This article is written like a travel guide rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (September 2012)
Baile an Bhuinneánaigh
|Elevation||30 m (100 ft)|
|Irish Grid Reference|
Ballybunion or Ballybunnion (Irish: Baile an Bhuinneánaigh) is a coastal town and seaside resort in County Kerry, Ireland, on the Wild Atlantic Way, 15 km (9.3 mi) from the town of Listowel. The famous Castle Green divides the two main beaches, with the Ladies Beach on the right and the Mens Beach to the left, names given to the fact that both sexes swam on separate beaches on the orders of the local parish priest, who walked it daily ensuring the rule wasn't broken. Further to the left of the Men's beach lies the Long Strand, a 3.2 km stretch of golden sand, overlooked by the huge sand dunes of Ballybunion Golf Club. It boasts two golf courses, the famous Old Course and the new Cashen course, it is a top class Links course founded in 1893 and host course to the Murphy's Irish Open in 2000 and Palmer Cup in 2004.
According to the Central Statistics Office, Ballybunion had a population of 1,854 in 2016.
In the summer, Ballybunion by the Sea attracts many families and people to enjoy the sandy beaches, warm Atlantic waters, amazing sunsets and many wellness activities. Nearby cliffs offer excellent scenery. Dolphins may be seen in the waters. The beaches near Ballybunion are a popular surfing site, with a dedicated surf school on the Mens beach. Other traditions include Seaweed Baths, featuring sea water with kelp. In the summertime cooked periwinkles are salted and served in small paper bags along with a pin to extract the small sea snails. The town itself contains many top class restaurants, pubs and cafes, amusement arcades, a health & Leisure centre, community centre with sports hall, a children's playground, a supermarket, a library, Mens Shed, primary and secondary schools, creche with after-school service, three preschools, a Garda Station and a statue commemorating the golfing visit of Bill Clinton. This was the first statue of Bill Clinton on public display in the world; it is located on the corner of Main Street and Church Road.
Ballybunion Community Forum published a new website for Ballybunion on May 18th 2018 at the request of the groups of the town. it is www.ballybunionbythesea.ie
- The MOYA Festival of Meditation, Ocean, Yoga and Art takes place on May Bank Holiday and October Bank Holiday weekends, offering both a Summer and Winter theme. Let your troubles sink into the golden sand as you inhale invigorating sea air. Reconnect with your creativity and intuition through our workshops. Experience rejuvenation and healing with our experts. Experience rejuvenation and healing with experts in the fields of holistic therapy, nutrition, yoga and meditation. Embrace an artistic side with art classes en plein air, meditation with mandala art, photography or creative writing. Feel the vibes with Tibetan singing bowls and drumming workshops. Get your energy flowing with chakranetics and yoga flow. Immerse yourself in MOYA and all it has to offer.
- Wild Atlantic Way Sand Art Event. Ballybunion is an ideal location for beach art with its vast stretches of beautiful fine sands and the natural viewing points from the cliffs, walkways and Castle Green. In May, the Wild Atlantic Way Sand Art Event brings a host of national and international sand artists to Ballybunion's beaches to showcase examples of spectacular sand art on a large scale over several days. Part of the event includes local children and community groups embracing the beach as a canvas for unleashing their creativity, guided by the pros. The main event involves numerous artists working simultaneously on each of Ballybunion's four beaches – the Long Strand, Men's Beach, Ladies’ Beach and Nuns’ Beach – each with their own unique creations, from sea creatures to swirls and spirals. Who knows, one day you might see an enormous sea monster stretching from the cliffs all the way down to the Cashen.
- Women In The Media: The annual Women In Media Conference takes place in the opulent setting of Kilcooly's Country House in April. The conference offers an impressive range of media-themed events and discussions, championing in particular the role of Irish Women in Media. Each year guarantees a thought-provoking panel of high-calibre speakers. Previous panelists include Joan Burton, Katherine Zappone, Frances Fitzgerald, Catherine Shanahan, Dr. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Lorna Byrne, Olivia O’Leary, Caitriona Perry, Mary Dundon and Miriam O’Callaghan. A gala dinner and awards ceremony also takes place in Kilcooly's Country House on the Saturday of the conference. The conference is open to the public and a variety of ticket options is available.
- RUN Ballybunion: Every Easter crowds descend on Ballybunion to participate in Run Ballybunion. Taking place annually on Easter Saturday, with options of a Half Marathon or a 10km Road Race, runners are guaranteed a challenge but also a rewarding experience, whatever their level of fitness. The route starts outside Kilcooly's Country House in town and takes you along stunning coastline on Kerry's stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way, winding your way up and down hills and through lush North Kerry farming country. If the race doesn’t take your breath away, the scenery certainly will for around each corner is a view more beautiful than the last. And, once you’ve availed of the complimentary hot food in Kilcooly's, you might muster up the motivation to celebrate your achievement in one of Ballybunion's many watering holes on possibly the busiest night of the year.
- Beach Volleyball: Teams from all over Ireland, with many players originally from further afield, descend on Ballybunion in August to battle it out when the Beach Volleyball Ireland Tour comes to town. This two-day tournament takes place on Ladies’ Beach, one of Ballybunion's two Blue Flag beaches and often described as a “natural amphitheater”, making it an ideal location. The beach volleyball tournament promises plenty of action and excitement so come along and cheer them on. Hopes are high to make this an international event.
- In summer 2006 the town hosted the first ever "World Fleadh." Traditional Irish music was played throughout the six day mid-August festival, as well as music from non-Irish musicians who performed including the French group Gipsy Kings and the British/Irish group The Waterboys. Celebrities, including Jodie Marsh and Kathryn Thomas, also attended World Fleadh.
- In May 2009, Ballybunion was the host to the all-Ireland (North & South) Coast Guard Joint Search And Rescue Competition. This is an annual event, moving around the country each year being hosted by a different unit from different Coast Guard divisions. It is a weekend of competition, consisting of many different events (usually about a dozen) such as Navigation, Driving, First Aid, Knots, Casualty Extraction, etc. In 2010 the JSAR Competition took place in Donegal.
Things to See and Do in Ballybunion
- Beaches. Ballybunion can boast of both divine and divergent coastlines, which are washed daily by the Wild Atlantic Ocean. The town and surrounding area contains stunning beaches with unique titles, namely the Ladies Beach, the Men's Beach and the Nun's Beach, the Long Strand, Beale Beach and Litter Strand. Visitors can explore caves which are accessible according to the tides. The Black Rocks on the Men's beach are at least three hundred thousand years old. Within the Black Rocks are 2 natural pools, where many locals have learned to swim in days gone by. Whether you are looking for a quiet sandy spot or a famous surf break, Ballybunion on the Wild Atlantic Way is the perfect place to experience the diversity of Ireland's coastline. Blow away the cobwebs by walking the 3.2 kilometres of the beautiful Long Strand when the tide is out or discover the Nuns Beach and Virgin rock along the stunning cliff walk. There are beach cafes and shops open from May to September, selling everything from buckets and spades, ice-cream cones, coffee and waffles
- Fulmar and Shag, Rock doves and choughs, many gulls and even a Peregrine Falcon. Beautiful colour combinations occur in the summer months all along the cliffs with plants including lotus, wild thyme, sea holly, sea thistle and sea pink.
- Bromore Cliffs are a most beautiful place less than a mile from Ballybunion. It will take your breath away as you discover amazing cliffs and waterfalls, coves with seals and caves with starlings and ultimately, the striking Devils Castle Sea Stack, once inhabited by a sea eagle. With a stunning backdrop of over a million flowers annually, you may read stories of fairies, reclusive foxes and exploding dynamite on the information plaques dotted throughout the walk. These were all written by Mike, the owner of Bromore, whom you may encounter on your walk, along with his dog Scooby and Bart, his Irish Hunter horse. Once a year Mike invites you to Hae n Tae, where you can help make a traditional wynd of hay, followed by some Tae in the meadow to relive times past
- Sunsets in Ballybunion are unique and amazing. All year round in Ballybunion, Mother nature shows off, letting her sun's rays bend and wind across the Atlantic Ocean and sky, sending us a display of colours from soft pinks and yellow to bright orange and flaming red. Watch as the light bounces off the caves and cliffs, while glistening and sparkling over the ripples in the Atlantic Ocean. As the light slowly fades into darkness, the rolling blue waves crash and thunder onto the shore. The sight of Ballybunion's red sun sinking and glittering between Kerry Head and Loop Head, is a mesmerizing one and will leave you with a profound sense of awe, as well as some seriously impressive photographs. After a busy day on the beach, enjoy a feast from one of Ballybunion's excellent seafood restaurants or sip a cocktail at a local bar and watch the large red orb dip below the ocean's waves
- A murmuration of starlings is a remarkable sight - Thousands of birds swooping and whirling in unison in the sky above Ballybunion. Early evening just before dusk, they gather on rooftops and telephone wires in Doon Road, chattering and gossiping before they take off, racing and dancing at sunset. The Nine Daughters Hole on the cliff walk is their favourite playground, where they dip and dive, disappearing through this natural blowhole, before appearing again as if by magic from one of the caves below the cliff walk. Spotting a starling murmuration and their startling displays of coordination would be an amazing addition to your time in Ballybunion
- Surfing. The Men's and Ladies beaches are recognized as some of the best surf spots in Ireland and indeed the world. In such a beautiful location, with world class surf breaks and easy access to both beaches, Ballybunion is a natural lure for surfers from all corners of the globe. Ballybunion Surf School is based on the South beach (Men's beach). Surf lessons are run from their beach café where you can enjoy a hot drink and snack after your lesson and avail of their changing facilities. With four miles of golden, blue flagged beaches, Ballybunion offers waves for beginners, intermediates and the Atlantic cliff break provides exhilarating surf for the seriously advanced.
- Eco-Trek tours. Join local historian and piper Danny Houlihan on an adventure walking tour along the famous Cliff Walk in Ballybunion where myths and legends and wild life are interwoven into a rich tapestry with tales of its smuggling past and its famous piper Thomas Mc Carthy 1799-1904. Why not have a go on the pipes yourself? Tours are arranged so that the visitor gets the maximum time in the natural areas of Ballybunion, to see the hidden parts of North Kerry, its beaches, cliffs, glens, valleys and its flora and fauna. All this while being entertained by the ancient stories, legends and facts that Danny describes so well and hearing the music that Danny, an All-Ireland champion piper plays so beautifully. Geological visits to the Long Strand in Ballybunion can also be arranged for children (of all ages) to see the rock formations and fossils in the area. Ecotrek Tours are designed with minimal impact on the environment so not to damage the natural habitat of birds and wildlife of the area, all visitors are asked to respect the Leave No Trace Policy which is in place by Ecotrek.
- Collins’ Seaweed Baths were established in the 1920s by Hannah Collins and her husband Tom. Inspired by the natural healing qualities of seaweed, (serrated wrack) which is sourced locally in the black rocks, a little business was set up initially in their house located down the Glen on the Ladies Strand in Ballybunion. In 1932, a premises was bought across the road from their home, the site where Collins’ Seaweed Baths now stands. The seaweed baths has continued through four generations. Hannah”s daughter Mary and her husband Paddy Kennelly continued to run the baths until the business was then lovingly taken over by Mary's only daughter. Mary and her husband Seamus Mulvihill carried on Collins’ from the 1960s for almost fifty years. Seamus still picks seaweed on those same black rocks. Mary ran a cafe on the premises serving tea on trays which could be enjoyed on the beach whilst welcoming and greeting all her many friends and customers with a lovely smile. Unfortunately Mary passed in 2007 and so now in 2018, Mary and Seamus’ children, Gary and Clare work alongside their father Seamus gathering seaweed and serving the people of Kerry, Cork and Limerick and often far beyond. The serrated wrack still grows on the Black rocks, is picked when the tide is low, placed in a warm bath, and still heals, soothes and rejuvenates all those who experience nature's luxury at Collins’ Seaweed Baths. Generations later, the soul, energy and beauty of the Atlantic is still enjoyed by those who like to sit on the terrace at Collins’ with a cup of tea and listen.
- Dolphin Spotting. What an exciting and exhilarating sight to see a dolphin leaping clear of the water. Once spotted, people are happy to call others to watch and no matter what age you are, it's a joy! The bottle nose dolphin is one of the most familiar and abundant dolphin species in Ireland and the only known resident group of dolphins in Ireland occurs right here in by Ballybunion in the Shannon estuary! They are regularly seen from the coastline and cliff walk in Ballybunion. They love to move in and out between the beaches and because they are inquisitive and boisterous creatures, they often visit the children enjoying their time at the surf school on the Men's beach on a bright Summer morning.
- Fishing and Bird Watching. The Cashen estuary, a Special Area of Conservation, is the tidal section of the river Feale. At low tide the mudflats exposed are very important habitats for many birds, both local and migratory. These include Redshank, Godwits, Sanderling, Grey Plover and Lapwing. And of course, the Grey Heron, which is a delight to watch, all alone, as if meditating the mysteries of life! The tidal nature of the Cashen means it supports species of fish such as Flounder, Eel, Atlantic Salmon and Brown Trout. The mudflats at the Cashen provide food such as lugworm and ragworm as well as millions of microscopic snails. Watch the local fishermen ply their ancient craft on the Cashen river, using age old methods. About 150 species of fish are known to visit the sea around Ballybunion. From the shore, it is possible to fish for pollock, bass, mackerel and flat fish. Ballybunion, from Beale to the Cashen area has an abundance of wildlife and is a haven for birdwatchers and a paradise for anglers.
- Walking and Cycling. There are several sign-posted walks around Ballybunion. These include walks to suit all abilities, from the heritage trail around the town following all the sites, to the 30-minute cliff walk which will take in the stunning views of the Atlantic, wildlife, starling murmurations and beautiful sunsets. The 2-hour walk along the Long strand when the tide is out, allows a person to feel the fresh Atlantic breeze, hear the waves on the shore. The walker can see the flora and fauna from the ocean on one side to the sand dunes of the famous Ballybunion Golf club on the other. There is also a 4-hour hill walk, which brings a person to another level with the panoramic vista of the Shannon estuary, the Cashen estuary, the town of Ballybunion and its hinterland and on a good bright day 6 counties can be seen from the top of Cnoc an Fhomhair. You can see the Cliffs of Moher on a good day.
- The Listowel and Ballybunion Railway. The Listowel and Ballybunion Railway was a highly unusual form of transport. It was built to the Lartigue monorail system. Ballybunion railway station opened on 6 March 1888, but finally closed on 14 October 1924.
- The Tinteán Theatre
The Tinteán Theatre, off Church Road, is a 500+ seat theatre opened in 2006. It regularly hosts plays, pantos, Irish dancing, comedy show (e.g. Jon Kenny, Brendan Grace) and music concert (Brendan Shine, Nyle Wolfe). In July 2007 the Tinteán hosted a live RTÉ draw for the FAI.
- Ballybunion Sea & Cliff Rescue
Ballybunion Sea Rescue (manned by volunteers)  is situated on the Ladies Beach and was founded in 1986. The unit, equipped with a D class inflatable boat and an Atlantic 75 boat (purchased in 2010, replacing the old Atlantic 21), covers the coast and Shannon Estuary from Ballyheigue, Co Kerry to Foynes, Co. Limerick, and inland to Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick. As well as providing 24x7 Sea & Cliff Rescue, the volunteers also provide First Aid and Ambulance assistance at a handful of horse races around the Ballybunion area. The volunteers are very well trained in all aspects of rescue work.
Health & Leisure
- Ballybunion Health & Leisure Centre
This Health & Leisure Centre  opened in 2007 and is situated on Kit Ahern Road. It has a heated 20m pool, sauna, jacuzzi, gym and exercise rooms. The existence of a swimming pool in Ballybunion has been sought for decades. The complex is open all year round and offers yearly and part-time membership. Ballybunion Leisure Centre and Swimming Pool is a fantastic addition to the area. Call in for a leisurely swim, robust workout or join one of the multitude of fun and motivating classes run by highly trained and motivated staff. Facilities include the adult pool (20m X 10m), children's pool, toddler's pool, Jacuzzi, sauna/steam rooms, treatment rooms, air-conditioned gymnasium, aerobics room, jogging track and coffee/juice bar. There is wheelchair and lift access allowing availability for all.
The Ballybunion Golf Club was founded in 1893 and is home to arguably one of the best links courses in the world. There are 2 courses, the Old Course and the Cashen Course, both situated beside the beach.
Stack Park is situated off Sandhill Road, and has an unofficial walk-in entrance off Central Park (mobile home part off Kit Ahern Road). This floodlight pitch provides training & matches for many divisions of players (incl under 8's, 10's, Junior, & Senior) as well as Ladies football.
The Ballybunion team are called the Beale team, named for a small townland a couple of miles up the coast from Ballybunion. The Beale colours are green with a red stripe. Some of the Beale legends include, not limited to, Oige Moran, Bomber Liston, Brian Horgan
Ballybunion has two soccer clubs, both of which play in the Kerry District League. LB Rovers (formerly known as Lisselton Rovers) relocated to Ballybunion in the autumn of 2012 and got promoted from Division 1B in their first season. Prior to the move, Lisselton had been one of the most successful sides in the Kerry District League.
Shannon Wanderers, Ballybunion's other club, played in Division 1A for the 2012/13 season, which ended in them getting relegated.
Both clubs play in the Irish College pitch in the south of the town.
- "Census 2006 – Volume 1 – Population Classified by Area" (PDF). Central Statistics Office Census 2006 Reports. Central Statistics Office Ireland. April 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-08.
- Placenames Database of Ireland
- "Ballybunion By The Sea - A Peaceful Haven on the Wild Atlantic Way". Ballybunion By The Sea. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
- Joint Search And Rescue Archived 2009-06-19 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Ballybunion station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
- The Tinteán Theatre
- Ballybunion Sea Rescue
- Health & Leisure Centre Archived 2008-08-19 at the Wayback Machine.