Activity Days Guide to Beara Peninsula, West Cork, Ireland.

Where is the Beara Peninsula

At the south west end of Ireland jutting out into the Atlantic with the fierce waves crashing  on its headland is the Bears Peninsula. This unspoilt peninsula is now home to artists, fishermen, small farmers, and those who love the outdoors. Poised on the edge of Europe Beara is a mystical place with its Buddhist retreat centre, its ancient Hag of Beara and many stone circles. Take a guided walk of these sites with the local guide (link).

Distance driving to Beara from Irish Airports

The area is not suited to Bus tours due to its narrow lanes and roads with narrow sharp bends and which look like they are going through people’s farmyards.  It is a great driving route with a road along the headland from Glengarriff to Castletownbere, Allihies, Eyres, and back to Kenmare. When in Beara make sure to drive the Healy pass  as well as around the headland. To drive from the airports are as follows:-

AirportDistanceTimeTowns Travel throughPlaces to Stop
Cork94km1.5 horsRoute is Cork on N22 turn off for Crookstown and R585 to Kealkil, then Ballilickey and GlengariffBlarney Castle just off route. Beal na Blath where Michael Collins memorial is 6km off route at Crookstown.
Kerry60km1 hr to KEnmareAirport beside N22 to Killarney, then along Lakes of Killarney to Kenmare.Stop at Muckross House and Farm in Killarney. Take a jaunting car (link)in Killarney. Stop at Molls Gap for lunch at Avoca
Shannon175km2.5 hr to KenmareShannon Airport via Limerick ( ring road around city), N21 to Adare, Newcastle West, Castleisland, N22 to Killarney, along lakes of Killarney KenmareAvoid Limreick on ring road, stop at picturesque Adare.
Dublin360km4hrs + to KenmareTake M8 from Dublin, then in Cork through Tunnell (to avoid city) and follow route above from Cork Stop at Rock of  Cashel on way south (just off motorway, Guide organised…)


Information provided by

Dont forget to drive from Glengariff to Kenmare through the tunnels – this road was build for the visit fo Prince Edward in 1990 and very recently widened and renovated.

History of the Area

There is a lot of history in this area from many different centuries. In ancient times Owen Mór was High King of Ireland, he was injured in a battle and went to Castille, Spain to recover. He returned to his homeland recovered with a bride Bear , the daughter of the King of Fastelle, this is how the area got its name. In 1602 O’Sullivan Beara, the last Gaelic Chieftan of Ireland marched his army from Beara to Leitrim after his defeat by the English at the Nine Year War in 1600’s.   There are markers of this walk in Adrigole in Beara and a long walk from Beara to Leitrim being developed for walkers and the walking route is the Beara Breifne Way is the Irelands longest national way marked trail for walking or cycling. In Castletownbere is the ruined Dunboy Castle, which was being developed as a hotel prior to the economic crash in 2008- and still not opened! Beside is is the ruined O Sullivan Beara Castle, beside which the film Ondine, staring Colin Farrell was filmed in the area in  2012. There was a lot of mining for copper in the western Beara at Allihies where a Copper Mine Museum tells of the story of the area. Take a guided walk around the Mines with a local guide who will tell of the long history of mining in Beara, which closed over 100 years ago

A Spiritual Place called Beara

The area of Beara has stone circles and the famous Cailleach Beara , the Hag of Beara who was a celtic goddess who was turned to stone after tempting the newly arrived Christian monks. There is a Buddhist Temple and  Retreat Centre perched on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic – the Dzogchen Beara Centre ( . They have a lovely cafe who serve lunch daily with lots of home cooking. Look at their site for  retreats you can join as well as accommodation. If you want to see all theses spiritual centres a local guide can show you around in a morning. There are Catholic and Church of Ireland churches scattered around the headland in villages where everyone is welcome.


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