Early Christian period
A large number of Ogham stones were set up in an enclosure in the 4th and 5th centuries AD at Ballintaggart.
Development of the port
In Ireland the town was developed as a port following the Norman invasion of Ireland. By the thirteenth century, more goods were being exported through Dingle than Limerick, and in 1257 an ordinance of King Henry III imposed customs on the port’s exports. By the fourteenth century, importing wine was a major business. The 1st Earl of Desmond, who held palatine powers in the area, imposed a tax on this activity around 1329. By the sixteenth century, Dingle was one of Ireland’s main trading ports, exporting fish and hides and importing wines from the continent of Europe. French and Spanish fishing fleets used the town as a base.
Connections with Spain were particularly strong, and in 1529 The 11th Earl of Desmond and the ambassador of Emperor Charles V signed the Treaty of Dingle. Dingle was also a major embarkation port for pilgrims to travel to the shrine of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela. The parish church was rebuilt in the sixteenth century under “Spanish patronage” and dedicated to the saint.
In 1569 the commerce of the town was increased when it was listed as one of fifteen towns or cities which were to have a monopoly on the import of wine.
The Second Desmond Rebellion
The Dingle Peninsula was the scene of much of the military activity of 1579–80. On 17 July 1579 James FitzMaurice FitzGerald brought a small fleet of ships to Dingle. He made landfall, launching the Second Desmond Rebellion, but was to die soon after in a minor skirmish with the forces of a cousin. The fleet left the town after three days, anchoring at Dún an Óir at the western end of the peninsula, leading eventually to the Siege of Smerwick of 1580.