People of Bere Island

Mary Sullivan

Mary Sullivan is an award-winning West Cork artist who has been living on working on Bere Island for over 30 years. The artist graduated from TUD’s BA in Visual Art’s in 2018, where her studies took place between the islands of Sherkin and Bere, and has since set up her practice on Bere Island. The artists’ work is hugely inspired by her surroundings and Bere Island’s military history. Such inspiration led Mary to win the esteemed Taylor Art Award in 2018 at the RDS Visual Arts Awards. For more information about Mary, see

Joanna Riddell

I was born and grew up in London but spent every school holiday on Bere Island, where my mother was born.  In 2007 I made the move to live on Bere Island permanently.  I am a qualified acupuncture and Chinese medicine practitioner and I run a busy in practice in Castletownbere, commuting to the mainland every day on the ferry.  Outside of work, running is my passion. I took it up in 2016 and since then have completed 12 marathons and 2 ultra-marathons.  During the past year and the various lockdowns I completed four virtual marathons and one virtual 50k all on Bere Island. 

Paul Elphick

My name is Paul Elphick. I was born In 1976 , I grew up on Bere Island . I was the eight child of a very large family. I attended St. Michaels national school on the first year of its opening 1980. I left in 1989 to attend Scoil Phobail Beara and sat the leaving certificate in 1995 , I then went on to do 2 years in Coliste Stiofan Naofa studying carpentry. I spent 15 years on many building sites around Cork City and county. I spent the last 10 years farming and working on a community scheme doing a huge variety of different tasks which is overseen by the Projects Group.

Ann Marie Harrington

I was born and reared here on Bere Island, one of a family of 10, 5 girls and 5 boys. My Dad was an Islander through and through but my Mom was from Allihies on the mainland. They drowned in an accident in 1992.
I have 2 children myself, Cihan is 28, he just moved back here after an absence of 11 years living in Cork City for college and work. My daughter Dellannah is 21 and away at college at the moment.
I work as a home care assistant, and am very lucky to be able to work on the Island. I love what I do and feel it a privilege to be able to work here. You can learn so much about a place and those who came before, simply be listening.
I will admit I sometime struggle with Island life but only because I’m not a lover of the water that surrounds us, but I find if I plan around the weather I manage quite well. A trip away isn’t as easy as coming and going, you need to plan the return journey and ferry times before leaving. But we all do very well, and I most definitely wouldn’t swap living here for anywhere else in the world. There is a sense of security living on and island, and a wonderful communuty spirit