"In the military arrangements that part of the county south of the river Flesk is is included in the Southern District, the other part to the north of the river being in the South-western District, and containing a barrack station for infantry at Tralee, affording accommodation for 17 officers and 456 non-commissioned officers and men; and the two batteries on the islands of Carraigue and Tarbert, each mounting six 24-pounders and containing bomb-proof barracks for about 20 men."
[From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis (1837)]
In the years following 1779 various units and corps known as "Volunteers" were formed throughout Ireland, originally to defend the country curing the American war of Independence, when much of the British military garrison was withdrawn.
The Volunteer movement were entirely independent of government and almost entirely composed of middle class Protestants. Officers were members of the nobility and gentry, and the movement was soon heavily involved in the politics of the Irish parliament.
As the Volunteers were private organisations, there are scant records of an official nature. There was a muster of Kerry's Volunteer Regiments held in 1872, and the names of the officers were recorded. The list of officers has been transcribed here.
The Volunteer movement largely died out in the early 1790s, and legislation was passed that prohibited the large assemblies held by the Volunteers. The official Militia Regiments, raised in 1793 (q.v.) effectively replaced the unofficial Volunteer units.
In 1793, at the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars, the British Government established a force of Militia throughout Ireland. The Militia was a reserve infantry force, organised into thirty-seven county or city battalions or regiments. The Kerry Militia was one of these regiments.
The officers of the force were exclusively Protestant, but membership of the other ranks was overwhelmingly Catholic. The force was voluntary, where possible. Vacancies were filled by ballot, all able-bodied men being liable to be balloted.
In 1881 the infantry regiments of the British Army were reorganised, with the county militias becoming battalions of the regular regiments. The Kerry Militia became the 4th Battalion of the newly constituted Royal Munster Fusilers. The battalion was merged with the 3rd in 1918 and disbanded in 1922.
The existing records for the Kerry Militia, contained in the " List of records of disbanded militia regiments for transmission to the custody of the Master of the Rolls" are now at the Public Record Office, Kew, London. They have been microfilmed by the Church of Latterday Saints, and copies can be ordered from local Family History Centres. To find the location of the nearest FHC, search at www.familysearch.org.
|War Office Volume||Item||Film No.|
|v. 410/1||General order book, letters, etc., - Kerry Militia 1858-1859||FHL BRITISH Film 917573|
|v. 410/1||General order book, letters, etc., - Kerry Militia 1859-1873 cont.||FHL BRITISH Film 917574|
|v. 410/2||Regimental letter book - Kerry Militia 1856-1857|
|v. 410/3||Circulars of the Inspector General - Kerry Militia 1871-1876|
|v. 411/1-2||Court martial book - Kerry Militia 1793-185|
|v. 411/3||Bounty board book - Kerry Militia 1771 -1814|
|v. 412/1-3, 5||Regimental letter book - Kerry Militia 1855-1876||FHL BRITISH Film 917575|
|v. 412/4||Staff and regimental order book - Kerry Militia 1867-1872|
On the 1st April 1873, Britain and Ireland were divided into numbered Brigade Districts, each with a depot with two paired infantry battalions. The 70th Brigade (Counties Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick) was based at Ballymullen Barracks, Tralee. The two battalions attached to Tralee were the 101st and 104th Regiments of Foot, both former East India Company battalions.
On the 1st July 1881 the 101st and 104th Foot became the first and second battalions of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, and Tralee became the Regimental Depot.
Increased numbers of Kerrymen joined the regiment during the Boer War in 1889-1902 and in very large numbers during the First World War (1914-1918)
Records for members of the Royal Munster Fusiliers are held by the Public Record Office, Kew, London.The National Archives has a two leaflets online: