Tralee is the county town of County Kerry in the south-west of Ireland. The town is on the northern side of the neck of the Dingle Peninsula, and is the largest town in County Kerry. The town's population including suburbs was 23,693 in the 2011 census.
Situated at the confluence of some small rivers and adjacent to marshy ground at the head of Tralee Bay, Tralee is located at the base of a very ancient roadway that heads south over the Slieve Mish Mountains. On this old track is located a large boulder sometimes called Scotia's Grave, reputedly the burial place of an Egyptian Pharaoh's daughter. The Norman town was founded in the 13th century by Anglo-Normans and was a stronghold of the Earls of Desmond. A medieval castle and Dominican order Friary were located in the town. The mediaeval town was burnt in 1580 in retribution for the Desmond Rebellions against Elizabeth I. Tralee was granted to Edward Denny by Elizabeth I in 1587 and recognised by royal charter in 1613. Sir Edward was the first of the Dennys to settle in Tralee and from a recent history of Tralee by Gerald O'Carroll that only in 1627 did the Dennys actually occupy the castle of the earls of Desmond. Sir Edward's son was Arthur Denny, in whose lifetime the town's charter was granted by King James, containing the right to elect two members of parliament. The third settler, another Sir Edward, married Ruth Roper, whose father Thomas Roper was the lease holder of the Herbert estate centred on Castleisland. This Sir Edward was a royalist. He fought for the King in the wars of 1641. He died in 1646, before the triumph of Cromwell over affairs in England and Ireland. He granted "the circuit of the Abbey" to the corporation set up under the charter, in return for the fees of the town clerk. His son Arthur married Ellen Barry, granddaughter of Richard Boyle who during his life held many land titles in West Kerry and who also claimed property in Tralee.
Sir Edward Denny, 4th Baronet was a notable landlord in his day: especially during the time of the Great Famine when instead of increasing his rents as so many landlords did at that time he maintained rents to suit his tenants. He was a notable Plymouth Brother.
The modern layout of Tralee was created in the 19th century. Denny Street, a wide Georgian street was completed in 1826 on the site of the old castle.
Tralee Courthouse was designed by Sir Richard Morrison and built in 1835. It has a monument of two cannons commemorating those Kerrymen who died in the Crimean War (1854–56) and the Indian Rebellion (1857).
The Ashe Memorial Hall sits at one end of Denny Street, dedicated to the memory of Thomas Ashe - an Irish Volunteers officer in the Easter Rising of 1916. The building is built of local sandstone and houses the Kerry County Museum and a reconstruction of early Tralee.
The Dominican church of the Holy Cross was designed by the English Gothic Revival architect Augustus Pugin in the 19th century
Tralee saw much violence during the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War in 1919–1923. In November 1920, the Black and Tans besieged Tralee in revenge for the IRA abduction and killing of two Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men. The Tans closed all the businesses in the town and did not let any food in for a week. In addition they burned several houses and all businesses connected with Irish Republican Army (IRA) activists. In the course of the week, they shot dead three local people. The incident caused major international outcry when reported by the press, who wrote that near famine conditions were prevailing in Tralee by the end of the week.
In August 1922, during the Irish Civil War, Irish Free State troops landed at nearby Fenit and then took Tralee from its Anti-Treaty garrison. Nine pro-Treaty and three anti-Treaty soldiers were killed in fighting in the town before the anti-Treaty forces withdrew. However the republicans continued a guerrilla campaign in the surrounding area. In March 1923 an infamous atrocity was carried out by Free State troops near Tralee when nine anti-treaty IRA prisoners were taken from the prison in Tralee and blown up with a land mine at nearby Ballyseedy.