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Located in Derrynane National Park, Abbey Island is a spectacular location for Ahamore Abbey, which overlooks Derrynane Bay.

Derrynane Bay and beach
Derrynane Bay and beach
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

How do you get to Abbey Island from the Ring of Kerry? Derrynane National Park is halfway between Caherdaniel and Waterville, Ireland, just west of the N70 road around the Iveragh Peninsula.

Blue flag beach

Leaving Derrynane House with our Kerry tour guide, Frank Walsh, we followed a green Abbey Island sign to a broad sandy blue flag beach on Derrynane Bay.

Although the temperature was only 15 degrees C (60 degrees F), the August day was sunny. Kids were building sand castles on the beach and playing in the Atlantic Ocean, while wearing wet suits.

"During low tide, you can walk to Abbey Island," explained Walsh. "At high tide, water rushes in from both directions, so you can't cross. Twice a month, during the new moon and full moon, the tides are high, so you can't get to Abbey Island on foot."

Ahamore Abbey church and cemetery
Ahamore Abbey church and cemetery
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Ahamore Abbey

The monastic order that practised in Ahamore Abbey was founded by St. Fionan Cam, centuries before Ahamore Abbey was built in the 10th century.

The highlight of the three remaining buildings in the Derrynane abbey ruins is the shale and limestone Romanesque church. We had to stoop to enter through the low door.

Abbey Island church ruins
Abbey Island church ruins
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Inside and surrounding the roofless abbey church, we found tombs, some old and others new. Celtic crosses (Christian crosses with sun or wreath symbols behind them) marked several graves.

Many tombstones bore popular Irish names, like Grady, O'Sullivan and O'Connell. Mary, wife of Daniel O'Connell, is buried in this Abbey Island cemetery.

When framed by the Ahamore Abbey ruins, views across the bay to Derrynane beach and the national park surrounding Daniel O'Connell's house are especially memorable.

We stopped on the Derrynane Bay beach for a scenic picnic before resuming our Ring of Kerry tour.




Tourism Ireland: www.discoverireland.com

More things to see & do in County Kerry and Ireland