Wednesday 1 October 2014

New book explores the rich history of Ballyheigue

Published 12/06/2013 | 05:36

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Author Bryan Mac Mahon with members of the Ballyheigue History and Heritage Group, Micheal O hAllmhurain, Fr Tom Leane and Brendan Moriarty. Photo: Paul Tearle

TALES of empire, nationhood, maritime adventures, myth and the long story of Christianity in Kerry are included in a remarkable new history of a proud coastal community in north Kerry.

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A Guide to Ballyheigue offers a concise and comprehensive history of the town from the pen of native Bryan MacMahon. It is his third book on the history of the area and another significant work that will afford locals and visitors a much deeper understanding of the place.

It is to be officially launched on Saturday, June 22, by former Tánaiste Dick Spring at Ballyheigue Community Centre, but it is already being keenly parsed by everyone living under Kerry Head.

From the Crosbies of Ballyheigue Castle to the wreck of The Golden Lion, the mythical submarine church of Teampall fo Thoinn and the legend of Tobar na Sul, it covers all aspects of the area's rich heritage.

"There's a lot of history here without doubt, from what we see in front of us to the layers of history that were wiped out," Bryan told The Kerryman. St James' old Church of Ireland and the Coastguard station comprise layers completely erased from the landscape, Bryan explained.

"Not a stone remains of either, for two buildings that were once so important. The Coastguard station was a fine building back near Dromatur Pier that was burned down by the IRA in 1921. It was something of a nice retirement posting for ex British navy men and we had some interesting characters here over the years, including a man by the name of Haswell whose headstone in the old Protestant cemetery in Ballyheigue shows he was a veteran of the Battle of Trafalgar!"

The Ballyheigue Crosbies and the story of their once fine abode of Ballyheigue Castle feature prominently too, including the famous tale of The Golden Lion - a Danish trader grounded in a storm off Kerry Head in 1730 - and the silver 'liberated' from it by agents of the Crosbies.

Renowned Ballyheigue economist Richard Cantillon - the man who coined the term 'entrepreneur' - also makes an appearance along with his family. And all this is just a taste - for the complete experience you'll have to get your hands on a copy.


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