I have been been reading through that interesting History of Kerry by M.F. Cusack, published ‘by subscription’ in 1871. While it is very descriptive and gives great insight to some of our more historic times, Mary Frances comes over as autocratic and someone not to be trifled with. She explains in her Preface that ‘the volume has necessarily been published by subscription, as a county history could not otherwise be expected to command a sufficiently large circulation to pay its expenses’. She goes on to berate Dingle for ‘for indifference to intellectual culture’ solely because of the lack of uptake of the said subscriptions. However she is very warm in her praise of the people of Tralee – ‘that the names of nearly every tradesman of any respectability may be found in the list of subscribers and that an intelligent and literary interest in the work was manifested there’. However, when we go to get some information on the traders, the only business people or merchants of any description that she mentions are the proprietors of the two local newspapers then in existence – the Tralee Chronicle and the Kerry Evening Post which she tells us ‘are kept above the average of county papers, through the talent and exertions of their respective editors’. One must be forgiven for suspecting that the same talented editors will be expected to promote the History and its writer.
So to get some information even earlier on the traders of Tralee in 1856, we have to go to Slaters’ Directory for Munster for that year. Slaters is much more precise and gives impartial information on all aspects of the trades, merchants, hairdressers, feather merchants, pubs, butchers, builders, cabinet makers etc. etc. See the full list here. Looking through this comprehensive list, it appears that not one of those names still traded at the start of this century. Can you spot any current names that were in similar business in a similar location in 1856?
While we now don’t have ‘feather merchants’ or ‘wool combers’, missing from this list are our 2020 shops/trades of €2 Shops, Tanning Salons and Cafés and Restaurants. The Hotels at the time were The Blennerhasset Arms, in Upper Castle St., The Royal Oak in Bridge St., and Walpoles Hotel, Upper Castle St.,
I would be delighted if you would let me have your comments on our Blogs. Would you prefer Kerry history snippets from past centuries or would you be more interested in genealogy tips and advice?