Beara Peninsula

The BEARA PENINSULA is the most westerly part of County Cork, bordered by the waters of Bantry Bay, Kenmare Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and is the largest peninsula in County Cork. Beara is dominated by the Caha Mountains, which run down the middle of the peninsula from end to end. With its rocky mountains, glacial lakes and rugged coastline, Beara is an area of great scenic beauty. The principal villages and towns in Beara are: Allihies, Ardgroom, Castletownbere, Eyeries and Glengarriff.

The Beara Peninsula has numerous sites of archaeological interest. In fact Beara probably has more than any other area of comparable size in Ireland or Europe. These sites, some of which date from 2500 BC, include single standing stones, stone circles, cairns, souteraines, megalithic tombs, burial grounds, forts, castles, signal towers etc. Consult the Ordnance Survey map of the area  to discover many of them.

During the Bronze Age, Beara was probably one of the most important copper mining areas in Europe. In the 19th century copper mining was revived in the area and was concentrated at the western end of the peninsula near Allihies village. The earliest recorded mining here was in 1812, initiated by John Puxley, a landlord, and it finally ceased in the 1960s. Shafts were dug to 450 metres and up to 1,000 people were employed. Today little evidence of the industrial complex around Allihies can be seen but some chimneys, machinery sheds, shaft entrances and spoil heaps are visible. The beach at Ballydonegan outside Allihies village contains tons of sand spoil from the mining.

French emigre Jaques Fontaine briefly established a Huguenot settlement near Castletownbere in the early years of the 18th century. Nearby Bere Island was a British naval station until 1938 and there are remains of naval fortifications still there.


The Healy Pass is a winding mountain road between Adrigole in Co. Cork and Lauragh in Co. Kerr. Cutting through the high Caha Mountains,  the Healy Pass rises 334 metres above sea level and passes between two of the highest peaks of the Caha range. This is one of the finest mountain roads in Ireland and is named after Tim Healy, the first Governor-General of the Irish Free State, who was born in nearby Bantry.


Dursey Island lies off the western extremity of the Beara peninsula and is connected to the mainland by a cable car, the only one in Ireland. The cable car which carries up to six adults, crosses the treacherous waters of Dursey Sound and operates seven days a week. Cork County Council inaugurated the service in 1969.

The Beara Way is a long-distance walking route of 208 km that winds its way through the peninsula. Using tracks, old roads and mountain paths, it takes in some of the most breathtaking scenery in Ireland. It has no official beginning or ending and one can walk sections by following the easily recognised marking posts or a map. It provides a delightful and easy way to discover and explore the peninsula.




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J Earley, Earlybird Productions
 Skibbereen, Co Cork, Ireland
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