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Ballylongford

Ballylongford is a village near Listowel in north County Kerry, Ireland.GeographyThe village is situated at the top of a creek of Ballylongford Bay on the tidal estuary of the River Shannon, close to Carrigafoyle Island and on the coast road between Tarbert and the seaside town of Ballybunion.The farmland is suited to dairying and this is a mainstay of the local economy along with fishing and tourism.Three km to the north, on Carrigafoyle Island, stands the castle and anchorage commemorated in the name of the village. For centuries, Ballylongford shared the political, military and religious fate of the castle and the nearby Franciscan Lislaughtin Abbey.HistoryCarrigafoyle Castle was built between 1490 and 1500 by Conchuir Liath Uí Conchuir using a design borrowed from the Normans. In addition to fine windows and archways, it features a spiral staircase of 104 steps that visitors can climb today. The castle, now a listed National Monument, stands almost 30 m high and its battlements provide stunning views of the estuary and the monastic Scattery Island in County Clare. An interesting feature of the castle is the dock, which allowed boats to tie up safely, possible because the castle stands between the high and low water marks on the shore.The O’Connors of Kerry held political sway from this strategic base which allowed them to “inspect” ships passing to and from the port of Limerick. Thus “taxation” and smuggling were the main sources of income. The castle was fortified and the narrow spiral staircase ascends clockwise thus disadvantaging any attacker, particularly right-handed ones.
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