Valentia Island, off the South West coast of Kerry, is an island of great beauty and contrast. It is joined to the mainland and the village of Portmagee by bridge via the Portmagee Channel.
The western part of the island is dominated by the barren, dramatic cliffs of Bray Head which command spectacular views of the Kerry coastline while the mild effect of the Gulf Stream results in Valentia’s balmy climate and lush, colourful vegetation.
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 one hundred years.
The island’s main village, Knightstown, associated with the Norman Fitzgerald family, 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.
The slate quarry on the northern part of the island which opened in 1816 still flourishes today.