About Bere Island

Bere Island lies at the entrance to Bantry Bay, creating a deep water harbour to Castletownbere “ the largest white fish port in Ireland”. The island is 11 kilometres , east to west long and 5 kilometres north south wide in size, with a population of just over 200. 

The British had a particular interest in the island in bygone years with remnants visible throughout with military fortification’s still to being seen. You can take the ferry from Castletownbere Pier at the slipway across to Bere Island and the ferry crossing only takes around fifteen minutes

A Tranquil Paradise

Place in History

Bere Island’s place in history is assured. Its Martello towers date from the Napoleonic wars. Several American ships based here during World War I met their fate at Pearl Harbour. After the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, the island became one of three Irish ports retained by the UK.

Why has it so often been at the centre of events? The answer is the island’s strategic position at the mouth of Europe’s deepest harbour. Berehaven and Lawrence Cove offer unrivalled shelter for boats of all sizes, something settlers have recognised since the Bronze Age – as the Druid’s Altar wedge tomb, St. Michael’s Holy Well and a scattering of standing stones and ring forts testify.

But it is its military might for which Bere is best known. In addition to the Martello towers, the island is home to a signal tower and, Lonehort, a military fortification dating from 1899 and housing two six-inch guns, an infantry trench, engine house and various underground structures.

The result is unique, almost like an open-air museum. A looped walk (guides available) takes in the best of the sites, with wonderful mainland views of the Slieve Miskish and Caha Mountain ranges of the Beara Peninsula, and the marina is perfectly suited to visiting sailors.

The result is unique, almost like an open-air museum. A looped walk (guides available) takes in the best of the sites, with wonderful mainland views of the Slieve Miskish and Caha Mountain ranges of the Beara Peninsula, and the marina is perfectly suited to visiting sailors.

Size

11km x 5km. Bere Island can be enjoyed in a short visit, but a longer stay (around two days) makes for a much more rewarding visit.

Population

200+

Facilities

B&Bs, self-catering, pubs, café, restaurants, craft shops, boat hire, heritage centre.

Top 3 Activities

Military history, Walking, Marine life.

Getting There

Ferries sail year-round from Castletownbere. Sailings take 10 minutes.

Getting Around

Visitors can explore Bere Island on foot, by bus, or by hiring a bike.

Military History

Due to its strategic location Bere Island has a very interesting heritage. The island is rich in archaeological sites dating from the Bronze Age through to Medieval times, including ring forts, standing stones, wedge tombs and burial sites. The British had a particular interest in the island, with remnants of British Imperialism visibile throughout.

At various stages they constructed Martello towers, a signal tower, military baracks and a military fortification which hosts two six inch guns, all of which can be seen today.

A Tranquil Paradise

Despite its proximity to the mainland, Bere Island retains that distinct, easy charm of rural places distant from cities and crowds. It’s a quiet paradise, of a size that is manageable for walkers and cyclists. Bird watchers and plant lovers will delight at the many species to be found on land and at the water’s edge.

Did you know that whales, basking sharks, and bottle-nose and common dolphins can all be sighted around Bere Island?  Other activities to be enjoyed on the island include swimming, sea angling, diving, sea safari and other water sports, or take in an exhibition on the island’s history at the Heritage Centre.

Our Community

Bere Island has a strong and vibrant community who continually strive to protect their island heritage and landscape and island way of life.