Priest’s history will be a real collector’s item

A fascinating history of the parishes of Rathmore, Gneeveguilla and Knocknagree is to be published – 100 years after it was written.

The manuscripts penned by Fr William Ferris, a priest of the Kerry Diocese, in the mid 1920s, will finally be published in book form in the spring of this year after three years of work on the original manuscript by editor Brendan McCarthy.

The second in the series of Fr Ferris’s Parish Histories, this is a really unique record of the rich history, culture and heritage of the Sliabh Luachra/Duhallow area and it comprises:

* A genealogical archive of the families of the three parishes with 1,118 individuals named in the book

* A social and cultural archive from the Penal days, the Famine, hedge schools and masters, national schools with lists of teachers, holy wells, old cemeteries, Irish language, church history, clergy, local poets, musicians and writers

* An archaeological survey of the three parishes with a place name and field name inventory

* A topographical survey of the parishes

* The story of the Whiteboy insurrection of 1821/22 in Sliabh Luachra and Duhallow

* An account of the War of Independence in Sliabh Luachra and Duhallow

* A survey of hunting and fishing in the parishes in the 1920s

Fr William Ferris (1881-1971) who was a fascinating individual

Much of this material was collected by Fr Ferris from parishioners in the course of station Masses in the parishes and it is history as lived and recounted by the ordinary people of Sliabh Luachra and Duhallow and their authentic voices come through clearly.

In addition, in the Introduction to the book, the editor provides a biographical portrait of Fr Ferris (1881-1971) who was a fascinating individual in his own right.

He served in Listowel (1914-15), Firies (1915-18), Tralee (1918-22), Army Chaplain (1922-24), Rathmore (1924-28), Ballymacelligott (1929-34), Millstreet (1934-35), Allihies (1935-38), Glenflesk (1938-43) and Ballylongford (1943-69). He died in 1971 aged 90 years and is buried in the church grounds in Ballylongford.

During his life, Fr Ferris wrote five parish histories and published six books, including his major political work The Gaelic Commonwealth (1923) and The Story of Man (1948), a book that proved very controversial.

The editor, Brendan McCarthy from Tralee, is a graduate of University College Dublin and a solicitor by profession. After a 25-year legal career in London, he now pursues his interest as a local historian, his current area of research being Fr William Ferris’s unpublished histories of Kerry parishes.

Published by Cló Staire Chiarraí with a limited print-run, the fully-indexed book is destined to be a real collector’s item. For further details and to pre-order the book, go to or e-mail the editor on

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