Kerry Land & Estate Records

Muckross House Library

Muckross House Research Library

In a predominantly agricultural community, land is the main resource and access to land is the basis of power.  Ownership of land, both in Kerry and Ireland in general, has been a major cause of conflict, both on the battlefield and in the courtroom.  We have our own version of it in John B.Keane’s The Field.

Identification of Kerry ancestors, can in a lot of cases be proven from land records, whether the Tithe Applotments, Griffith’s Valuation or indeed in the Estate papers of Landlords.  These were records kept by landlords in renting and managing their properties.   If your Kerry ancestor was renting land, as most were, you could be lucky in finding a record of him (usually ‘him’, hardly ever ‘her’), in the papers in repositories such as the National Archives, National Library or Kerry County Library Local History & Archives.   Very few of these records are digitised, so it requires a visit to the archive in question.  Not all Landlord’s papers have survived of course.

The major collections of Kerry estate papers are listed on p. 87-90 of Finding Your Ancestors in Kerry.

One new and invaluable source has been digitised and is now available online.  So whether you are in Toronto or Timbuctoo, you can just log on to view the Rent Ledgers of the  Kenmare Estate Papers.

In the 1870’s the lands held in County Kerry by the Browne family, Earls of Kenmare amounted to over 91,000 acres.  Their estate also included a further 22,000 acres in County Cork and over 4,000 acres in County Limerick.  In total, the Kenmare Estate covered at that time over 117,000 acres.  The rent ledgers that are available here relate to the Kerry portion of the estate.

Rental of Morto Hurley of Fossa. Kenmare Estate Papers

Rental of Morto Hurley of Fossa. Kenmare Estate Papers

Here is a sample of the rental record of Morto Hurley of Fossa for 'Land, Office & House' of 28acres 3roods 10perchs with a valuation of £24.5s.0d. dated 11th December 1877.  The rents were paid twice a year, they fell due  on what were known as the 'gale days' - May and November.

These digitised records are invaluable.  Without leaving the comfort of our own homes, we can search and find for instance  records such as Morto Hurleys.   Digitisation also means that these original records can be kept in pristine condition for future generations.  Conservation and preservation of valuable records of Kerry history would dictate the least amount of handling of the originals.

I will be giving a lecture myself on Finding Your Kerry Ancestors in Muckross House (Garden Restaurant) on Friday evening 15th April.


  1. Julie Hu Julie Hu
    February 12, 2016    

    I have also found two other sources useful for Kerry research: (1) for the time between the 1826Tithe Applotment and Griffith’s valuation in the 1850s:. Population Returns of the Parish of Keelimila, Barony of Iveragh, County Kerry as Enumerated in the Month of December 1834, and IreGenWeb Project“County Kerry” online records of the Parish of Keelimila, Barony of Iveragh, County Kerry as Enumerated in the Month of December 1834,“A Census of Prior and Killemlagh, 1834,” ed. Padraig de Brun, Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society, no. 8, 1975), p. 126; and IreGenWeb Project“County Kerry” online records. (2) The revisions to Griffith’s Valuation, showing the changes made after the original Griffiths’ Valuation, all the way up to the 1970s. For example, the name of Maurice Murphy shown in the townland of Bolus in Griffiths Evaluation was crossed out and replaced by Jeremiah Murphy in 1880, a strong indication that they were father and son. Subsequent records showed Jeremiah’s transfer of the holding to a son, and from that son to a brother when the first son emigrated. These records can be purchased from the Valuation Office. Though difficult to interpret, they may be able to confirm relationships only guessed at, or suggest relationships previously unknown, and are worth studying.

    • Kay Caball Kay Caball
      February 14, 2016    

      Julie, thank you for your comments and helpful suggestions. Yes you can click on Kerry Links & Resources and this will take you to the online list of names in the Parish of Prior and Killemlagh. Also for anyone really interested in following up an ancestor’s land, the revised and cancelled Valuation Books are not digitised. The Cancelled Books and the Current Land Books for the Republic of Ireland are available to personal callers at the Valuation Office, Irish Life Centre, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1. There is a charge to view them.

      • Julie Hu Julie Hu
        February 15, 2016    

        Kay, since I do not live in Ireland, I could not go to the Valuation Office to view the records. But I was able to obtain scanned copies, for a fee, which the Office mailed to me. Complete information about ordering is available at Both certified and uncertified scanned copies for genealogical purposes are available, of course with a difference in price

        • Kay Caball Kay Caball
          February 15, 2016    

          Julie, thank you. Again very valuable information for anyone living outside Ireland who may want to acquire Valuation records.

  2. Nicholas Nicholas
    February 13, 2016    

    Hi, Muckross Research Library now has the original Curtin Testimonial Record of Subscribers- Lady Kenmare’s testimonial fund on aid of the daughters of John O’Connell Curtin of Castle Farm House, Molahiffe, Firies, who was killed in his home by Moonlighters on 13.11.1885. His daughters fought like tigresses against the Moonlighters but could not prevent tragedy. Some very notable donors are included in the record. Article in 2016 Kerry Magazine refers.

    • Kay Caball Kay Caball
      February 14, 2016    

      Nicholas, I am glad that you reminded about the Curtin Scrapbook and its return to Muckross Research Library. I had read Gay McCarron’s article in the 2016 Kerry Magazine (Kerry Archaeological & History Society) and found it fascinating. Something else that I had never heard about! I would love to get the list of the 740 donors and publish. I mean to do a short summary of the article in my blog in the coming weeks.

  3. Gay McCarron Gay McCarron
    October 1, 2016    


    Just found you! I am Gay McCarron who wrote the piece on the Curtin Sisters and the scrapbook that came back from Canada! the list of subscribers to the testimonial Fund is indeed worthy of research and no doubt when Mucross Library have completed the conservation process on the scrapbook the list will be accessible.I would love to find out how come the Skinners Society London mad a major donation!

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  1. March 2016 Monthly Update | Travelogues of a Genealogist on March 29, 2016 at 7:28 pm

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