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Baile an Bhuinneánaigh
Ballybunion Main Street South
Ballybunion Main Street South
Ballybunion is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 52°30′36″N 9°40′19″W / 52.510°N 9.672°W / 52.510; -9.672Coordinates: 52°30′36″N 9°40′19″W / 52.510°N 9.672°W / 52.510; -9.672
Country Ireland
Province Munster
County County Kerry
Elevation 30 m (100 ft)
Population (2016)[1]
 • Total 1,413
Irish Grid Reference Q862415

Ballybunion or Ballybunnion[2] (Irish: Baile an Bhuinneánaigh) is a coastal town and seaside resort in County Kerry, Ireland, 15 km (9.3 mi) from the town of Listowel. There are castle ruins near the town, although all that remains is a single wall, and two golf courses in the area including the famous Ballybunion Golf Club, a top class Links course founded in 1893 and host course to the Murphys Irish Open in 2000 and Palmer Cup in 2004. According to the Central Statistics Office, Ballybunion had a population of 1329 in 2002.

In the summer, Ballybunion attracts many families and young people to enjoy the sandy beach, warm Atlantic waters and the pubs along the high street. Nearby cliffs offer excellent scenery. Sometimes dolphins may be seen in the waters. The beaches near Ballybunion are a popular surfing site. Other traditions include the beachside 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 village itself contains mostly pubs and amusement arcades, fast food restaurants, children's playground, a supermarket, 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.

Local events[edit]

  • 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 group The Waterboys. Celebrities, including Jodie Marsh and Kathryn Thomas, also attended World Fleadh.
  • Each year, the Ballybunion International Bachelor Festival takes place. With bachelors from far and wide this is week-long festival of music, drink, games and craic. The winning Bachelor is crowned on Saturday night and celebrated in the Golf Hotel. Sometime during the week is the Terrier Race (small dogs of mixed breed chase a 'rabbit' down the street), the Barmans (and Bar Owners) Race (where a tray of drink has to be carried at speed up and down the main street), and also a Girls Doll & Pram event and a Boys Tractor display.
  • In May 2009, Ballybunion was the host to the all-Ireland (North & South) Coast Guard Joint Search And Rescue Competition.[3] 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.

Places of interest[edit]

  • The beach promontory on the right features impressive tidal caves that can be explored at low tide.
Beach of Ballybunion
  • There are two commonly used beaches in Ballybunion, accessed by large, very steep concrete pavements, and divided by the cliff atop which stands the ruined castle. The beach to the left of the castle (if looking toward the sea) is called the "Men's Beach", and the one to the right the "Ladies Beach", given to the fact that men used to bathe on a separate beach from women and children. This practice has not been observed for decades. There is a small cafe, hot seaweed baths and ice cream shop on the women's beach. The large cliffs to the right of the women's beach have shallow caves. The sheer cliffs over the beach have a scenic walking path, featuring a blowhole, views of sea stacks and a multitude of wildlife. The path takes about 20 minutes to walk, and goes round to the "Nun's Beach", a beautiful beach with no access that is overlooked by an old convent.
  • There is also a statue of a mermaid built in 2014 by a local artist, the girl and her mermaid made it into the Kerry Man newspaper.
  • 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.[4]

  • The Tinteán Theatre
Tinteán Theatre

The Tinteán Theatre,[5] 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
Atlantic 21 being launched into surf

Ballybunion Sea Rescue (manned by volunteers) [6] 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.

  • The Cliffs

The cliffs around Ballybunion are most notable for their rock formations, sea stacks, erosion, and many other geological features. The view of the strata from the Ladies Beach is excellent. There is sea stack called The Devils Castle, a blowhole called the Nine Daughters Hole, and an island / arch on the Nuns Beach called the Virgins Rock.

Health & Leisure[edit]

  • Ballybunion Health & Leisure Centre
Leisure Centre

This Health & Leisure Centre [7] 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. The leisure centre was forced to close in 2012 due to difficulties paying energy bills, but was reopened shortly after.[8]


  • Golf
    Ballybunion Golf Club

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.

  • GAA

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

  • Soccer

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "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. 
  2. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland
  3. ^ Joint Search And Rescue
  4. ^ "Ballybunion station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  5. ^ The Tinteán Theatre
  6. ^ Ballybunion Sea Rescue
  7. ^ Health & Leisure Centre
  8. ^ The Irish Examiner, November 12th 2012