The town of Sneem is situated on the Iveragh Peninsula which is part of the Ring of Kerry, and lies on the estuary of the River Sneem.
The Irish name for the town "An tSnaidhm" translates into the English "The Knot". There are several explanations as to why a "knot" would be relevant for this small Kerry village. First, and most obviously, the Sneem river flows through the village and it is said that a knot-like swirling takes place when the river meets the currents of Kenmare Bay in the estuary just below the village. Sneem village comprises 2 squares, North and South. There is a bridge in the middle of the village which if looked at from an aerial perspective acts as a knot between the two village squares. A less common explanation is that Sneem is the knot in the famed Ring of Kerry scenic tourist drive. In order to complete the Ring of Kerry one must pass through the village of Sneem so therefore Sneem could be viewed as "the knot".
In March 1978 Sneem was the venue for the state funeral for former President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh who resided in the area prior to his death.
There are a number of common Irish names associated with Sneem, including Sullivan and O'Sullivan. Because there can be many O'Sullivans, locals append words to differentiate between them for example O'Sullivan-Mountain.
Former French President Charles de Gaulle visited here on numerous occasions and there is a sculpture commemorating this in the village.
The legendary Casey family of rowers and wrestlers were all from Sneem; the most famous was Steve 'Crusher' Casey who emigrated to America in 1936. He was both NWA and AWA heavyweight wrestling champion of the world a total of five separate times between 1938 and 1947. On one occasion he held the title for just a few weeks before being defeated. In 1982 he received the Irish Hall Of Fame Award, presented by Olympic gold medallist Ronnie Delany. There is a statue commemorating him in the village.
William Melville, the first head of the British Secret Service, was born at nearby Direenaclaurig Cross.
The Gaelic footballer Ronan Hussey, who was a member of the Kerry senior football panel, is a native of Sneem and still plays with Sneem GAA.
In 2000, a time capsule was buried in the centre of the town. It will be opened in 2100.
County Kerry is one of the traditional counties of Ireland. It is located within the province of Munster. Kerry is the fifth largest of Ireland’s 32 counties in area and 14th largest in terms of population. It is the second largest of Munster’s 6 counties in size and fourth largest in terms of population.
Kerry is an anglicisation of Ciarraí, itself derived from Ciarraighe, or "people of Ciar" the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe who lived in part of the present county. The legendary founder of the tribe was Ciar, son of Fergus mac Róich. In Old Irish "Ciar" meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective describing a dark complexion.The suffix raighe meaning people/tribe is found in various place names in Ireland, such as Osry – Osraighe Deer-People/Tribe.