Portmagee Give Me Any Port But Portmagee

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Portmagee, “give me any port but Portmagee” was a famous saying by an old sailor, who I might add reminded me of Father Christmas. He was from Portmagee and liked his drop of tipple and, for some reason, never really loved Portmagee

I must admit I found the harbour of Portmagee very amiable, a little quiet, as I was there in January and I missed the boat to Valencia Island. As the landlord of the bar I was drinking in said.

“When you’ve missed the boat, you’ve missed the boat, may as well stay here and have another Guinness”

Maurice, it was his turn, rushed to the bar, now when I say “rushed” I exaggerate; the landlord caught him as he came back from the loo.

Talking about “loo” there’s a great pub in Glengarriff called The Blue Loo if you ever go to Glengarriff call in there, but that particular bar is in County Cork and we are in County Kerry a good 70 miles from there.

Back to Portmagee, this small harbour village was the place to be in the old days. Smuggling, shipwrecking and fishing were once the chief interests of this village on the Portmagee channel, named after the local smuggler, Theobald Magee.

Theobald Magee was an officer in King James’s army at the battle of the Boyne in 1690 before setting up home and a very lucrative smuggling business in Portmagee.

Now I would love to know, was it called Portmagee before Mr Magee settled there?

If you know, please let me know.

The village has a fine natural harbour and modern pier to serve the fishing trawlers. You can also take a trip to Great Skellig from the pier, the journey takes about 2 hours, past the puffin of puffins Island and the huge gannet colony of Little Skellig.

A large boat from Valentia carrying about 175 people provides short 90 minutes cruises around the Island but does not stop off at Skellig Michael.

Mind you the whole experience of Skellig Rock can be seen at the visitor centre.

But to really grasp the reality of The Skelligs you will have to go there and climb the steps.

A road behind the village leads steeply to Ballinskelligs via the Coomanaspig Pass (1000ft), one of the highest places in Ireland accessible by car.

By the way when you go to Portmagee stop off at The Bridge Bar, there is live music and the Craic every night during summer, and the landlord leads in the singing and dancing on Thursdays. Best of all Maurice has “left one in” behind the bar for you.

Portmagee has a world famous New Year Festival. if you can make it book early and it will be a New Year you will never forget.

Do you know who you are? Does your great, great grandfather come from Portmagee?


If you have any interesting info on Portmagee please email us, thanks, Tom and Maurice.

Info On Portmagee

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