Ardfert, Ard Fhearta in Irish, meaning "the hill of miracles” is nestled at the southern end of Banna Strand. A vibrant North Kerry village located midway between Tralee and Ballyheigue, on the Regional Route R551, which was once the ecclesiastical capital of County Kerry.
Ardfert, rich in history is the location of St Brendans magnificent Cathedral dating from the 6th Century. Unfortunately it was destroyed in the Irish War of rebellion in 1641. It also the birthplace of St. Brendan the Navigator, who was educated here about the year 500 AD.
He founded a monastery there in the 6th century and it became the centre of Anglo-Norman ecclesiastical influence in Kerry. But both town and monastery were destroyed by fire in 1089, and again in 1151. Today memories of its former glory are the extensive ruins of a cathedral and the monastery.
St Brendan’s monastery is now roofless, its massive walls standing stark against the skyline and is now the haunt of black crows and rooks that you can hear shrieking every time you arrive in Ardfert.
The monastery is now undergoing restoration with scaffolding all around it still retains an air of its former grandeur. The spectacular Irish Romanesque doorway, on the west side, the arcaded west wall and soaring graceful triple Lancet windows that once lit the handsome nave.
The graveyard contains ancient tombs and a 5th century stone carved headstone with the ancient Irish script called Ogham.
The area is rich in terms of its archaeological heritage. The medieval cathedral, St. Brendan's, and associated churches, Temple na Hoe (Church of the young Virgin) and Temple na Griffin, have become a major tourist heritage attraction in the Kerry area due to their central location.
The 13th Century Franciscan Friary to the north east of the village is of equal merit, but due to its peripheral location, its contribution to the character of the village is not as obvious. It was once an integral part of Ardfert Abbey - not an abbey at all but the name of the Talbot-Crosbie mansion destroyed by fire in 1922 by the IRA.
Five other structures included on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS) are located in Ardfert; St Brendan’s Catholic Church (consecrated in 1855), the Old Gates of the Earl of Glandore's Demesne, the Talbot-Crosbie Memorial, the Ardfert Parish Room (now a site registered as derelict by Kerry County Council) and Brandon House.
After strolling around and viewing these ancient ruins, buildings and artefacts you will probably be in need of sustenance.
There are four excellent pubs in Ardfert. Kate Browne's Pub & Restaurant is a historic Irish pub with thatched roof, open turf fires, roughly plastered walls with floors and bar counter of Valentia Slate. Then there is The Abbey Tavern, McElligott`s Bar, O`Sullivan`s Bar and Kirby Eamnon`s. All very smart and hospitable.
The village is well served by social and retail services. The village houses a post office a Garda station, health centre, garage, petrol station and a number of retail outlets and of course some excellent pubs.
In addition there is a Roman Catholic Church, a school and a community centre with gym and launderette.a garage with a handy shop and a furniture warehouse (owned I might add, by a relation of mine).
Ardfert also has an active GAA club. Sporting wise it is up there with the best of them boasting the local GAA clubs of Ardfert Football who won All Ireland honours in the mid 2000's and St Brendans Hurling.
Both these teams play in the Summer months at the local pitch which is on the road out towards Causeway. Soccer wise Ardfert boasts Athletico Ardfert who ply their trade in the upper reaches of the Kerry District League.
Fancy a game of golf but don`t have time to play a full 18 hole game, then why not try Ardfert Golf Club. This undulating Nine Hole parkland course has appeal both for the established golf enthusiast and the beginner golfer. The lofty greens, the variety of trees and the many water features are but a few of the attractions of the course. The 9th Hole voted the best Par 3 of the Nines of Kerry by Kerry Golf News.
There is an Indoor Market in Ardfert every Sunday between 10am and 1pm. You can choose from the best of fresh local produce and goods. Fresh vegetables, home cooked breads and scrumptious desserts, second hand books and much more.
I had a look around there one Sunday as I was heading to Fenit to have a pint with my uncle in the West End Bar. I saw this big Texan who was poking around the stall. Hey, what are these? he asked. Apples,' said Kate, the young lady on the stall.
Apples? laughed the Yank. Why, in Texas we have apples twice that size! And what are these? Those are potatoes, said Kate. Potatoes? Where I come from, bragged the Texan, our potatoes are twice as big at least, Just then he picked up a cabbage, but before he could speak Kate said: If you're not buying Brussels sprouts, you'd best be putting that down.
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