666. The College remained the principal landlord in the Ballylongford area up to the passage of the Land Act in 1903. Some land titles are still vested in the college to this day.[citation needed]

Ballylongford in the late 19th century
Ballylongford in the late 19th century

On the other side of the creek, the O'Connors built the Friary of Lislaughtin in 1478, known locally as Lislaughtin Abbey (Lios Laichtin, meaning Lachtin's Enclosure).[11] St Lachtin was the first to preach Christianity in the area.[citation needed] Two of the O'Connor chiefs are buried within its walls. The Abbey was raided twice by English forces coinciding with the military action against Carrigafoyle Castle. The Abbey was dissolved in the 17th century.[12] A processional cross, possibly buried by the friars for safekeeping, survived the raids and was later discovered by a farmer.[13] This processional cross, known as Lislaughtin Cross, is now on display in the National Museum in Dublin. Today, the Abbey and its grounds serve as the town's primary Roman Catholic cemetery.[citation needed]

The village in its present form dates from the end of the eighteenth century, though a bridge over the ford existed long before then. The old bridge was destroyed by flood in 1926. A reinforced concrete bridge was completed in 1930 and stands to this day. Photographs taken at the turn of the century show the village to have been largely made up of thatched houses, but many of these were burned by the Black and Tans during the War of Independence.[citation needed]

A concrete coastal artillery fort, Fort Shannon, is located six kilometers from the village. Constructed in 1940, it is the only such fortification built by the Irish Defence Forces during World War II, termed the Emergency in Ireland.[14][15]

Economy and amenities

Farming, fishing and tourism are key contributors to the local economy.[3][4] As of August 2018 there were renewed proposals to open a liquefied natural gas terminal in the area.[16]

Ballylongford parish is within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kerry and is served by the church of St Mary, Asdee, and the church of St Michael the Archangel, Ballylongford.[17] The latter church was built in the 1870s to a Hiberno Romanesque style.[18] A former church in the area, Aghavallin church, on the edge of Ballylongford, dates from the 14th century.[19] Now in ruin, at different times it served both the Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland adherents of the area, before it was closed in 1829 and a new church built on the opposite side of the road.[citation needed]


See also


  1. ^ "Census 2016 - SAPMAP Area - Settlements - Ballylongford". Census 2016. Central Statistics Office Ireland. April 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Béal Átha Longfoirt / Ballylongford (archival records)". Irish Placenames Commission. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "North Kerry - Ballylongford". Go Kerry Tourism. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Ballylongford Snaps". Retrieved 5 November 2018. The mainstay of the local economy is dairy farming, with tourism also important
  5. ^ Samuel Lewis (1837). "Ballylongford". A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. Lewis – via
  6. ^ "Carrigafoyle Castle". Archived from the original on 2002-12-08. Retrieved 2002-12-08.
  7. ^ "Carrigafoyle Castle C15th Anglo Norman". Archived from the original on 6 December 2004.
  8. ^ a b "Historic Houses and Castles - Carrigafoyle Castle". Fáilte Ireland. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Beautiful Ballylongford; where the past comes to life". The Kerry Man. 1 September 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Carrigafoyle Castle". Go Kerry Tourism. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Lios Laichtín / Lislaughtin". Irish Placenames Commission. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  12. ^ "Lislaughtin Abbey". 22 February 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  13. ^ "Lislaughtin Franciscan Friary". Monastic Ireland. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017.
  14. ^ "Coastal Defence Artillery Collection". Irish Military Archives. Archived from the original on 2 April 2014.
  15. ^ "Ireland's Emergency Fortress (Fort Shannon, County Kerry) by Pat Dargan" (PDF). Artillery Club Ireland. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  16. ^ "Long delayed €500m gas terminal on Shannon Estuary back on after deal struck". Independent News & Media. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Parishes - Ballylongford". Diocese of Kerry. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Saint Michael The Archangel's Catholic Church, Ballylongford, County Kerry". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  19. ^ "The Unruly Mediaeval Clergy in a Parish in North Co Kerry". Patrick Comerford. September 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  20. ^ "Poet Brendan Kennelly is honoured in native Ballylongford". Irish Examiner. 23 January 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Poets from far and wide celebrate Ballylongfords Kennelly Festival". Independent News & Media. 16 August 2001. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  22. ^ "The Career of Lord Horatio Kitchener". Irelands Own. 29 June 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  23. ^ "The strange case of Father Malachi Martin, the Kerry priest who stars in Netflix's new documentary". Independent News & Media. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Garda Jerry McCabe to receive posthumous Freedom of Limerick". Irish Examiner. 13 June 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  25. ^ "My Grandfather – The O'Rahilly". Irelands Own. 3 May 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  26. ^ Kennelly, Paddy (1984). The History of the O'Rahilly's Ballylongford GAA Club. Cork: C.N.B. Press.
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