This narrow, heavily glaciated pass, runs north south between mountains of Old Red Sandstone; Purple Mountain on the east and the MacGillycuddy Reeks to the west. The spectacular scenery and rugged landscape has ensured that 'the Gap' has long been a popular tourist attraction. It measures c. 11k (6.8 miles) from north to south and nestled within it are five lakes, connected by the River Loe. Visitors usually ride or walk north from Kate Kearneys Cottage to the head of "The gap" before descending into the Black Valley.
Surrounded by high mountainous terrain, the Upper Lake is one of the three world-famous Lakes of Killarney. Located within Killarney National Park, the Upper Lake is linked to the Muckross (middle) Lake by the river known as the Long Range.
This unique and remote location is located on the south-eastern side of the MacGillycuddy Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range, which rises to over 1,000 meters ( 3414ft). The Black Valley links the Gap of Dunloe on the north with Moll’s Gap on the south. It also forms part of the walking trail known as the Kerry Way, one of the most popular and longest of Ireland’s walking trails.
Irish: (Children's Burial Ground) A Cíllín an area of ground once used for the burial of the unconsecrated dead, usually still born babies, or babies who were not baptised. However, these burial grounds were also often the final resting place of criminals, suicides and strangers whose faith remains unknown. There are many unrecorded and long forgotten Cílliní (Irish plural) scattered throughout the countryside.
Curraghmore stone row stands on the saddle ridge that extends north from Broaghnabinna mountain to Curraghmore Lake. It consists of three stones the highest of which, at the east end, stands to 1.95m. Overall, the row measures 2.70m in length and is aligned east-south-east to west-north-west. Stone rows of this type are a feature of the Cork and Kerry region and they are generally believed to date to the Bronze age (c. 2500BC- 500BC ). The function of stone rows is uncertain. However, their alignment may be astronomically significant.
The Bridia Valley is located on the south-western side of the MacGillycuddy Reeks, Ireland's highest mountain range, which rises to over 1,000 metres (c. 3414ft). Located between Cummenduff Glen on the east and Glencar on the west, there are only a few houses in this isolated but beautiful valley. Sheep farming is the main occupation engaged in by the people of this heavily glaciated, rugged landscape.
A network of pre-bog walls occupies the peat covered ground that runs north from the Kilduff River to the slopes of Slievanore. The walls are heavily concentrated in two roughly rectangular areas south-east of Lough Accouse and are probably prehistoric in date. The first area extends c.240m north-south and c.100m east-west and includes circular hut sites and enclosures. The second area lies c. 100m to the east and extends c. 70m north-south and c. 190m east-west. A fulacht fiadh (cooking site) consisting of a semi-circular mound of burnt stone lies c.230m south of the first area.
One of the oldest field systems in the world, over 4,000 years old, has finds suggesting a large group of people lived here. Ancient field systems are made up of stone alignments, abandoned famine villages, old mining villages and ruins.
Lough Acoose (Loch an Chuais meaning Lake of the Recess) is located between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Glencar in the Derrynafeana Valley which has been inhabited for over 5,000 years and is also full of Irish Mythology and Legend of Na Fianna.
Standing Stone Alignment of Lough Accouse and Rock Art
Rock art is the term used to describe carvings that are found on boulders or rock outcrops and they are believed to be prehistoric in date. The most common design consists of a cupmark or circular depression, surrounded by a number of rings, often cut by a groove. The designs were formed by hammering stone or metal points onto the surface. Rock art has been found in various parts of Ireland including Counties Donegal and Louth. In Kerry the greatest concentrations occur on the Iveragh and Dingle Peninsulas. Similar rock art has been found in Scotland, northern England and north-western Iberia.
Unusual feature with a tunnel type entrance at the North. Slight in curving of the walls and massive stones used in construction might suggest it is a Clochán or early Medieval hut site reused as a sheepfold. Date 400 - 1000 AD.
Between 1845 and 1851 Ireland was devastated by famine as the potato crop, on which the majority of the population depended, was attacked by potato blight. During those years up to one million people died from hunger and disease, while up to another million emigrated. The impact of the Famine upon Irish social life was enormous. The landless labourers who formed the poorest social class were almost wiped out, while many landlords suffered financial ruin. The Irish language suffered a sharp decline. The tradition of marrying early ceased and the birth rate fell sharply.
Carrig an Aifrinn. (Irish: mass rock). Various laws were passed during the 16th and 17th centuries, which made the practice of the Roman Catholic religion unlawful in Ireland. Catholic priests suffered severe penalties, including death, for ministering that faith. However, mass was often celebrated secretly, in isolated, open-air locations such as this. The large flat-topped rock visible at this site would have served as a ready made altar. The Penal Laws were largely revoked in 1791and 1829.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries a network of fee paying schools and charity schools provided basic education for a small portion of the Irish population. In 1831 the British government established the National Board of Education, which grant aided school buildings and the payment of teachers. Originally it was intended that children of different religious faiths would be educated together, but this policy failed. In 1891 it became compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14 to attend school. The Gap of Dunloe National School is believed to have been built at this site in 1869. Surrounded by Nature, the National School in the Black Valley is very isolated. Many small, old schools like this one are now closed.
A trip through the spectacular Gap of Dunloe was as popular with visitors to Killarney during the 19th century as it is today. At that time, many of the Gap inhabitants supplemented their income by supplying refreshments for the visitors. These refreshments included goats' milk and illegally stilled whiskey, known in Irish as poitín. According to legend, Kate Kearney was amongst those who distilled poitín and supplied visitors with refreshments in her cottage.
Lickeen Woods iare situated in the picturesque Glencar Valley, adjacent to Upper Caragh River, Caragh Lake and Lower Caragh River. The woodland itself was once part of the Lansdowne Estate and is classified as old woodland. The main tree species are primitive oak woods. Other broad leaves include Holly and Mountain Ash, while conifers consist of Sitka Spruce, Japanese & European Larch, Douglas Fir, Scots Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Grand and Noble Fir. The local fauna include otter and wild mink can be seen among the common wildlife. Red and Sika Deer are resident in small numbers in the adjoining woods.
The Towers Hotel was built around 1900. It was renovated and extended around 1970.
Over the years, many famous faces have passed through the Towers' doors including Francoise Sagan, Edna O Brien, Omar Shariff, Charlie Chaplin, Lester Peterson. Pierre Salinger and even Charles De Gaulle.
The Irish artist Marshall Hutson stayed here in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. Painting as payment for his room. Two large paintings “the poitin makers” and “the poitin drinkers” take pride of place in the lounge bar, while the “Shandon Belles” welcomes you at reception. Watercolors and even furniture designed by Marshall Hutson are also part of the Towers.
On July 11th 1969, The World Press release of the film “Ryan’s Daughter” filmed around Dingle was held here at The Towers and attended by many famous faces including its stars John Mills & Sarah Miles.
Rossbehy, meaning "headland of the Birch trees" is a beach located approximately 1.6 km from the village of Glenbeigh.
Rossbeigh is part of the Castlemaine Harbour Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area, and proposed Natural Heritage Area (pNHA).
This area is one of the most important sites for wintering waterfowl in the south-west. It is of international importance as it regularly supports over 20,000 waterfowl, as well as an internationally important population of Brent geese. The site is of major ecological importance for its diversity and range of coastal habitats and species. The Inch sandspit is the largest and arguably one of the best remaining intact dune systems in the country. The site has one of the largest expanses of inter-tidal sand and mud flats in the country. The site also supports the Natter Jack Toad, Ireland’s only Toad and the Kerry Slug.
Windy Gap is the highest point in the Kerry Way walking route at 385m OD with views of Rossbeigh Inch and the Dingle Peninsula. The route splits at this point. You can see Rossbeigh spit on, which Ireland’s Legendary Oisin, son of Fionn MacCumhail leader of the Fianna, caught a giant wave and surfed out to ‘Tir na nOg’, or ‘land of eternal youth’.
The Caragh River is renowned for its’ fishing and water sports. It boasts a good run of spring salmon with the lower river noted for its’ trout. It is tidal up to the Caragh Bridge. Blackstones bridge to Boheeshal is divided into 7 beats, or fishing areas which rotate at 1.30 per day. Only 1 rod is allowed at a time on a beat. Fishing is by license. The river is one of Ireland few rivers with grade 4 stretches for canoeing and white water rafting the majority is an excellent grade 3 run. This area is also one of the places the rare Kerry slug can be seen.
The Climbers Inn is a landmark well known to walkers and climbers all over Ireland. It has served as a focal point for Irish hill-walking for many years. Its owners were pioneers in the Kerry Mountain Rescue Team. It is a welcoming spot for tourists and locals alike.
Wynnes Folly, is what remains from a structure built by Lord Hedley Wynne in the 1860’s to please his wife and paid for by increasing his tenants rent by up to 50%. Those who couldn’t find the extra money were evicted and shortly after this Wynne left Glenbeigh.
While World War I was in progress the castle and grounds were let to the British Military Command and used as a training centre for reservists. In 1921, Republican forces burned the castle to the ground and it was never rebuilt.
The Great Southern and Western Railway (GS&WR) was a railway company in Ireland from 1844 until 1924. The Glenish Viaduct was an Irish gauge (5 ft 3 in) railway. The GS&WR grew until in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was the largest of Ireland's "Big Four" railway networks. At its peak the GS&WR had an 1,100-mile network, of which 240 miles were double track.
The Great Southern and Western Railway Company (GS & WR) opened a rail link between Farranfore and Killorglin on 15 January 1885. The line was extended by 27 miles to Valentia Harbour in the 1890’s and formally opened on 12 September 1893.
It served as the main transport system for the Iveragh Peninsula and the last train departed from Killorglin on 30 January 1960. The Laune Viaduct in Killorglin, two tunnels and the Gleensk Viaduct are still standing.
The Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks was constructed between the years of 1870 and 1875.
The authorities wanted an imposing building to protect the Irish end of the transatlantic telegraph cable, which entered the sea at Valentia Island. The "Old World" and "New World" were connected at last and the authorities did not want an uprising cutting that link. In fact, only one year after the cable had been laid in 1866, there was an uprising in Cahersiveen by the Fenians.
The British authorities were so anxious to get the barracks built, it is said the plans were mixed up and that we have a building that was originally designed for the Punjab in India. The British commissioned the architect Enoch Trevor-Owen to design the building and the Schloss (is the German word for a building similar to a château, palace, or manor house.), or Scottish Baronial style of architecture was popular with Trevor-Owen.
People, who could not survive during the famine went to live in a workhouse, or faced death. This workhouse was owned by the McCarthy’s of Sugreana. It could accommodate up to 800 people and began as a lodge, which was converted in 1842 to 1845. It opened for inmates on 17th, October 1846, but took in its first inmates over a year later, due to a delay in the setting of rates. Daniel O’ Connell and the Choctaw Indian relief fund donated to the buildings conversion. It had an hospital & fever ward, staff room, a chapel, school, wash house and soup kitchen. Most inmates are buried in Sugreana Graveyard. This workhouse fell into disuse in 1921 with the remaining inmates were transferred by horse & cart to Killarney and the building was sold in 1923.
Walking along the Kerry way you will see a number of circular enclosures of varying size with concentric ditches. Many of these enclosures fall into the broad category of Ringfort. Ringforts are circular sites that were mostly built during the Bronze age up to about the year 1000. They are found throughout Northern Europe. Ringforts come in many sizes and may be made of stone or earth. Earthen ringforts would have been marked by a bank and ditch, often with a stake-wall. Both stone and earthen ringforts would generally have had at least one building inside.
There are many irish language terms for these enclosures which you will see in place names today- ráth and lios was an earthen ringfort; the ráth being the enclosing bank and the lios being the open space within. The caiseal and cathair was a stone ringfort. The term dún was usually used for any stronghold of importance, which may or may not be ring-shaped.
This heavily overgrown, stone-lined spring well is located a short distance West of Glenbeigh village. Traces of a small wall-surround survive. The well is dedicated to St. Gregory, the patron of the parish, whose feast day was the 12th of March.Rounds, which are a sequence of prayers said while walking in a specific pattern, were also carried out at the well on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings. Each holy well would have traditionally been known to cure various illness.
Lough Currane is famous as a fishing Lake with stocks of Salmon and Trout. It hold records for Sea Trout at 4.5kg and salmon at in excess of 10lbs. A license is required to fish on the lake. The lake has a number of islands the most well-known being Church Island a medieval monastic site. The Lake was formed it is said from a spring well that was left uncovered by a woman taking water the well. The well overflowed, the woman was drowned and thus the lake was formed.
Church Island in Lough Currane is a medieval monastic site with 44 archaeological sites ranging from hut sites, medieval church, leachts (saints graves) houses, field systems and standing stones. The Island is associated with St Finnan Cam, who is reported to have founded a monastery here in the 6th century. The island is referred to as ‘Innis Ausail’ in the Annals of Innisfallen in 1058. The remains of St Finnan's Church, a small Romanesque church, can be seen with 10 cross inscribed slabs a number of leachts and uninscribed pillar stones.
Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer, who rose to fame in the era of silent film. Chaplin became a worldwide icon through his screen persona "the Tramp" and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry. His career spanned more than 75 years, from childhood until a year before his death in 1977.
Waterville was a favourite holiday spot of Charlie Chaplin and his family, who used to stay in the Butler Arms Hotel. They first visited the town in 1959 and came back every year for over ten years. There is a statue reacted of him in the centre of the village in his memory. The community has also obtained permission from the Charlie Chaplin estate to hold the inaugural Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival in the spirit of Charlie Chaplin, the first festival was held in 2011.
Throughout the peninsula you will see a number of hut sites. These are difficult to date and few have been excavated. Some are modern (1800’s) booleying hut sites – used for shelters for shepherds’ and sheep in some instances as they move animals up and down the mountains following the practise of transhumance farming. Others may be more ancient and are often associated with early Christian monastic sites or may be resting places for monks traveling from monastery to monastery or church to church. Some may look like the remnants of hut sites now but are in fact the remains of abandoned Famine villages and individual farmsteads.
Located on the South East side of Coomduff and overlooking the Cummeragh river, this site consists of a row of three stones incorporated into a low cairn. The row is oriented NE-SW and is c. 7m long.
The cairn consists of a platform-like terrace of stone and measures 7.6m long and up to 1m high above the ground level on its South East side. The landowner indicated that the cairn was originally larger, and that it was ‘faced ‘ on its downward slope side. It was reported that a 'bronze staff was found in it in the early 1900's, but the present location of this object is unknown. The site is locally referred to as the 'Cloughane'.
This Limestone Celtic Cross Monument by sculptor A. P. Sharp and architect James Franklyn Fuller.
Fuller was an Architect, Historian, Genealogist and Novelist who was born in Nedanone near Castlecove, Co. Kerry and grew up in Glashnacree House near Sneem. His work includes, The Parknasilla Hotel (Sneem), The Park Hotel (Kenmare), Ashford Castle (Mayo), Farmleigh House (Phoenix Park Dublin), Kylemore Abbey (Galway) to name, but a few.
The cross was erected in 1889 by neighbours and friends of James Butler of Waterville House, (1817- 1887), who was an agent for the Hartopp Estate and had been a land agent in Cork. He was also a very close friend of T J Wilmot the second superintendent of the Commercial Cable Company.
This area of Kerry has over 120 examples of of rock art, prehistoric rock inscribed symbols. The rock art is difficult to put date on when inscription took place, but is considered to be ate Neolithic 4000 BC, or early Bronze Age 2000 BC in date. It is characterised in this area by cup marks and concentric rings.
On the lower south east side of Knag Hill, overlooking Lough Currane to south, is a stone slab measuring 1.12 m x .68 m x .25 m. It was uncovered in the late 1980's about 100 m south of its present position. The decorated surface, which features some scratches made by the earth-moving machine on discovery, carries two cup-&-rings, a cup & pen-annular ring, seven cup-marks and a forked groove.
Some 120 hectares (300 acres) of the lands of Derrynane, together with Derrynane House, make up Derrynane National Historic Park. The House was officially opened as a museum commemorating Daniel O’Connell by President Eamon De Valera in August 1967 and the surrounding park was officially declared open by President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh in August 1975 to mark the 200th anniversary of O’Connell’s birth.
The original house, built around 1720 by Captain John O' Connell. The grounds have many gate lodges summer houses and follys.
Although Derrynane was never one of the great estates of Kerry, the grounds around the house were developed with care by several generations of the O’Connell family. Plantations and garden walks were laid out in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The winters are very mild, so that, like other well-known gardens of Kerry and west Cork such as Rossdohan, Ilnacullin, frost-sensitive trees and shrubs flourish. For this reason, as part of the National Botanical Collection, plants from South America have been established here.
Known locally as 'Ballybrack Dolmen', this monument is reputed to mark the burial place of Fial, the wife of one of the Milesians, who landed in nearby Ballinskelligs Bay. It consists of four large overlying slabs and a scatter of small rounded stones, including some quartz, occurs around the base of the structure. The Milesians are strongly associated with this area and are noted as one of the 6 invading forces to Ireland in the Book of Invasions, an 11th century text recounting epic folk tales of Ireland.
Wedge Tombs are the most common type of megalithic tomb, known in Ireland with more than 600 examples mainly from the north, west and south-west of the country. They date from 2500 BC to 600 BC. These tombs generally face the west and are characterised as having a straight facade, a trapezoidal shaped chamber, highest at the front, with an external walling that forms a u-shaped or straight rear all covered by round to oval cairns. Both cremation and un-burnt human remains were deposited in the Wedge Tombs although cremation was more common. The remains were often, though not always, accompanied by Beaker pottery and flint and chert tools.
This is one of four wedge tombs in this town-land, the three northern tombs, which form a group were excavated in 1967. A small quantity of cremated bone was found in the gallery during its’ excavation.
Kilcrohane Church/Cill Chrócháin, also known as Coad Church and traditionally dedicated to St. Cróchán, the patron of the parish. This Medieval church is located close to the Northern boundary of a rectangular graveyard on the lower south east slopes of Coad Mountain.
There are a number of ritual sites in this graveyard including a holy well and sacred tree as well as a mass rock from Penal times. Mass rocks were used when attendance at mass was prohibited. Priests in hiding would say mass at various secret locations, many of these sites had large boulders, which became known as mass rocks.
The well and sacred tree formed the main assembly point of the three-day pattern or celebration formerly held in honour of St. Crohane. This is considered to have been originally a Lughnasa pilgrimage-assembly and began on July 29th, Oíche Chrócháin.
It included a pilgrimage from Kilcrohane up to Windy Gap, where another holy well, Tobar na Bearnan is located.
Staigue Fort is thought to have been built during the late Iron Age, probably somewhere between 300 and 400 AD, as a defensive stronghold for a local lord, or king.
This stone fort/caher is surrounded by the remains of a fosse and an external bank. The structure fell into some disrepair during its period of use as a cattle pound in the late eighteenth century and repairs were carried out on it by the State during the nineteenth century.
Two leveled hut sites and traces of a small square enclosure are located close to Staigue Fort as well as a primitive copper mine.
A number of artifacts are on recorded from the area i.e. a gold dress-fastener of Bronze Age type was found between 1840 and 1860 in the outer wall of Staigue Fort. A plaster-cast copy of this is now in Kerry county Museum. A perforated whetstone was found near the site in 1931 and is also now in Kerry County Museum. A horn spoon was found in one of the mural chambers of the fort.
The Irish town name, "An tSnaidhm", means "The Knot" in English. One explanation of the name is that a knot-like swirling is said to take place, where the Sneem river meets the currents of Kenmare Bay just below the village.
There is a lot of public sculpture in Sneem. The work of Vivienne Roche, Alan Hall, Tamara Rikman and a panda sculpture donated by the Peoples Republic of China can be seen in various locations. "The Risen Christ" by Brother Joseph McNally is located in the grounds of St. Michael's Church and the goddess Isis donated by the people of Egypt stands at "The Way The Fairies Went", a collection of buildings designed in 1990 by Kerry sculptor James Scanlon and created by local stoneworkers overlooking the river near St. Michael's Church. The buildings won the National Landscape Award in 1997.
Former French President Charles de Gaulle visited Sneem on several occasions (Paris photo show recalls de Gaulle's Irish visit) and the sculpture on the right commemorates this in the village.
This area has many distinctive glacial features.as you walk you are transitioning through glacial features, rocks formed from volcanic ash, sandstone and conglomerates with fossils. It has fine examples of glacial lakes, or cirques and u shaped valleys. On Valentia island there is a slate quarry and also the 2nd longest Tetra pod track-way in the world, which dates to approximately 385 million years ago. This track-way represents the footprints of a marine creature, like a salamander, walking on then mud which has fossilised into slate.
The Kerry Lilly a member of the Lilly family is a rare species growing only in a 20Km square area around Derrynane. It also grows in central France and had established in parts of Cornwall, but is now extinct there. Its’ distribution appears to indicate it was spread with trading materials. Its’ small white purple tainted flower appears from May to July on a long 30cm stem with grass like leaves.
In the townland of Dromtine there was a large village all that can be seen now are ruins, which were used as sheep pens. The dwellings there were said to have been low and entered through a small opening lore was that the buildings were inter- connected by hidden passageways. Smugglers associated with Hunting Cap O’ Connell are said to have used these passageways to hide their goods from English soldiers. There are also stories of Gold hidden in the nearby Dromtine Lake. This lake is one of many glacial lakes you will see along your walk.
Ireland boasts significant numbers of Lesser Horseshoe Bats particularly in the Iveragh Peninsula. A number of derelict buildings have been purchased and are maintained as Bat Habitats for both hibernation and as nursery sites. The Lesser Horseshoe Bat has all, but become extinct in many areas of Europe with Poland alone showing a decline of almost 90% in its species numbers. There are significant numbers of Lesser Horseshoe Bats in this area of the peninsula.
Dromore Castle appears to have been built on the instructions of Denis Mahony, his father John Mahony had made the decision to build a large home earlier in the 19th century, but apparently abandoned the attempt after his yacht, returning from London with lead for the roof and wine for the cellar, sank in the Kenmare River, in view of the site of the house. After this, no further work took place until architect Thomas Deane began building work for Denis Mahony in the 1830s. The Gothic revival style house was completed in 1839.
Denis Mahony was a minister of the Church of Ireland. He set up a soup kitchen at Dromore during the time of the Irish Potato Famine and preached in the chapel at Dromore to the hungry who came for food.
The 2013 film ‘The Lobster’ starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz was set in the woodlands at Dromore and Parknasilla.
The Parknasilla Estate was acquired by the Very Reverend James Bland, an Englishman who had moved to Ireland in 1692 as chaplain to Henry Sydney, 1st Earl of Romney, the newly appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Bland, became Archdeacon of Limerick on 1 June 1693, resigned in 1705, and became Archdeacon of Aghadoe on July 12 of the same year. Bland sold his Yorkshire properties in 1717. He was married to the eldest daughter of Sir Francis Brewster, Mayor of Dublin.
The property remained in the Bland family ownership until 1891. James Franklin Bland sold the castle to the Warden family, who lived there until 1922. It was burnt down by the Irish Republican Army. It was owned at the time by Colonel Charles Wallace Warden. The building was demolished in 1969. The site of the building now lies within the grounds of the Parknasilla Resort Hotel, which opened on May 1st 1895.
The name 'Parknasilla', which meant 'Field of the willows', began to appear on maps. It was also referred to as 'The Bishop's House Hotel, Parknasilla.'
Glashnacree House, built in 1822, sits on eight acres of land and comes complete with a 40ft swimming pool and two guest cottages.
Built as a Dower House to nearby Parknasilla. Believed to have been built originally circa 1822, this house was home to James Franklin Fuller, The house Has been associated with the Bland, Fuller and Stokes families, in that order.
According to legal documents the massive property was seized from Dutch drug dealer by the Irish Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in 2000.
The park Hotel in Kenmare has been in operation as a Hotel for over 120 years. The hotel started off as one of a number of hotels run by the Great Southern railway along with Parknasilla and the now Malton hotel in Killarney. It was built in 1897 as a stopping off point for travellers en route to Parknislla from London having travelled by train and boat. The Hotel lay largely empty during the 1970s and was purchased and run by the Brennan brothers since the early 1980s.
Gawlane Ringfort is a typical single banked enclosure of about 21m in diameter. It was like many ringforts used as an animal pen, or a living enclosure. It has not been excavated and could date from the Bronze Age 2500 BC up to 1000AD. It has been partially re used as a lime Kiln. Lime Kilns were used to burn limestone and break it down to be used to spread on the land to improve its quality. This was done by layering rough limestone rock with flammable material – wood, peat etc, until the kiln or oven was full. The burning took many days. Lime kilns were generally owned and tended by a number of families. It was a dangerous process, many fell into the kiln and were killed. Lime kilns were a common sight on the landscape as every few families had their own. In later years many were sealed up and re-used as handball alleys, or dismantled.
The Kenmare Stone Circle is one of the largest stone circles in south West Ireland measuring 17.4 x 15.8m and unlike any other ring in Munster, this one is slightly oval. Stone circles were built during the bronze age (2,200 – 500 B.C.) believed to be for ritual and ceremonial purposes. They were often orientated on certain solar and lunar events, such as the position of the sun on the horizon on a solstice. The Kenmare Stone Circle is composed of 15 heavy boulders, at the centre is an impressive Boulder-Dolmen with a giant capstone. Dolmen's often marked the burial place of someone important. This style of burial appears to be restricted to the south Munster area, with apparently just one elsewhere in Ireland.
The 9 acre Kenmare Workhouse was designed by George Wilkinson based on his standard plan to hold 500 inmates. Workhouses were used by those who were unable to find food for themselves. The workhouse was declared fit for purpose in 19th August and took its 1st admission on October 1st 1845. Its construction cost £6550 and fittings were a further £1380.
There were male and female wings masters quarters utility rooms a bake house and wash house as well as a psychiatric ward. A fever hospital for 40 was constructed in the mid-1840s. The workhouse became Kenmare Community Hospital in 1936.
In the early nineteenth century Ireland's primitive road network was being greatly expanded and improved. As part of this improvement a direct road from Kenmare to Bantry was proposed. Work on the road began in 1834 and as the work progressed the question of a bridge across the Kenmare River was discussed to replace the ferry.
The construction of the bridge took approximately one year and was completed in 1841. Ireland’s first suspension bridge, the total cost was £7,280 of which the Marquis of Lansdowne contributed £3,200. The original decking was of timber, but this was replaced in 1861 with wrought iron plates.
Under traffic, the bridge deck sagged and rose in an alarming manner and gave the impression of being in danger of imminent collapse. Early in 1932 the bridge was declared unsafe and closed to traffic, and demolition followed.
An opening ceremony for the replacement bridge ‘Our lady’s Bridge’ was performed on March 25, 1933, by Mr Sean T.O'Kelly, Minister for Local Government.
As you walk through the uplands of the Old Kenmare road you may spot a large Eagle – the White Tailed Eagle. It’s hard to miss, having a wing span of over 2 meters. This bird is being reintroduced to Ireland having become extinct in the 1900’s. Over 100 birds have been released in Killarney National Park over the past 10 years. A third of the birds have died many through poisoning. The birds have all been sourced in Norway with many migrating again to Scotland. In 2018, 10 pairs bred in Ireland having 21 chicks. It is hoped that this will mark the successful reintroduction of the species.
It is said that the Milesians in their conquest of Ireland lead by Queen Scotia & her sons landed in Kenamre Bay, or Inbher Sceine on May 1st and a second group landed in Baltray County Lough. They defeated the mythical Dé Dannans in two great battles. This is documented in The Book of Invasions and epic mythology of Irelands past. There are many sites and stories linked to Queen Scotia & the Milesians on the Iveragh Peninsula.
The Old Kenmare Road was the main road to Killarney. It was in use as a butter road to transport this valuable commodity to markets in Kenmare and on to Cork. There was a vibrant community living along this now abandoned route until the famine hit in the 1840s and wiped out much of the population. In the 1861 census the area was considered to be depopulated. The many townlands of the Old Kenmare road were known collectively as the Glens with its inhabitants being the Glen folk. Many worked for or were tennants of Lord Kenmare. You will see many abandoned houses and the traces of plough marked fields as you walk along the route
The locally known Golden Gates stand guard at the remaining entrance to Killarney House and Gardens. The house was renovated and opened to the public in 2016. The house has a long and complicated history. The original 18th century house, was home to the Earls of Kenmare and was burned in 1913. Knockreer House now sits adjacent to its ruins. The family moved to a renovated stable block of the nearby Kenmare House. John McShanne an American investor purchased Kenmare House in the 1950s renaming it Killarney house. It reverted to the state on the demise of his wife Mary in 1998. There are extensive gardens and parklands
Derrycunnihy Roman Catholic Church was built in 1870 opened in 1874 and closed in 1960. It was opened by Margaret Browne a daughter of Lord Kenmare on whose land it was built. It served the community in the Black Valley and the Old Kenmare Road who had previously attended Mass in a nearby cottage. It was damaged by fire in the 1950s and threatened again in 1990 by gorse fires. It is reputedly designed by Pugin as was Killarneys' great Cathedral. Allegedly the ghost of a young girl, killed in a fall from a bike in the 1950s wanders through this area at night.
The first Franciscans came to Ireland, Youghal County Cork, in 1226. They prospered until suppression during the Reformation 1530s. Muckross Abbey was founded in 1448 and was the residence of the Friars until 1698 when the Penal laws forced them into exile. Many of the monks preferred to go into hiding rather than leave the country so for approximately 80 years they lived in isolated cottages in places such as Friars Glen between Mangerton and Torc mountains. In 1780 the friars moved into Killarney setting up a school for boys at the back of what is now Scotts Hotel. In the 1840s this burned down and they moved the school near to the cathedral. The Friary in Killarney dates to 1860 and is built on lands with a 999 year lease.
Killarney National Park, Irelands first National Park, is over 10,000 hectares in extent. It contains the Bourne Vincent Memorial Park presented to the state in 1932. Kenmare estate lands have been added linking Muckross to Killarney and with Ross Island, Killarney House and Knockreer estate. The park is diverse containing parklands, designed gardens, lakes, mountains and woodlands. In 1981 the park received the designation UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This recognises its ecosystems, conservation efforts and education mandate on a global scale.
The park is famous for its wildlife native and invasive. There are Red Deer here for about 4000 years with the more recently introduced Sika Deer – 1865- can be seen ranging throughout the park. The introduced Rhododendron Ponticum threaten the native Oak, Alder and Yew throughout the park. In the Garden area there are many species of Rhododendron and Azalea. The White Tailed Eagle is a recent introduction. Brown Trout, Salmon as well as Arctic Char inhabit the lakes. The park is on both sandstone and limestone. Significant biodiversity is supported from the Atlantic Arbutus tree to Arctic- Alpine species and rare species such as the Killarney fern. The traditional Farm within the park contains a pedigree herd of Kerry Cows as well as Irish Wolf Hounds.
Inland fishing is an important tourist attraction. Trout Salmon and the unique Artic Char are found in lakes in Kerry many of which you will pass along the Kerry way walking route – Muckross Lake, Caragh Lake and Inchiquin and Lough Accose.
Arctic Char are an important native fish to County Kerry. They are similar to trout in size and appearance, distinguishable by their pale spots. Char can tolerate extreme cold thus were the first freshwater species to colonise post glacial Ireland. As Ireland is in their most southerly range it is thought that they may contain some of the world’s oldest genetic code for arctic char. The fish can appear to be physically different in different lake systems due to adaptation to specific habitats and genetic isolation. Char can only survive in pristine waters. Non-native Rudd compete with them and can wipe out indigenous populations.