A Century of Politics in the Kingdom: A County Kerry Compendium


Owen O’Shea and Gordon Revington

October 2018

Vastly entertaining and lively account of the highlights of the controversial, nationally significant and political events in Kerry over the past century.


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In the 100 years since the establishment of Dáil Éireann, rarely has politics been so divisive, turbulent, engaging and entertaining as in County Kerry. A Century of Politics in the Kingdom captures the exhilarating highs and lows of politics in Kerry, featuring tales of scandal, punch-ups, election-campaign shenanigans, bitter inter-dynastic contests, as well as the stories of the ground-breaking Kerry politicians who made their mark on the national stage and beyond.

This fascinating book draws on new material from the political parties’ archives, original research and candid interviews. Featured are comprehensive biographical details of every Kerry Teachta Dála and senator since the foundation of the Irish State, seminal debates and discussions, rivalries and resentments, and good old-fashioned fun and games – all of which has characterised the political cauldron in the county over the last century.


Table of Contents

  1. ‘Ireland must be governed by Irishmen for Ireland’s benefit’: Kerry’s first Teachtaí Dála
  2. Thorny wires: Murphy and O’Sullivan: the bitterest of political rivals
  3. ‘Castleisland swam in porter … and drunkenness prevailed’: The councillor overthrown for plying voters with drink
  4. Deputy Flynn ‘struck him violently in the mouth’: The Kerry TD who clobbered a colleague in the Dáil dining room
  5. ‘Mr and Mrs Fred’: Kerry’s original political power couple
  6. ‘If there are women candidates, we hope they will be of the right kind’: The fate of Kerry’s women politicians
  7. ‘We must not expect too much of Miss O’Connor’: The Kerry North TD who was too young to vote for herself
  8. ‘The man who sits in the chair is not a proper or suitable man’: The highs and lows of local authority politics in Kerry since 1899
  9. ‘Three weeks’ turmoil, agitation and disturbance’: Kerry’s by-election battles and their national significance
  10. ‘For a paper to be valid it must have recorded on it a first preference’: How a Kerry candidate rewrote the Irish electoral rulebook
  11. ‘Politics in my blood’: Kerry: Where political dynasties reign supreme
  12. ‘Blood streamed down his shirt’: Threats, thefts, splits, assaults other electioneering shenanigans
  13. The Kingdom’s political Diaspora: Kerry’s political reach nationally and overseas
  14. ‘They forget that we exist and that there are such places as Kerry’: A selection of the spoken words of Kerry politicians since 1919


  • All of Kerry’s representatives in the Dáil since its establishment in 1919
  • Kerry Senators from 1922: Members of Seanad from Kerry since its establishment in 1922
  • List of general election results in Kerry since 1918

About the Authors

Owen O’Shea, from Milltown, Co Kerry, is Communications Officer with Kerry County Council. A former Labour Party press officer and election candidate, he was journalist with Kerry’s Eye and Radio Kerry. He is the author of Heirs to the Kingdom: Kerry’s Political Dynasties (2011).

Gordon Revington is a journalist from Tralee, Co Kerry, who writes on Irish political history, rural affairs and sport. He contributed to Kerry 1916: Histories and Legacies of the Easter Rising – A Centenary Record (2016).

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