The Iveragh Peninsula (Co. Kerry)

Kells is an attractive coastal district with great views of Dingle Bay and the distant Blasket Islands from the steep hillside overlooking the sea.

Kells Bay, a favourite spot for holiday cottagers,  has tall elegant oaks and pines bordering a secluded sandy beach with pretty fishing boats and leisure craft tied up at the stone pier or moored just offshore in the crystal clear water. (Photo – www.voobys.com)

Kells House & Gardens

 

Kells House & Gardens began as part of Holly Mount, a small hunting estate bought in 1837 by Tralee landlord Sir Rowland Blennerhassett.

It was his grandson, Sir Rowland Blennerhassett MP, who developed the house and gardens that we can still see today. He added the Ladies’ Walled Garden, the tree fern forest, the Long Drive and the paths around the garden. The property remained in the Blennerhasset family until 1949, and later belonged to the Vogels for 30 years.

Kells has the largest collection of antipodean tree ferns in the British Isles, in addition to myrtle, camellias, royal bamboos and countless species of rhododendron.

The origin of the rare plants on the estate is unknown but is undoubtedly linked to the great Victorian plant hunters who brought rare plants to the British Isles and needed mild growing conditions.

Trainspotters come to see the old Kells Junction, the tunnels at Drung Hill and the splendid Gleensk Viaduct, remains of of the Great Southern and Western Railway Line that lay from Caherciveen to Farranfore Junction.

Local farmer John Ferris stages regular displays with his sheepdogs of their prowess in working with the local mountain sheep.

Gleensk Wood is a scenic conifer forest with great views across Dingle Bay to the Dingle Peninsula.

Rossbeigh Strand

 

Ross / Rossbeigh / Rossbehy Strand sticks out literally like a sore thumb, stretching northwards at right angles from the Iveragh Peninsula over 6.5km across Dingle Bay, so one side is a glorious sandy beach with crashing Atlantic breakers and the other is a warm muddy lagoon (Rossbeigh Creek). Overlooked by Curra Hill, it has huge sand dunes and terrific views of An Daingean / Dingle and Inch strand on the Dingle Peninsula opposite.

This is a noted family beach, with a hotel and holiday village. A small sweet shop and a chip shop open during summer. In addition to bathing and building sandcastles, the strand has facilites for surfing, canoeing, sailing, pony riding and paragliding. Rossbeigh is the meeting ground for all Irish paddlers and surfers for the Christmas/New Year break. It is also a particularly good spot to enjoy spectacular sunsets.

Rossbeigh / Glenbeigh Races draw crowds every September for one of the few remaining beach race meetings in Ireland today. Steeped in tradition and history, the atmosphere is casual and friendly, although there are plenty of opportunities to bet. Being so close to the horses adds to the excitement. Race times are dependent on the tides.

Rossbeigh is traditionally regarded as the place from which   Oisín and Niamh took to the  sea on their white horse for Tir na nÓg, the land of eternal youth.

Glenbeigh (Gleann Beithe – “Valley of the birch trees”) (pop.1100) is a picturesque holiday resort at the foot of the wooded northern slopes of Seefin. In addition to easy access to Rossbeigh Strand, there are excellent fishing facilities, and plenty of opportunities to walk, ride or canoe in the beautiful surroundings.

The Glenbeigh Horseshoe is  a circuit of hills, popular with walkers for its magnificent scenery. It was in this lovely valley, where the Behy River descends to Dingle Bay, that the legendary lovers Diarmuid and Grainne reputedly took refuge in a cave from the pursuing Fianna (Photo – www.angrypiper.blogsot.com)

“Wynne’s Folly”

“Wynne’s Folly”, now in ruins, was a castellated mansion designed by EW Goodwin and built in 1867 for Charles Allanson Winn, 4th Baron Headley of Aghadoe, although he never lived here.

The Winn Estate came to international attention in the aftermath of the Land War. Despite Gladstone’s 1881 Land Act, which provided that tenants could no longer be removed at will, numerous evictions were carried out because the tenants were unable to afford the rent, increased by a massive 50% in most cases, to pay for the construction of the castle. The brutality of the land agent Mr Roe is still talked about in the Glenbeigh area. As a result of the barbaric manner of their ejectment, many of the tenants sufferred terrible tragedies. Lord Headley’s financial problems forced him to give up the property.

Contemporary engraving showing “police leaving the Right Hon. Rowland Winn’s Castle at Glenbeigh in 1887“.

Rowland George Allanson-Winn (1855 – 1935), a cousin of Lord Headley’s who acquired the estate c.1886 and inherited the title in 1913, was an engineer who superintended foreshore protection works against coastal erosion in Britain, Ireland (at Glenbeigh, Youghal, Bray) India and other parts of the British Empire.  He was also a keen practitioner of martial arts. He became famous in later life as Shaik Rahmatullah al-Farooq, a leading member of the British Muslim Society. Of his conversion to Islam he remarked: “I was reared in the strict and narrow forms of the Low Church party. Later, I lived in many Roman Catholic countries, including Ireland. The intolerance of one sect of Christians towards other sects holding some different form of the same faith, of which I witnessed many instances, disgusted me. …”  He refused the throne of Albania in 1925, and is buried in Woking.

During WWI the estate was used as a British military training centre for reservists. In 1921 Republican forces burned the castle to the ground, and it was never rebuilt.

The district has a good range of accommodation options and traditional pubs with regular music sessions.

The Red Fox pub & Kerry Bog Village

 

The Red Fox pub just outside Glenbeigh is an entertainingly unashamed tourist trap, famed for its Irish Coffee.

 

The Kerry Bog Village features traditional cottage dwellings restored and give an excellent view of life in days gone by. Traditional tools used on the bog are on display, along with  some Kerry Bog Ponies, small sturdy draft animals used for general farmwork, carrying turf and driving the family to church.

These rare mountain and moorland ponies, with characteristically thick and long manes and tails, came close to extinction. Fewer than 20 remained at the start of the 1990s. It is largely due to the remarkable effort and dedication of Johnny Mulvihill, the owner of the Red Fox, that the breed has survived, and now numbers more than 2000. (Photo by ckubitsky)

Lough Yganavan / Loch Gaineamháin and Lough Nambrackdarrig, between Knockaunroe and Knockaunaglashy, are famed for their birdlife, notably Mute Swans, and are protected within a 271.57 ha Special Area of Conservation. The habitats include machair. This is one of the few areas in which the Kerry Slug (shiny black with silver spots), of Lusitanian origin, is known to occur. Lough Yganavan is also home to the rare Natterjack Toad, another Ice Age Lusitanian immigrant.

Cromane Peninsula, a low lying shingle spit at the western end of Castlemaine Harbour, gives its name to a dispersed community with a strong local identity and a good website.

It seems that the area was very popular with British visitors in the late C19th, the main attraction being Dooks Golf course, which is still operational. A small Victorian Gothic church is now a private dwelling.

Tullig Beg is a small village.

Glenbeigh and Tullig Beg are within easy reach of Glencar on the Interior Route, and of Killorglin on ByRoute 1..

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