Ballylongford is one of the most beautiful villages in North Kerry. It is hard to imagine so much history in one small place.
Carrigafoyle castle was built over 700 year sago. It takes its name "Carraig an Shoill" from a deep chasm in the river Shannon which runs beneath the castle. It was one of the strongest castles in Kerry and the chief seat of the O'Connor Kerry. Sir William Pelham, under orders from Queen Elizabeth 1st encamped before Carrigafole on March 25th 1580. Inside the castle were 50 Irishmen and 18 Spaniards under the command of Julio, an Italian. As in most stories there are many different versions of what happened next. The most romantic version goes that a woman in white betrayed the O'Connor Kerry and lit a candle in the most vulnerable part of the castle and Pelham bombarded it with guns. This continued for days until Pelham finally entered and captured the garrison.
He butchered some and hanged the remainder of his captives in Killelton Wood. After the siege of the castle the English repaired to Lislaughtin Abbey. The friars hid in the round tower, taking with them many of the sacred vessels. The soldiers spared the abbey because of its great beauty. The friars rang the bells in thanksgiving when they found that they had been spared. The soldiers misunderstood and thought that they were mocking them. They returned to the Abbey. Most of the monks fled taking sacred vessels. Sadly, three of them :- Hanrahan, Shea and Scanlon were martyred. All three were 70, blind and too feeble to flee the wrath of the soldiers.
In 1871 a cross was found in a field at Ballymackessy a few miles from Lislaughtin . This cross is a fine example of 15th Century metalwork and has an inscription in Latin on it. It is now on display in The National Museum in Dublin. It is known as the Ballymackessy Cross. In modern times Ballylongford is more famous for its annual oyster Festival.