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Your Are Here - Home > Counties > Kerry County > Kenmare
Kenmare (Irish: An Neidín) is a small town (pop. 1701 - CSO 2006) in the south of County Kerry, Ireland. The Irish name for the town 'An Neidín' translates into English as 'The Little Nest'. The name Kenmare is the anglicised form of Ceann Mara "head of the sea", which refers to the furthest point inland reached by the sea.

The entire area was granted to the English scientist, Sir William Petty by Oliver Cromwell as part payment for completing the mapping of Ireland, the Down Survey in 1656. He laid out the modern town circa 1670. Like William Petty, a previous surveyor of Ireland (1584), Sir Valentine Browne, ancestor of the Earl of Kenmare was granted some lands in County Kerry during the resulting plantation, the Munster Plantation.

The three main streets that form a triangle in the centre of the town are called Main Street (originally William Street, after Sir William, 1st. Marquis of Lansdowne), Henry Street (originally Sound Road), after the son of William the 1st. Marquis and Shelbourne Street (Henry Petty became the first Earl of Shelburne). This name was also later applied to Shelbourne, Dublin.

However, the area has more ancient roots. One of the largest stone circles in the south-west of Ireland is close to the town, and shows occupation in the area going back to the Bronze Age (2,200-500 B.C), when it was constructed. The circle has 15 stones around the circumference with a boulder dolmen in the centre.

Vikings are said to have raided the area around the town which at that time was called Ceann Mhara, which means "head of the sea" in Irish.

The convent in the town, the Poor Clare Sisters, was founded in 1861 by Sister Mary Frances Cusack, who was also an author and publisher of many books. Under the guidance of Mother Abbess O'Hagan it started in 1864 a lace-working industry and Kenmare Lace became noted worldwide.

A suspension bridge, which is claimed to be the first in Ireland, over the Kenmare River was opened in 1841 and served the community till 1932 when it was replaced by a new concrete bridge.

The town is noted for receiving Ireland's tidiest town award in 2000 and being a runner-up in 2003 and 2008. The Catholic Church in the town contains stained glass from Franz Mayer & Co..

The town library is one of the Carnegie Libraries funded by Andrew Carnegie. It opened in 1918, and the architect was R.M. Butler.

The Church of Ireland church of St Patrick celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2008.

Kenmare lies on two of the more famous Irish tourist attractions, the Ring of Kerry and the Ring of Beara, approximately 32 kilometres (20 miles) from Killarney. As a result it is a very popular tourist destination and many of the businesses in the area cater to tourists. Since the late 1990s this has led to a large amount of construction work, with land being sold at very high prices to developers wishing to build estates of holiday homes. This has led to a significant increase in the town's population, particularly during the peak tourist season, and prompted fears among some residents that the town is becoming overdeveloped and losing much of its identity.

The GAA club, Kenmare Shamrocks, competes in Kerry GAA competitions. George Mayberry from Kenmare participated in the 1908 Summer Olympics.
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In: Kerry
People: 1,701
Type: Tourist Town
GPS: -9.583597, 51.879962