Welcome to Bonane

View of Bonane from a loop walk from Paddy Lees to Coiltee Forestry, , Bonane, South Kerry. ©Bonane Community Council View of Bonane from a loop walk from Paddy Lees to Coiltee Forestry, , Bonane, South Kerry. ©Bonane Community Council View from Bonane Heritage Park, Bonane, South Kerry. ©Bonane Community Council

Bonane

Nestled between the Caha and the Macgillycuddy Reeks Mountains, Bonane in the Sheen Valley is one of Kerry’s hidden gems. Driving into the Kingdom from Co. Cork, visitors have their breaths taken away as they pass over the county bounds through the Caha Pass tunnel, into the valley where the Kingdom opens majestically below their feet. A wonderful winding road takes the visitor down through the verdant valley which is littered with archaeology sites nestled along side family holdings, built down through the centuries.

Bonane derives its name from Fionn Mac Cumhall, the legendary leader of the Fianna, who maintained a Both or hunting lodge here - hence the old Gaelic name Both-Fhionáin or Fionn's house, now anglicised to Bonane. The peace and tranquillity of Bonane would have provided the perfect retreat after his gruesome battle with the fearsome giant Ein (after whom Neidín, now Kenmare, is named). During the battle, so fierce was the fighting that, according to legend, "they made the hard ground soft and the soft ground hard!"

Bonane dates back at least 6000 years to the Neolithic age when farming and burial rituals were first introduced here. Since then Bonane has witnessed the Bronze age, the Iron age, Early Christian period right up to the famine and penal times as demonstrated by the various 400 archaeological sites in the area. This is one of the most densely populated historical places in Europe.

Bonane Heritage Park has some significant archaeological sites that makes it a great setting for photographers and walkers. The Heritage Park covers the period from the Bronze Age through to pre-famine times, with sites that include the stone circle, the Fulacht Fiadh, the Bullaun Stone, Standing stone, ring fort and famine house ruins. There is probable evidence of medieval settlements that existed but have yet to be excavated.

The Sheen Valley area offers visitors breath taking loop walks with amazing historical sites, Inse an t-Sagairt (the mass rock). This is dated from the penal times. It was a place of pilgrimage and reverence for local people to worship. There is a  strong folk belief that a priest was murdered by beheading while celebrating mass there during penal times in the 1800’s. While visiting this area you are sure to feel an intense atmosphere.

There are three approved loop walks which appeal to all level of walkers. They start at Molly Gallivan’s cottage and traditional farm, where there is parking, refreshments and rest facilities.

The Priest Leap is an area  folklore and you can view Kerry and Cork at the top of the mountain with stunning views over the Borlin valley. Tradition has it that a priest in the 1800’s was being chased by soldiers and to avoid capture, he and his horse made a miraculous leap off a mountain cliff in Cummeenshrule in Bonane right into Cork. To this day the point at which the priest and his horse leaped is marked with a cross at the top of the mountain

So whether you're interested in history and heritage or just looking to embrace all that makes Ireland truly special, a visit to Bonane in the Sheen Valley won't disappoint you.

 

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