Bonane Heritage Park is a community run project and charges a ridiculously low entrance fee of just €2.00… which is pretty much unheard of in this day and age for Ireland and borders at being practically free of charge. The volunteers who are manning the entrance booth all seem to be incredibly eager to help with whatever info you may like to know from them. Their enthusiasm for the project clearly shows and is a real tonic in comparison to some bored and disinterested hired assistants you may find in some of the other better known tourist attractions all around Ireland.
If you can, bring some food for a picnic. At the start of the walk, you can find some benches with beautiful views that will invite you to just while away some time before you approach the proper 3km long circular walk that contains half a dozen archaeological artefacts that give an insight into the life of early settlers: a ring fort (some 1500 years old), a famine ruin, a stone circle and boulder burial, a fulacht fiadh (ancient cooking pit), a bullaun stone (large rock with a carved out basin used for…. no-one knows exactly what) and a standing stone.
Overall, this truly is a little undiscovered secret. A project so new, and yet so old, that it has yet to find its way into Irish guide books. Come on a clear day and you can see for miles over the Bantry/Kenmare countryside. The location is so wonderfully off the beaten track that you can easily get lost on the narrow, unmarked dirt roads that lead to and from the site. Believe me, we did… and loved every minute of it.
Truly Rugged Ireland Not Yet Been Commercialised
If its real taste of Ireland your after then the Ring of Beara really does knock spots off its nearby rival (the infamous Ring if Kerry) both these routes basically cross at Kenmare in County Kerry so easy really to compare both if you wish.
However for me the ring of Beara is the one for taking you back to traditional Irish ways and means, if you call in a pub or bar on this route you will find old men in Wellingtons and tweed jackets held close with string no doubt wearing a flat cap also!
They will be speaking a form of English that I defy you to pick out more than a couple of word per sentence as they babble on relentlessly waving their arms in a fashion to express themselves.
The Scenery too is far more rugged than that on the ring of Kerry and the sparsely populated fields and hillsides do nothing to deter form its charm, all in all a pleasure especially as the roads are at present too narrow for tourist busses !
Leaving Kenmare by the west along the Ring of Kerry road, shortly you will come across the entrance gate to Cappanacush castle. You can enter a small window to the left of the gate and there is a track that leads to the ruins on the shore, but today there is virtually nothing to see, so just enjoy the gate.
Anecdote : The long-time companion of Bonnie Prince Charlie (he of the Skye Boat song) was John O'Sullivan whose family owned Cappancuss castle. You can read the whole story of Charles, John O'Sullivan and thir flight from the English below.
A little further along the N70 (Ring of Kerry road)look out for a small sign on the left attached to a drystone wall, and park up off the road. There is room. Follow the track down a very well signposted path for about 15 mins through the Dromore woods. Don't despair, you'll find it even if it seems you're lost, there are plenty of signs. Finally you'll come across the well which is a pretty simple outpouring of water from the hillside in the middle of the wood. The bits of ribbon, photos and other votives attest to the fact that people still come down here for prayers to Our Lady. This is one of the "healing wells" where people will use cloth dampened in the water to wash or bathe.
On the way down you'll find hedges upon hedges of the wild fuschia that seem to overgrow in Ireland.
Although a picturesque site on the way to Sneem, the bridge at Blackwater has a legend attached to it. It has become the haunt of a headless phantom after having a fight with another ghost, he has supposedly lost his head and is now to be seen wandering aimlessly along the riverbank on certain full moons. This is only a legend, but be careful to note the dates of the full moons before crossing....