SCHOOL: Ballybunion Convent | ADDRESS: Ballybunnion, Co. Kerry
In those days there were factions. One faction would have a number of men and the other would have the same number. There lived two factions, the Cooleens and the Lawlors who were always fighting.
Some of the Cooleens came from as far away as Ardfert to Ballyeigh strand, Ballybunion, on a Sunday some time about the 24th June. Horseracing was held on the strand always on the 24th June and those are the races that are held in Listowel at present. “George Sands” was the man who removed them in 1859 because he was struck on the strand.
The cause of the fight was – a hurling match was held there and each party was claiming a better right than the other but the Lawlor faction, the majority of whom came from this side, had claimed first right to it.
The Cooleen faction came to beat them out of it. They brought horses and cars loaded with stones and they had two miles of road in coming and the women had their cloaks covering them.
The leaders of the Cooleens were Hackett and Ahern who rode before the crowd on horse-back. The P.P. of Ballybunion and Ballydonague was Fr. Buckley. He met the Cooleens at the entrance to the strand and said to them not to spill blood on the Sabbath as the strand then belonged to all parties but, he raised his hand before them.
They entered the strand with the stones and drove the Lawlors two miles back to the sandhills except twelve men of them who held the strand.
When the Cooleens were out of stones, they turned and fled and the stones they brought killed and drowned twenty nine of them. None of the Lawlors were killed in battle but twelve of them were carried home with broken jaws, hands and legs, almost beyond recognition.
One of the leaders, Ahern was got next day buried to his hips in the slab at the point of Rohonnah. It was 3 weeks later before the last of the dead were fished in.
The following November after the fight there came a plague of spotted fever which wiped out those parishes. That was the result of Ballyeigh fight.
“The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0400, Page 179” by Dúchas © National Folklore Collection, UCD is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.