Beara (Irish: Béarra) or the The Beara Peninsula is a peninsula on the south-west coast of Ireland, bounded between the Kenmare "river" (actually a bay) to the north side and Bantry Bay to the south. It has two mountain ranges running down its centre: the Caha Mountains and the Slieve Miskish Mountains. The northern part of the peninsula from Kenmare to near Ardgroom is in County Kerry, while the rest forms the barony of Bear in County Cork.
Beara was the traditional seat of power of the O'Sullivan Beare and was one of the last points of native Irish resistance after the Battle of Kinsale. Allihies, on the tip of Beara, later became major copper mines and featured in the Daphne du Maurier novel 'Hungry Hill' also made into a film.
A plaque placed by the Beara historical Society offers the following to explain the origin of the name:
- In the early centuries AD, Conn Céad Cathach (Con of the hundred battles) fought a fierce battle against Owen Mór, King of Ireland at Cloch Barraige. Owen was badly injured in the battle. Those of his followers who survived took him to Inis Greaghraighe (now known as Bere Island) as a safe place for him to recover. There, the fairy Eadaoin took him to her grianán (bower) where she nursed him back to full health. Nowadays, this place is known as Greenane.
- Owen and his followers then sailed southwards until they reached Spain. There he met and married Beara, daughter of the King of Castille.
- Later Owen, Beara and a large army sailed from Spain and landed in Greenane. Owen took his wife to the highest hill on the island and looking across the harbour he named the island and the whole peninsula 'Beara' in honour of his wife. Rossmacowen, Kilmacowen and Buaile Owen most likely are named after Owen Mór and his son. According to local tradition Owen’s wife, Princess Beara, died and was buried in Ballard Commons in the remote and peaceful valley between Maulin and Knocknagree Mountains.
The main traditional tourist attractions on the peninsula are the ruins of Dunboy Castle, Puxley Mansion, The Copper Mines Museum in Allihies, Illnacullen Island in Glengarriff (maintained by the OPW) and Derreen Garden (privately owned but open to the public).
Many people come just to enjoy the wild and untamed nature of the place and the magical coastline.
The "Ring of Beara" is a tourist trail for cars which follows the roads for about 195 kilometres (121 mi) circumnavigating the peninsula. It starts in Kenmare, crossing the Healy Pass through Adrigole, passing Castletownbere, Allihies, and turn offs to Dursey Island, Eyeries and Ardgroom, ending in Glengarriff. The area has had a long connection with the sea; Castletownbere is one of Ireland's largest fishing ports and has diving, sailing and boating facilities.
The Beara Way, incorporating part of the Beara Breifne Way based on the march of O Sullivan Beare in 1603 . The Beara Way is a long distance walking route around the highly spectacular peninsula with a large concentration of historical and archaeological sites en route. The main towns on the route are Castletownbere, Kenmare and Glengarriff . There are a number of colourful villages in between: Allihies, Ardgroom, Adrigole, and Eyeries. Bere Island and Dursey Island offer excellent walking after a short trip by ferry or cable car
See Annals of Inisfallen (AI)
- AI868.2 Dubthach of Bérre, a learned man, rested.