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Beara Peninsula

 

he middle of the five peninsulas of the south west of Ireland, Beara is bounded by the Bays of Kenmare and Bantry. Named for the land goddess that form-shaped the land of Ireland and the deity over all the forces of Nature, the landscape of Beara is a fitting testimony to this force.

Here the ridge of mountains that form the backbone of this peninsula’s spine are spectacularly folded and deeply gouged by glaciers. An colourful human history is evident, in particular from the early Bronze Age when those farming and fishing communities drawn to mine copper here contemplated the Higher Power with sacred stone rows and circles aligned with the rise and setting of celestial bodies.

 

Moderate Walks:

The Beara Way from Tousist to Dromoughty
This great stretch of the Beara Way walking trail runs along the northern flanks of the great range of mountains that form the spine of Beara. The route follows open hillsides with views behind westwards to the ocean through Kenmare Bay, the landing site of our Gaelic ancestors according to legend. A highlight of this route is time spent in the beautiful valley of Gleninchaquin, in particular it’s magnificent Bronze Age megalithic comlex at Uragh and waterfall before crossing into the remote valley of Dromoughty with it’s pristine upland blanket bogs and patchwork farms.

 

(approx. 10kms /6 miles with 600m / 2000 ft of ascent on rough trails, country roads and open hillsides)

Difficult Walks:

The Beara Way from Glengarrif to Adrigole – O’Sullivan Bere Territory
The territory west over the sheltered cove of Glengarriff rises before the eye in a series of dramatic folds, built into pointed peaks and deep valleys with great sculpted walls. It is a mountain walkers paradise but once the history and human story of this land is learned, it is a place unlikely to fade from memory.

 

One of our favourite walks in these parts follows a section of the Beara Way trail, a long-distance walking route that extends out of the valleys of Glengarriff deep into the hills of Beara and the old Gaelic territory of the O Sullivans, pointedly of the Ó Suilleabhain Bere. This walk provides the opportunity learn of the truly extraordinary story of the chieftain of this clan and their epic exodus from the spectacular landscape that is Beara starting with over 1200 followers on New Year’s Eve 1602 on a journey that spanned 17 days and where all but 35 people perished. History and archaeology spanning thousands of years abound in this place but along our way, it will be the story of the rise and fall of Gaelic Ireland and in particular this maritime trading dynasty that will provide our focus today.

 

(approx. 12 kms / 8 miles with 600 m / 2000 ft of ascent on rough trails and open hillsides)

Hungry Hill – Healy Pass, Beara Peninsula
Hungry Hill is a great bulk of mountain that sits astride the rugged Beara Peninsula, the land named for the goddess-shaper herself. The summit if a great plateau with uninterrupted views of the neighbouring peninsulas and bays. A range of routes present here but our favourite is probably that which lead to the summit before the county boundary line separating Cork and Kerry then leads to the Healy Pass, one of the most scenic areas of all Ireland and a saddle in the folded spine of Beara.

 

(approx. 12 kms / 8 miles with 600 m / 2000 ft of ascent on rough and rocky hillsides with no trails)

Con Moriarty:
“The walking in this region is incredible and while the lofty hills and broad ridges have their attractions, it is the deep, powerful glens of Beara that beckon me strongest here. Places of great archaeological and cultural riches and the start or finish point of some splendid mountain walking. I came to know this landscape as a young climber, poking out unclimbed cliffs. It was a passport that along with rescuing stranded sheep from their lofty traps let me to many wonderful friendship with local shepherd and their families and deep into the lore of this magical place.” 

Con, You are a wonderful ambassador for your country.   Through your eyes and from your heard; we learned to love your Ireland.

 

Nina CA, USA

June 2015

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