Webinar Series 2, 2021, No. 11

Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society

Date: 17th August 2021 at 7:30pm

Dr. Connie Kelleher

National Monuments Service-Underwater Archaeology Unit.


‘Maritime Derrynane’


In this greatly anticipated webinar Dr. Connie Kelleher will delve into the maritime cultural landscape of Derrynane, County Kerry. Dr. Kelleher in her own words states that: “The rugged nature of the area, with its undulating harbours and coves, as well as the several islands that dot the coastal edge, played host to and also witnessed a variety of maritime events in the past. Maritime trade and commerce took place there, both legal and illicit and we are familiar with the tales of smuggling and clandestine behaviour, particularly to do with the O’Connell family of Derrynane. Fishing too was a key industry there, with particular types of boats involved and particular styles of fishing carried out.

While harbours like Derrynane and Bunnavalla were the landing/collection areas for goods and services, other less familiar sites also link the land with the sea. Rock cut steps that rise and fall over the headland between Derrynane and Bunnavalla link both landing places, and while locally known as ‘The Mass Steps’, they are also strategically located to view shipping, signal vessels, smuggle goods and allow for prohibited acts in the dead of night. In recent times new discoveries at Derrynane House estate are also informing on the types of ships and boats used in the harbour and the activities they were involved in; ship graffiti etched into plasterwork, with fishing, ships in full sail and ships at anchor depicted. Writing too links these new discoveries directly to the O’Connells of Derrynane”.

“Ships were inevitably lost in the waters nearby, with one wreck in particular identified from the harbour in Derrynane, and which has been archaeologically surveyed. The talk will provide a more diverse insight into ‘maritime Derrynane’ and discuss various elements of that unique cultural landscape”.