Preface to the Gleninchaquin Historical Project


When we started this project – to record the history of this valley, particularly that which existed only in oral form or tradition – we did so with a number of beliefs and ideas in place.  We hoped we would be able to prove or disprove some of these; along the way to add to this information, and eventually to build up a realistic image of this valley and some of the people who once lived here.

The geographical background to, and the natural history of, the region were reasonably straightforward to establish.  While not specifically about Gleninchaquin, the many volumes describing the origins of the Kerry area can in general geographical and historical terms be applied here also.

Several descriptions of various parts of Kerry exist.  Some are historical records kept alive for centuries through tribal storytelling and written down many years after the fact, eg The Annals of Inisfallen.  Other documents include Surveys undertaken on behalf of the invading forces – eg The Down Survey (1691) or Griffiths Valuations (1852) from which we can glean much.  These documents, and the descriptions recorded by early tourists to the area, often help, more than the dry facts of history, to give us today, a true understanding of what life was really like for the county’s earlier inhabitants – our ancestors, in many cases.

In comparison to other parts of Kerry, for example Killarney or the Dingle Peninsula, relatively little has been written or researched on this particular part of Tuosist.  Very few records exist to tell us about the people who once lived here.  It is not possible to go to the State or Church record books, to list out who was born, lived, worked, married or died and where, as few such details were ever recorded.  Many Church records are non-existent or incomplete; many State records were lost to fire in Dublin in 1922.

Corkery tradition holds that the family originated in mid-Cork;  that this branch started in Adrigole, migrating later to Drombohilly, and later still to Cloonee, when the present incumbent’s great grandfather, Patrick Corkery, came to work as a ploughman for  the O’Sullivan’s of Cloonee, the local Ceatharnach or ‘middleman’  family.  No-one knew how or why he had chosen this particular area.  We did know that he had settled initially near Inchinlough, the next townland down the valley, but had no dates or age

This Patrick Corkery married and set up home in Gleninchaquin; three or four subsequent generations were raised in that house, which is still owned by a Corkery.  The present owner of the Park, Donal, was raised there, and when he married, he and Peggy built a new home nearby.

We also knew that the overgrown bracken on the rocky hillside across the valley from Donal’s house concealed the ruins of a house which had been leveled when the family who had lived there had been evicted.  Knocking in the roof and pulling down the walls was a common occurrence at that time.  What we did not know was when (year) or why, this eviction had taken place.  We knew that no-one had lived there since, and that it might be possible to trace one or more descendents of that family.  We hoped that they might have some information which would help fill the gaps for us.

We knew that this family were called O’Shea; and believed that Tomas O’Shea and Patrick Corkery had married two sisters from the Lauragh area.  We don’t know the origins of this O’Shea family.  This is a very common surname in the area, so that being precise – without any written records or many family recollections – has proved very difficult.    Many assumed that eviction dated from the famine era, but subsequent investigation proved this to be untrue.

When we started this journey some months back, we believed the research into the story of Gleninchaquin would result in a short and fairly simple story, revealing little by way of new information, and involving relatively few people.  After all the present total population of Maulagowna and Rossard combined is a grand total of two!

But of course, nothing is that simple.  The pathway of this story has many offshoots, some of which will take longer than these few short months to fully investigate.  Some parts we have deliberately avoided for the time being, in order not to cause offence or hurt to anyone connected to this story.  In time, and with their permission, their part of the journey may also be publicly recorded.

We hope that this is just the first step to building a complete picture of this Valley.  Perhaps as more people visit, and learn of this project, they may be able to contribute something to the story.  After all, a lot of people left this area over the last hundred and fifty years.  Maybe some of their descendants will return and add their story too.