Valentia Island is located off the south west coast of Ireland in the county of kerry.
The island is 7 miles long by 3 miles wide (11km x 5km) and its natural beauty is of the most rural and unspoilt in kerry. Valentia is an island of unique scenic beauty, tropical vegetation, breathtaking cliffs and magnificent seascapes. There is a wealth of walks, coves and spectacular views to be discovered and the incredibly changing landscape is one of the best in Ireland.
Access to the island is by road bridge (constructed in 1970) or by car ferry during the summer months (April to September).
Valentia has two villages - Knightstown on the east and Chapeltown in the centre. These villages have Restaurants, Public Houses, Churches, Shops, Creche and a Community Centre. The settlement on the island is mainly dispersed with a population of approximately 600 inhabitants.
Rich in history and archaeology, the island is dotted with sites of interest.
- Tetrapod Fossil Footprints
The oldest footprints in the northern hemisphere are preserved in rocks on Valentia. These footprints which are 365 million years old were formed when a four legged, one metre long amphibian walked across a mud flat close to the shoreline. The trackway has about 200 prints and has attracted interest from paleontologists world wide and was featured in The National Geographic magazine in May 1999.
- Monastic Settlement
The island has a rich archaeological history with Beehive Huts, Dolmens (burial chamber), Standing Stones, Holy Wells, Ring Forts and Ceallunach (burial place for unbaptised children) close by, the UNESCO world heritage site of the great Skellig can be explored or the huts of early Christian Monks on Church Island in Valentia Harbour.
- Altazamuth Stone
In Knightstown village a stone was laid to mark the site where an instrument was used in 1862 to determine the lines of longitude of Valentia. Two readings were taken - the other in the Ural Mountains in Russia and these readings were important to define the worlds lines of longitude and help humans to navigate the globe.
- Trans Atlantic Cable
In 1865 a trans atlantic cable was laid between Valentia and Newfoundland by "The Great Eastern" which was the largest ship in the world at the time. This enabled the first telegraphic link between Europe and the United States. to take place.
- Slate Quarry & Grotto
The Slate Quarry on Valentia operated for almost 100 years between 1816 and 1911. Slate from this quarry was used to roof the Paris Opera House and Houses of Commons and Lords in London. Closed for nearly 90 years the quarry reopened in 1998 and produces slate for headstones, flooring, fireplaces etc. Also thousands of people visit the magnificent grotto which is located at the entrance to the quarry and erected in Marian Year 1954
- Charles Lindberg
When the famous aviator was on his solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, he was glad to see the isle of Valentia as it was his first sight of Europe. He flew his aeroplane "The Spirit of the Louis" over the island on his way to Paris to create history.
- Glanleam House
Hidden away in the cove of Glanleam lies the former seat of the Knights of Kerry. This Landlords House was built in in the 19th century and together with its sub tropical gardens of exotic plants will intrigue both historian and botanist.
- Mick O'Connell
Many visitors to Valentia come to see where Mick O'Connell was born and resides. Mick O'Connell was a successful Gaelic Footballer and is regarded as one of the games most stylish and accomplished players ever. He played in nine All - Ireland football finals for Kerry from the 1950's. He captained Kerry to success in 1959 and was selected on both "Team of the Century" and "Team of the Millennium". He was famous for rowing across the from Valentia to the mainland for training and football matches. He played club football with Valentia Young Islanders and their football pitch is located in Chapeltown.
- Other Sites of Interest
There are many other sites of interest on the island such as Bray Head Signal Tower, Lighthouse within a Cromwellian Fort, Meteorological Observatory Site and Two Heritage Centres.