Tralee () is the county town of County Kerry, in the south west corner of Ireland. The name Tralee comes from the Irish 'Trá Lí', or 'Trá Laoi', which means 'strand of the Lee' (river), although some believe it comes from the Irish 'Trá Liath' meaning 'grey strand'. The town is situated on the northern side of the neck of the Dingle Peninsula. Tralee is the largest town in Kerry. The town's population including suburbs was 22,744 in the 2006 census.
HistorySituated at the confluence of some small rivers and adjacent to marshy ground at the head of Tralee Bay, Tralee is located at the base of a very ancient roadway that heads south over the Slieve Mish Mountains. On this old track is located Scotia's Grave, reputedly the burial place of an Egyptian Pharaoh's daughter. The Norman town was founded in the 13th century by Anglo-Normans and was a stronghold of the Earls of Desmond. A medieval castle and Dominican order Friary were located in the town. The mediaeval town was burnt in 1580 in retribution for the Desmond Rebellions against Elizabeth I. Tralee was granted to Edward Denny by Elizabeth I in 1587 and recognised by royal charter in 1613.
The name Edward recurs in the Denny family. In May 1795 the heir to the Denny estate, Sir Edward Denny, married Elizabeth Day, whose father (the future Judge Day) thereupon became principal trustee of the Denny estate. He restored the estate to solvency and provided for the succession rights to the estate with the Denny Act of Parliament (1806): this was necessary as Edward's predecessor, his brother Barry, was shot in a duel in 1794, and as he and his wife were childless to that point his death transferred the possibility of successors to his brother Sir Alice. Judge Day authored famous diaries of that period as well as charges to Irish grand juries, which he published during his life.
A monument commemorating the 1798 rebellion - a statue of a Pikeman by Albert Power - stands in Denny Street. The modern layout of Tralee was created in the 19th century. Denny Street, a wide Georgian street was completed in 1826 on the site of the old castle.
Tralee courthouse was designed by Sir Richard Morrison and built in 1835. It has a monument of two cannons commemorating those Kerrymen who died in the Crimean war (1854-1856) and the Indian Rebellion (1857).
The Ashe Memorial Hall sits at one end of Denny Street, dedicated to the memory of Thomas Ashe - an Irish Volunteers officer in the Easter Rising of 1916. The building is built of local sandstone and houses the Kerry Museum and a reconstruction of early Tralee.
Tralee saw much violence during the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War in 1919-1923. In November 1920, the Black and Tans besieged Tralee in revenge for the IRA abduction and killing of two Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men. The Tans closed all the businesses in the town and did not let any food in for a week. In addition they burned several houses and all businesses connected with Irish Republican Army (IRA) activists. In the course of the week, they shot dead three local people. The incident caused major international outcry when reported by the press, who wrote that near famine conditions were prevailing in Tralee by the end of the week.
In August 1922, during the Irish Civil War, Irish Free State troops landed at nearby Fenit and then took Tralee from its Anti-Treaty garrison. Nine pro-Treaty and three anti-Treaty soldiers were killed in fighting in the town before the anti-Treaty forces withdrew. However the republicans continued a guerrilla campaign in the surrounding area. In March 1923 an infamous atrocity was carried out by Free State troops near Tralee when nine anti-treaty IRA prisoners were taken from the prison in Tralee and blown up with a land mine at nearby Ballyseedy.
TourismTralee is a major tourism destination and has seen some €55 million of tourism investment over the past several years. The town has developed a range of quality all weather visitor attractions. Tralee is also famous for the Rose of Tralee International Festival which is held annually in August.
Places of interest
- Kerry County Museum – incorporating the theme park 'Kerry: The Kingdom' and an exhibit which depicts life in medieval Geraldine Tralee.
- Siamsa Tire-Folk theatre – offering traditional music and plays in Irish.
- Blennerville Windmill located about 2 km outside the town, Ireland's largest still functioning windmill.
- Tralee Aquadome - A large indoor water leisure facility with a mini-golf course, located near Fels point, just off the Dan Spring road, at the Western exit from the town. The Sliabh Mish mountain range acts as a pretty backdrop to the site.
- Tralee-Dingle Railway - Departures also take place from the Aquadome site for trips on the restored part of the old Tralee to Dingle Railway. Local enthusiasts have brought back an original Hunslet steam engine from the USA to relive the days when the Tralee to Dingle line carried goods and passengers along the famous narrow-gauge picturesque route before it was finally closed in 1953. Visitors can take a short train ride in carriages imported from Spain pulled by the puffing Hunslet a few kilometres out to the Tralee Bay village of Blennerville. Here the restored Blennerville Windmill and Museum house a fascinating look into Tralee's historical past as a gateway to the new world in the 19th century. Nearby the Windmill stands the yard where the Jeanie Johnston wooden sailing ship replica was completed in 2002. The new Jeanie Johnston ship is now based in Dublin city docklands.
- Scotia's Grave - reputedly the grave of a daughter of Neferhotep I, Egyptian Pharaoh, 13th Dynasty, about 1800 BCE. She is also known as Scota.
- Casement's Fort - an ancient Ring Fort where Roger Casement was hiding when arrested.
- Sheela na Gig - now located in the Christian Round Tower at Rattoo, a few km north of Tralee.
- Monument to Saint Brendan the Navigator at Fenit, the port of Tralee - with reproductions of ancient Irish structures
- Cathair Cun Rí - Iron Age Fort overlooking Tralee Bay
RoadsTralee is served by National Primary and Secondary roads as well as local routes.
National primary routes:
National secondary routes:
RailThere is a train service to Killarney, Cork and Dublin operated by the national railway operator Iarnród Éireann. Tralee railway station, originally named Tralee South, was opened on 18 July 1859.
BusA dedicated bus terminal was built in 2007. Tralee bus staion is a regional hub forBus Éireann who provide bus connections to Dublin, Limerick, Galway, Cork, Killarney and to Dingle.
AirKerry International Airport located in Farranfore between Tralee and Killarney provides air services to Dublin, London Luton, London Stansted, Manchester and Frankfurt Hahn.
SeaThe local port for Tralee is Fenit, about 10 km west of the town on the north side of the estuary. Catering for ships of up to 17,000 tonnes, the port is a picturesque mixed-use harbour with fishing boats and a thriving marina (136 berths).
Local mediaNewspapers and magazines:
- Kerry's Eye
- The Kerryman
- The Kingdom
- Tralee Times
- John Mitchels GAA Club is based in the Boherbee area of Tralee.
- Kerins O'Rahilly's Gaelic Athletic Association club are based in the Strand Road area of the town.
- Tralee Mitchels is a former Gaelic Athletic Association club.
- Austin Stacks is based at the top of the rock and is famous for players like Mikey Sheehy, Ger Power and Kieran Donaghy. They wear black and amber.
- Tralee Harriers Athletics Club
There is also a strong Basketball tradition in the Tralee area with Tralee Tigers being the most well known although St. Brendan's have a bigger youth selection. Tigers play in the National League and Cup while St. Brendan's play in league 1. In soccer there is St Brendan's Park, Kingdom Boys, Tralee Celtic and Tralee Dynamos.
EducationIn common with all parts of Ireland, most schools at all levels in Tralee are managed and owned by the churches. Tralee Educate Together School is secular, and is neither owned nor managed by any church and is growing in popularity. At secondary level most schools are explicitly Roman Catholic in ethos, except Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí, Tobar Mhaigh Dor.
- Tralee Educate Together, Killeen
- CBS (Mhuire na Mbraithre), Clounalour
- St Mary's, Moyderwell
- Presentation, Castle Street
- St John's, Ashe Street
- St John's, Balloonagh
- Holy Family, Balloonagh
- Scoil Mhic Easmainn, Rath Ronain
- St Ita’s and St Joseph’s, Balloonagh (Special Needs)
- Kerry General Hospital
- The Bon Secours Hospital
PeopleFamous Tralee people include:
- Saint Brendan, navigator
- Leonard Boyle, priest and scholar
- Robert D. FitzGerald, surveyor, botanist
- Rea Garvey, singer of Reamonn
- John Howard, 15th Earl of Suffolk
- Maurice Gerard Moynihan, Secretary, Free State Government, Governor of Central Bank
- Sean O'Callaghan, IRA member
- Christie Hennessy, Singer/Songwriter
- D.J. Curtain, Singer
- Denis O'Donnell, businessman
- Patrick Denis O'Donnell, military/historian (and known locally as Paddy, or P.D.)
- Boyle Roche, politician
- Dan Spring, politician
- Dick Spring, politician
- Austin Stack, revolutionary
- Mikey Sheehy, footballer
- Tralee has a town council with twelve members.
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