Island Life

“…everyone knew that all islands were worlds unto themselves, that to come onto an island was to come to another world.”

Guy Gavriel Kay

Bere Island is a modern island, anchored in a time gone by, of quiet country lanes, a place of calmness and tranquillity with community at its heart.  A world removed from the frantic rush of city life.

Lying at the furthest reaches of West Cork in the sheltered waters of Bantry Bay, Bere Island is remote in location only, it is still very much part of the twenty first century. 

With Ireland’s largest fishing port of Castletownbere as it’s nearest mainland town, home to a variety of shops and a bustling monthly market, the island is well served by modern amenities. 

Bere Island’s geographical isolation is part of the attraction of living here, but it is still very much accessible.  In just under two hours from disembarking from the island ferry you can be in Cork city, head to the airport and in another hour or so you’re in London. Alternatively, head north towards Shannon on leaving the island ferry and you can be in New York City later that same evening.

Bere Island has a year round population of 180 which can almost treble in size over the busy summer months, with a full schedule of festivals, and events  for visitors and islanders alike to enjoy.  But come winter, there is definitely no better place to be than sitting by a roaring fire (maybe with a glass of wine/cup of coffee in one hand and a good book in the other) as a wild Atlantic storm blows in.

Come and try island life for yourself!

Bere Island Facilities

Bere Island Projects Group run a community office which is adjacent to the island community centre in the centre of the island.  The office is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and provides a range of office supports, and advice.

Bere Island Community Radio broadcasts from the island Heritage Centre every Sunday morning. The radio broadcasts on the FM network locally (100.1FM) and online worldwide. We’re always looking for new volunteers to help at the station!

Murphy’s Shop and Post Office is located in Rerrin Village.  Banking for AIB account holders is available at the post office.  The nearest bank is the AIB in Castletownbere, there are two cash points in Castletownbere, at the bank and in Murphy’s Supervalu.

Health Clinic – a health clinic is located opposite the island church, a nurse is resident on the island.  Two doctors surgeries are located in Castletownbere. There are 3 defibrillators on Bere Island.

The Bere Island Heritage Centre can provide a hot desking facility with high speed broadband, and meeting room facilities.

Bere Island is served by two drive-on car ferries, Bere Island Ferries which sails between Castletownbere and the western end of the island and Murphy’s Ferry which sails between the Pontoon (3km outside Castletownbere) and the eastern end of the island.

Bere Island Ferries also operate a heavy cargo service, which can transport in building supplies, removal trucks, home heating oil etc.

Bere Island has a wide network of roads, however, many are narrow and care should be taken when driving.  The island is popular with walkers and cyclists, so please drive slowly!  There are no fuel pumps on the island so it is advisable to fill up on the mainland.

Bere Island Projects Group operate a rural transport bus which travels to Castletownbere every Tuesday and Friday, and drives people to and from the island church on Sundays.  Travel is free for anyone in possession of a Free Travel Pass.

St Michael’s National School on Bere Island is a two-teacher school which currently has 17 pupils, ranging in age from 5-12.

The secondary school, Beara Community School, is located in Castletownbere.  A school bus collects students from their homes on the island and brings them to the 8.30am ferry each morning, another bus service meets them off the ferry to drop them to the school.  Students return to the island on the 4.15pm ferry.

The Beara Education Training Board in Castletownbere offers a number of adult education services.  The BIM Regional Fisheries College in Castletownbere offers a number of courses related to the fishing and aquaculture industries.

St Michael’s Church (Catholic) is located in the centre of the island, Fr Noel Spring, travels in from Castletownbere on Sundays’s to say Mass at 10am.  Sunday Mass is also broadcast on Bere Island community radio. (Please note, at the current time, due to Covid-19 regulations Sunday Mass is on the radio only).

A children’s playground is located adjacent to the island Hotel.

 Bere Island GAA Club have a purpose built clubhouse and pitch on the site of the old military recreation grounds in Rerrin.

The  weekly Bere Island parkrun has been in operation since 2014 and is Ireland’s only island parkrun.   A number of renowned athletes have run the island parkrun including Olympic medallists Sonia O’Sullivan and John Treacy.

Bere Island has a number of sheltered beaches for sea swimming, and a group of islanders swim all year round.  The  northern side of the island is sheltered and offers ideal conditions for kayaking. Sailing lessons are available during the summer months.

Lawrence Cove Marina offers excellent facilities and can be contacted at www.lawrencecovemarina.ie

There are two bars on Bere Island, Dessie’s Bar in Rerrin Village and the Bere Island Hotel in Ballinakilla.  Food is available from the Lookout Café, the Hotel and the Bakehouse.  Please check each venue for opening times off-season.

A number of community groups can be found on Bere Island to suit all interest and needs, and all welcome new members.

Parent and Toddler Group
After School Group
Active Retirement Group
Tourism and Environment Group
Bere Island Theatre Troupe
Bere Island Watersports Club
Bere Island GAA Club
Heritage Centre Committee
Bere Island Energy Group
Bere Island Branch of the IFA
Bere Island Tae Kwon Do Club

(NB due to current restrictions, island groups are currently not meeting in person, and Sunday Mass is held on the radio only, the parkrun is also suspended until further notice).

Bere Island Projects Group arrange a number of classes throughout the year depending on interest and availability of tutors.  Examples of classes which have been held in the past include: keep fit, Irish language, knitting, art, sewing, horticulture, music (guitar, piano, fiddle), and spinning.  If you have an interest we can arrange a class! 

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.