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The Beara Excursions 2017

The Beara Peninsula has a rugged beauty all it's own and is the only peninsula in Ireland that is located in two counties: Kerry and Cork. The Celts first landed in Garnish at the western tip. The Peninsula was named after the Spanish Princess Beara, daughter of the King of Castille.

Dunboy Castle, built to defend the harbour of Berehaven, was home to Donal O’Sullivan Beare, the last gaelic chieftain (and quite an interesting character). From the vantage point of the castle, he was able to control the fishing boats and collect taxes from vessels entering the harbor. Now in ruins, the castle is open to visitors!

On the way to Dunboy Castle
Dunboy Castle Today Picture by El Gringo Britain-Irish-Castles.com (http://www.britainirelandcastles.com/Ireland/County-Cork/Dunboy-Castle-ruins.html)

In the 1700's, the Puxley family was granted the rights to the Dunboy lands. The O'Sullivans were quite displeased and foretold of dire consequences to the new owners, and thus the legend of the O'Sullivan curse emerged.

Puxley Mansion/Hotel

The Puxleys added to the castle keep that overlooked the ruins. The family opened copper mines in the area and became very wealthy. Each Puxley generation added to the manor. In the 1870's, Henry Puxley was in the process of adding to the mansion yet again, when his wife died in childbirth. Henry left Ireland, the copper mines failed and Puxley Manor was left to caretakers.

In 1921, the house was set on fire by the IRA who were sure it was about to be used by the English to house troops. The Puxleys received a settlement for their land and several years later, the property went to auction and was purchased by a local man who kept it open to the public. In 1999, when costs for upkeep became prohibitive, the property was sold to a company that remodeled the manor for use as a hotel. There was a brief opening in 2007 followed by a recession that caused a halt to the enterprise and Puxley Manor was abandoned once more.

Daphne du Maurier’s Hungry Hill was based on the life of the Puxley family

Castletownbere

Castltown Berehaven is a small town located near Berehaven Harbour and is currently one of the 5 main fishing ports in Ireland. There are several restaurants, pubs, bakeries, candy and ice cream stores, groceries, gift shops, computer stores, art galleries and more.

Harbour and inside MacCarthy's

Bere Island is approximately 1.5 miles from Castletownbere and easily accessible by ferry. The island is full of bronze age archaeological sites and is teeming with wildlife from birds and butterflies to dolphins and whales. Enjoy a Sea Safari leaving from Bere Island or Castletownbere, swimming and other water sports, or just enjoy a delicious seafood dinner in one of the island restaurants or pubs.

Dursey Island

Dursey Island By ArnoutVos - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6932755

The Irish name for this island is Oileán Baoi (island of the Bull from the Viking Norse). Dursey may have been used by the Vikings to hold captured slaves. Donal O’Sullivan Bere, after stealing his cousin's wife held her hostage here.

Dursey Island is located off the southwest coast of Ireland at the western tip of the Beara Peninsula. The island is approximately 4.5 miles long and 1 mile wide and is separated from the mainland by the Dursey Sound. Ireland’s only cable car carries visitors and inhabitants to and from Dursey Island. Historically there were three towns on the island and some of the buildings remain. There are no shops or restaurants so it is advised that water and food be carried in. The main attraction is birdwatching.

Hungry Hill by Ericpol (CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8476748)

Gleninchaquin

Hungry Hill is the highest mountain in the Caha Mountains. The Mare's Tail, a waterfall originating in two lakes - Coomadayallig and Coomarkane - travels down Hungry Hill and is the highest waterfall in Ireland. The waterfall is seasonal depending on the amount of rainfall.

Gleninchaquin Park is a family owned park/farm in County Kerry. There are six walks or nature trails in the park, increasing in length and difficulty with the numbers. Wildlife and beautiful landscapes draw many tourists to this area each year.

Uragh

Uragh is a neolithic stone circle near Gleninchaquin Park. Lough Inchiquin is close by and the Mare's Tail may be seen in the distance when there has been enough rain. The stone circle consists of five megaliths with the largest being 3 meters high.

Dereen Gardens

Photo taken from http://www.derreengarden.com/the-garden/

With over 60 acres of winding paths through woods and gardens that are over 150 years old, Derren Gardens is located at the head of Kilmackillogue Harbour. The gardens boast subtropical plants from around the world and breathtaking views of the sea and the Caha Mountains. The gardens are home to Dereenies who are smaller than fairies and very hard to spot. The last known sighting was in the 1800's but a few years ago when a garden area was cleared, several small Dereeny houses were uncovered.

Garnish

Photo by Florian Fuchs, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7670132

Garnish Gardens is on Garnish Island located in Bantry Bay. A ferry in Glengarriff carries visitors to the island past Seal Island loaded with its harbour seal residents. A mansion was designed but never built but there is an unusually shaped Martello Tower, a clock tower, an Italian cottage and a Grecian temple. The 37 acres of gardens are surrounded by 100 year old woods; that and being nestled in the Glengariff Harbour with the gulf stream enables many exotic species of plants to thrive.

Bantry House

Photo by Jörg Bittner Unna - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35816428

Bantry House dates back to the 1700's and changed hands from the original owner to the Whites. By 1780 the owners had amassed 80,000 acres! The second Earl of Bantry is credited with the designing of original gardens based on his travels.

Today Bantry House is open to daily visitors. The west wing has been turned into a B & B and there is a tea room serving light lunches. Traditional tea is served between 2 and 5:30 in the library and must be booked in advance.

Kenmare

By Terryballard (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Kenmare, originally called Neidin (little nest), was the first planned town and is home to approximately 2175 people. It is located on Kenmare Bay and enjoys a mild climate year round due to the Gulf Stream. Kenmare has retained its picturesque village appearance and is situated on the famous Ring of Kerry and the less well known, but equally beautiful, The Ring of Beara. To the north of Kenmare is the Killarney National Park boasting 10,000 hectares of woods, mountains and lakes. Bonane Heritage Park is close by with archaeological sites from the Stone, Bronze and Iron ages.

Fun Facts:

  • Kenmare comes from the anglicized form of Ceann Mara meaning “head of the sea”, referring to the head of Kenmare Bay.
  • Winner of the Tidy Town Competition several times.
  • Kenmare’s stone circle is one of the largest in SW Ireland and is oval in shape and is from the Bronze Age (2,200-500 B.C.).
  • The Holy Cross Catholic Church was consecrated in 1864. Stained glass windows are by O’Connor London (1863), Caseys Dublin (1864) and by Earley Dublin (1864).
  • Kenmare is the home of the Kenmare Kestrels, one of the thirteen Quidditch teams in the Harry Potter stories. (The team wears emerald robes that have two K’s on the chest.)
  • The song, “As I leave behind Neidin” was written by Jimmy McCarthy and recorded by Mary Black and others.
  • The town was also mentioned in a Star Trek episode “Breaking the Ice” – the crew answers questions from children from Kenmare.
  • Kenmare Bay is home to the White-tailed Sea Eagle, fourth largest eagle in the world.

Credits:

artisticXcursions, LLC

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