| 15.8°C Dublin

Kingdom's lost treasure was hidden in a castle

IT WAS 'missing' for more than 130 years before it mysteriously turned up in a castle in Dublin and now an ancient town charter has gone on public display.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Tralee being granted a charter to operate as a town with a corporation under a mayor or provost.

The Co Kerry town was granted borough status by King James I in 1612 and the charter allowed for an annual fair on the feast of St James on July 25 as well as a Saturday market.

The document, written in legal Latin and on vellum, has now gone on display in the county library until Saturday, in a bid by Kerry County Council to re-awaken interest in the town's municipal history.

It was handed over to the library in September 1972 after it was found by a Dublin-based solicitor who was acting for the owners of Clonskeagh Castle.

It had been missing from Tralee for more than 130 years and it is unclear how it ended up in Dublin.

Michael Lynch is the archivist at Kerry County Library. He said the solicitor had found the charter in Clonskeagh Castle in an envelope addressed to Alice Rowan from Camp, outside Tralee.

"Alice Rowan was a daughter of Archdeacon Blennerhasset Rowan and the Blennerhassets would have been one of the big families in Tralee dating back to the time of the charter," Mr Lynch explained.

It is thought that the charter was misplaced and ended up in Dublin when the Tralee municipal corporation was disposed of in 1840.

Since then, until it was found in September 1972, it had been among the papers of the owners of the castle.

"It's in a very good condition for something that was lying around in a dusty old castle for 130 years," Mr Lynch added.

A number of years ago it was translated from Latin into English and this revealed a very detailed document.

"It lays down the market rights of the town and the level of autonomy it should have. It also granted the borough area two members of parliament which was significant when you consider the rest of the county only had two also," he said.

Irish Independent