Spa Memorial and Well

Memorial commemorates courage of local men

The memorial standing on the shoreline at the south-western corner of the ground was unveiled on May 22, 2008 and commemorates the outstanding courage and resilience of three men from the Spa who put their lives in peril to rescue three men during a storm in the bay.

The first commodity ship to berth at Tralee Port tied up in 1806 and this heralded a period in which Tralee became a major food capital in west Munster. The first steamer arrived at Blennerville Quay in September 1842,

The Garryowen owned by John Donovan & Son, the millers.

But the growing size of the boats meant that they could not get into Tralee Bay to discharge or load cargo near the town and Fenit now became the main hub. The goods going in and out were loaded onto smaller vessels called lighters and taken the rest of the way to the town. The Tralee Ship Canal became a necessary piece of infrastructure but it had taken a considerable time to construct after work began in 1832. The Defiance became the first ship to enter the canal in April, 1846.

The advent of the railway line to Fenit in July 1887 seriously affected the process of transfer by lighter but the practice continued for a number of years.

On the night of November 7, 1930, the Co-operator set off for the basin with a cargo of corn in heavy weather but she swamped and the boiler exploded. The crew, John O’Sullivan (captain), Patrick Foley (engineer) and Jerome O’Sullivan were obliged to climb the mast as she sank but fortunately, their plight came to the notice of people on shore.

Three fishermen, John Cahill, his son Joe and John (Jack) Nolan took to their bad and rowed out in the testing conditions to reach the three men and brought they each safely ashore again.

In February 1931 they were each presented with £5-16s each by the Minister of Lands and Fisheries Fionan Lynch and in May they accepted bronze medals from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution for their efforts by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII in London.

The monument was erected by the Spa/Fenit Community Council and was opened to view by John Nolan and Sean Cahill in 2008.

The Spa well

The spring well that gives the Spa area its local name was a popular place to visit by Kerry people and was near the south-western corner of the field that is now the playing ground of County Kerry Cricket Club. In its heyday, it was enclosed in a structure and Judge Robert Day (1746-1841), a member of both the Irish Parliament and who built the row of houses still called Day Place in Tralee between 1790 and 1800 referred to taking the waters here on a number of occasions and frequently forecast a great future for it.

At this time, the means of getting to the well from Tralee was the shoreline as the road to the north of the club was not then in place. The road to the west was there and people heading onward and up to Lassinagh (beyond the Oyster Tavern) went up along this.