Discovering Bere Island

The Admiral’s House! It was to this very prestigious address that I had been invited for a long weekend on Bere Island, County Cork, Ireland. Mindful of the fate of the Titanic, I averted my gaze  on leaving the mainland  and refused to contemplate how the semi submerged remains of what may well have been the ferries of yesteryear ended up on the bottom of the harbour

Above, birds enjoying the remains of a boat at Pontoon ferry departure point, Castletownbere where another once-proud vessel lies abandoned(below)

I committed myself and my vehicle to the capable hands of Murphy’s Ferries to make the short crossing to Bere Island. I cautiously looked around for the lifeboats. None! OK. if my time is up, it is up and I will sink into beautiful Bantry Bay, the deepest natural harbour in Europe!There was a brief  heart-stopping moment when, about 2/3rd of the way across, I saw  what appeared to be a mast and a funnel poking out of the water.  Could this have been a ferry?  No –too big! A bigger REAL ship perhaps?  It turned out to be the wreck of  the  M.V Bardini Reefer, a Panamanian Factory Fishing Vessel, that on 15 December 1982 caught fire and sank!

However, our trusty ferry arrived safe and sound, as it always does, and soon I was enjoying negotiating the narrow, high hedged roads and laneways of Bere Island. The Admiral’s House did not disappoint with its imposing views of Bantry bay and the mainland.

An image of the Admiral’s House from The Admiral’s House webpage!

And so  began a few days of  discovery – spectacular views; gorgeous lanes edged by beautiful linear meadows and hedgerows;  loud silence in marked contrast to military emplacements that once guarded the entrance to Bantry Bay.

Bere is a place for walkers. Suitably clad to deal with changes in temperature and sudden heavy short-lived showers, we headed off on the Rerrin Loop.  Rerrin, the small village is at the eastern end of the island, where the Irish Army still has a presence.

At the eastern end of the island stands an impressive gun emplacement, guarded by a deep moat and kept mown by a herd of goats who share this place with a couple of colonies of bats. It is hoped that eventually this spot can be developed  into a unique tourist attraction.

Goats guard gun emplacements at Lonehort Battery (above). The hedgerows of Bere island are beautiful, untouched by pollution and with many species growing alongside one another.

Fuchsia, gorse, heather, digitalis, honeysuckle, meadow-sweet among others, mingle together. 

Another noticeable feature of the island is the number of ruined and abandoned stone cottages . Abandoned  perhaps because of migration, death or for an upgrade to more modern conditions. Whatever the reason, they leave an indelible mark on the landscape of places that perhaps once resounded with the sounds of children playing  and laughing, but are now in deep silence.

Once a home. Some cottages have signs of once having had gardens and flowers surrounding them.

This hydrangea is now almost as high as the cottage itself and stands in enduring tribute to the person who planted it many years ago.

This cottage, on the roadside has an intriguing stone set into the wall engraved with the date June 1854 – it would be fascinating to discover the significance of this date to the people who lived here once upon a time.

Bere Island has a rich heritage. Vikings, French and British have landed here and the island  monuments reflect this varied history.  Among the older monuments is the Standing Stone (below) dating from at least a millennium BC . This impressive stone stands at the very centre of the island.

Martello Towers,  relics of the early 19th century are on prominent positions on the island and are accessible to walkers who can enjoy the stunning views.(below)

For the less energetic, there are  other fascinating and beautiful walks all over the island with the wonders of nature all around.

Bere is a place of extraordinary beauty, a place of great peace  – far from the hustle, bustle and humdrum of every day life.

As I departed on my ferry after a few days, I earnestly wish to pay a return visit to discover even more of this place that is truly a place apart.

Murphy’s Ferry leaving Bere Island  (Image from D Shiels)

Further reading:

Information on  Martello Towers can be seen here

Information on Bere Island here

 

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12 Comments

Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Ireland, Irish Heritage, Irish History, Living in Ireland, Social Change

12 responses to “Discovering Bere Island

  1. Wow, got to put this place on my want-to-visit-and-will-never-happen list. Enjoyed the post!

  2. Patty Murphy-Medlin

    What a beautiful place! Thank you for sharing it!

  3. I think I have to have a chat with Someone…. I simply need an extension of my lifespan… another on my “but I have to…” list…

  4. How fortunate that you were able to enjoy this. What peace…

  5. What a beautiful place, and your pictures are wonderful. The image of the wreck of the Panamanian freighter is almost ghostly.

    • It is an extraordinarily beautiful part of the planet. The mast and funnel of the wreck can be seen from the island too at certain times.I think there may have been rumors at the time that she was scuttled… Glad you enjoyed – do come and see it some day! Angela

  6. Hello, I love the picture of the birds by the pontoon, I’m presently working on a collaborative arts project on Bere Island and was wondering if I may use your image and include it in the research I’m doing, I will of course acknowlede you as photographer.
    Regards
    Michael

    • Hi Michael. Lucky you to be working on anything regarding Bere Island – such a great place! I would be delighted for you to use my snap and would be interest to see the fruits of your labours when the project is completed.
      Regards
      Angela (Gallagher)

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