National Enterprise Town Awards: Kenmare

We are profiling all the towns to enter this year’s National Enterprise Town Awards. Today we are looking at Kenmare, Co Kerry.

Kenmare is a planned town, developed in the 18th century by the Marquis of Lansdowne.

Kenmare has a proud tradition of working hard to improve the area. In 1861 the Poor Clare nuns were invited to set up a school by Fr John O’Sullivan who believed that education was the best way to improve people’s future. The nuns established an industrial school where girls were taught the skills of lacemaking and embroidery, while boys were taught wood carving and leather work.

Kenmare Lace became world renowned not only for its skilful workmanship but also for the intricate original designs.

History and geography

Kenmare holds a unique position as the only town on both the Ring of Kerry and the Ring of Beara.

Up to the 1980s it was primarily a market town but the community has worked to develop its current position as a prime tourism product.

The umbrella organisation in Kenmare is KMEG (Kenmare Marketing and Events Group) which comprises the Chamber of Commerce and representatives from local community groups and the very active and successful Tidy Towns Group.

The groups work together to formulate ideas and look at ways to improve the town. There is much liaison with Kerry County Council on strategic development including the recent successful regulation of street trading and the designation of a specific market area.

KMEG has a marketing manager and office, funded by the business sector, to actively encourage tourism and business growth through the website, brochures, maps, festivals and events. KMEG has created and manages among others the extremely successful Kenmare Ring of Beara Cycle.

Local manufacturing industries include energy, technology, chocolate-making, seafood processing and furniture-making.

With the increase of new businesses in the area and the increase in population there is a greater focus on attracting both industry and professionals to the area.  

Kenmare image: Jessica Sheridan via Flickr (CC-BY 2.0)

Edited by John Kennedy (

Published: 22 October, 2019