Carrigkerry derives its name from Carraig Chiarrai the rock of the Ciarrai, the people from whom the neighbouring county of Kerry takes its name. In the 1830’s the road to Athea which runs past the Catholic Church and the old school house had not been constructed and the road to Ardagh followed the line of "Buck’s Hill" road. All of the other public roads followed much the same routes as they do today.
In 1831 the village contained 93 persons in 16 houses and was little more than a townland. By 1891 37 people lived there in seven houses. By 1911 Carrigkerry contained fifty people in ten houses.
The townland of Glensharrold is situated about three miles north west of Ardagh village and is about 800 feet above sea level. It contains 4000 statute acres of land. The townland is divided into two parts by the White river which rises in the townland of Kerikyle and flows west through Glensharrold and then turns northwards to flow into the Shannon at Loughill. The portion of the townland on the north side of the river is known as lower Glensharrold, on the southside of the river the remainder is known as upper Glensharrold. There is a vast tract of bogland in upper Glensharrold known as Scotland bog most all householders in the townland own a plot of bog in the mountain which at one time they paid dearly for.
Landlords and Evictions
In 1750 the landlords began to enclose the lands with fences until then the lands had been used as a commonage free of rent. When fenced the land was rented to the highest bidder.
In the early 19th century Glenstar Lodge was erected. This mansion was built by the Yielding family who owned cotton factories in England and India and became landlords in the district known as Glensharrold.. The lodge was situated in the main Newcaslte west to Carrigkerry road. The Yielding proved to be very fair landlords many tenants who lived in small holdings had to pay no rent. The Yielding family later became bankrupt
In 1853 Mr Christopher Delmege of Castle Park Limerick purchased the townland of Glensharrold. He married Martha daughter of Mr John Yielding Glenstar Lodge Ardagh. He paid £8000 for the Glensharrold estate. The Delmege family were very unpopular even among other landlords they were Palatines descendants of the Palatines brought over from Germany in 1709 to colonise certain estates in the south of Ireland. Mr Delmege raised the rent to double and treble the rents paid to Mr. Yielding, also people who never paid rent even those with thatched cabins were served with notice to pay or be evicted. He brought in his own police force and game keepers for which the tenants had to pay their wages. He appointed bog rangers to let the bogs each year and collect rent for bogs that were free under Yielding. The game keepers past a law that any tenant of his could not keep a dog. All dogs in Glensharrold had to be destroyed. The police force patrolled the estate every day and any strangers coming into the estate were shadowed. When Gale day came none of the tenants who attended the Cottage could pay the increased rent twelve tenants were evicted and proceedings taking against five more.
The curate in the parish at the time was Rev. Fr. Robert Ambrose. He was born in Dunganville Ardagh. He was a member of a family of 14 both himself and his brother Stephen were members of the Fianna. They both took part in an attack on Ardagh barracks on 5th March 1867. His brother was wounded and later escaped to America. Robert joined the priesthood he served as curate with Fr. Casey in Abbeyfeale. He took a prominent part in the struggle against the landlord. The Plan of Campaign was adopted. The electoral division of Glensharrold was the most highly taxed of the whole union. The tenantry under the Plan of Campaign demanded a 57% rent reduction.
In April 1888 five more tenants were evicted in August of that year eighteen more tenants were evicted. A local historian Michael O’ Brien Kerrykyle Ardagh was present at some of the evictions. He stated that 60 mounted troopers fully armed accompanied the sheriff and the bailiffs past his home on the road to Glensharrold. He heard the bell ringing in St. Mary’s Church Carrigkerry. It rang every time an eviction was taking place to warn the tenants. All day long the evictions continued through Glensharrold leaving a trail of desperation and despair some of the families went to the workhouses where many of them died more of the dispossessed huddled in ditches other tenants were committed to an asylum.
One Sunday morning as the people were going into Mass in Carrigkerrry a strange sight met their eyes. A large body of men and dogs came down from the hills to the village. They came from the Land League branches of Templeglantine and Tournafulla another group came Ballyhahill, Moneymohill and Kilcolman. It was an organised game hunt by the Land League branches. All day long they hunted through the estate killing and shooting all kinds of game which they gave to the evicted tenants. The police force were helpless they could not stop them by the time extra police had arrived the hunt was over, the tenants had full and plenty for some time.
A large number of politicians from the parliament in England and Ireland and many newspaper correspondence flocked into Glensharrold to see for themselves the widespread misery and starvation. On the 2nd of November 1888 two brothers named Alfred Pearse M.P. and Joseph Pearse visited the estate they interviewed all the evicted tenants. Their full report appeared in an English newspaper the Times. In the background Fr. Bob Ambrose was all the time trying to get an agreement between the landlord his agent and the local land league branch, no agreement could be reached finally Fr. Ambrose enlisted the aid to the Bishop of Limerick Rev. Dr. O’ Dwyer. His Lordship intervened and the following concessions were drawn up for consideration by the Land League on behalf of those who were still landless.
(1) They owe five years for which they will get a clear receipt on payment of one
(2) They will be allowed to surrender judicial leases which will reduce their rents to on average by 25% and they will get a further reduction of 30% which will reduce their rent to the same level as their old rent.
The land league were declared an illegal orgfanisation, Parnell and several other leaders were arrested and put in Kilmainham jail, meetings of the land league were broken up and their newspaper the United Ireland was suppressed. The land league answered by issuing an no rent manifesto which instructed all tenants to pay no rent at all, violence increased all over the country and bands of moonlighters terrorised landlords and bailiffs were alarmed at the widespread lawlessness. The government came to terms with Parnell on condition that coercion should cease. The no rent manifesto was withdrawn and Parnell offered to restrain the tenants from using extreme methods. The agreement became known as the Kilmainham Treaty. This too brought an end to the Glensharrold evictions and the Plan of Campaign. The remaining tenants got back their holding at reduced rents negotiated by Fr. Bob Ambrose and the local branch of the land league in 1891. The name Delmege still rings unhappily in the ears of the people of Glensharrold
Fr. Ambrose was appointed parish priest of Glenroe in 1905. He died in 1926 he is buried in the churchyard at Glenroe. He is remembered for his fund raising efforts to construct the church there and for his campaign against the landlords on behalf of his tenants.
John Purcell was a travelling Balladeer when at home he lived in Glensharrold himself and his wife travelled to the fairs and meetings in south Munster singing his own compositions and other ballads of that period. He composed the ballad The Glensharrold Evictions he was a tin smith who made pots and pans, he also collected old scrap and clothes hence he was called a ragman. At an Aeriocht in Abbeyfeale he got a great reception as he sang the ballad on a platform in the square on the same platform was Fr. William Casey P.P and Charlotte O’ Brien daughter of William Smith O’ Brien Ardagh. He also composed a ballad about Fr. Ambrose.
Eithne Strong was born in Glensharrold, her maiden name was O’Connell. She was born 1923. A poet and writer of fiction some of her best known works are "songs of Living" 1961 and "My Darling Neighbour" 1985.
Carrigkerry is situated between Ardagh and Carrigkerry the area is surrounded by forests at present. St. Mary’s Church which is still there was constructed in the late 1800’s. A grotto is been built at the present time in the village of Carrigkerry.