Explore Glengarriff’s past and trace the stories of Ireland’s past at fascinating locations during your stay.
Glengarriff is a great base for tracing Irish history at a series of remarkable sites along the southwest coastline. Move easily between Cork and Kerry’s towns and villages, and explore Ireland’s southwest coastline, as you follow the trail of the O’Sullivan Bere’s or engage with the surprising industrial history on our three peninsulas.
Walk Glengarriff’s Heritage Trail
Learn the stories behind Glengarriff’s built heritage, with the help of the heritage trail map available in the village’s shops and hotels. Glengarriff has been a holiday destination since the 1700s and boomed in the Victorian times when it became an important stop along the Prince of Wales Route, but evidence of human occupation of Glengarriff dates right back to the Bronze Age 3,500 years ago and there are traces of this fascinating past all around the village.
With the exception of Garinish Island (Stop 5) and the Gate Lodge (Stop 13), all the stops along the Heritage Trail are within the village of Glengarriff and can be walked comfortably in ¾ hour.
Visit Bryce House on Garinish Island
Take the boat to Ilnacullin to uncover the fascinating history of Garinish island at the wonderfully restored home of the Bryce family who created the island’s extraordinary garden paradise. The family’s cottage has been restored to its original Edwardian picturesque style, and is home to a fascinating and fully accessible exhibition that reveals the garden’s history. You’ll gain a real sense of how the family lived on the island, as well as an understanding of their imaginative plans!
Explore Ireland’s ancient past at Bonane Heritage Park
Take a walk through the 5,000 years of the archaeology of Bonane, and learn about the way Irish people lived on Ireland’s southwest coastline in times long past. The park’s 2km trails leads you through a wealth of archaeological sites in the Sheen Valley, from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages up to pre-famine times. Watch out for an ancient Stone Circle, Ringfort, Bullaun Stone and Fulacht Fiadh (an ancient cooking site) as you walk. And, if you have time, seek out the walking trails nearby, which make wonderful places to spend an afternoon.
Experience traditional Irish life at Molly Gallivan’s Cottage
Walk the farm at Molly Gallivan’s to appreciate what a simple country lifestyle was like in rural Ireland before the days of electricity & modern farming practices. Meet the animals and see traditional farm machinery, before calling to the attractive shop and tea rooms. It’s an ideal stop on your way between Glengarriff and Kenmare. Or make an evening of it and head to Molly Gallivan’s for a night of Irish food, music, song, dance and story telling that recreates an “American Wake” or an emigrant’s homecoming.
Trace O’Sullivan Bere’s journey to Carriganass Castle
Glengarriff was a key staging post on the journey that Dónal Cam O’Sullivan Bere took from West Cork to Leitrim in 1602, to join the Flight of the Earls. You can walk the Beara-Breifne Way to Kealkill, or take a scenic drive there instead. However you travel, you’ll find a fine example of a fortified castle in tranquil riverside setting, close to scenic guided walks that offer panoramic views across the Kealkill valley and Bantry Bay. Don’t miss a visit to the. Kealkill Stone Circle (clearly marked from the village to find one of the best megalithic monuments in Ireland).
Climb the steps at Bantry House!
A short drive and scenic drive from Glengarriff takes you along the West Cork coastline to the heritage town of Bantry, where there are some wonderful sites to visit for anyone passionate about Irish history. Bantry House is an exquisite Irish stately home and gardens, still owned by descendants of the original Earl of Bantry who built the house in the mid-1700s. Learn how the family played a dramatic role in thwarting Wolfe Tone’s rebellion, and why the big house survived the War of Independence before exploring the beautifully planted gardens and climbing the steps to take in magnificent views across Whiddy Island and Bantry Bay.
Visit Bantry Museum & walk the town’s heritage trails
You’ll gain a real sense of the history of the town if you join one of the free guided heritage walks that runs from Bantry Tourist Office in the summer season. The town’s small but fascinating museum is also well worth a visit, and a series of heritage loop trails take in monuments including the famed Kilnaruane stone!
Dig deep into the past at Allihies Copper Mine Museum
Near the tip of the Beara peninsula, discover the fascinating story of the mining heritage that has sustained communities on the West Cork peninsulas since Bronze Age times. The museum sheds light on the feats of engineering that sustained the Allihies copper mine, as well as its effects on the lives of the local community. Don’t leave Allihies until you’ve taken a walk to the North Engine – a stunning landmark in the hills above Allihies that remains a powerful reminder of the village’s mining past.
You won’t want to miss a visit to Dunboy Castle – where O’Sullivan Bere lost the battle of Dunboy – on your way through Castletownbere.
Travel through time at Kenmare Heritage Centre
Visit Kenmare’s Heritage Centre, and you’ll learn about characters like the Nun of Kenmare, as well as the town’s varied past, from its industrial heritage to how it fared in famine times. Kenmare’s gentle heritage trail gives fascinating insights into the history of this town, from its Bronze Age communities through its plantation past, to its industrial heritage, marked by the lace-making tradition Kenmare sustains to this day. You’ll be spoilt for choice when you try to decide where to grab a coffee and a treat after your walk!