A Weekend on the Beara Peninsula
The Beara Peninsula straddles the border of Cork and Kerry in South-West Ireland. It is the next peninsula south of the famous Ring of Kerry. Quieter & more relaxed, I love this area for completely getting away from everything & for its the rugged Atlantic coastline. If you fancy a few days in the middle of nowhere on your Tour of Ireland, then this is the perfect place.
Staying in Kilmackillogue Where the silence soaks through you
My own personal favourite place to stay is Teddy O'Sullivan's Pub in Kilmackillogue (sometimes spelt Kilmakillogue, depending on the sign post you are looking at!) We spent two nights here. It's a quiet pub with rooms above and is right on the water's edge. The bar is a great place to chat and relax and they do some great food, notably the mussels that are landed in the small harbour right in front of the pub itself.
I think the mornings are my favourite time here, and not only for the wonderful breakfasts they do! From our bedroom you can see across the bay to the mussel farms and the mountains beyond. The total silence almost soaks into you. Just sitting there, enjoying the breakfast and relaxing with complete silence, I felt hard of leaving each day.
The Healy Pass
If you go directly south from Kilmakillogue then you will cross the peninsula via the Healy pass. It offers stunning views along with some serious descents for the budding cyclists we met on route! If you enjoy the huge vistas then this route is highly recommended, though take your time if you're on a self-drive Ireland Tour as it's a very narrow and windy route.
On the south side of the Beara Peninsula is the main town of the area, Castletownbere. Sheltered by Bere Island and with great access to the Atlantic, there's a large and busy fishing industry here, and no shortage of places serving great seafood. Castletownbere is the largest town on the Beara Peninsula and is the main economic centre. If you fancy popping into a pub there you could consider MacCarthy's Bar. This dates from the 1870s and not a huge amount has changed over the years.
Ireland's only Cable Car & Dursey Island
At the end of the Beara Peninsula is Dursey Island & Ireland's only cable car! Yes, believe it or not Ireland does have a cable car, which connects Dursey Island (County Cork) to the mainland.
The Cable Car is the main connection taking tourists, animals and everything else they need back and forth to the island (have a look at the photos and you'll see the straw in the cable car from the last livestock trip across!) Do watch out though if you fancy a trip for the opening times of the cable car which change throughout there year. You can find the opening times of Dursey Island Cable Car here.
This is the second cable car serving Dursey Island. We spotted the original one, now serving as a chicken coop, just up the road (pictured above)
No shops, no pubs, no ATM Bring everything you might need
There are perhaps half a dozen occupied houses on Dursey Island, mostly small crofting farms, along with holiday cottages you can rent. Please note though there are no shops, pubs, restaurants or anywhere else to buy anything, so do take any food and water you might need with you.
The Signalling Tower is over 200 years old and stands on the top of the Western hill. It's well worth a walk if you have some time as the views in all directions are spectacular though it's probably a good hour and a half walk from the cable car to the Signal Tower. It was built as a look-out for French invasions during the Napoleonic Wars. There are towers dotted along the whole coastline, each insight of each other. They would each have a fire built and ready on the roof, and if enemy ships were spotted the fires would be lit, the signal travelling tower to tower to rapidly send the message back that an invasion was imminent. You can see the next towers both north and south on the peninsulas either side.
Allihies Colourful Village
Allihies is a bright and colourful village that's well worth popping into. There are quite a lot of very colourful villages in the West of Ireland where each house is a different but very strong colour. Allihies is a great example of this and on a sunny day you can see the vibrant colours from miles away.
We stopped for a great lunch in O'Neill's pub which I can highly recommend. The food in O'Neill's is outstanding and the atmosphere is everything you would hope for in such a unique and picturesque setting. If you're just passing through Allihies, be sure to make this your lunch stop. There's also the Copper Mine Museum, and it's just a lovely spot to admire the views, sit down and take in the very relaxed pace of life here.