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Some people would simply repeat “the beach!” over and over if you asked them to list ten Ballybunion attractions, and, although the beach is a pretty compelling reason to visit Ballybunion, there are many appealing aspects to this North Kerry resort. Here are some of them:
With its dramatic setting among spectacular sand dunes, Ballybunion offers two uniquely testing links courses. The Old Course is a par-71 course that often features on lists of the world’s best golf courses - even Bill Clinton refers to it as one of his all-time favourites and a statue to the former U.S. president in the town bears testimony to his love of the place. The Cashen is a par-72 course designed by Trent Jones that presents a more rugged and equally tough challenge.
Ballybunion Surf School operates from Ballybunion's South beach (Men's beach), which has developed a reputation as one of north Kerry’s best surfing beaches over the past 20 years. The stunning seascapes and exceptional surf breaks make surfing here a memorable experience, whatever your level of expertise. Surf lessons are run from a beach cafe, where you can change and recharge your batteries after an exhilarating surf. Advanced surfers will be tempted by the Atlantic cliff break.
Running since the early 1970s, the International Bachelor Festival brings single men from 26 to 46 to the north Kerry town each August for a week of fun and prospective romance. Although the festival has no shortage of happy couples to its credit, the emphasis is on fun, with a street carnival, fireworks, markets, live music, and the selection of the winning bachelor. Other events include fancy dress competitions, treasure hunts, terrier racing, and children’s entertainment.
They may look repulsive, but seaweed baths have been attracting devotees for centuries. Steam-treated seaweed releases minerals and other health-giving elements into hot water, making for a deeply relaxing soak. Rejuvenate at Collins’s Hot Seaweed Baths, on Lady’s Strand, where the third generation of the Collins family runs a century-old business.
One of Ireland’s most exceptional salmon and sea trout rivers, the River Feale becomes the Cashen River for the final 10 km before it enters the sea south of Ballybunion. To fish the Cashen River, drive past Ballybunion Golf Club and park beside the sand dunes. For bass and flounder, head to the northern end of the Cashen estuary on the south end of Ballybunion beach. Wait for a flooding tide and use lugworm for best results.
The Tinteán Theatre in Ballybunion is a purpose-built venue that centres on live performance and contemporary Irish dance. A wide range of genres is showcased at the theatre, with performances by local and touring groups. It also houses a cinema, exhibition area, literary bookshop, bar, and coffee dock. A stage school and art-house cinema club are based at the Tintean, which also caters for conferences and themed weekends.
Travel 16.5km northeast of Ballybunion to Ballylongford, where you’ll find the legendary Carrigafoyle Castle in a channel between the mainland and Carrig Island. The castle has had a turbulent history, targeted by a string of violent sieges, but it has withstood these travails and remains an impressive fortress. Strategically sited between the high- and low-water marks on the shore of the Shannon Estuary, it centres on a five-storey tower constructed in the late 15th century by the O'Connors of Kerry. The 26-metre edifice is particularly attractive, composed of carefully chosen small stones in neat layers.
You don’t need to exhaust yourself to enjoy the cliffs of Ballybunion. A short loop walk (taking no more than half an hour) begins midway down the route to the Ladies’ Beach. Keep an eye out for dolphins in summer and enjoy stunning views of the nearby beaches, sea arches, and sea stacks. An interesting feature is the large blowhole called The Nine Daughters, where an angry local chief threw his offspring after he intercepted them as they were about to elope with Vikings. You can stretch the walk by a further quarter of an hour by continuing along the path by the convent to the more secluded nun's beach.
For an enjoyable 9km cycle, head to the Rattoo Round Tower in Ballyduff. Dating from about 1100, the tower is exceptionally well preserved and is distinguished by unique, curved moulding and by its inclusion of a protective sheela-na-gig symbol. It is believed to have been founded by early Christian evangelist Bishop Lughach. Other features of the monastic site include the ruins of a 15th-century church, which incorporates elements of an earlier church.
We couldn’t leave Ballybunion without highlighting the beach. If you have a couple of hours to spare, walk down the Long Strand until you reach the Cashen river, where you follow a trail through sand dunes on your left until you get to the Cashen beach. Keeping left, climb the steps to the car park and proceed past both golf courses and back to where you started. Along the way you are likely to spot a wide range of seabirds, as well as the odd dolphin and seal. This is also the ideal route for appreciating the renowned golf courses. In summer, the fishermen lined up along the Cashen may well sell you a wild Atlantic salmon!
4.6km from Ballybunion
These bright, modern holiday cottages are situated on an attractively landscaped site with their own tennis court, within 5 minutes' walk of all amenities, including a village and a Blue Flag beach.
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4.9km from Ballybunion
Enjoy comfortable accommodation near the seaside resort of Ballybunion in County Kerry. Each of these holiday rental has three bedrooms (one of which is en-suite), a separate bathroom with shower, TV, an open fire, electric central heating, washer, dryer, a microwave, free bed linen, and towels.
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