I’ll never forget the first time I clapped eyes on Derrynane Bay. Having spent a few years living the high life(literally, at 40,000ft) travelling the world, I came back home just in time to witness the tail end of the Celtic Tiger and with a curiosity to explore more of the green, green grass of home. Taking every opportunity to hop in the car and just go – myself and my partner in crime got to know our fair share of back roads, byroads and high roads around the countryside.
We were on a mission to see as much of the Iveragh Peninsula as we could fit into daylight hours one April weekend and were following the N70/Ring of Kerry road out of Caherdaniel in the direction of Waterville. Looking out towards the islands that we learned are Scarriff & Deenish, but which we identified as Snoopy sleeping, we had to bring our eyes back to the road as it curved gradually uphill. With lay-by’s on the left-hand side, we pulled in to get a better look at what was below us. Oh, Janey mac. I got a lump in my throat & my then boyfriend experienced something very rare; moments of silence in my company! Turning gold-fish like, my mouth opening & closing with no words coming out I felt like such an ejit. What was I doing travelling all around the world when I have this on my doorstep? With the OS map out, we no longer noticed the skinning breeze being sent in over the Atlantic & instead were working out what each bit of land, rock and beach were called. Our plans to continue were forgotten about as Robinson Crusoe & Man Friday decided to investigate this newly discovered beach & harbour.
Back we went, down into Caherdaniel village and turned right at Freddie’s shop/bar. The drive from the village only adds to the wonder of this place. It is about 4km and the road goes from narrow to narrower, to very, very narrow. The further you go, the deeper it feels as if you are entering another world; the rhododendron grows taller, the montbretia fatter and the fuschia and brambles puffing out of the hedges only add to the feeling of being enveloped into nature.
You’ll pass the entrance to Daniel O’Connell’s home, Derrynane House, then Keating’s Bar will be on the right and metres away, after a final dip in the road, the carpark to the harbour opens up and the water is now lapping a perfect sandy beach to your left and another even more perfect sandy beach in front of you.
I remember that first visit walking the beach and feeling a mixture of sadness that the day was drawing in and we couldn’t stay exploring for longer, childishly jealous of the families who get to spend all their summers here, but also pride & happiness that this is Ireland and I am now home and have plenty more of these surprises waiting to be discovered!
I’ve gone on to luckily spend more time at this heaven-on-earth. You can learn about perfecting the art of doing nothing here: