The Sailing And Fishing Port Of North Kerry

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Fenit Marina On An Angry Evening

Fenit or in Irish An Fhianait, meaning "The Wild Place" is a small village located on north side of Tralee Bay about 10 km (6 mi) west of Tralee Town.

The bay is enclosed from the Atlantic by the Maharee spit which extends northwards from the Dingle Peninsula. Fenit harbour is a mixed function sea port, where fishing, freight import and export, and a 136 berth marina are the main forms of business.

In Fenit you can get close to nature, beautiful walking around the bay by Fenit Island and on the Blue Flag beach, swimming in the crystal clear water, fishing at the Viaduct , looking out to sea and gazing at he beautiful Slieve Mish Mountains across Tralee Bay. 

The heritage trail, Slí Bhreanainn, (The Brendan Way) extends from Fenit to Lerrig Cross in Ardfert. Every year several sea faring festivals are held in the village.

Fenit offers plenty of places to stay and have a nice meal. The two village bars have a local seafood menu and a seasonal beach shop serves snacks, ice cream and drinks.

Saint Brendan, the navigator, was probably born north west of the village on Fenit Island in close proximity to what is now Fenit harbour around 484, and is honoured by a large bronze monument in the harbour area.

It has been suggested that Brendan arrived in the Americas prior to Christopher Columbus but this has not been proven. Though Tim Severin demonstrated it is possible that a leather-clad boat such as the one described in the Navigatio could have potentially reached North America.

In 1583, during the Spanish Armada in Ireland, the sloop Nuestra Señora del Socorro (Our Lady of the Socorro) (75 tons) anchored at Fenit, in Tralee Bay, where it was surrendered to crown officers. The 24 men on board were taken into custody and marched to Tralee castle. On the orders of Lady Margaret Denny, they were all hanged from a gibbet.

In the mid-19th century, the sailing ship Jeanie Johnston traded out of Tralee, transporting emigrants to the USA and Canada and in 2000 a replica was built in Fenit harbour.]

The village and environs were the scene of the ill-fated attempt of Roger Casement and cohorts to land arms at Banna Strand to aid the Easter Rising.

Casement was landed from a German submarine, just north of the harbour in the early hours of 21 April 1916, but the ship, Aud Norge, never landed at Fenit and was scuttled in Cork harbour by its German captain lest the British forces take possession of the arms cache.

On 2 August 1922, during the Irish Civil War, Fenit was the scene of a major seaborne landing, from the ship Lady Wicklow, by 450 Free State troops, as part of a civil war offensive to re-take Kerry and the Republican-held province of Munster.

The republican forces had intended to blow up the pier if an attack was launched but the charges were rendered inoperable by unknown persons in an attempt to minimise damage to the port. 

The harbour at Fenit is the most westerly commercial port of Ireland, the British Isles and Mainland Europe. The port is owned by the Irish state it is the only commercial port between Foynes and Cork. The deep water port is a major asset to County Kerry and caters for vessels up to 17,000 Dwt.

It has traditionally served as the merchants' port for Tralee. Coal, grain timber, etc., were landed during the 20th century with oil and cranes becoming the main cargo until the fuel distribution base was dismantled in the late 1990s.

The main deep sea pier is 175m long with extensive storage facilities available. Regularly accommodating 15,000 tonne ships, the port is a very picturesque mixed use port with a marina, fishing and commercial ships. There are about 15 shipments per year. This is almost totally due to the export of container cranes manufactured by Liebherr`s Irish subsidiary, based in Killarney, which are shipped all over the world.

The port was a major port for landing fish in the 1970s. The local fishing industry has all but ceased due to EU quota limits and competition from larger fleets from Spain and France.

Until 2006, French companies still used the port to land fish that were then transported directly to the European mainland. The oil industry has, in the past, used Fenit as a base for their supply boats on several occasions when exploring off the west and southwest coast of Ireland.

Fenit Marina, built in 1997, largely with the aid of EU funding, is a 130-berth marina located at Fenit harbour and connected to the land by an 800m causway and viaduct. The marina caters to leisure craft for boats from 6m to 15m in length with an approach depth of 5m which provides access at all tidal levels. The minimum depth of water is 3m.

Activities include Sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, boat trips, fishing, swimming, golf, bird watching, walking, nature and historical trails, children's playground.

There are a choice of restaurants, bars and a cafe in and around Fenit and Tralee town centre is only a short drive away.

In 1851 a lighthouse was built on the little Samphire island, located a few hundred meters west of Fenit pier. A large bronze sculpture of Saint Brendan was erected in 2004 on Great Samphire Island, the rock around which the harbour was built.

This island has been utilised as part of the port development and its name 'Great Samphire Island' appears to refer to the height when compared to its much flatter twin, Little Samphire Island. "Samphire" is a small flowering plant used in cookery and lends its name to the twin islands in the bay.

Daytrips to the Little samphire Island Lighthouse are available. Plese contact the Harbour Office on 066713 6231 to make a booking. Trips take approx 2hours which include a 15min boat trip to and from the Island with an hours guided tour. Places are limited and the trip is weather and tide dependent.

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