Kenmare ( in Irish : An Neidín) is a small town in the south of County Kerry, located at the head of Kenmare Bay sometimes called the Kenmare River where the Roughty River (An Ruachtach) flows into the sea, and at the junction of the Iveragh Peninsula (the Ring of Kerry) and the Beara Peninsula(the Ring of Beara). It is also close to the Kerry mountains which include Carrantouhill, Ireland's highest mountain. Being positioned as it is Kenmare has a profusion of cafes, restaurants, hotels and guest houses.
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 farthest point inland reached by the tide. The entire area was granted to the English scientist, Sir William Petty by Oliver Cromwell as part payment for completing the mapping of Ireland, in 1656. He laid out the modern town circa 1670.
The convent of the Poor Clare Sisters was founded in 1861 when five nuns moved to Kenmare from their convent in Newry, Co.Down. Under the guidance of Mother Abbess O'Hagan in 1864 a lace-working industry was established 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 library is one of the Carnegie Libraries funded by Andrew Carnegie. It opened in 1918, and the architect was R.M. Butler.
August 15th: There is a busy street market on Wednesdays, but the only fair which continues to be held is that of August 15, which coincides with the catholic Holy Day of Obligation marking the Assumption of Mary. The day attracts large crowds of locals and visitors and is the busiest day of the year in Kenmare. The 15th of August fair day goes back at least a couple of hundred years. The first records date back to 1763 for market rights at the lands of Needeen and town of Kenmare. Today the fair day has very little cattle and horses and a lot more booths with tools, shoes, food, ortune telling, music and bric and brac. Local people and tourists enjoy a fine day out and the 15th of August is certainly a day to visit Kenmare and to see old and new in harmony. It is highly advised to make accommodation and dinner reservations far in advance in this week !
The Kenmare Stone Circle: Locally known as 'The Shruberries', the Kenmare stone circle is probably the largest one in SW Ireland, and it is composed by 15 heavy boulders 13 standing and 2 prostrate at the north. At the centre there is an impressive boulder burial with a giant capstone some 2m long, 1.8m wide and 0.8m thick. The weight of this capstone must be almost seven tons - 30 labourers would be needed to drag it into position.This circle lies in the town itself, not far from the Cromwell Bridge. Unlike any other ring in Munster, this one is egg-shaped, measuring 17.4 x 15.8m . Such shapes are unusual; their design could be a late geometrical development. The south-west of Ireland is rich in copper deposits which brought great wealth to the area during the Bronze Age, hence the wide range and number of prehistoric remains in the area. The 'Killhaha Hoard' discovered in the district is thought to date back to this period when copper was mined in the area.
Reenagross; The Salt Lagoon: (from the Irish for "The Headland of The Crosses") Developed by the Marquis of Landsdown from a sand- bank and a waterlogged piece of his estate, almost 200 years ago. Sixty years ago the park was leased to the Kenmare development association for a nominal rent of ten shillings. In more recent times the Kerry County Council hold the lease and are responsible for the maintenance of the park. The main entrance is across from the pier road on the Kenmare side of the suspension bridge. If you walk towards the park there is a fine 5 foot high wall where lime liking plants like the pink flowered Calamint and the Rusty-back fern are growing. Following the pathway with it's tall hedge, on the left the majestic Park Hotel and on the right a lagoon where a extensive, soft mudflat is exposed when the tide is out, you will meet the gates of the park. There are 12 species of birds that may be found between April and September as summer visitors to the park and 17 species of birds that may be found between September and April as winter visitors to the park. There are 16 species of mammals like Bats, Badgers, fox and Wood Mouse and 55 species common wild flowers, fern, and common lichen.