With the stars aligning, I’ve managed to spend more time at Derrynane and get to know this magnificently beautiful area better. I will start off by coming clean; I am very much a newbie to these parts and while there are families that have connections to this area going back generations – and would prefer to keep it all to themselves! – I’m struggling to keep it a secret!
Though school summer holidays will be when all the action is going on, I’ve enjoyed visits over winter just as much.
So what do days at Derrynane involve? Mainly the art of just “being”… completely in the moment and switching off to the rest of the world. I should drop the bombshell that may frighten many of you off… phone reception is terrible down here, well it is with my network anyway, and this is won-der-ful.
Regardless of your age, snoozing in a sheltered spot surrounded by rugs, windbreakers, beach bags and cool boxes will be part of your day. This task can be broken up by reading whatever library book/newspaper/magazine you picked up, most probably at, Freddie’s in the village on the way down. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, you may be stretched out facing the harbour or looking across to Lamb’s Head and children/dogs/footballs may land on or very near you at any time of the day.
You could be one of the first down to Helen and her gang at Derrynane Seasports and have the choice of taking out paddle boards, lasers, kayaks or windsurfers. Even if the sky is grey and dull, if it is the summer, Helen will be there (unless its really, really teaming down!) and on those overcast days, believe me or not, the water actually feels warmer when you go head first under, so don’t let the weather put you off!
If you prefer to keep moving, there’s plenty of sand dunes to scramble through and depending on the company you’re in, you could be admiring the surroundings, or sliding down the dunes on boogie boards!
When the tide is out, walk across to Abbey Island and pay a visit to what remains of Derrynane Abbey. The graveyard, where local families have been buried for centuries, is one of the most beautiful resting places in the country.
Whether you visit in winter or summer, walking the mass path from the harbour to Bunavalla Pier, and completing the loop if so inclined, is an opportunity to retrace the footsteps of the people of the surrounding Catholic parishes to walk to mass at the Mass Rock during penal times of the 1600-1700’s.
If you do decide to walk the entire loop, be sure to call into Derrynane House, the home of Daniel O’Connell, otherwise known as The Liberator. Having moved from Cahersiveen to live here with his uncle as a child, he later inherited the estate and chose to spend as much time here as he could.
A short video will give you an insight into the contribution Daniel O’Connell made to our countries history and you can take a walk through the gardens that lead out onto the beach or meet some of the local fairies that have set up home in the woodlands…
The Derrynane Diet consists mainly of a daily crepe from the van in the carpark, favourites of mine including cinnamon & lemon and Nutella with marshmallows. These are especially good after a session out on the water! Bridie’s pub (Keating’s), steps away also fuels up summer visitors with the best toasted lamb sandwiches on the peninsula, local crab sandwiches and a constant supply of Dairy Milks, Taytos & sour jellies. Healthy it is not, but days in Derrynane are offer more of a detox than any 5* resort what with all that fresh Kerry sea air, swimming, snoozing & running about!
Don’t take my word for it, here is what Daniel O’ Connell had to say…
“This is the wildest and most stupendous scenery of nature – and I enjoy residence here with the most exquisite relish… I am in truth fascinated by this spot…” 22nd October 1829
Though I had heard of Derrynane in History class from school days, I’ll never forget the first time I saw it in real life. It took my breath away & inspired the beginnings of this blog! Here is what happened: