The Bere Island Experience

Visit Bere Island, one of the famous West Cork Islands.

8am: Wake up to the magical views of Bantry Bay in the famous Island B & B. From your bedroom window you can see the green fields and purple heather mountains of Bere Island, your destination for the day. Your host serves you delicious homemade porridge, made with milk, with a drop of Beara Honey; this is served with freshly squeezed orange juice. This is followed by delicious pancakes served with brewed Brazilian coffee. Following breakfast take a 5 minute stroll to the quayside in Castletownbere and watch the activity around the pier, listen to all the rich West Cork accents mixed with Scottish, Spanish, Dutch and French who are in selling their fresh catch of monk and prawns.

9am: Step on board the Island ferry Sancta Maria, have a chat with the skipper, get the news for the day and arrange your picnic lunch for the hillside. The ferry is like a modern time machine, which will take you back to times past, if you let it. Head out of Castletownbere port and watch the fishermen mending their nets and getting their fishing boats ready to head out to sea, to catch your evening meal. As you head off the ferry on Bere Island, you realise you are in a special place and you are now on island time. Take off the watch and turn off the phone.

9.30: Head up the road and take a walk back in time where you will leave the tar road, take to the dirt track, to the grass road, to the mountain trail. Smell the heather and listen to the chough on the cliff edge. See the remains of the military fortifications that guard the bay. Walk on the path to the lighthouse and spot the pirate caves of long ago. Your reward for your travels waits over the summit – the majestic Ardnakinna Lighthouse that guided many a sailor to this safe haven. Enjoy your island picnic lunch of Bere Island mackerel, millens cheese and homemade brown bread all washed down with a pint of Guinness, and treat yourself to the views of the amazing Atlantic Ocean. Take your time to relax and breathe the fresh salty air that is now cleansing your body of all your daily worries. Enjoy the stunning scene of Dun Beag, where many years ago the Brigantine, Joseph Howe lost her cargo of mahogany, watch a farmer gather his flock, witness firsthand the skill of the sheepdogs doing their work.

2pm: It is now time to move on to the town land of Ballinakilla, pass the signal tower on your way; this was once the Islands only way of communicating with the world. Pass the holy year cross, built by the Islanders in 1950 and which now lights the way for the Bay. Touch the ancient standing stone that marks the centre of the Island; here you can almost feel the magic and the history. Next stop back in time is the Ardagh Martello tower, climb to the top on the cut granite steps and at the top take in a 360 degree view of Adrigole, Rossmacowen, Hungary hill and Rerrin Village. Take the steps to the ground floor to see the gun powder room and the spring water well, experience a soldier’s life inside.

3pm: Head to Rerrin Village for a master class in scone and bread making, learn the skills of long ago using recipes handed down from generation to generation. Watch the secret trade of an Irish bread maker, take your turn to knead the dough and add the secret dust of Irish seaweed mixed with grandma’s secret recipe. Once the bread is in the oven it is time for a drop. Head to the village bar and mingle with the Islanders who are telling all about their day. They are quick to bring you tales of times past, about the ancient tomb, Turk Island, the military presence. This place was once the centre of world affairs, where the locals traded potatoes for curry powder and tailoring uniforms was a major trade. Try an Irish whiskey or a fruit cordial and relax, enjoy the experience.

5pm: Back to the bread maker to taste your first attempt of Bere Island brown bread. An unusual aroma meets you when you open the door and your taste buds are awakened by the sight of Berehaven Scallops sizzling in the pan. You are about to enjoy a Bere Island supper of fried scallop, topped with smoked bacon sourced from organically grown Island pigs, served with your own brown bread and a generous mug of piping hot tea. Life was never as good.

6pm: Time to check into to your Island B & B. This spectacular house is set in the townland of Cloughland and you are greeted by your host and shown your room. Time now, to take a well earned nap and recharge the batteries for the night ahead.

8pm: As you awake refreshed you notice that the sun is now setting on the West End of the Island. It is time to check out one of the local restaurants. Head for the bar on the hill where all types of local produce is served. The menu for the night is Bantry Bay Prawns or Bere Island mussels served in a white wine sauce; you can choose to share both. Dinner is locally produced angus rib eye steak served with Bere Island baby potatoes and a side order of crisp salad leaves, Island mushrooms and sautéed onions. Desert is apple and rhubarb tartlet served with fresh cream. Next you are delighted to get a mixture of local cheeses washed down with a drink of your choice.

10.30: Music time, join with the local guitar group and take your turn in one of the famous Bere Island sing songs. Try a guitar, banjo or mandolin if you can. Learn the Bere Island set, immerse yourself in the music and culture of the Island, and make friends that will last a lifetime. Arrange the agenda for the next day with all the advice you are getting now. Book a guided tour of the military fortifications or take a boat trip to see the Island from the sea, swim with the dolphins. Call to the heritage centre to learn all about Island life. Search for your ancestors.

Bere Island you will always come back.




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