A few reasons for choosing this part of Ireland for your holiday:
Westcove is an ideal base from which to explore the many fascinating areas in The Kerry Region, the most scenic corner of Ireland.
There are numerous possible excursions:- north to Killarney with its famous lakes, northwest to the legendary Dingle Peninsular, west to Waterville, Balliskellings and Valencia Island, from where you can take an unforgettable boat trip to the Skellig Islands.
To the south lies Bantry Bay, which is reached via spectacular mountain passes. Kerry and West Cork are dotted with wonderful tropical gardens, especially beautiful in May and June.
The countryside immediately surrounding Castlecove is ideally suited for all types of walking, ranging from gentle strolls along lovely sandy beaches to more serious hikes over craggy hills. The famous 'Kerry Way' walk takes you along the ridge of hills, all the way from Waterville to Kenmare and is well signed, but still wonderfully unspoiled.
As you can see there is so much to do in this wonderful area that you will be 'spoilt for choice'! The links below will help you decide which of the many options available will make your stay at Westcove even more memorable.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss any of the following suggestions. It is advisable to book musicians in advance for special celebrations. Many of the activities are weather dependant - you need a calm sea to land on the Skellig Islands for example - so Katherine Casey, our wonderful housekeeper (00353 861614328, firstname.lastname@example.org) - will be happy to help book these for you after you arrive.
Westcove House and The Stables make an ideal base for golfers wishing to play the legendary courses of the 'Kingdom of Kerry'. Set off after a full Irish breakfast and relax with a delicious home cooked dinner on your return. Use your own transport or a local minibus can be arranged to take you to any of the following courses: Within 25 mins drive - Waterville - magnificent links course (always rated one of the top 10 in Ireland), a must for serious golfers. Skellig Bay - a fairly new challenging course with breathtaking views over sea and lake, reasonable green fees. Parkansilla - just east of Sneem, very scenic 12 hole course, fun for all the family. Within 45 mins drive - Ring of Kerry - 18 holes with panoramic views over Kenmare Estuary, take a buggy unless you are a mountain goat! Kenmare - the first 9 holes of beautifully kept parkland are followed by a hillier 2nd 9 - good value for money and an excuse to visit this 'shoppers paradise'. About 1 1/4 hours drive Dooks - a classic links with views over to the Dingle Peninsular. Killarney - 3 courses on the shores of the legendary lakes. For more possiblities check the numerous Kerry Golf websites but the above are the closest to Westcove.
There are five excellent and varied golf courses within ¾ of an hours drive of Westcove
1 Waterville Tel: 066 94 74102, www.watervillegolflinks.ie (email email@example.com)
A challenging, immaculately maintained 18 hole links course, only 10 miles (20-25 minutes drive) to the west. Tiger Woods and other top pros often use it as a practise ground’ for the British Open. Well worth a round for more serious golfers, but be warned – green fees are high – about €150 at the time of writing – if you can get a tee time at all – although cheaper green fees apply before 9am and after 4pm Monday to Friday. Well worth an early start, as you’re likely to be held up by over-zealous golfers wanting to hole every put!
2. Skellig Bay Golf Club Tel: 066 9474133, www.skelligbay.com (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
An excellent new addition to our local golfing options. Just as you approach Waterville (it’s on the left). The panoramic views back over Lough Currane and across the sea to the Skellig Islands are stunning on a clear day. This links-type course boasts many challenging unusual holes. There is, as yet, no clubhouse although one is planned for the near future but lunch is available at the Waterville Lake Hotel just over the road. The green fee for 18 holes is still very reasonable at €70, making it a ‘must’ for golfing enthusiasts of any standard.
3 Parknasilla Tel: 064 6645122
(Website. email: email@example.com)
This 12 hole course on the estuary (3 miles beyond Sneem towards Kenmare) has to be one of the most stunningly beautiful, short courses in the world. Take lots of old balls – they tend to plug in damp conditions and there is a lot of woodland and gorse. Every hole however is very challenging – a really pretty walk for non-golfers too. No booking necessary, though it’s worth checking with the Parknasilla Hotel (Tel as above) to make sure you won’t clash with a society or competition – weekdays recommended when you can often have the course to yourself. Green fees are very reasonable, 12 holes (€15) or18 holes (€25) and are payable at a small ‘clubhouse’, usually manned but no food or drink. Parknasilla Hotel, to which the course is attached, has an excellent bar and lunch menu.
4 'Ring of Kerry' Tel: 064 6642000, www.ringofkerrygolf.com (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
A relatively new 18 hole course, about 5 miles west of Kenmare, on the Sneem/Kenmare road – about 40 minutes drive. It is hilly, with lovely views over the Kenmare Estuary …. reasonable green fees - €60 per round (weekend) €50 (weekday) – take a buggy if you’re not a mountain goat! Our son and his young, fit friends really enjoy this course and find it an excellent contrast to Waterville, being parkland in character, but equally challenging.
5 Kenmare Tel: 064 6641291, www.kenmaregolfclub.com (email: email@example.com)
About 45 minutes drive, this is a pretty course on the right, just as you go out of Kenmare towards Cork. Originally a 9 hole course – there is now a second, rather hilly 9. During the week it is often possible to play the first 9 only for €25 – useful if you want to combine golf with a shopping spree in Kenmare! (Otherwise green fees for 18 holes are €40 weekdays and €45 at weekends).
Other main courses in Kerry worth considering, all within 2 hours drive:
- Dooks Tel: 066 97 68205, www.dooks.com – scenic links course, 1 ¼ hours drive, near Glenbeigh
- Tralee Tel: 066 713 6379 - seriously challenging and pricey, designed by Arnold Palmer
- Killarney Tel: 064 6631034, www.killarney-golf.com – 3 courses by the beautiful Killarney lakes
- Ballybunion Tel: 068 27146, www.ballybuniongolfclub.ie – 2 hours drive ‘but a household name’
- NB. These courses need proof of ‘handicap’ and booking well in advance, especially in high season
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A few suggestions for “Outings” within 15 minutes drive:
Turn left towards Waterville and then left again at Caherdaniel … lots of possibilities … If you just want a stroll along the dunes (dogs paradise with endless rabbit burrows) turn left (under 5’9” barrier) just as you get to a fork in the road … go straight on to visit Derrynane House – a fascinating insight into Irish history – the house of Daniel O’Connell, “The Liberator” – I’ve seen the 25 minute video at least 20 times and am still intrigued ... the house and gardens are also worth a tour … in summer the tea rooms have an irresistible selection of home-made cakes.
Continue on, and at the end you get to a Car Park. On the left is a very good, sheltered beach for swimming/sunbathing (?!). On the right is an attractive little harbour where Helen Wilson and other qualified instructors at “Derrynane Seasports” provide facilities within a fine, safe harbour for windsurfing, waterskiing and sailing – with small ‘canoes’ for younger children. In low tide well worth a stroll over to Abbey Island – ruins of an old abbey and lovely views across the sweep of Derrynane Bay.
On the way back, why not call in at Keatings Bar on the left? Drinks and sandwiches usually available.
In Caherdaniel itself – stop for a Guinness at Freddy’s – a well known local pub which has been there forever, or go to The Blind Piper – a younger atmosphere and excellent food – last orders about 8pm (see page on “Eating Out”). In summer, there’s a market in the village hall between 10 and 12 on Friday mornings – well worth a visit – lots of local produce and crafts. There is also an excellent food market on Sundays.
Just before Caherdaniel, there is a sharp left turn signed Eagle Rock Equestrian Centre. This is well run by Caroline Donnelly, an excellent horsewoman herself, with safe ponies/horses (suitable for all ages and levels of experience). Try to book at low tide as the best rides are across the sands of Derrynane Bay. Hard hats provided. Tel: (066) 9475145. Mobile 087 2462981
If you drive on past the riding centre, you eventually get to a pretty little natural harbour. You can park there and walk up the hills or out to an unspoilt rocky shoreline – especially dramatic in heavy storms! When walking over any local hills, always watch out for slippery rocks and unexpected boggy patches … and please keep dogs on leads if there are sheep about.
Arguably the best example of a pre-Christian fort in Ireland, Staigue Fort is less than 15 mins drive away. Turn Right towards Castlecove, it is signed to the left, just before the village. Well worth a visit, especially on a clear day, when the views out over the Atlantic are breathtaking. On your way back you will see the Staigue Fort Hotel on your right just before joining the main road. There you will find a small ‘Visitor Centre’ which makes a thought provoking attempt to explain the origin of this magnificently built stone circle. More importantly, this is an ideal venue for Sports Fans as they have Sky T.V. in their very welcoming Pub area. Sheila Galvin, the proprietor will probably make you sandwiches and although West Cove is only a mile away, will arrange transport back for you…(if necessary!)
Signed left off the Staigue Fort road is the Llama Farm. Dick welcomes children to meet and feed his very friendly pet Llamas.
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Apart from strolling around the beautiful beaches and dunes of Derrynane as already described, there are a couple of excellent, slightly more challenging walks you can try, starting from Westcove itself.
An ideal 1-1¼ hour walk we often do, is to follow ‘Kerry Way Walk’ signs over the crossroads, up the road ‘til just past a graveyard on the left. Turn left and follow the track straight over the hill, eventually coming down conveniently just by Freddy’s pub (the lazy way of doing it is to be driven up to the graveyard by a ‘non-walker’ who can then meet you an hour later at one of the Caherdaniel pubs and drive you back!) …… for more serious ‘hill’ walkers, a lovely 2-2½ hour walk is to start off the same way but about ¼ mile after turning left after the graveyard, take a dog-leg right – this track takes you up to the top of the hill (only attempt it on a clear day) and then right down, to a road which eventually ends up alongside Loch Currane, near Waterville … you definitely need to be picked up (about 2¼ hours after you’ve started, somewhere along the continuation of the lake road …) As you can imagine, magnificent views of the estuary from the top.
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John O’Shea (Tel: (066) 9475129 Mobile: 087 689 8431) has a well equipped fishing boat and is happy to take groups of up to 10, deep sea fishing, but usually only in the evenings, from Derrynane Pier. He will sometimes come to Westcove Pier for longer trips by arrangement. John will also take you all the way to Skellig Islands – a longer boat trip than from Port Magee but much less driving. (More info on Skelligs in brochure.)
Michael O’Shea (Tel: 064 45369 evenings) has 2-3 deep sea fishing vessels and will take groups out by arrangement, starting from a pier just beyond Sneem (advance booking advised).
There are lots of excellent spots on the local coastline where you can spin, mainly for sea bass and pollock, both from the rocks and beaches. Katherine and Michael Casey, our caretakers, will be happy to point you in the right direction.
For many years Lough Currane – a beautiful lake, 5 miles long and 2 miles wide, nestling in the hills behind Waterville – attracted anglers from all over Europe. Although the sea trout were in decline for a few years, the salmon farm off the coast, generally considered to have been the cause of the problem, ceased to exist a couple of years ago, so now the fishing on the lake, both for sea trout and salmon is taking off again with a vengeance.
Dominic McGillicuddy (Tel: (066) 9474023, mobile 0872051515) – is a real expert and will take you to the best spots himself – or he will hire you a boat for the day if you think you can manage without him. Take a picnic – there are some idyllic coves and islands where you can break for lunch. “Butlers Pool” is a narrow stretch of river linking the sea with Lough Currane. Keen salmon fishermen may like to try 3 hours on it, probably best after rain and at high tide … for availability and more information telephone (066) 9474244 (Waterville House).
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Music has always been a major part of Irish tradition and local pubs often have live music sessions, especially during the summer.... however we can now offer our guests a selection of tailor-made musical evenings at Westcove, ideal for larger groups and special occasions...Weekdays are preferable, and you can either contact Bernie and/or Pat directly or we can book them for you.
If neither Bernie not Pat are available there are many other excellent musicians around. Katherine will be happy to discuss these with you.
Music and Dancing with Bernie.
Over the years, Bernadette Kennedy has inspired many Westcove visitors of all ages to take to the floor... Her expertise and infectious enthusiasm guarantees everyone — even the most hesitant — can perform a series of Irish "Set Dances" in no time at all! During well earned breaks, Bernie, herself an accomplished cellist and four or five other musicians, will entertain you with traditional Irish music.
You may choose one of the following options (both will take place in The Games room in The Stables and last for 2 - 2½ hours.)
A dance session with a group of musicians will cost €300.00
A dance session with recorded Irish music will cost €150.00
Please note Bernie prefers to be paid in cash on the day.
To find out more about Bernie, also an acclaimed local artist visit http://www.bernadettekennedy.ie.
Listen to — and "sing-along-with" — Pat and friends.
We are lucky to have some exceptionally talented musicians based in the area...Patrick Waters and Wally Desmond specialise in playing ballads and traditional Irish music....They perform all over Ireland, but given a bit of notice, are happy to spend an evening entertaining our guests at Westcove House...Their extensive repertoire ranges from old classics..("The Mountains of Mourne", "Rocky Road to Dublin", and James Taylor's "You've got a friend")... These are intermingled with a selection of Irish jigs and reels, played on a variety of instruments - guitar, bouzuki, mandolin, whistle, and the ever popular Irish Uilean Pipes...If requested they will also sing Eric Clapton or Bob Dylan etc ...and they are happy to let anyone in the audience play or "sing along" with them.. (there is an electronic keyboard in the house which all are welcome to use)
In addition Pat. And Wally perform a specially written concert, "1916 Signatories" in honour of the seven signatories to the Irish Proclamation. This is a concert in word and song that pays tribute to seven individuals who hold a unique place in Irish history. It consists of a short insight into the personal life of each man followed by an original song for each signatory.
Please check their website http://www.1916signatories.com for more information.
For an evening performance with Patrick Waters alone the fee is €160.00
For an evening performance with both Patrick and Wally the fee is €250.00
Any additional musicians will incur a further charge of €80.00 per musician.
For a performance of the concert "1916 Signatories" the fee is €400.00
Please note these musicians prefer to be paid in cash on the day.
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Vincent Hyland is one of Ireland's best known natural history personalities. He is a multi award winning natural history filmmaker, publisher, producer and director and has appeared on BBC, UTV including TV3, RTE and TG4. He has contributed to programs such as BBC's Coast, RTE's Living the Wildlife as well as having a segment on RTE's Nationwide about his wildlife illustrations and paintings.
He is qualified in natural sciences is a fully licensed passenger boat skipper and emergency first responder. He is a 32 year scuba diving and underwater filmmaker expert. He has travelled extensively, filming in places such as Antarctica and Galapagos, Africa and along the Atlantic Shores of Ireland. He has made 5 films including Puffins of Skellig Michael - the first iBook textbook for ipads. His short films have been officially selected for screening at the North Sea, Seattle and San Francisco Irish reels film festivals. He lives in Caherdaniel with his partner and their three year old son.
A 1½ hour wildlife talk with Vincent.
Content will cover whale, dolphins and marine life of Kenmare Bay with a film showing the best of this.
This talk would take place in the Games room at Westcove. Props and a large HD TV are included. It would be an excellent last minute alternative to one of the outdoor options below, should the weather on the day prove unsuitable.
The cost is €100 per group.
Wildlife Walks and Excursions
1) Flowers of the forest and Sand dunes.
A walk through Derrynane National Historic park followed by a looped walk around the Sanddunes. Flower identification, natural history of the formation of the dune system, geology of the area including a visit to the protected Natterjack toad ponds.
2 hours @ €150 per group. Own transport required, meeting at Derrynane House Car Park.
2) Rock Pool Explorer.
A trip to some of the local rockpools to explore the animals inhabiting these shallow marine environments. This includes learning about how animals survive, what they eat, how to identify them and distinguishing their behaviour. Fishing with nets (provided). Each participant get the chance to catch animals and get their feet wet in this fun learning environment.
1½ hours @ €150 per group (weather and tide dependent). Own transport required, meeting at Derrynane House Car Park.
3) Mountain walking in the Caherdaniel Locality
A walk to the top of Coom, along the old bog road across the ridge to see the beautiful scenery and back along the Kerry way to Caherdaniel village. Walk includes talk about the local geological formations, the copper mines, the flora and fauna.
2½ hours @ €150 per group. Own transport required. Meet in the Caherdaniel village.
4) Kenmare Bay Motorised Kayaking Expedition
Early morning from Westcove. Explore the inshore coves of Kenmare bay including Seal watching and possible Dolphin and Whale watching. See seabirds and possible exotic species such as sunfish close up.
This trip involves the use of motorised Kayaks. Easy to use, a brief training and safety session (30 minutes) will be provided before departure. All safety equipment including life jackets and spray decks are provided. Light refreshments also provided. Guided by qualified Skipper and wildlife guide Vincent Hyland.
Duration 3 hours, €300 for 5 persons (weather and sea condition dependent.)
5) Snorkelling in Derrynane
A 1 hour snorkel along Abbey Island. Take in the underwater beauty of our temperate maritime shallow seas. This trip will open your eyes and senses to the beautiful clean underwater environment of Derrynane. Wetsuits and masks are provided.
Duration 3 hours, €125 for a group of 5 persons, or €25 each. Own transport required. Meet at Derryanne Sea Sports.
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You can swim, row and shrimp nearby and there are several sandy beaches within ten minutes drive.
Derrynane, 4 miles away, has an excellent watersports centre in the summer - with facilities for all ages, including water-skiing, windsurfing, sailing and canoeing. Scuba diving facilities are also available locally. See Derrynane Sea Sports for more information
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During the winter, challenging shooting over the wild stretches of bog land for woodcock and snipe can be arranged. Irish gun licences need to be obtained in advance.
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Beach riding and pony trekking are available 2 miles away at Caherdaniel.
Eagle Rock Equestrian Centre are recommended.
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(* it is advisable to book these restaurants, especially for evening meals in high season)
There are several excellent and varied restaurants around. The convivial atmosphere of the Irish pub is legendary - the whole family can be assured of a very warm welcome, and many have live music, especially in the summer.
We are very lucky to have The Blind Piper, only 3 miles away, in Caherdaniel, serving excellent home cooked food.
- The Blind Piper (066) 9475126 (Caherdaniel)
Lunch and dinner - excellent pub food throughout the day and evening (please note last orders are generally taken at about 8pm)…
Live music – usually on Thursday evenings
- Derrynane Hotel (066) 9475136
Only 2 miles away, towards Caherdaniel, the nearest convenient spot for dinner and cold lunches. Good value and lovely views over the sea. Weekly musical evenings in the summer
- O'Carroll's Cove (066) 9475151
Beach Bar/Restaurant - between here and Caherdaniel, now serving delicious gourmet meals as well as snacks all day - only 2 miles from Westcove - catering for all ages…check their 5* reviews on tripadvisor/facebook
- The Sugarshack Vintage Tearooms are located in Caherdaniel next to the church car park … as well as a unique choice of loose Teas and Irish Artisan Roasted Coffees, served on vintage china, Kay offers a selection of home-made soups and savoury dishes - using home grown vegetables - all cooked on the premises … (and of course home-made cakes!) … Open Easter till end of September … 0872617522
Lots of possibilities for pub lunches including: The Lobster Bar, The Fisherman's Bar (Butler Arms Hotel), The Corcan - ideal for children…
More formal restaurants include:
- *The Smugglers Inn (066) 9474330
(by the sea near the golf course) - a lovely setting… known for its superb seafood, both lunch and dinner - more expensive than some, but worth it!
- *The Huntsman (066) 9474124
Quite formal - excellent food, evenings only.
- *The Sheilin (066) 9474231
A lovely, family run 'bistro' - seafood a speciality - a bit slow if crowded but worth 'the wait' - booking essential - our favourite restaurant - now serving lunch as well as dinner.
- The Point (066) 9472165
A friendly seafood pub on the coast, just short of Cahirciveen (by Valencia ferry) - (a selection of fresh fish and wild smoked salmon available opposite at 'Kerry Fish', except Mondays). Lunches served only in high season. Dinners all year round.
- Sacre Coeur (064) 66 45186
An excellent 'family' restaurant, always open for dinner, also lunch during the summer.
- The Riverside
Delicious homemade food from 10-5.30
- D O'Sheas
Good pub grub all day - with lovely views over the Sneem Estuary
- The Purple Heather - lunch only
Highly recommended - try their 'open' crab sandwiches on home-made bread...
- *Packies (064) 66 41508, *The Lime Tree (064) 66 41225 and *Mulcahy's (064) 66 42383
All the above are central and have excellent reputations - especially for evening meals.
Many more but we don't know much about them. We would be grateful if our visitors would let us know of any other venues which they could recommend – and indeed tell us of places to be avoided! Please add to our collection of menus wherever possible.
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Des O'Shea offers a variety of boat trips around Kenmare and Derrymane Bays. Trips vary from 1½ hours to four and offer something to suit most tastes.
More information is available from Des' website http://www.ribtrips.ie/trips
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A charming Dutchman, Gerrit, based locally in Sneem, has been highly recommended by recent tenants as being a very knowledgeable guide, great company and an excellent driver. He can take any number from 2–6 in a car and up to 14 in his minibus. Gerrit has many options for different sightseeing trips in the area including a full day Ring of Kerry tour. Here is his Brochure for Westcove Visitors.
Phone: +353 (0)646689679
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The nearby Blueberry Hill Farm offers a variety of courses and activities for both adults and children.
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