Ireland’s Best Kept Secret
The Beara Peninsula (Mor Choaird Bheara) is a heavenly place of rock-studded mountains with striking green dells descending at unachievable angles into the Atlantic Ocean. It is a magical place imbued with tradition and legends. The ancient mountains and valleys are rich in archaeological sites including stone circles, wedge graves and other remnants from Ireland‘s fascinating history.
The peninsula also offers a ruggedly handsome coastline with numerous great fishing spots, as well as attractive lakes embraced by the picturesque mountains. Linking all of this together is the Beara Way walking route, a cycling route and the Ring of Beara, for those interested in a scenic drive.
The Beara Peninsula offers villages as welcoming and charming as anyone could hope for. One of the many cute little villages awaiting your visit is that of Allihies. This was the centre of the copper-mining area in yesteryears. In the 19th century, Cornish workers were brought in as technical experts. Many of the remnants of their Cornish-style villages can still be seen today. Plenty of fool’s gold is available around the workings. Be mindful, however, as travellers should be wary of unguarded mineshafts and other hazards. Allihies is the home of Ballydonegan Beach, which was created by crushed stones from the mines. Allihies also offers a local mining museum, plenty of walking and hiking opportunities, water sports, bird watching, scuba diving, as well as dolphin and whale watching. The Beara Way passes directly through this quaint village.
Castletownbere is another area on the peninsula that shouldn’t be missed. In 1602, the Battle of Dunboy occurred here with the O’Sullivan Beare clan battling the English. The castle ruins are enjoyed by tourists and locals alike, and the town is bustling with activity and energy. People from all walks enjoy the fine assortment of eateries.
Fresh fish is served in many of the restaurants and pubs, well known for their delightful dishes. One cannot visit Castletownbere without stopping into MacCarthy’s Bar, a genuine grocery-store on one side and pub on the other. Travellers can expect friendly faces, much laughter and frequent games of bridge and darts. The town square is the centre of activity with its pubs and shops, all within trouble-free walking and parking distance.
Castletownbere is the home of the second safest natural harbour in the world. Yachts and larger ships often call in for safe mooring in Berehaven Harbour, which lies between the town and Bere Island. Canoeing is also taught here, and hiking and biking are equally popular throughout this scenic area. Castletownbere is home to Hungry Hill, the peak of the Caha mountains in Beara. This lovely sight offers visitors a stately waterfall flowing down into the regal sea.
The Peninsula is also the home of Ireland’s only cable car. Built to take the people of Dursey Island and their animals safely to the mainland, the thrillingly, wobbly cable car now awaits to take you to the island. Since a trip to Dursey Island can, at best, hold a mere six cars and 15 travellers, peace and seclusion is a sure bet. You will practically have the island to yourself. Locations for shore angling have been marked throughout, so be sure to keep an eye out for the signs as you make your way around the gorgeous coastal drive.
The Beara Peninsula has three notable islands for world travellers to explore. Dursey, being the first and most well known, with Garnish and Bere Island to also be remembered. Bere Island has accommodation for travellers. Thankfully, this allows more time to explore the local fort, henges and walks. However, don’t delay in making your arrangements! Ardagh village is a true Irish holiday village, offering guests only two clusters of four detached houses each.
These lovely cottages are located on a hillside overlooking the striking marina full of yachts, the historic harbour of Berehaven and the stately mountains of Cork and Kerry. Garnish Island is internationally renowned for its remarkable Italian Gardens. Abundant in natural beauty and old world charm, Glengarriff makes the ideal centre for exploring the area further. The wild scenery of the Beara Peninsula truly begins here, although the harmony and splendour of the lakes of Inchigeela, Gougane Barra and the Borlin Valley are only a short jaunt away.
Backpacking your way around the peninsula is fun and catered for. Tourists may benefit from convenient hostels in Castletownbere, Allihies and Glanmore. These sites are linked by the Beara Way, a lovely hiking trail which offers visitors a breathtaking walk through broad panoramas and stunning scenery. Just look for the black and yellow markers that will guide you around this lovely peninsula. Many people also enjoy cycling around the peninsula on the increasingly popular Beara Cycling route. Maps are available online as well as at establishments on the Peninsula.
Fiercer than Dingle and more intense than Kerry, the Beara Peninsula is the best-kept secret in this stunning region of Ireland. On your next trip to Ireland, be sure to visit the Peninsula and experience all that it has to offer.
top flickr image by Frenkieb
text flickr image by tonyhall
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