400-year-old King James charter for display in Tralee


The original King James I charter that allowed Tralee, Co Kerry, to become an official borough 400 years ago is to be publicly displayed and acknowledged – but not celebrated, the town council in Tralee has decided.

The 400th anniversary on September 26th of the granting of the charter in the time of the plantation of Munster, allowing Tralee to become a borough like Kilkenny, with a mayor and burgesses, was unmarked last week.

A proposal for a celebration had met with furious objections by Sinn Féin, which said the Fitzgeralds had been thrown out of Tralee Castle by the Dennys, who had slaughtered left, right and centre in west Kerry, and celebrating it would be akin to the American Indians celebrating the arrival of Columbus. A compromise was that Tralee would instead mark the arrival of the Geraldine Fitzgeralds 800 years ago.

Light was shone on the anniversary by a local historian through a small item in a national newspaper.

Last night Fine Gael councillor Mairéad Fernane moved two motions at Tralee Town Council, to acknowledge the charter and to put it on permanent display in a “weather-controlled exhibition case”. It was remarkable that the original document existed, she said. The document and seal were handed over to the county library in September 1972; it had been missing from Tralee for 130 years. A Kerryman report at the time said it had been found among the papers of Clonskeagh Castle.