Kate was a well known beauty in Ireland in the years before the Great Famine (1845-1849). The legend of Kate has captured the imagination of people far and wide down through the years. Below are the words to the old song which bears her name:
Oh have you not heard of Kate Kearney,Who lives on the banks of Kilarney,
At the glance of her eye, Shun danger and fly, For fatal's the look of Kate Kearney.
While her eyes are so modestly beaming, You'd ne'er think of mischief she's dreaming:
Yet oh, I can tell how fatal's the spell That lurks in the eye of Kate Kearney.
O should you e'er meet this Kate Kearney, Who lives on the banks of Kilarney,
Beware of her smile, for many a wile, Lies hid in the smile of Kate Kearney.
Tho' she looks so bewitchingly simple, There's mischief in every dimple;
And who dares inhale
Her mouth's spicy gale,
Must die by the breath of Kate Kearney.
It was at the síbín pictured below that Kate distilled her famous poitín, 'Kate Kearney's Mountain Dew', which was "very fierce and wild, requiring not less than seven times its own quantity of water to tame and subdue it." It was of course illicit. However, Kate flouted the law and invited the weary traveller to partake of her hospitality. Today the house is open to the public as a restaurant, pub and gift shop. Behind the house one will find jaunting cars for hire that will take visitors up the Gap in the traditional form of transportation.
I have also seen articles that purport that the words of the song were by Sydney, Lady Morgan (née Owenson) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Morgan