Ballyferriter, otherwise known as Baile an Fheirtéaraigh, (Village of the Ferriters), or An Buailtín (the little dairy place), is the most substantial village back west from the town of Dingle. The village is named after the Norman-Irish Feiritéar family who settled in the parish in the thirteenth century and of whom the seventeenth century poet and executed leader, Piaras Feiritéar, remains the most famous member. Lying at the foot of the hill of Croaghmarhin, with the peaks of Sybil Head and The Three Sisters to the north and Smerwick Harbour to the east, there is no faulting its setting.
Ballyferriter is on the route known as the Slea Head drive and is the perfect place to stop for a pint of Guinness and a toasted sandwich or a soft drink if you’re the driver! The village has an excellent little museum with a bookshop and café, a second local café, a small but perfectly formed supermarket, a primary school, a Church, three pubs and a hotel. People travel from far and near to learn and practice their Irish (Gaelic) language skills here. Courses are run annually in the village for those wishing to learn basic Irish and those wishing to improve their level of the language.
The parish of Ballyferriter is the location for the beautiful and popular, but challenging golf course known as the Dingle Golf Links (Ceann Sibéal), Europe’s most westerly 18hole links course! While the golfers are golfing, those less inclined to do so can spend some few hours shopping or enjoying the other attractions in the surrounds!
Ballyferriter’s local beach is known as Béal Bán (translating as The White Mouth), a beautiful place to spend a sunny few hours and the location for the annual Ballyferriter Horse and Pony Races, which is generally held on the June Bank Holiday weekend (although that is dependant on the tides). This festival is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike.
There are magnificent walks are in this beautiful location, from loop walks to beach strolls and of course, the stunning Dingle Way passes through this area. While enjoying walks in this region, look out for some amazing archaeological sites with some of the following as highlights.
Between Baile an Fheirtéaraigh and Cuan Ard na Caithne is Dún an Óir (the Fort of Gold), an Iron Age promontory fort, which was the location of the Siege of Smerwick, an infamous massacre in 1580. A 600-strong Spanish and Italian papal invasion force, which had come as part of the Second Desmond Rebellion of James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald,were besieged and massacred by the English crown forces of Arthur Grey, 14th Baron Grey de Wilton.
The Riasc Monastic Settlement or Reask Monastic Site (Mainistir Riaisc) is home to the impressive ruins of a 6th-century monastery and important carved stone. The history of the Reask Monastic Site is not well known, but it has been fairly securely dated to the 5th or 6th century (leaning towards the latter). Excavations have revealed the foundations of an oratory that was first built with wood and later with stone, monastic huts, a kiln for drying corn, and a cemetery. Shards of Roman amphorae (jugs), which were used in the 6th century to transport wine, were also found. A visit to the museum (Músaem Chorca Dhuibhne) is a good way to learn more about this and other archaeological monuments in the area.
Local potters are popular in the area including an extremely successful home grown venture producing some of the finest pottery in Ireland. This Clogher workshop not only offers visitors the opportunity to brows and purchase this beautiful pottery, but also the opportunity to try your hand at throwing the pot for free.
A traditional music school is held annually in February. “Scoil Cheoil an Earraigh”, is a five day traditional music school paying particular attention to the music and style of the Corca Dhuibhne peninsula. It is, to put it succinctly, a celebration of our Irish culture!