North Kerry

Ballyheigue | Irish Baile Ui Thaidhg : The Town of O’Teige

Ballyheigue Bay shoals a long way out and due to this many ships have foundered here.
“Golden Lyon” the most famous wreck is a Danish ship heading for India bearing twelve large chests of silver bullion among her cargo manifest. Despite the efforts of her captain Johan Heitman and her 87 crew the vessel was driven on to the sands near Ballyheigue Village. The ship was in danger of being looted and the landlord of the area Thomas Crosbie took charge of the situation. An old tower nearby served as a vault for the bullion until arrangements could be made to return it to its owners.Thomas Crosbie died soon afterwards and his widow, Lady Margaret lodged a claim for salvage. A legal battle ensued and the silver remained under guard. Eight months went by and on a June night the Crosbie mansion was surrounded by a gang of 100-armed men with blackened faces. They broke into the vault, shot two sentries and took the chests of bullion away in horse and carts. Sir Maurice Crosbie of Ardfert conducted an investigation and charges were brought against various individuals. The subsequent trial in Dublin in 1735 was overshadowed by suicide, perjury and the suspected poisoning of a witness.The jury returned a verdict of “not guilty”. A small part of the silver was recovered. The rest has being the subject of much speculation to this day.

Ballyheigue Castle: giving a distinctive character to the village is- now a ruin. Up to the 16th century the Norman Lords, the Cantillions ruled the Ballyheigue area. They had their Castle and Keep where the present Castle now stands.During the Wars and Plantations of Queen Elizabeth 1st they were dispossessed and the Crosbie family came to power as landlords.They held sway in the area until they sold out during the war of Irish Independence. The present Castle was designed by the renowned architect Richard Morrison and built for Colonel James Crosbie in 1809. It was a beautiful building with panoramic views of the Bay. As the war of Independence progressed the place became a compound during a roundup of local men of the Clanmorris area. This occurrence gave the I.R.A. of that time the valid reason to fire the place so that it would not become an interment camp-like prison. The grounds in recent years have been turned into a golf course and the Castle Façade recently renovated by FAS is retained to front the entrance to the course.

Sir Roger Casement: a bronze statue can be seen nearby, also the small boat that Roger Casement used to land at Banna.
Ballyheigue Beach – on Ballyheigue Beach you had Teampall Fe Thuinn (Church under the waves) – according to legend this Church stood on what was once an island in Ballyheigue bay. This island was the traditional burial ground of a local family the Cantillions. When the island became submerged the family continued to use the cemetery. Tradition held that the corpse was carried to the Muchan na Marbh (Rock of the Dead) on Ballyheigue Beach,where the family ancestors spirited the body away to the island. This tradition continued until the death of Florence Cantillion when a mortal, Connor Crowe saw the ghosts removing Florence’s remains to their watery grave. One of the spirits was heard to say “the time has come, a human eye looks on the forms of the ocean, a human ear has heard their voices. Farewell to the Cantillions. The sons of the sea are no longer doomed to bury the dust of the Earth.”

Mucklaghmore: or the Mucklagh as it is commonly called, is the dome-shaped rock in the centre of Ballyheigue Bay. Nearly 30 metres above sea level it is virtually impossible to land on and remains a safe home for sea birds.

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