Valentia Island lies off the South West coast of County Kerry. It is an island of great contrast and beauty. Valentia Island is accessible from the mainland by roadbridge at the village of Portmagee and by ferry service from Renard Point, which is just past Cahersiveen town. Valentia Island Car Ferry runs from Knightstown Pier, situated a half-mile off the Ring of Kerry Road, to Renard Point on Valentia Island. The ferry operates as a shuttle service, with a five-minute crossing, six months of the year, from 1 April to 1 October.
The western part of Valentia island is dominated by the barren, dramatic cliffs of Bray Head which command spectacular views of the County Kerry coastline while the mild effect of the Gulf Stream results in Valentia’s mild climate and lush, colourful vegetation.
Transatlantic telegraph cable
Did you know Valentia was the eastern terminus of the first commercially viable transatlantic telegraph cable. This vast endeavour resulted in commercially viable transatlantic telegraph communications from Foilhommerum Bay to Heart’s Content, Newfoundland in 1866. Transatlantic telegraph cables operated from Valentia Island for over 100 years.
The island’s main town
The island’s main town is called Knightstown, which was associated with the Norman Fitzgerald Clan, is reminiscent of an Anglo-Irish Village with its many stately buildings and refined ambience. The island’s historical lineage, however, goes back much further than that. Tetra pod footprints were found on the northern part of the island. These magnificent imprints of history are thought to date from Devonian times between some 350 to 370 million years ago.
An important quarry on the northern part of the island which opened in 1816 still flourishes today. The famous Valentia Slate has been used in many prominent buildings including the British House of Commons in London.