Discover the tranquillity and beauty of the Beara Peninsula on its bedrock of crystal.
Beara has often been called the treasure of Ireland’s South West coastline with its raw and rugged shoreline and breath-taking scenery. Baoi Walking Tours combine folklore and local tradition whilst uncovering layers of history hidden within the landscape of this beautiful Peninsula; discover megalithic monuments, ruined vestiges of a vanished Gaelic aristocracy, Napoleonic war towers, and chimneys of the Industrial Revolution while enjoying the peninsula’s dramatic beauty. Learn about Irish mythology and legends of pirates, copper miners, lighthouse rescues, and The Bull, Cow and Calf Rocks. Wildflower and wildlife identification also included in the tours.
About the name
The Irish for Dursey Island, Oileán Baoi, recalls the ancient goddess Baoi. A version of the Cailleach Bhéarra (the Hag of Beara), she was a wise woman known throughout Ireland and Scotland. Her legacy lives on in many local name places e.g. Dunboy (Dun Baoi), Ballaghboy, Boharbui. Early names for Baoi meant ‘cow-like one’ and this bovine association has influenced the names of the nearby rocks, The Bull the Cow and the Calf which stand in the sea next to Dursey.
The Cailleach Beara’s fossilised remains overlook Coulagh bay, Eyeries, awaiting the return of her husband, sea god Manannan.
Dursey Island, accessible by Ireland’s only cable car, offers one of the most exciting day trips in Ireland. Learn of Pre-Christian divinities, Vikings, monks, mariners, bishops, press gangs, pirates and shipwrecks which are all part of the island’s story.
Dursey often found itself central to religious and political turmoil; The Napoleonic Wars, Elizabethan massacres and quarrelling Gaelic chieftains have all left their mark. Standing stones, holy wells, ancient monasteries, the Signal Tower and the O’Sullivan Bere’s family tomb stand as a testimony to the island’s past. Stories of the Bull Rock lighthouse and the 1881 Calf Rock rescue are all recalled on this tour.
Dursey Island is one of only 15 signature discovery points located along the Wild Atlantic Way. The views from the Dursey include Scariff and Deenish islands, the mountains of Iveragh, Skellig Michael and to the south the Mizen and Sheep’s Head. Dolphins, whales, seals, and otters are regular visitors to the rich waters that surround Dursey.
Dursey is 6.5 km long and 1.5 km wide and has no shops, pubs or restaurants, so walkers are advised to bring food and water.
You are invited on a historical and social tour of Europe’s most westerly copper mines. Bronze Age people already knew that Beara’s crystal bedrock held precious copper ore but in 1812 mining began on an industrial scale. Allihies’ post-industrial landscape shows some of the best evidence of 19th century mining in the world today. The remains of mine related buildings litter the landscape; discover disused mines, a gun powder house, dressing floors and man made reservoirs. The engine houses that tower over the landscape once housed giant steam engines that pumped water from the mines, drove winding gear and lowered the miners far below sea level.
During the tour you are invited to imagine Allihies echoing with the sound of giant machinery crushing quartz rock to get at copper. Imagine walking through Pig Street, the walkway up to the mines that once housed hundreds of poor mining families. Imagine Berehaven Mine company’s schooners leaving Beara loaded down with copper heading for the smelting houses of Swansea. Learn about mine owners, the Puxleys, and their mansion at Dunboy. Bear witness to the phenomenal mining industry at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution that changed the Allihies landscape forever.
The tour ends at the Copper Mine Museum, Allihies Village. Built in 1845, this was once the Cornish Miners’ Methodist Church.
Fact: Local people still refer to the village of Allihies as ‘The Mines’ e.g. Are you going to the Mines to watch the match?
Enjoy the stunning views over the beach of Ballydonegan, formed by quartz particles washed down from the mines on the mountain above.
Beara is an oasis of heritage sites. Let Baoi Tours take you on a journey to some of these archaeological gems and allow them to conjure up a deep connection with our spiritual past. These sacred sites span in age from over two thousand years ago to the present day. Take time out for peacefulness and tranquillity with only wind and waves to break the silence.
Beara is a place steeped in its own history, connection to a pagan ancestry is palpable in the megalithic monuments that litter the landscape. Eyeries church’s stained glass celebrates our ancients, and nearby stone spirit, The Cailleach Beara’s fossilised remains overlook Coulagh bay awaiting the return of her husband, sea god Manannan. Let your spirit soar at the site of The Hag of Beara; leave a coin or trinket as you pass.
Evidence suggests that Christianity was in Beara long before St. Patrick; a cleric named Caitighearn was brought from France in the 3rd century by Beara sea traders Na Luingseachain (now Lynches). We visit the site of his church.
Mass Rocks were sites where mass was said in whispers during the Penal Times of the late 17th century, a time when Catholicism was forbidden. Feel the trepidation that must have accompanied the worshipers at this isolated Mass Rock where they gathered for their clandestine masses.
The spiritual tour incorporates further sites, including Ireland’s first Buddhist Temple at Dzogchen Beara, and a Methodist church built by Cornish miners in the mid 19th century. Coffee and cake or lunch, either at the Buddhist Centre’s café or The Copper Mine café, is inclusive of the price.
Your guide, Carina from Garnish, is a member of the Beara Historical Society. A writer and storyteller, she conducts guided historical tours throughout the Beara Peninsula in South West Ireland. She aims to give the visitor an appreciation of the deep history, culture and dramatic beauty that is Beara. Her Mountain Skills qualifications are accredited by Mountaineering Ireland, and she operates under their ‘leave no trace’ policy. Carina is passionate about the layers of history woven into the landscape, and deeply appreciative of the magnificent environment that surrounds her. Her interests include the sustainability and protection of life in rural Ireland.
Private and specialised tours arranged by request, buses arranged. Accommodation and restaurant bookings can also be organised. Please contact Carina for further details.
‘group tours in French and German available on request.’