Castleisland is a busy market town and commercial center on the N21 from Limerick. The town has a population of around 2,000 and is considered the gateway to Kerry, because the main road to all towns in western and southern Kerry passes through here. The N21 continues on to Tralee while the N22 goes to Killarney and other towns in southern Kerry. Castleisland sits at the beginning of the “Vale of Tralee”, between the Glenaruddery Mountains to the north and the Stacks to the west. Kerry Airport is just 4 miles from the town on the N22. The town is known for the width of its main street. It's the second widest in Ireland and second only to the famous O'Connell Street in Dublin.The town was described by its well known citizen, journalist Con Houlihan, as "not so much a town as a street between two fields".
Castleisland was the center of Desmond power in Kerry. The village got its name from a castle built in 1226 by Geoffrey Maurice, who was the Lord Justice of Ireland during the reign of King Henry III. The island was created by turning the waters of the River Maine into a moat around the castle. In 1345 the castle was taken by royal forces after a two week siege, and three of its officers were hanged, drawn and quartered. The castle was the Kerry Headquarters of the Earls of Desmond who ruled Kerry between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries. It can be seen on the left on the way out of town on the N22.
Of great geographical significance is Crag Cave. Discovered in 1983 and thought to be over 1 million years old, Crag Cave is a magical wonderland of stalagmites and stalactites, displaying subterranean geological treasures including pillars, flowstone and underground water channels. It is one of Ireland's largest cave systems, totalling 2.5 miles in length and is one of the finest examples of a limestone cave in Ireland. Open all year round, it is a great all weather visitor attraction with family run restaurant. There are a range of outdoor activities for you to enjoy. A different kind of sport is readily available to visitors at the "Visitor Farm and Shooting Ground" which is proving popular. And for our more active visitors, a state of the art athletic track has been built in the town which is unique to the county. An Ríocht, a vibrant Athletics Club established in 1973, offers an international standard 400 metre tartan athletics track and soccer field. The club is proud of the dedication of its officers to providing top class facilities for its athletes. Some great walks in the region include the Castleisland River walk, the Glanageenty walk and the Kilcummin walk. There is an excellent 18 hole golf course in Castleisland which has been built to the highest championship standards allowing the course to be played throughout the year.
Like all Kerry Towns, entertainment is very much to the front in Castleisland with the town really coming to life during its two annual festivals. The first of these festivals is the Kerry Drama Festival which is held annually during March. Later in the year during October, the Padraig O'Keefe Traditional Music Festival is held. This is a traditional music festival attracting traditional musicians all honouring Padraig O'Keeffe, a renowned fiddle player from the Sliabh Luachra region.
There are plenty of hotels, restaurants and cafes located in the town and surrounding countryside and Castleisland is a great shopping town where everything and anything can be found on one street!