Seashell Cottage in the Ballinskelligs

What follows is a continuation of my last post; Ireland has its hooks in me!

Our 18-day visit to Ireland included seven days at the Seashell Cottage in the Ballinskelligs, County Kerry in the southwestern part of Ireland, where the history in this part of Ireland has been traced back to the 5th and 6th centuries and the scenic views, charm, and peacefulness in this part of the world are tough to beat, in my opinion.

These are the high points for us, definitely not all of the wonderful fun things we saw and did while here.

The Seashell Cottage is a three-bedroom, 2-1/2 bath house located a quick walk from Reenroe Beach that we booked online through VBRO many months before our trip. The pleasant and very helpful owners’ home is nearby on adjacent property, and they were available if we had questions or problems.

The house was set up wonderfully with all amenities you would expect when renting a holiday house, including a washer and dryer! You can imagine how important a washer and dryer were to the six of us on an 18-day vacation! There were no problems and very few questions.

My three sisters and nephew shared this roomy house with us for one perfectly wonderful week.

This was such a terrific house and a great base for our daily excursions.

Night view from back yard

Look at that night sky from our backyard and across the water.

Our very first excursion, of course, was a walk down the road to the beach! Here’s a great photo of my sisters and me dipping our toes in the chilly ocean.

All four sisters — oh, that water was cold!

We then proceeded to hunt down a geocache. Here’s my nephew standing in the tall grass using his Aunt Marsha’s back to sign the geocache’s log page.

We had no real plan or exact destinations, but we managed to happen upon some of the neatest little pubs and restaurants in our wanderings like the one in the photos below. The food was always good too. I love toasted ham, cheese, and tomato sandwiches!

We split up in two cars many of our days and went separate directions, sometimes catching up for meals or geocaches. The geocaches we found on this trip were in the most spectacular places.

We might never have seen such beautiful scenery and definitely would have missed some holy wells and megalithic monuments if we had not let geocaching be our guide. 

Uragh Standing Stone

Uragh Stone Circle, located on the Beara Penninsula, consists of five stones that are towered over by one ten-foot stone. We took a meandering twisty small road to get to this stone circle, all the time wondering where on earth are we going. Then, all of a sudden, you see this! Quite impressive and stunningly beautiful.

We MUST get back to Ireland soon. There are so many megalithic monuments left to see and so much history to learn!

Staigue Ring Fort

Staigue Ring Fort, one of Ireland’s largest stone ring forts, was less than an hour’s drive from our cottage near the beautiful Kenmare Bay. This ring fort is believed to have been built sometime between 300 and 400 AD.

Unbelievably, no mortar at all was used in the construction of this ring fort. The fort is about 90 feet in diameter and 20 feet high, and the walls are massively thick – 14 feet thick at the base and 7 feet at the top!

We walked around the interior and climbed up the walls using stepping stone stairs that were in place. Many folktales surround this ring fort. Some involve fairies!

A Bronze Age boulder burial monument and remains of a Famine house were a brief but very steep walk near this ring fort. We encountered an 80+ woman with knee problems walking up this rough terrain. We figured if she could make it, we could too!

I believe I’ve said this many times before about various locations in Ireland, but the scenery here is jaw-droppingly beautiful. As we drove along, we saw sights above: stone circles, a twisty windy road surrounded by the lush green landscape, turf being harvested from a bog to be sold as bricks for heating, and a beautiful ocean scene.


Kenmare is another one of those charming Irish towns, interesting shops, restaurants, pubs, and on this particular day, a farmer’s market!

The Kenmare Stone Circle is a very short walk from the center of town.

The stones are surrounded by large trees, also in a circle, and the area is so well-tended it resembles a city park. This circle has fourteen short boulders, one tall slab stone, and a boulder in the circle’s center. A clootie tree is just outside the circle. 

Valencia Island

Valentia Island, a half an hour drive from our cottage, is off the main tourist track and where we spent a great deal of our time. We drove to Valencia Island over the bridge and returned to the mainland by way of the ferry in Portmagee.

Tetrapod Trails

There are several cases of reported trackways of the earliest land-going vertebrates, also known as tetrapods. These trackways provide crucial insights to the study of the transition of aquatic to terrestrial lifestyles in vertebrate evolution. Such fossils help to illuminate not only the timing of this keystone transition of evolutionary history but also what the earliest forms of tetrapod locomotion may have entailed.


Trackways from a tetrapod from 385 years ago were discovered in 1993 on Valencia Island and are evidence of one of the first water-living creatures that crawled onto land.

This extraordinary exhibit involves a steep uphill and then steep downhill trek on gravel trails, is on the rocks, and may or not be accessible, depending on the sea conditions. It was our lucky day, and we did see them.

Honestly, I would have had no idea what a tetrapod was if we hadn’t stumbled upon this place, so it was a learning experience for me. I think it is incredible to have been able to see tracks made when this part of the world and North America were connected.

Glanleam Tropical Gardens

Such a beautiful and peaceful place to wander through.

Glanleam sub-tropical gardens were very different from the typical garden I expected and were one of the most amazing gardens I’ve seen. The mildest climate in Ireland is on Valencia Island, and these beautiful tropical plants thrive here. The gardens were started in the 1830s by Sir Peter George Fitzgerald, with plants typically not grown in Ireland. We meandered through lovely quiet walks over acres of land, observing plants from South America, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Japan.

Amazing forest of trees!

We asked what this plant was, but I cannot remember its name for the life of me. Google doesn’t seem to know what it is. Does anyone know? The leaves are enormous!

We came across this Fairy Garden during our garden walk

Glanleam Standing Stone

Glanleam Standing Stone on the northern top of Valentia Island stands inside the star-shaped Cromwell’s Fort walls. The thin standing stone is over 11 feet tall and over 2,000 years old.

St. Brendan’s Well

We would never have seen this beautiful and isolated holy well if not for our hunt for a geocache! St. Brendan’s Holy Well is out in the middle of nowhere and was quite a hike in the chilly windy drizzle, not to mention the mucky bog, but loads of fun and well worth the effort.

We ventured out in the weather and walked distances we would never have considered attempting at home, and we enjoyed it too.

Saint Brendan, known as “the Navigator,” sailed to Ireland in the 5th century, so the legend goes, bringing Christianity to the island. Saint Brendan supposedly used the very same well at this spot, although there is a small altar today around it.

Near the holy well, we encountered 7th or 8th-century crosses also. If you’d like to know a bit more about Saint Brendan, click the link in the quote below. This is an interesting story.  

Updated: Mar 14, 2019  
Original:  Mar 17, 2014
Did an Irish Monk ‘Discover’ America? 

A century after St. Patrick, another Irish saint embarked on a legendary voyage that some believe took him to North America.

Christopher Klein History Stories


Portmagee is a seriously picturesque fishing village with brightly colored houses, just a great place to wander around for a bit.

Southwestern County Kerry, of which Valentia Island is a part, has been named a gold tier International Dark Sky Reserve and boasts some of the best stargazing in the world. The Royal Valentia Hotel in Portmagee offers International Dark Sky Reserve packages, including an island tour and a hotel stay.

COVID has this attraction on hold, for now, I expect. We were able to experience these dark skies from our cottage, although most nights were very cloudy.

A nice little dessert at the Valentia Hotel restaurant

The Skellig Islands

A Cloudy day but beautiful

Although we did not take tours to these islands, we had considered the possibility. Both islands were visible from Seashell cottage and more clearly from Portmagee on Valentia Island.

The islands of Skellig Michael and Little Skellig, about 7.5 miles off the coast of Portmagee, are major tourist attractions. Filming of portions of Star Wars episodes VII and VIII took place here.

Skellig Michael is home to a stone monastery of beehive huts built in the year 588 and is an extremely rugged island, requiring a 600 step climb to the top – way too much for our aged legs, knees, and feet. Tourists are not permitted to disembark at Little Skellig but can take a boat tour around the island.

This smaller island is popular with birdwatchers. It is bewildering to comprehend how or why anyone would establish any dwelling in such a remote place.

Our seven days at Seashell Cottage went by very quickly and without a hitch. It was very economical, comfortable, provided all amenities we required, and was in a beautifully scenic location near the beach. We will rent a holiday house again the next time we get an opportunity to spend some time in Ireland.

We had a few more days left on our trip and more exciting things to see, but our little home near the beach was a very memorable experience. It was nice to stay in one place for an entire week; we had never done that before. We usually move around frequently, staying two days or three days at each location.

Staying in one place for several days, or moving to a different town and lodging every few days? Which works best for you? Would you mind leaving a comment and letting me know if you enjoyed reading about this marvelous country? I do have more Ireland adventure memories.

Seashell Cottage in the Ballinskelligs

4 thoughts on “Seashell Cottage in the Ballinskelligs

  1. Pingback: Why do we keep returning to Ireland? | Always Want To Go
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  3. Just Beautiful! and i love the history lessons.

    1. It is truly beautiful, everywhere in Ireland. Ireland’s history is really really old too!

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