Dursey Island Discs

Dursey Island Discs
From August 8th

Launches on Tuesday August 8th, 8pm, at Lehanmore Community Centre

Inspired by BBC Radio 4’s long-running series, Desert Island Discs, Beara Arts Festival presents its own series of podcasts, Dursey Island Discs.

Dursey Island Discs features three Dursey Islanders – Gerald Murphy, Rosarie O’Neill and Martin Sheehan – along with four others who have close associations with the island: Pat O’Neill, Penny Durell, Anne Finch, and Desmond O’Reilly.

All seven are interviewed by local writer Carina McNally and asked to imagine what records, book, luxury item and companion they would wish to have with them if they were ever marooned on Dursey, the only island in Ireland that is connected to the mainland by cable-car.

The interviews are available as podcasts below, and will also be broadcast at Lehanmore Community Centre, the last café on the mainland before the cable-car to Dursey, from August 8th.

Gerald Murphy grew up on Dursey. He now lives in Glenera, and returns to the island daily to farm.


Rosarie O’Neill grew up on Dursey. She now lives in Eyeries, where she runs Formanes House B&B. She returns regularly to the island.


Penny Durell lives in Ballinacarriga, overlooking Dursey Island. She is the author of the island history, Discover Dursey.


Martin Sheehan grew up on Dursey. He now lives in Castletownbere, and returns regularly to the island to farm and fish.


Anne Finch lives in Castletownbere and also has a home on Dursey. She maintains the website durseyisland.ie.


Desmond O’Reilly is a lawyer in London and has a holiday home in Adrigole. His mother, Kathleen Causkey, came from Dursey.


Pat O’Neill lives in Garnish. He has delivered the post to Dursey for the past 38 years.


Dursey Island Discs is presented by Carina McNally, recorded by Cormac O’Connor and produced by Marc O’Sullivan Vallig.

Dursey (named from the Viking Bull Island)

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 Cable Car
Dursey Island Cable Car

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.

Kilmichael village Dursey
Kilmichael village 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.

Watch a video shot on the Dursey Island here

Welcome to Beara Baoi Tours

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. By car, bus or foot, 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.

According to legend this rock is the remains of the 'Hag of Beara', staring out to sea awaiting her husband, Manannán mac Lir, God of the Sea, to return to her.
According to legend this rock is the remains of the “Hag of Beara”

The Cailleach Beara’s fossilised remains overlook Coulagh bay, Eyeries, awaiting the return of her husband, sea god Manannan.

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