Top 10 in Beara Peninsula, Ireland

Tourist Attractions in Beara

Walking – Bere Island-Drive Healy Pass- Copper Mines – Artists-Sea Safari

Where is the Beara Peninsula

At the south west end of Ireland jutting out into the wild Atlantic lies the mountainous Beara Peninsula with Bantry Bay to the south and the Kenmare River to the north. The majority of the peninsula is in County Cork while the north eastern section near Kenmare is in County Kerry. It forms one of the most spectacular sections of the Wild Atlantic Way.

The Beara is famous for its scenery of sparkling seascapes and the Caha and Slieve Miskish mountain ranges with their dramatic landscapes. This unspoilt peninsula is now home to artists, fishermen, small farmers and those who love the outdoors. It also has some lovely small towns and villages. Poised on the edge of Europe Beara is a mystical place known for its ancient stone circles, the legendary Hag of Beara and a Buddhist retreat centre. Take a guided walk of some of these sites with a local guide (link).  From Glengarriff you can drive the coastal route and at Lauragh head for the Healy Pass or continue on towards Kenmare and return to Glengarriff via the Caha Pass.

The information has been subdivided into Top 10 Things to Do  and 10 Family Activities to do on the Beara.

Ewe Sculpture Garden,

Garinish Island Beara Peninsula, West Cork

Casita covered in Wisteria on Garinish Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Things to Do in the Beara Peninsula, Ireland.

1

Driving on Beara

The Beara peninsula offers some of Ireland’s best scenery and unspoilt landscapes along narrow characterful roads. These are the  top 3 driving routes:

1 From Glengarriff to Kenmare the N71 over the Caha Pass takes you though the tunnels route into County Kerry. You can detour from this to visit Barley Lake which dates from the Ice Age.

2  Drive the southern Beara from Glengariff to the western tip at Dursey Sound via the R572. Then take the R575 through Allihies, the R571 via Eyeries and from Lauragh take  the coastal R573 to Kenmare. This can be done in 4 and a half  hours, without stops. But this is not a route to be rushed so allow a day to drive it so you can stop along the way.

3 The Healy Pass – at Lauragh on the northern side of the peninsula take the R574 over the Healy pass and enjoy truly spectacular views. Sitting at the top is a great place for a picnic.

2

Walk the Beara Way

The Beara area has over 125 miles of walking trails, many of which are  on very difficult terrain and need to be guided.  ActivityDays can provide advice on loop and longer walks in the area or can connect you with local walking guides.

3

Visit Gardens – Garinish, Ewe or Derreen.

Take a boat to Garinish Island from Glengarriff to visit the famous sub tropical garden designed by Harold Peto. The boatman gives you time to view seals basking on the rocks on the way over and you may see eagles nesting in the trees.

The Ewe Garden, near Glengarriff is a sculpture garden which children and adults  will love. The focus is on witty sculptures and ecology.

Derreen Garden near Lauragh offers lovely walks through its 60 acres and also has a cafe.

4

Night Kayak in Glengarriff

A night kayak trip in summer is a must to see the magical phosphorescence caused by the glow of millions of tiny marine organisms, mostly Noctiluca miliaris. Discover how these tiny organisms emit light when oxygenated in water. This trip starts at dusk and the guide takes small groups only from Glengarriff

5

Duresy Island via Ireland only Cable Car

At the western point of Allihies is Dursey Island, where you travel on Irelands only cable car to the uninhabited island. A local guide can tell you of the history of the island in a 3 hour walking trip along the island.

6

Food on the Beara

Pick up a picnic of local cheese (Milleens, Durrus, Gubbeen), soda bread and drinks. Visit McCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere for a drink or sit outside an Allihies pub.

7

Sea Safari  or Fishing Trip

Take a sea safari  from Castletownbere or Bere island to view the marine wildlife, a thrill for all the family. There may be height and age limits for some of this activity.

8

Bere Island

Hire a bike, take the ferry to the western end of the island and cycle to the nearby lighthouse.Then cycle the island lanes, maybe  have a swim and visit Fort Berehaven before returning to the mainland via the ferry from the eastern end of the island.

Take a ferry to Bere Island at Murphy’s Pontoons east of Castletownbere and visit the Military fortifications at the eastern end of the island. Leave the car on the mainland at the ferry stop as it only takes 3 cars along with foot passengers. Walking on the island is easy with little traffic. There is a heritage centre and the old fashioned pub/shop is a treat.

9

Mystical Beara

Beara is rich in ancient sites including stone circles and is famous for the Cailleach Beara, the Hag of Beara, a celtic goddess turned to stone after tempting the newly arrived Christian monks. The Buddhist Temple and Retreat Centre perched on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic  is spectacular- the Dzogchen Beara Centre. Guided Tour option.

10

Guided Tour to Artists and Writers

.There are many artists who have come to live in Beara for its rugged, unspoilt beauty. There are art galleries and craft shops as well as a Beara Craft trail. To see how the artists live to take a guided afternoon trip to visit 4 or more artists in their studio with the local guide. The well-known artists who live here include Tim Goulding, Cormac Boydell, Sarah Walker, Bill Griffin and many more inspired by the landscape of the area. Writers and artists can stay in a dedicated Retreat Centre at Eyeries.

Uragh Stone Circle Gleninchaquin Park, Kerry.

Uragh Stone Circle on the Beara Peninsula

Gleninchaquin Park, Beara Peninsula, Co Kerry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Fun on the Beara

1

Walking  in Glengariff Wood

Glengarriff Wood has short loops of 3-8km and is open to all. It is a nature reserve so bring a picnic but leave no trace. The entrance to the Nature Reserve is 1 km outside the village of Glengarriff.

2

Parkrun

There  are 5km free  Park Runs  in Glengarriff Woods and Bere Island weekly.

3

Swim in the Sea

There’s a beautiful beach at Allihies or swim off one of the many piers in the area. The Atlantic water can be a bit bracing and  a wetsuit allows children to stay longer in the sea.

4. 

Allihies and Copper Mining

Copper was mined on the northern side of the peninsula at Allihies where a Copper Mine Museum tells 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

5

Chocolate Making Workshop

Take an afternoon chocolate making class with a master artisan chocolatier, part of a class with the children or book out the class for a group of 10 or more.

6

Visit Eyeries Village

This is one of the most colourful  village on The full Wild Atlantic Way. It is on the north side of the Beara Headland and is a great base for exploring the area.

7

Archeological Trail & Farm Walk

Call to Molly Darcy’s craft shop with its old kitchen, poteen still and  short farm walk.  Or  spend the full day walking part of the Beara Way. Has a cafe serving tea and scones in an old stone house. 

8

Arts and Craft Shops

There are many artists living and working in the Beara. Admire their work in the craft shops or art galleries of the Beara.

9

Hire a bike

Hire bikes with a family in in Glengariff or Castletownbere or  Lauragh and cycle country lanes or to cycle the headland. Available for a day or for longer.

10

Visit a Magical Castle

Just outside the fishing port of Castletownbere is the ruined Dunboy Castle of the O’Sullivan’s. The film Ondine, starring Colin Farrell, was filmed in the area in  2012.

Pub in Castletownbere

Old House on Kenmare Road N71

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History of Beara Area

The history of this area spans many centuries. It got its name in ancient times from the Spanish princess Beara who married Owen Mor, High King of Ireland, who had gone to Spain for treatment for injuries. In 1603 Donal Cam O’Sullivan Bere, the last Gaelic Chieftain of Ireland, marched his army from Beara to Leitrim after his defeat by the English in 1602. There are markers of this walk in Adrigole in Beara and the 500km walking and cycling trail following the route, the Beara-Breifne Way, is Ireland’s longest national way marked trail.

Much of the land in the north of the peninsula was taken by William Petty, famous for the Down Survey. His daughter Anne married local aristocrat Thomas Fitzmaurice and family fortunes improved further. Their descendants became the Earls of Shelburne and later Marquesses of Lansdowne, one of the UK’s most influential families. Derreen House and Garden was the summer retreat of the later marquesses.

Copper was mined on the Beara until about 100 years ago with many Cornish workers coming over to train locals in mining skills. The area featured in the Daphne du Maurier novel Hungry Hill, made into a film in 1947.


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Distance driving to Beara from Irish Airports

Airport Distance Time Towns Travel through Places to Stop
Cork 94km 1.5 hrs The route is Cork on N22 turn off for Crookstown and R585 to Kealkil, then Ballilickey and Glengariff Blarney Castle just off the route. Beal na Blath where Michael Collins memorial is 6km off route at Crookstown.
Kerry 60km 1 hr to Kenmare Airport 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
Shannon 175km 2.5 hr to Kenmare Shannon Airport via Limerick ( ring road around the city), N21 to Adare, Newcastle West, Castleisland, N22 to Killarney, along lakes of Killarney Kenmare Avoid Limerick on the ring road, stop at picturesque Adare.
Dublin 360km 4hrs + to Kenmare Take M8 from Dublin, then in Cork through Tunnell (to avoid city) and follow the route above from Cork Stop at Rock of  Cashel on way south (just off the motorway, Guide organised…)

Information provided by ActivityDays.ie

Drive the Beara Ring

Garinish Ireland

Stunning Gardens on Garinish Island, West Cork.

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