The Beara Peninsula

Dursey Island is reached by a cable car over a terrifying ocean sound, or by boat from the tiny harbour visible from the cable car station.

Ballydonegan / Allihies Bay is truly beautiful, with a magnificent strand backed by remote and rugged stony hills.

Garinish Bay in the southwestern part of Balldonegan / Allihies Bay is the site of White Strand Quay, well sheltered by grassy sheep-grazed Long Island and Garinish Island.

Allihies Bay (Photo by Joebater)

Allihies (Co. Cork)

Allihies (Na hAilichi – “the cliff fields”) is actually the name of a parish, but is often applied to the village of Cluin, a long line of houses with views across fields towards the broad, white strand bordering Ballydonegan Bay towards Dursey Island and The Bull.  A couple of good pubs provide food and host regular traditional music sessions.

Allihies was once a thriving mining centre. In 1812 landlord John Puxley resurrected a Bronze Age tradition of mining copper ore from the surrounding Slieve Miskish hills, using a combination of imported Cornish tin miners and local labour (including children); although major operations ceased in 1884, the mines were not finally abandoned until the mid-C20th. Many locals emigrated to the copper mining country of Montana. All that remains today are the crumbling chimneys and the precarious mine shafts, which are dramatic, but dangerous to approach.

Allihies Copper Mine Museum is housed in the former Methodist Chapel, built in 1845 for the Cornish miners and their families. In addition to the interesting exhibits, there is a very pleasant café.

Many of the modern houses in the area are holiday homes, but others are evidence of prosperity, a rare phenomenon in this part of Ireland. Pace the duplex bungalows, planning regulations are applied increasingly strictly.

The annual mid-August Allihies Festival traditionally features horse racing in a dramatic setting between the ocean and the surrounding mountains.

Dzogchen Beara, a beautiful Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Centre founded by Peter and Harriet Cornish, is the headquarters of a Tibetan monk called Sogyal Rinpoche, who runs a hospice for the terminally ill. The centre has stunning Atlantic views, especially from its extraordinary Shrine Room, and provides friendly accommodation facilities at Garranes Farmhouse Hostel.

 

Coulagh Bay has superb scenery, and is a good place for  dolphin watching.

Illaunnameanla is a small, ungrazed island, seemingly used as a maritime horticultural experimental area, with many different types of young trees planted. It is also home to a lot of seals.

Inishfarnard used to be inhabited by no less than 24 people. The abandoned houses and fields are atmospheric, and the attractive island also features scenic cliffs and sea-arches.

Eyeries (Co. Cork)

Eyeries / Eyries (Na hAorai) is a very remote village, brightly painted in many hues and beautifully maintained, overlooking Coulagh Bay and the mouth of Kenmare Bay.

Eyeries (Photo by aspenhof)

The church (RC), a tasteful yellow edifice, is dedicated to Saint Kentigern, a C6th Brythonic holy man called Cyndeyrn in Welsh and better known by his pet name of Mungo, apostle of Strathclyde, founder and patron saint of Glasgow, also revered in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and recalled in JR Rowling‘s Harry Potter books with St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies.

Causkey’s pub is a most admirable, friendly and efficient establishment.

Eyeries is the place where the delicious international award-winning Milleens cheese is produced.

Talented craftspeople live in the vicinity and market their products; some artists and designers welcome visitors to their studios.

Eyeries’ Coastguard Station, well positioned to prevent local smuggling, was attacked and burned down by the IRA in 1920.

Eyeries was the location for the shooting of the film The Purple Taxi (1977) starring Fred Astaire, Peter Ustinov, and Charlotte Rampling, and also the 1998 TV series Falling for a Dancer, based on the novel by Deirdre Purcell.

Eyeries is  linked directly with Castletownbere via the R571

The Ballycrovane Ogham Stone, standing 5.3m / 17.5 ft high, is the tallest known Ogham Stone in the world. Transcribed into the Latin alphabet, the inscription reads  ‘MAQI DECCEDDAS AVI TURANIAS’ which translates as “(The stone of) the son of Deich the descendant of Torainn”, neither of whom is known to Irish historians.

Ard na Cailleach (“the Height / Crag of the Hag”) is named for a large stone below it near the shore. By tradition this is the petrified form of An Caileach Beara – The Old Hag of Beara. She is still alive in local lore, having adopted her current form by choice, and now sits looking out to sea.

Ardgroom (Co. Cork)

Ardgroom is a very small attractive village overlooking Kenmare Bay.

Near the village lie a number of megalithic monuments, the most picturesque of which is the Canfea / Canfie Stone Circle, sometimes called the “Ardgroom SW” circle to distinguish it from the remains of another stone circle northeast of the village.

Canfea / Canfie Stone Circle (Photo – megalithia.com) Thought to date from 1000BC, it is widely believed to be some form of ancient calendar. Unusually for such a group, the stones tend to taper toward points.

 

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