Kerry County

Megalithic tombs and standing stones are the silent witnesses to thousands of years that the early settlers of this time have marked on Kerry. The 5th century saw, however, the arrival of Christianity and another dimension of culture into the landscape of Kerry. The austere spirituality of early Irish Christianity was very much characterized by the monastic outpost at Skellig Michael.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, rising from the sea off Kerry’s coastline, is inspiring for their pursuit of solitude and untamed unity with God in one of the farthest away, dramatically picturesque places one could ever dream of. The history of Kerry is littered with battle and siege during the time of the Irish Confederate Wars and the Williamite War, all indicatory of its importance in strategy and the fierceness of the defenders come to view it as very much their own. The 19th-century Great Famine was devastating to Kerry, as it was to Ireland, and produced a wave of emigration, coupled with a loss so deeply felt that it has reverberated into modern times.

But, as it were, the spirit of Kerry and its people continued into the music, dance, and, of course, storytelling with the traditional oral richness. Although Gaelic is far less spoken than before, the language still lives in the Gaeltacht to frame everyday life and the sense of community that lives within its identity.

And music and dance steeped in tradition are at home in County Kerry, with festivals and pub sessions in just about every venue in all corners of the county honoring age-old art forms passed down through the ages. “Today it is a bright carpet of the old and new—ancient sites stand beside modernist galleries and theaters,” fills the sound of traditional music as equally as the modern rhythms. Its culture is a proud declaration of all Kerry has been through and a hopeful gaze towards all it has yet to become.