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Reencaheragh Cottage

Portmagee, County Kerry

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The History That Surrounds Us - Part I

The History That Surrounds Us - Part II

History of County Kerry

Local Place Names

 

                             Local Activities 

   
          View from Geokaun Mountain on Valentia Island  

County Kerry, and particularly the Iveragh peninsula, are rich in Irish history, 
culture and natural beauty. There are many activities for your holiday, no matter 
what the weather brings! 

Portmagee, situated in the at the southwestern portion of the Iveragh peninsula, 
is surrounded by breathtaking coastal and rural scenery. It is also easily accessible 
to many interesting attractions around the Ring of Kerry. There is much to do just 
in South Kerry, and here  is a sampling of the local activities. Detailed brochures
are available in the cottage.

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Hill walking and Hiking 

There are many walks in the area--hill walking is one of Kerry's best activities! Several 
maps and excerpts from local hiking/hill walking books are provided in the cottage. 
Here are some examples:

St. Fionan’s Bay—the road up the hill from the house towards Ballinskelligs leads to 
spectacular views of the bay and the surrounding countryside.
(see photo here) You 
can continue along the ridge for expansive views of the peninsula including Ireland's
highest mountains--Macgillicuddy's Reeks.

Bray Headvisible from the house, and at the mouth of Portmagee harbor, Bray Head
 is a short, easy walk along the trail after the car-park on Valentia Island. A c. 1800 
lookout tower marks the highest point, and on fine days excellent views can be had 
of Dingle Bay, the Skelligs, and Kerry’s highest sea-cliffs just up the hill from the 
house. (see photo here)

South Kerry Geofest--The South Kerry Geofest is a new style of festival aimed 
at the outdoor enthusiast with an interest in culture, heritage, wildlife and the arts. The 3 day programme of walks, arts, cultural and social events celebrates the landscape and the artists, which are inspired by its spectacular beauty. The festival is held on the Iveragh Peninsula on the October Bank Holiday weekend. For the first time the towns and villages in the area have worked together to produce a comprehensive programme of events that will take place in Sneem, Caherdaniel, Castlecove, Waterville, Ballinskelligs, Blackwater, Portmagee, Knightstown, Valentia Island and Cahersiveen.

 

                             
                                                   
Cahersiveen town

Cahersiveen walks--There are several walks in the Cahersiveen area, both hill 
walking and more leisurely walks along quiet country lanes. 

Bentee Loop walk: This is an easy walk around Bentee Mountain, sign-posted
from Cahersiveen, with nice views of Cahersiveen town and surrounding area; 
enquire at Tourist Information office.

Knocknadobar: The name means “Hill of the wells” (Cnoc na dTobar
due to its religious significance from early Christian times. ~500 BC cairn 
(stone burial mound) near the peak, indicating ancient spiritual significance 
for this mountain. We guarantee you a religious experience of some sort when 
you make it to the top!

Drung Hill --  A strenuous walk rewarded with fine views of the area, as well as for
visiting a very ancient holy site. First used for pre-Christian Lughnasa festivals by 

members of the Drung kingdom,and 
later as the site an early Christian leacht 
and holy well. The leacht (a rectangular 
stone mound used for religious services, 
requently containing the grave of a saint) 
is quite large, and is reputed to contain 
the remains of St. Fionan, a famous 
saint from early Christian times in Kerry.
 There is also a standing stone 
with Ogham inscriptions.

Coomasaharn Lake Horseshoe

Ridge walk with great views of the Iveragh Peninsula. Requires a steep climb to/from ridge. Trout fishing in lake. Ancient rock-art in the area.

Derrynanethere are several nice walks in this area, beginning in the sand dunes in 
Derrynane National Park near Castlecove (on the Ring of Kerry road past Waterville). 
A beach walk to Abbey Island (old abbey ruin) is an easy
one. Or try a moderate 
8km/5mi circuit hike going along the ocean and then up along the hillside overlooking 
beautiful Derrynane Bay, then down through the woods of Derrynane

Eagles Hill
--near Castle Cove , with views of Castle Cove harbor, ~500 b.c. Staigue
 Fort and copper mine originally begun ~2000 BC or earlier, used in local bronze-making 
and a source of ancient metal-working trade that flourished in this area in Bronze and 
Iron-age Ireland.

Rossbeigh
According to legend, Oisin and Niamh galloped over the sea on their 
white horse to Tir na nOg from the end of the strand. This is an easy
circuit walk 
along the ocean dunes near Glenbeigh, 8km/5mi.
Bolus Head
—a road walk with breathtaking sea views over Ballinskelligs Bay, 10km/6mi.
Maughernane
—a nice lakeside hike near Waterville, 8km/5mi.
Cloghvoola
—a spectacular walk ascending 640m/2100ft in the Waterville area, 10km/6mi.

The Kerry Way--this circuit tail around the Ring of Kerry passes close to Portmagee.

Valentia Island has a number of scenic walks.


                   Beginish and Church Islands from Valentia Isalnd

Various hiking maps, books and directions are provided in the cottage.

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Beaches
There are several beaches in our area.  
  • Reencaheragh - long, 
    secluded beach along 
    harbor, just a short walk 
    from the cottage
  • Rossbeigh - 30km: two 
    miles of Blue Flag beach
  • Derrynane - 30km: large, spectacular Blue Flag beach
  • Glanleam, Valentia - 9km: Small beach in nice location
  • Ballinskelligs - 11km: Blue flag beach
  • St Fionan's Bay - 10km: Small sandy beach in spectacular location
    (not recommended for swimming)
  • Inny Strand - 8km: Over 
    2km of sand - very safe 
    swimming beach
  • Cooncrome - 12km: Nice 
    secluded beach safe for 
    swimming
  • White Strand - 15km: Blue
    flag beach
  • Kells Bay - 20km: Blue flag
    beach

 

Biking / Cycling

Bicycling is another quiet and slow way to see the countryside while on vacation. Bikes 
are available for use at the cottage, and you can hire bikes in Cahersiveen.

Valentia Island—Valentia Island is a quiet and peaceful farming area with many side-roads 
to explore. Ride from Caherciveen to the Valentia Island car ferry at Renard. Ride along 
the quiet lanes of the island. Stop for lunch in Knightstown before taking the ferry back.

Ballycarberry Castle and nearby ringforts—take the road out of Caherciveen across the Fertha River (at the Old Barracks) and ride to these undiscovered historical gems of southwest Kerry. The castle is the former stronghold of the McCarthy Mors, a ruling clan on the peninsula c. 1000 – 1600 CE. The Leacanabuaile and Cahergall ringforts are well-restored dry-stone circular fortifications with walls ten feet thick, built by the Celts after their arrival c. 300 BCE. 

 

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Car-touring

The Iveragh Peninsula, also called the "Ring of Kerry" because of the popular touring 
route around the outer edge of the peninsula, offers many possible routes and destinations 
for scenic country rides. Here are some we like:  

Coast Road to Kenmare. This takes you along the beautiful east side of the peninsula with 
views of the Kenmare River and the Beara peninsula. Kenmare is a nice town with shops, 
restaurants and other amenities. There are a number of scenic villages along the way with 
much to offer. Staigue fort, built by the Celts around 500 BCE, is close by the main road 
and is well worth a visit.


                  Kenmare town


Coast Road to Glenbeigh, return on inland 
route. This trip takes you along the scenic 
western coast with views of Dingle Bay and 
the Dingle peninsula. From Glenbeigh you 
could take the road towards Caragh Lake 
and find your way down the middle of 
the peninsula towards Waterville.

Dingle peninsula: Take the coast road from Castlemaine and drive to Dingle, which is a 
large town with many shops and places to eat and drink. The road to Slea Head is very 
scenic. The road over Conor Pass and down to Cloghane and Brandon is also very 
nice.  Louis Muchahy has a pottery shop nearby. The Blasket Islands visitor center 
is very interesting and has a tea shop. There are many sites of archeological interest 
on the peninsula, such as promontory forts, ogham stones, standing stones and cloghans.

The Beara peninsula is well worth a trip. Glengarriff has a fine garden (see below) nearby
and out on the peninsula the countryside is very scenic. The villages of Ardgroom and 
Eyeries are nice. There are several excellent stone circles and standing stones near
Laraugh and Ardgroom, dating to about 2000 - 1000 BCE.

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Gardens

The warm Gulf Stream passes close to the shores of Kerry which creates a temperate
 climate ideal for a variety of plant life. There are several gardens nearby to enjoy this 
unique climate.

GlanleamValentia Island: Glanleam Subtropical Gardens were created over 150 
years ago by the Knight of Kerry and are famous for a unique collection of rare and 
tender southern hemisphere plants. Woodlands sweep down to the sea, overlooking
 the spectacular scenery of Valentia harbour and the distant Kerry mountains. Broad 
walks weave through jungle-like plantings of South American palms, Australian tree 
ferns, bananas and giant groves of bamboo and myrtles from Chile.

Kells--Just off of the Ring of Kerry heading towards Glenbiegh from Portmagee, this
 recently-opened garden features a tree fern forest, a ladies walled garden and more.

Muckross--Killarney -- The gardens of Muckross House are famed for their beauty 
world-wide. In particular they are noted for their fine collection of Rhododendrons 
and Azaleas, extensive water garden, and an outstanding rock garden hewn out of
 natural limestone.

Dunloe Castle—Killarney--The gardens at Dunloe Castle combine the wild grandeur
 of loughs and mountains, including Macgillycuddy's Reeks, with rarities of the plant 
world seldom seen elsewhere in Ireland. Each season brings its own
specialties
camellias and rhododendrons in spring, magnolias and sun roses in summer, Irish heaths
 and richly tinted leaves in autumn.

Dereen Gardens--Lauragh, Kenmare--The luxuriant woodlands of Derreen Gardens
 give glimpses of the sea and the surrounding wild and majestic country. Mossy 
paths and lichen-encrusted rocks, tunnels in deep shade through the rhododendrons,
 towering eucalyptus and groves of bamboo all contribute to the making of this fine 
sub-tropical garden. Perhaps the most famous feature of Derreen is a grove of the
 tender New Zealand tree fern, dicksonia antarctica
.

Ilnacullin (Garinish Island)--Bantry--Located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff 
in Bantry Bay, Ilnacullin is a small island of 15 hectares (37 acres) known to 
horticulturists and lovers of trees and shrubs all around the world as an island 
garden of rare beauty.

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Gaelic Football

County Kerry is home to some of the finest Gaelic football in all of Ireland. Kerry's 
football teams have won the All-Ireland trophy
more than 30 times. Local clubs, 
including the Skellig Rangers of Portmagee, play at various times during the year. 

Gaelic football began in earnest in Ireland in the late 1800’s, as part of an effort to
promote Irish culture. It is now an integral part of the fabric of Ireland, with various 
league competitions going on throughout the year. It is an exciting game which 
combines speed, endurance and skill
. Check with the foodstore in the village for
the next Rangers match, which might be played at the village pitch just up the road 
(towards the cottage, go straight instead of turning right at the bend). Caherciveen,
 Waterville, Valentia and other local towns also have games which are usually
posted in local stores and pubs

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Historical Sites

Some of the popular sites locally are:

  

The Skelligs One of the most interesting historical sites in Kerry is a short 

    

1-hour boat-ride from Portmagee harbor, just 8 miles off of the coast.At Skellig Michael,
 monks landed in the 6th century and built their monastery 700 feet up on the steep rock. 
The monks inhabited the island until the 12th century. The hermitage site is open to the 
public, and expert staff provide historical guides to visitors. Thousands of puffins inhabit 
the island through mid-July.

The Skelligs Rock is one of many scenic attractions in the Kerry region. It is famous for 
the gannet colony - the second largest in Europe. The 'Skellig Experience' visitor center 
is just across the channel from Portmagee on Valentia Island. The exhibition includes the 
History and Archaeology of Skellig Michael's Early Christian Monastery, the Sea Birds,  
their habitat and worldwide travels, the Lighthouses which have given 161 years of 
service to mariners, and the Underwater Skellig, which has many interesting creatures 
and plants.

Ballycarberry Castle and two nearby ringforts - Cahergall and
Leacanabuaile
(outside Cahersiveen)

Just outside of Caherciveen, the castle is the former stronghold of the McCarthy Mors, 
a ruling clan on the peninsula c. 1000 – 1600. The ringforts are well-restored dry-
stone circular fortifications,
built by the Celts after their arrival c. 300 BCE.  

Staigue Cashel (Stone Fort) (Castlecove--30 minutes)

Staigue Fort, in nearby Castlecove,  is probably the finest example of a stone fort 
in Ireland, and is about 2500 years old. It is built of local stone and is almost circular, 
27m in diameter. The walls are almost 4m thick at the base, and 2m thick at the top. 

Derrynane House and Abbey Island (Castlecove--45 minutes)

Ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, famous Irish lawyer, politician and statesman, known as “the Liberator” for his work in obtaining emancipation of Catholics from restrictions imposed after the Act of Union in 1800. Contains gardens. Nearby Abbey Island contains ruins of the 8th century      
St. Fionan’s Abbey (pictured at right) and is easily accessible on nice beach walk from 
Derrynane House. 

Ross Castle (Killarney--1 hour and 20 minutes)

Well-restored 14th century castle situated on the lakes of Killarney. Tours are given
 year-round, but only on weekends in the off-season.
This well-restored Castle and outer 
defenses were built by the O'Donoghue Ross Chieftains during the 15th century. The 
barracks alongside dates from the mid 18th century. The castle houses a fine collection
of 16th and 17th century oak furniture.

Other Sites of historical and archeological interest

There are many remnants of times past, dating as far as 4500 years ago, in 
the area. We have prepared a summary of the many local sites in our area, contained
 in The History That Surrounds Us, Part I and Part II. For more information on these
 and other ancient sires, see: More information can be found at these websites:  

Megaliths of Kerry
,  Megalithic Portal to Kerry, and Megalithia

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Golf  
County Kerry offers some of the finest golf in Ireland.. The world-famous links course at Waterville is only a 20 minute drive from the cottage. Also nearby are Dooks, Killarney and Kenmare. Ballybunion and Old Head (Kinsale) are within several hours' drive through beautifull scenic countryside.

 

Here are the local courses:

Waterville Golf Club (10 minutes' drive)
Championship course, seaside links, designer E. Hackett, fees- €125 euro per player per 
round, early bird rate Monday - Thursday (excluding bank holidays)
€63 euro per round if playing before 8am or after 4pm. Pre-booking essential

Dooks Golf Club (40 minutes' drive)
Tel (066)9768205
18 hole - par 70 - 6010 yards - 5495 m
Seaside Links near Glenbeigh - opens 10.00am

Killorglin Golf Club (40 minutes' drive)
Tel (066)9761979 Email: kilgolf@iol.ie
18 hole - Par 72 - 6497 yards - 5940m
Parkland: 8.00am till dark, Bar and Restaurant
Club Hire and Caddie Service available (pre booking)

Parknasilla (near Sneem): 064 – 45233
Kenmare: 064 – 41291
Killarney Golf and Fishing club 064 – 31014
Beaufort (near Killarney) 064-44440
Dunloe (near Killarney): 064 - 44578
Ross (near Killarney, 9 holes): 064 - 31125
Tralee: 066-713-6370
Ballybunion: 068-27146
Old Head of Kinsale: 021-477-8444

For more information on golf in the area, visit these websites:

Southwest Ireland Golf

Kerry Golf

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Angling—inland

There is excellent freshwater fishing nearby. Visit the Central Fisheries Board website for general information about inland fishing, and the Southwestern Regional Fisheries Board website for local details. Also, see the Lough Currane website for good information about access to the Lough 
Currane watershed.

Many local ghillies (expert guides) are available for a wide variety of inland fishing interests. Information is provided in the cottage, or contact us for more information. Here is

The Cummeragh River drains a catchment of 46 square miles, including ten loughs into Lough Currane near Waterville. The river is known for summer grilse fishing that extends through to the end of September, while also producing occasional spring salmon.

The River Inny catchment, also near Waterville, is a long narrow mountain valley of some 47 square miles, and the fishing, which can be excellent, is usually confined to about 8 hours following a spate. Regarded mainly as a grilse fishery, it also gets a run of good sea trout from April and smaller fish throughout the summer.
 

The Butler House Pool is contained within a short fishery of only about 400 yards, which drains Lough Currane and the entire Waterville system into Ballinskelligs Bay. All fish entering the system must pass through this short fishery. Spring fish tend to run straight into the lough and it is better known as a grilse fishery with enormous runs of seatrout throughout July and August.

Lough Currane sits only a few feet above sea-level, with a beautiful backdrop of mountains and spruce forests. Measuring four miles by 2 miles (at the widest point), it is by far the largest ‘pool’ on the Cummeragh River. Big spring salmon and vast numbers of seatrout have to run only a short 500 yard length of river to reach the lough. Although all legitimate methods may be used, fly-fishing is the norm and some trolling for early season sport.

 

Lough Isknagahiny (Capal Lake), the short Capal River (1.5 miles) connects Lough Isknagahiny to Lough Currane. Isknagahiny is a small lake, barely 1 mile in length and less than half a mile wide. However, it is capable of producing spring salmon and sea trout over 6 pounds. It has many small rocky fish-holding islands and the most scenic backdrop of the Coomcallee mountain is magnificent.

Derriana is the top lough on the Currane system and is Southwest Kerry’s brown trout ‘jewel’, containing trout of a higher than average size for non-limestone lakes. The lough also holds good heads of salmon and large sea trout from as early as April. The lough is two miles long and sits amidst stunning mountain scenery

Lough Namona is a short distance up the Currane / Cummeragh system, and produces many of the very large sea trout for which the area is famous. The lough also contains many free-rising brown trout

Lough Cloonaghlin sits on the same Cummeragh tributary which eventually flows into Lough Currane. Although noted for the occasional salmon, it is best known as a sea trout and brown trout fishery

For the adventurous angler, there are dozens of hill loughs on the Waterville system. All contain unique strains of free-rising brown trout and some, connected to the main upper lakes, can hold large sea trout.

There are also managed rainbow trout fisheries at Lough Fadda (Sneem), Barfinnihy Lake (Kenmare) and Lough Nakirka (Killorglin), normally open from June to the end of August.

The River Laune near Killarney enjoys a run of salmon throughout the year and a good spring run. The fishery is five miles from Killarney in a lovely wooded setting easily accessible from the road. The river drains the largest of the Killarney Lakes, Lough Leane, which is famous for its brown trout.

 

Local ghillies can provide a variety of services such as boat hire, lessons, tackle and bait, and private guides. Here are some local experts to help you:

Neil O’Shea, 66 9474527     87 9942792

John Murphy, 66 9475257     86 3991074

Terrence Wharton, 66 9474264

Tom O’Shea   66 9474973

Junior Scully,  66 9474270

Bob Priestly,  66 9474726

John Griffin,  66 9474370

Dominic McGillicuddy   66 9474023

Mike Dwyer,  66 9474081

Vincent Appleby,  066 9475248

Brod O’Sullivan,  66 9474249

Roger Baker,  66 9478009

Sylvester Donnelly,  66 9474327

John Buckley, 64 22884

John Murphy, 66 9475257 or 21 7331196

 

 

Angling—ocean  

The influential Gulf Stream waters from the Gulf of Mexico drift close to the south-west coast of Ireland and every year sub tropical species of fish mingle with Blue Shark, Gurnard, Tope, Wrasse, Pollack, Mackerel, Plaice, Spurdogs, Bass, Flats, Ray, Conger, Dog Fish, Huss, Whiting, Mullet, Codling, and Coalfish, constituting a great variety of fish in some of the cleanest waters in Europe.

Fully equipped and approved boats are available in Portmagee as well as Valentia; Cahersiveen; Derrynane; Caherdaniel; Killorglin; and Sneem.

The Central Fisheries Board publishes a comprehensive Irish Angling Guide, which is available in the Skellig Experience centre on Valentia Island.

          
Sea Angling:  Shore angling: 
  • Kells: rock fishing for pollack, wrasse and dog fish
  • Coonanna Harbour: Fishing off pier - flat fish, conger
  • Cooncrome Harbour: Rock fishing on western side - pollack, wrasse and mackerel
  • Lough Kay: flatfish, occasional ray
  • Valentia Island: Ray, conger, mullet, pollack, mackerel
  • Renard Point: Off pier - Flatfish, mackerel, bass at outflow from Fish Plant (bottom and float fishing)
  • Portmagee - Dogfish, small pollack off bridge. Conger and mullet in harbour
  • St. Fionans Bay: Bass, flatfish (surf fishing). Pollack, mackerel, wrasse (rock fishing)
  • Ballinskelligs Bay/Waterville: Bass, flat fish (surf fishing)
  • Hogs Head: Pollack, mackerel, wrasse (rock fishing)
  • Derrynane: Bass, flatfish (surf fishing)
  • Lambs Head: Pollack, mackerel, wrasse, conger, dog fish (spinning and bottom fishing)

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Horseback Riding and Pony Trekking

There are several stables in the area offering varying rides for different skill levels. Information brochures are available in the cottage.

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Killarney National Park 

The National Park comprises of 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) of beautiful lake and mountain scenery. The Park is famous for its' native natural habitats and species including oakholly woods, yew woods and red deer.

The National Park Visitor Centre (located at Muckross House) and the Information Point at Torc Waterfall provide information on all aspects of the park. The Education Centre, located at 

         
Knockreer House, provides a range of courses related to nature conservation and ecology. 
For information Tel: +353 64 35960. See also Muckross House and Gardens, Muckross 
Traditional Farms, Muckross Friary and Ross Castle.

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Forest Walks

Coillte, Ireland’s forestry service, maintains many hectares of forestland in Kerry to promote reforestation of the countryside, animal habitat, biodiversity and for recreation, using sustainable
forest management practices according to international standards. Here are a few examples
for short hikes through these lush forests:


Ballaghasheen
:, 3km walk along forest roads with are magnificent views of the Macgillycuddy's Reeks to the east and the Inny Valley and Ballinskelligs Bay to the west . One can find evidence of fox, badgers and just recently sika deer which have migrated from Killarney National Park. The mountain pass known as Bealach Oisin or Oisin's Gap is wedged between the reeks of Knocknagapple to the north and Knocknacusha to the south. Oisin is reputed to have come through here after spending 300 years in Tir na nÓg. (Off the N70, 21.5 km north east of Waterville on the road to Glencar)

 

 

 

Glenteenassig Wood:  Forest and lakeside walks and scenic views. The Owencusla River rises at Lough Caum and flows through this delightful glen which cradles three lakes.  Foxes and badgers frequent the woods, as do many species of birds. Wild goats are sometimes seen on the cliffs.  Gleann Tí an Eassaigh means the 'Glen of the Waterfall' and indeed, up to three waterfalls are visible at times. ( 26.5 km west of Tralee on the Castlegregory road turn left for 4.5 km at Aughacusla)

 

 

 

Glenbeigh Wood: On the hill overlooking the village of Glenbeigh, this short walk is part of the Kerry Way. The Rossbeigh sand dunes lie nearby. The nearby wildlife sanctuary attracts fox, badger, red squirrel and woodcock to this wood. (1 km from Glenbeigh on the Rossbeigh road)

 

 

 

Lickeen Wood:  4 km forest walk through primitive oak woods, in the picturesque Glencar Valley.   Nearby is the Upper Caragh River where otter and wild mink can be seen among the common wildlife. Red deer and sika deer are resident in small numbers in the adjoining woods. (18 km from Killorglin on the Ballaghsheen Pass Road)

 

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Bird Watching:    

 

 

Portmagee area: Herring Gull, Shag, Arctic Skua, Heron, Ducks (Mallard, Teal and Wigeon), Wild Geese, Redshank, Swallow, Starling, Magpie, Crow, Rook etc.

Little Skellig (May - August) - Puffin, Gannet, Fulmar, Storm Petrel, Kittiwake, Oyster catcher, Razorbill, Gull

 

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Underwater sports

Scuba-diving is a popular recreation activity in the area due to the clear waters and moderate Gulf Stream currents

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Kerry Bog Village Museum

The Kerry Bog Village Museum near the village at Glenbeigh on the Ring of Kerry road is a unique attraction for young and old who are interested in finding out more on the domestic lifestyles of the Irish in the early 1800's. It aims to create a period setting where you can visit and experience the past and understand the way of life in Ireland during this era.

 

Doug and Carole Brennan
ph: +1-717-761-0730
(home) or
+1-717-712-2183
(mobile)
e-mail:
reencaheragh@verizon.net

This page last revised 10 April, 2011
 
© Doug Brennan, 2008-2009