A Brief History of Asdee
Settlement in the village dates back to at least the mid-11th century, while the ring forts, located beside the river to the west of the village, were built between 600 AD-900 AD.
At the turn of the 12th century, the O’Connor’s, Kings of Kerry, moved from their Doon Point (Ballybunion) stronghold to Clár an Easa Duibhe, meaning ‘The Plain of the Black Waterfall’, where the village is now situated.
This move was carried out to facilitate an alliance between the O’Connor’s and the O’Brien’s, who were Kings of Thomond and the descendants of Brian Boru, the last High King of Ireland.
The calmer waters around Clár an Easa Duibhe allowed the O’Connor’s a safer passage across to the O’Brien stronghold of what is now county Clare.
By 1146, the O’Connor’s had built a castle in the area to consolidate their power and the areas name was changed to Caisleán Easa Duibhe, meaning ‘Castle of the Black Waterfall’.
Three kingships ruled from Caisleán Easa Duibhe, before the O’Connor’s moved to Carrigafoyle Castle as the result of a marriage arrangement at the end of the 12th century.
The castle in Caisleán Easa Duibhe fell into disrepair over the years, with some of the stone from the castle eventually being used in the building of the three bungalows beside the church in the village.
The black waterfall, from where the village gets its name, was quarried by the British prior to the mid-18th century, leaving a smaller version of the original waterfall remaining a short distance upstream of the village.
- Most of this comes from historical research by DCU (Dublin City University).
The Village Grotto was erected for the Marion Year in 1954. The grotto and the adjoining public space was renovated & created by Asdee Community Development, with many from the community volunteering to transform the space, as can be seen in the before & after below.
The village is best known for its association with Jesse James, whose ancestor, John, lived in Asdee, having moved from the UK, before migrating to the United States in the mid-17th century.
Jesse was born in Kearney, Missouri in 1847, going to become one of the most famous outlaws in the American Wild West.
Tullahinell House, known as “The Buildings”, was the former Landlord’s residence of Maxwell V. Blacker-Douglas. During the famine, Douglas provided employment on his farm for many in the area.
There was also a mill located here in the late-1800s, the stream for which no longer exists, having originally been artificially diverted to the Buildings.
In the early 1900s, the Buildings is believed to have been a refuge for Republicans fleeing British authorities. It also played host to a meeting of important senior Republican figures, including Cathal Brugha and Arthur Griffith, during the War of Independence.
The church in the village was built in 1835 and paid for by the Hickie family for the people of Asdee. The church was extended and renovated in 1964.
The Hickies came from Clare, where they had been chiefs and hereditary physicians to the Kings of Munster, before having their lands confiscated and given to Cromwellian settlers in the 1650s.
The family moved and settled in & built Kilelton House, between Asdee & Ballylongford. For nearly three centuries, the family were benefactors to the parishes of Asdee & Ballylongford. Until the inception of the National Education Act, the family had been managers of the boys and girls schools in Asdee.
St Eoin’s Well, located near the village, hosts an annual every June. The well has been historically attributed with healing properties.
- 1 – Asdee – Black waterfall,
- 2 – Ballynoneen – Home of daisies,
- 3 – Carrigane – Limestone rock,
- 4 – Clounamon – The meadow of women,
- 5 – Cnoc an Oir – Hill of gold,
- 6 – Craughdarrig – Red morass/bog,
- 7 – Glounawillan – The glen of the mill,
- 8 – Kilcolman – Church of St. Colman,
- 9 – Kilelton – Church of St. Elton,
- 10 – Kylatollin – The wood of wild woodbine,
- 11 – Larha – Half a fort,
- 12 – Littor – A wet sloped spongy hillside,
- 13 – Sliabhaite – A very wet bog,
- 14 – Sliss – Sloped area,
- 15 – Tullahinell – Hennel’s Hill/Mound – Also Translated as “High place of engine” (used in turning of quern stones where grain & corn were ground to flour).
History in Brief
- The village has played host to numerous shops and pubs over the years, with Kissane’s, Walsh’s, Dillane’s, Kennedy’s, Buckley’s, Fitzgerald’s, Mahony’s, & Jesse James’s all having served the public.
- Within the parish, there were also shops & bars in Ferris’s, Canty’s, Hennessy’s, Murphy’s, Sullivan’s, Scanlon’s, and Daly’s down Littor Road.
- The Creamery in Kilcolman operated from 1897 to October 2004.
- Littor Road & later Kilcolman was also host to a forge, which was last ran by Stevie Deenihan & closed in the 1970s.
- The area is scattered with ring forts, with two prominent forts overlooking the Village. Legend has it that half a fort in the townland of Larha (meaning half a fort in Irish) was thrown by a giant across the Estuary to Clare, where there is also a townland called Larha.
- During World War 1, German soldiers used the contours of the hill to identify a place to store guns. These guns were later used by local Republicans in the War of Independence.
- The wreck of the Thetis, a two-masted sailing ship, can be seen just off the car park in Beale, about 250 yards from Ceann Daoithe at low tide. This is located as a Way Marker on the Wild Atlantic Way.
- The Village Grotto was erected for the Marion Year in 1954. The grotto & adjoining public space was renovated & created by the Asdee Community Development in 2022, with the aid of Kerry County Council.
We also have a number of documents you might find interesting. Thank you to all the members of our community who have helped compile the information on our website. First image is from our National School students, following a history tour of the Village with Mairead Doyle.