Abbeyfeale is renowned for its rich History and Heritage of which many a poem, song and book have been written along with being highlighted in numerous Radio and TV documentaries.
1188 Cistercian Abbey founded by Domnall Mór Ua Briain, better known as Donal O’Brien who was the King of Limerick, King of Thomond and King of Munster.
1209 Cistercian Abbey becomes a cell (daughter house) of the much larger Monasteranenagh Abbey near Croom in Co Limerick.
1306 Black Book of Limerick notes that Abbeyfeale was destroyed by War.
1418 Thomas FitzGerald (5th Earl of Desmond) marries Abbeyfeale girl Catherine MacCormac which was against the wishes of his high-powered family, the associated ruling classes and the law of the land. He was forced to forfeit his entire inheritance and shortly thereafter both Thomas and Catherine were exiled to France.
Mid 1400’s Purt Castle was built a short distance outside Abbeyfeale.
1580 - 16th March, Sir William Pelham and his army who were loyal to Queen Elizabeth I plundered and destroyed Purt Castle along with the Abbey in Abbeyfeale. This followed on from Pelham’s earlier slaughter of 400 men, women and children at Cloonlahard Woods between Shanagolden and Athea on 12th March while searching for the then Earl of Desmond (Gerald FitzGerald).
1583 Estimated 30,000 dead throughout Munster due to the effects of War, Famine and Disease which were a consequence of the ongoing conflict between the then Earl of Desmond and Queen Elizabeth I.
1583 - 28th April, Earl of Desmond (Gerald FitzGerald) while staying in Abbeyfeale, writes a letter to Queen Elizabeth I, asking for a truce in the on-going War.
1583 - 11th Nov, Gerald FitzGerald, the last Earl of Desmond was murdered in Ballymacelligott, Co Kerry by local forces loyal to Queen Elizabeth I, and who were subsequently rewarded a ransom for same.
1655 First known sketch of Abbeyfeale depicting a ruined Abbey alongside a three story tower. The tower had a direct line of sight with Purt Castle which was further down the River Feale.
1705 Sir Thomas Southwell was granted a “Patent” to hold two “Fairs” in Abbeyfeale Town – 29th June and 18th October, as well as a Saturday Market.
Mid 1700’s Thatched Chapel built in Square from ruins of the Old Abbey. Last remnants of Chapel wall still visible just inside boundary wall of Old Abbey site.
1827 New Road and Bridges completed between Newcastle West – Abbeyfeale – Castleisland. Abbeyfeale becomes a boom-town in the years that followed.
1835 - 21st Jan, First known visit to Abbeyfeale by Irish Politician & Statesman Daniel O’Connell, often referred to as “The Liberator” or “The Emancipator” and of which there are several other recorded visits by him and his family to “Leahy’s Inn” The Square, up until 1842.
1839 - 02nd Oct, Princess Cristina di Belgiojoso of Italy visits Abbeyfeale during her tour of South West Ireland. She hires four horses named Mouse, Jack, Poll and Nancy along with two Drivers for onward journey to Newcastle West.
1840 - Emergency Meeting held in Thatched Chapel in the Square regarding the plight of 100 families comprising of 600 people who were deemed to be in a state of destitution. (Note: Pre-Famine Years)
1844-47 St Mary’s Parish Church, known locally as “The Famine Church” was built in Church Street on the site of what is now St Mary’s Boys National School.
1869 - Rev William Casey arrives in Abbeyfeale for the first time. In the following years he establishes a local Temperance Society, Temperance Hall, Brass Band, Fever Hospital and Football Club along with being Chairperson of numerous Committees and Organisations. He died in 1907.
1880 - 20th Dec, Railway Station opens in Abbeyfeale as part of the original Limerick & Kerry Railway Line. It closed in 1974 with the original line now forming part of the Great Southern Greenway.
1910 Fr Casey’s Monument is officially unveiled in the Square.
1920 - 18th Sept, Constables O’Mahony and O’Donoghue of the Royal Irish Constabulary are shot dead near Mountmahon in an IRA ambush during the War of Independence. The IRA’s intended target was Thomas Huckerby, a notorious member of the “Black and Tans” Special Reserve Force, but luckily for him he had not been rostered for duty as part of that RIC Patrol.
1920 - 19th/20th Sept, The “Black and Tans” Special Reserve Force runs riot throughout Abbeyfeale in reprisal for the shooting dead of Constables O’Mahony and O’Donoghue. Private residents and Business owners throughout the town are terrorised while several private homes and businesses are grenade bombed and set on fire. Over 1000 rounds of ammunition are fired indiscriminately at various private homes and businesses throughout the community. Fr. Casey’s Temperance Hall is burnt to the ground and most of the Abbeyfeale Brass Band’s instruments which were stored in the building are also destroyed. However, reports also state that on a number of occasions the Officer in Charge (name unknown) stopped his own men from shooting dead a number of civilians during the rampage.
1920 - 20th Sept, Patrick Harnett (Postman) and Jeramiah Healy (Blacksmith’s Apprentice), two young men with no involvement in paramilitary activity, are murdered by Thomas Huckerby of the “Black and Tans” Special Reserve Force, while walking on the Killarney Road. A hastily arranged Military Court of Enquiry was convened in Abbeyfeale a couple of days later but Thomas Huckerby was not charged or court-martialled for the murders and instead was transferred immediately to Limerick City. Following a number of other incidents in the months that followed Thomas Huckerby resigned from the RIC due to pending disciplinary charges. He died of jaundice in a London Police Hostel the following year at the relatively young age of 20 years.
1923 Feale Bridge is blown up by the IRA during the Civil War and Capt. P. Coye of the National Army is assassinated on the same day a short distance away.
1923 First Garda Station opened in New Street on 22nd Feb in a building owned by MJ Moloney.
1963 Glór na Gael Trophy officially presented to Abbeyfeale Town by President Éamon de Valera following the announcement that Abbeyfeale was awarded the most Irish Town in Ireland in 1962.