Tralee lies on the south-west coast of Ireland at the gateway to the Dingle, Fenit and Barrow Peninsulas and takes its name from the river Lee which flows into Tralee Bay. It is the capital town and administrative centre of County Kerry.
Tralee is almost 800 years old and it developed around the major Geraldine Castle of John Fitzthomas Fitzgerald from the 13th century onwards. During this century, the Earls of Desmond used the town as a base from which to build up the greatest Anglo-Norman lordship in Munster. Lord John Fitzthomas obtained borough status for the town, which was accompanied by a charter that allowed the right to hold animal fairs and weekly markets. Tralee developed as a market town and trading port, with an economy based on the agriculture of the Lee Valley.
Medieval Tralee was destroyed in 1580, after Garrett Fitzgerald (15th Earl of Desmond) was forced into revolt by the Elizabethan government. In 1557, the “signory of Tralee” was granted by Queen Elizabeth to Sir Edward Denny, who brought over a number of English settlers, among them the Blennerhassets, Chute and Morris families. The burnt castle was rebuilt by the Denny family in the 1620s. Denny Street was built on the site of the Great Castle and stones from the castle were used in the construction of the houses on both sides of the street.
The road network began to be developed in the early 17th century, linking the
major towns in Munster, which enabled the great Italian Bianconi to open up passenger
coach routes to Tralee and other towns in Kerry. The Tralee ship canal, linking
Tralee with Blennerville was constructed in 1846 and the railway network arrived
Castlemorris House was built in 1790 by Caleb Chute, to the north of Ballymullen Castle which is associated with the Fitzgerald, McRoberts and Chute familes. Caleb Chute built the house using the ruins of the wall of the original castle as his residence while serving as an officer in the Royal Munster Fusiliers. In the 1830's, the house passed to the O'Connell family, part of the O'Connell's of Derrynane (Daniel O'Connell, the Liberator). Daniel James O'Connell was married to Frances Shine Lawler and they had 10 children while living in Castlemorris House. The house was sold in 1920 by the O'Connell family to Francis Henry Latchford and subsequently it passed into the ownership of the Smythie family. In 1975 the property was bought by Patsy and Arthur Spring.
Although the house has been modernised and refurbished over the years, it has retained a lot of its original character.