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Valentia is a small island tucked away at the edge of Co. Kerry that boasts several achievements in the worlds of navigation and communications. This is where the first transatlantic cable was laid, to Heart’s Content in Newfoundland in 1865 and it was also one of the locations used when calculating the size of the earth using altazimuth longitudes (see below). Enjoy the stunning 10-minute ferry trip from Renard in summer or cross the Atlantic via the bridge at Portmagee.
Look out to sea as you travel the Ring of Kerry, and you are likely to see two steep and rocky islands lying about 16 km off the coast of Valentia Island. These are Little Skellig and Skellig Michael. Little Skellig, home to a colony of 28,000 breeding pairs of gannets, is inaccessible to visitors, but boats to the larger Skellig Michael leave from Knightstown. With a sixth-century Christian monastery perched on a ledge a dizzying 160 metres above sea level, Skellig Michael is a UNESCO world heritage site that takes about an hour to reach.
The fossilised tetrapod footprints on Valentia are another one of the internationally significant finds on this island. Located near the Lighthouse Cafe on the north-east of the island, they were discovered in 1993 by an undergraduate geology student and take the form of a series of footprints left by a large, amphibian animal in soft sediment about 380 million years ago.
Always a great place to go to watch gannets diving into the Atlantic, Valentia Island Lighthouse was officially opened to the public for the first time in June 2013. Officially the Cromwell Point Lighthouse, it was formerly home to a Cromwell Fleetwood Fort thought to have been constructed in the 16th century as one of two built on Valentia Island around this time. Guided tours of the lighthouse tower and balcony are available.
First opened in 1816, Valentia slate mine has produced top-quality slate for everything from the Paris Opera House and London’s Houses of Parliament to a billiard table for Queen Victoria. Abandoned after a rock fall in 1910, it was reopened in the 1954 Marian Year, when statues of the Virgin Mary and St. Bernadette where installed high above the quarry entrance. It has since hosted various events, including a yearly community mass, and it is again producing quality slate for export around the world.
Even if molluscs do nothing for you, the King Scallop Festival in July is an enjoyable event. It features events for all ages, including live music, a cricket match, craft fair and country market, cooking demonstrations, an angling competition, a display by the coastguard helicopter and the Valentia Island RNLI Lifeboat, blessing of the local fishing boats, and the crowning of Mr. King Scallop and Ms Queen Scallop.
Launched in mid-September 2012 and featuring a selection of bands including Delorentos and This Club, the Valentia Isle Festival brings the summer festival season to a stylish close. The emphasis is on live music, but there are other quirky events, including flirting workshops, so get your tent and wellies ready.
Geokaun Mountain rises from the centre of Valentia Island to give you panoramic views of the spectacular coastal scenery around you, including the Blasket and Skellig islands. This is the highest point on the island, and there are easily accessible walkways. The three viewing areas at the summit are the Miner's View, the Shepherd's View, and Carraig na Circe, and there are 34 information plaques providing details of the Skelligs, the Blaskets, the Lighthouse, Bray Tower, the Tetrapod trackway, Church Island, Beginish, Portmagee, Valentia, whale watching, the cable station, and various wildlife
Staged in late September or early October, the Portmagee Sea Shanty & Pirates Weekend is a celebration of all things nautical. Local and international sea shanty groups perform, and there are informal bar sessions, street parades, and activities for all the family.
A highlight of the August bank holiday weekend, the Valentia Regatta sees rowing clubs from across south and mid Kerry compete in traditional timber 4-oar and 6-oar seine boats. The 4-oar boats have a crew of four plus a coxswain and the seine boats have crews of 13 men on each oar plus a coxswain. With the magnificent surroundings of Valentia Harbour as a backdrop, this is a spectacular event.
Valentia took its place as part of an 1862 effort to calculate the size of the earth using altazimuth longitudes. The Altazimuth Stone marks the location of the altazimuth instrument (a telescope mounted so it can swing vertically and horizontally) that precisely determined the longitude of Knightstown as part of a project to accurately determine the longitude of multiple locations along the 52nd parallel from Valentia to Omsk, Siberia. Telegraph equipment was connected to the nearby telegraph office to synchronize the timing of astronomical observations at this location with simultaneous observations by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
1.1km from Valentia Island
Stay at a beautifully restored traditional farmhouse on 24 acres of beautiful countryside about 3 km outside the picturesque village of Sneem. Midway between Waterville and Kenmare on the world-famous Ring of Kerry, this is a tranquil location that offers spectacular views of the Kerry Mountains and surrounding landscape.
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3.6km from Valentia Island
Clad in the luscious green ivy that thrives in our mild Atlantic climate, this Failte Ireland-approved, 4-star rental property is located along the promenade on the seafront in Knightstown, just a stones throw from the water's edge. The four-bedroom property offers panoramic views of the harbour and the Atlantic.
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1.6km from Valentia Island
Overlooking Portmagee village, this beautiful holiday rental is the perfect escape on Valentia Island, off the coast of County Kerry. Features of this spacious two-storey property include five bedrooms (two of which are ensuite), wooden floors throughout, and a large conservatory.
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3.2km from Valentia Island
Enjoy superb accommodation just minutes from Knightstown on Valentia Island in County Kerry. Valentia is one of the more scenic and unspoilt areas off the coast of Kerry. Each cottage sleeps 5 people with ease, in two double beds and one single bed. The properties are located on left hand side of road leaving Knightstown Village in direction of the bridge to the mainland, just past the Fuschia restaurant.
Stay on the edge of the breathtaking Atlantic ocean on the quayside overlooking Valentia Island harbour in the Kingdom of Kerry. This cottage is located in the village of Knightstown and is perfect for a relaxing vacation surrounded by amazing views in a peaceful setting. The interior of the holiday home is furnished to a very high standard with wooden floors throughout.
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4km from Valentia Island
Stay at a delightful property near the County Kerry village of Portmagee. Relax in the comfort of two separate sitting rooms, each with a TV. The open-plan kitchen/dining room/sun room is perfect for sharing meals together after a busy day's sightseeing, and there is a separate utility attached to the kitchen area.
2.3km from Valentia Island
Soak up the unique atmosphere of this restored stone cottage on Valentia Island. Nestled in a quiet, rural location with beautiful views of the sea and the mountains, this 3-bedroom cottage offers every comfort.
Enjoy excellent accommodation close to Knightstown Village on Valentia Island in County Kerry. Valentia Island is one of the most breathtaking and scenic spots off the coast of Kerry. Each house sleeps up to 7 people in 4 bedrooms, comprising three double bedrooms and one single room. There are two en-suite bathrooms and a family bathroom.
3.3km from Valentia Island
Stay in a beautiful four-bedroom, semi-detached holiday house on Valentia Island in the picturesque town of Knightstown, in Co. Kerry. These superbly finished houses are just 5 minutes' walk from the local shop, pub, restaurants, and the quaint pier.
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