The Big House in Kerry

Ireland's “Big Houses” were the large country homes of local landlords. Most of them were built in the 18th and 19th centuries, and were usually surrounded by large estates. Tenants on the estate rented the land from their landlords. 

Many photographs have captured scenes from the Big Houses before this way of life disappeared. The period they capture looks peaceful and prosperous, but by the 1920s the landlord system in Ireland had been dismantled. Increasing violence during the push for independence in the early 20th century, combined with the economic depression of the 1920s and 1930s, meant few families could afford the upkeep of these homes, and the era of the “Big House” ended. 

Jane O'Keeffe of Irish Life and Lore is the editor of this social history and photo-illustrated book which includes chapters written by some of Kerry’s foremost historians on Kerry's Big Houses and their families. Each chapter is punctuated with historical images and previously unseen photographs from the family archives of the big houses.