No one can know the age of Inchigeelagh village, the first reference to it is found in 1479 and again in Vatican records in 1493, when it was, and still is, in the diocese of Cork. Of course, it is probably much older that that.
The name (Inse Geimlagh in Irish) translates as 'the island of the hostages' and it is told that it derives from a time when 'Danish' raiders were caught and confined to the island that is now the local park - 'River Island'. In that case the name must have originated in the tenth or eleventh century.
Traditionally the O'Learys arrived here in about 1192 ad (or around that time), having been driven out of their home place in Ross Carbery which was then re-occupied by the de Butler family (Normans). They seem to have settled along the upper Laoi valley mostly on the north side of the river. Some settled in Inchigeelagh at a place called Manynge or Mannen, which was a little south of present Inchigeelagh, where the village bridge now stands, and there they built a Rath. This was the home of the O'Leary Chieftain for some time.
In about 1575 ad Carrignacurra Castle, a tower house, was built a mile outside the village, by the Tánaiste of the clan, at another fording point. You can still see the substantial remains of that castle.
The ruined Holy Trinity Church and Cemetery stand at a prominent part of the village. The present building stems from around 1814, but a church stood on the same spot much earlier, it is recorded in 1479. Although this church served the ruling Protestant population it is cherished by most of the village inhabitants and, in fact, you will see many catholic burials in the churchyard.
A 'mass rock' surviving from Penal Times when the Catholic faith was outlawed still survives by the roadside just outside the village and is still occasionly used.