BALLINSKELLIGS : The Diamond on the Ring
Ballinskelligs, officially Baile an Sceilg (Irish for "Place (village) of the craggy rock"), the rocks referred to in the village's Irish name are the Skellig Islands - Skellig Michael and Little Skellig - an ancient monastic colony which lies off the coast from Ballinskelligs.
Some of the attractions are summarised below, but for a more comprehensive account of the area, click here"
Ballinskelligs Beach is dominated by McCarthy's Castle and an ancient Abbey that was established by the Monks of Skellig Michael over a thousand years ago. A beautiful sandy beach with European Blue Flag status, it offers a variety of water sports/activities, stunning walks and the purest fresh air. Lifeguards are present during high season. A charming Beach Café (Café Cois Tra) is open most of the year serving homemade food and refreshments, whilst, nearby Cable O'Leary's bar and restaurant (food in high season only) has a large grassy play area for children. A short walk up to Dungeagan village brings you to "Tig Rosie's" bar, renowned locally for music and dancing and a fine pint of guinness. A warm welcome awaits you everywhere.
There are other places nearby to explore, too many to cover here. Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is top of the list. An hour or so by boat from Ballinskelligs Pier (or Portmagee), it will enchant you. Other must-sees are wild St Finans Bay, which can be combined with a visit to the world famous Skellig Chocolate Factory, and Cill Rialag, an abandoned village perched on the mountain side high above the Atlantic surf. If its art you like, a visit to Madeline Weber's Gallery on the road to Waterville is essential, as is Cill Rialag Arts Centre in Dungeagan which sells contemporary art and fine craft and features a wide range of exhibitions, programs and workshops year round.
Valentia Island hosted the first telecommunications Cable Station connecting Europe with North America. It also has a Slate Quarry that exported to all corners of the globe, including London for the Houses of Parliament. Glanleam House on its northern shore has wonderful sub tropical gardens, whilst Bray Head is also worth seeking out for the spectacular views. Cahersiveen is a charming town with a diverse selection of shops and eateries and is close to Ballycarberry Castle and ancient Stone Forts, Leacanbuille and Cahergall. To the south are Waterville, Caherdaniel and Derrynane, the latter being the location of Daniel O'Connell's impressive Estate. If time allows, take a day trip to Killarney National Park and Muckross House/Abbey where Queen Victoria stayed on her visit to Ireland in 1861.