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VALENTIA ISLAND WALKING TOUR -
GEOKAUN MOUNTAIN, FOGHER CLIFFS AND SLATE QUARRY

Story and photos by

Where is Valentia Island? Located on the Southwest Ireland coast, it is just 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) long and three miles (five kilometers) wide. The Gaelic name for Valentia is Oilean Dairbhre, which means Oak Island.

Hiker views Fort Point Lighthouse and Beginish Island.
Hiker views Fort Point Lighthouse and Beginish Island.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Geokaun Mountain (pronounced yu-kon) and Fogher Cliffs, the highest parts of Valentia Island, reach a height of 888 feet (270 meters). Panoramic views reward visitors who hike or drive up the 4,000-foot (1,200-meter)-long road to the top of Geokaun Mtn. Another road branches off to the tetrapod footprint trackway.

Driving directions to Geokaun Mountain

From April until mid-October, the Valentia Car Ferry offers transportation between Reenard Point, three miles (five km) west of Cahersiveen, and Knightstown, on the east side of Valentia Island. Year-round, you can drive to the west side of Valentia Island on the bridge from Portmagee.

The cost for driving up Geokaun Mountain includes parking at each viewpoint and at the base of the mountain. Visitors can hike up the gravel road to four lookouts.

Hiking on Fogher Cliffs road, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Hiking on Fogher Cliffs road, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Our Go Ireland Ring of Kerry tour included a guided walking tour from the base of Geokaun Mountain to the top lookout point.

Geokaun Mountain viewpoints

Our walking tour brought us 984 feet (300 meters) past fields, hedgerows and farmhouses, from the base of Geokaun Mountain to Fogher Cliffs. Wind mussed our hair, as we looked over the guardrail at waves crashing on the rocky Valentia Island coastline below.

An information sign, bolted to the rocks, described the Gaelic legend of Oscar's Cast, a rock at Fogher Gate. Another information panel explained how women once used a path below Fogher Cliffs to collect turf for cooking and heating fuel.

Signs for Skellig Rocks, lighthouse and Great Skellig birds
Signs for Skellig Rocks, lighthouse and Great Skellig birds
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Geokaun Mountain walk

After the Carraig Na Circe lookout point, we climbed to Shepherd's View and hiked around Geokaun peak. An antenna mast at the summit transmits Valentia Radio Station programs, weather reports and navigation warnings.

The air on top of Geokaun Mountain is clean and unpolluted. Our 360-degree view encompassed Valentia Island, the Skelligs, the Kerry coast, Dingle Peninsula and the Blasket Islands (Na Blascaodai).

Miners View, quarry, fields and Beginish Island
Miners View, quarry, fields and Beginish Island
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Information signs described life on Great Blasket Island and the Western Blaskets (Inishvickillane, Inis Na Bro and Inishtearaght).

Valentia Slate Quarry

Looking down from Miner's View, we saw the Valentia slate quarry, which opened in 1816. Mining slate provided employment during the Irish potato famine years in the 1840s.

The drive to the Valentia Island slate quarry, from the Geokaun Mountain parking lot, takes about 10 minutes. Valentia slate was used for the roof of the British House of Commons, the Paris Opera House and Derrynane House on the Ring of Kerry.

Valentia's slate quarry closed in the 1880s. Today, it houses a Lourdes-like shrine to the Virgin Mary, built in the Marian year, 1954.

Knights Town Coffee 1888 and The Dwelling House
Knights Town Coffee 1888 and The Dwelling House
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Knightstown, Valentia Island

The Fitzgerald Knights of Kerry developed the pier and village of Knightstown to ship slate from the Valentia quarry and house 400 slate workers.

Today, Knightstown (An Chois, in Irish/Gaelic), population 200, is the main town on Valentia Island. Chapeltown is the only other village.

It takes five minutes to drive to Knightstown from the Valentia slate quarry. We stopped for coffee at the red and white Knights Town Coffee shop (built in 1888) and browsed through used books at The Dwelling House, next door, while waiting for the ferry.

The ferry crossing from Valentia Island to Reenard, on the County Kerry mainland, is five minutes long.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Geokaun Mountain & Fogher Cliffs: www.geokaun.com

Go Ireland: www.govisitireland.com

Tourism Ireland: www.discoverireland.com

More things to see and do in Ireland:

Abbey Island - Derrynane National Park - Co. Kerry Ireland

Irish Folk Tours Dublin - Food, Folklore and Fairies

Gap of Dunloe Tours - Hike, Bike or Jaunting Car?

Killarney Ireland Hiking Trail - Co. Kerry

Muckross Abbey - Killarney National Park Ireland