What is Ireland's greatest treasure
Bantry is a small town on the southwestern tip of Ireland. In some ways the place is the gateway to the Beara Peninsula. Beara is one of the four fingers that make up the southwestern tip of Ireland. Dingle and the Ring of Kerry to the north may be better known, but the Ring of Beara also has its fans.
Bantry's greatest treasure is its location on the Gulf of Bantry. In addition to the spectacular coastline, the bay with its deep water and incredible 30 kilometers in length is also an ideal place for mussel farming. Hmmmm yummy.
Anyone who has made it to Bantry for the first time will probably be surprised. How did the place manage not to land at the top of the Ireland tourist hit list? It cannot really be explained. On paper, Bantry actually has everything it needs to become a tourist stronghold and yet none of the usual boxes is ticking.
The place is pretty, maybe better to say dreamy, it is ideally located, the surrounding landscape is breathtaking and yet only better informed Ireland travelers know Bantry. The great hosts invade Dingle and Killarney further north. Well, that's good in some respects, because Ireland experts are rewarded with a relaxed atmosphere and moderate prices, but one should be surprised.
Maybe it's because Bantry - no matter where you look - is pretty much on the A ... of Ireland. The N71 may have improved, but it's still quite a ride and you probably only get involved if you have a clear goal in mind.
What makes Banrty so special? The question is almost even harder to answer. The location between the Ring of Beara and Sheep's Head is not bad, the Bay of Bantry is spectacular but not so unusual for the Irish west coast, the place itself actually has nothing else to offer. So what is it I can't answer the question exactly, I can only say that Bantry made it into my very personal top 10 straight away and is clearly ahead of Dingle, for example.
Bantry is relaxed, it looks a bit like yesterday, really Irish if you want. Tourism has hardly left any traces, the few hotels and guest houses are discreetly in the background. There are no fancy restaurants that exist, but they are rustic and cheap. Even the owner of the B&B is somehow different. You feel like a guest, but in the better sense of the word. You are not a foreign body but a warm welcome.
I think the best way to describe it is with the word atmosphere. There's plenty of them here. Mammon does not rule here, the locals apparently like their place as it is and so they let the prospect of tourist euro ruin it. You can feel that as a visitor and that is what is so much fun. Bantry is well worth the long journey. And anyone who has seen the Ring of Beara on a fine day can enjoy the Ring of Kerry with a clear conscience.
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