College Street, Plunkett Street, Boreencael & Glebe Lane
A short distance east from the Friary, you will find College Street, which was once the educational centre of the town. The Diocese of Kerry, the Franciscans, the Presentation Brothers and the Mercy Sisters all had schools or colleges here until the end of the nineteenth century. There are a number of fine examples of architecture from the eighteenth and nineteenth century along this street, with handsome facades, decorative plasterwork and elegant window surrounds, all typical of this refined period of architecture. Half way down College Street, the Glebe car park on the right occupies the site of the old military barracks, where many Irish regiments were stationed up until 1880. Continuing across College Square brings you to Plunkett Street, formerly known as Henn Street, this is one of the narrowest streets in town and it is a lovely place for a stroll.
Turning right under the archway, down Plunkett Street, brings you onto Bohereencael Glebe, meaning small, narrow street in Irish, and on to some of Killarney’s oldest lanes, the very origin of the town from the eighteenth century. The lanes were once home to the old post office, the cart-makers, bakers, coopers and the flour, grain and tweed merchants, making it the commercial centre of the town for many years. Later, as business migrated out onto the wider streets of the town, the lanes fell into disrepair, only beginning to flourish again with the urban renewal of recent years. The old Milk Market building however, that was constructed in 1880, can still be found at the back of New Market Lane.
On Old Market Lane, a number of old, whitewashed houses can be seen on the right. The houses are no longer inhabited but the doorways have been painted with images of women leaning out over the half door, as they would have done in years gone by. An ingenious device, the half door was popular in traditional Irish dwellings, serving many purposes – they kept children inside and the animals out, while also letting in air and light. Additionally, they could be used as a prop to lean on while smoking a pipe, gossiping with the neighbours or calling out that food was ready. The inscription over the doorways reads: ‘Duirt bean liom go nduirt bean léi’, which is the first line of an Irish poem which translates as ‘a woman told me that a woman told her.’