Kerry County Museum is located in the Ashe Memorial Hall, a fine example of public architecture in the centre of Tralee. The building is named after Thomas Ashe, a Kerryman who was a member of the Irish Volunteers and who died on hunger strike while imprisoned in Mountjoy in 1917. The Ashe Hall was designed by Thomas J. Cullen and built with local sandstone. It was completed in 1928, and, for more than half a century, was the administrative headquarters of Kerry County Council and Tralee Urban District Council. In the 1980s both local authorities moved to new offices and the building was transformed into Kerry County Museum, opening its doors to the public in 1992.
The Museum aims to collect, record, preserve, display and communicate material relating to the archaeological, historical and cultural heritage of County Kerry. The Museum began collecting in 1992 and now has over 4,000 objects in its own collection. In 1999 Kerry County Museum received designated status. As a designated museum under the National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1994, and the National Cultural Institutions Act, 1997, Kerry County Museum is permitted to hold archaeological objects found in Co. Kerry on behalf of the State. We employ a full-time professional curator and have the resources and skills to care for objects. You can report an archaeological find to us and we can provide advice on
protecting our archaeological heritage.
Kerry County Museum was one of the selected candidates for the 1994 European Museum of the Year Awards; in 1995 and 1997 we received special commendations in the Best Smaller Museum Category in the Museum of the Year Awards. In 2002 we won the Best Exhibition Award at the Museum of the Year Awards for the ‘Antarctica’ exhibition, displaying the life of Tom Crean. The Museum was praised by the judges for the imaginative and striking design, and the judges felt that the presentation, design, the success in raising the profile of a local hero, the links with surviving relatives (which ensured the protection of important artefacts) and broader contextualisation of Crean's achievements made Kerry County Museum a model and worthy winner.