Ballydavid is a sleepy little Irish village nestling on the very edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The name of Ballydavid can cause some confusion, because it is also called Baile na nGall or Ballynagall, which means in English the town land of the foreigner.
It is likely that the foreigners referred to were the Vikings, for Smerwick Harbour was a Viking settlement from which butter was shipped to Limerick. The name Smerwick comes from two Norse words, smoer and wik, meaning butter and harbour.
Visitors to the Dingle Peninsula who fail to spend time in the area that comprises Ballydavid, Feohanagh and Murreagh are, sadly, missing out on one of its most beautiful spots and an area of uncommercialised local culture. Even throughout the busy summer months, this area remains peaceful.
Every summer, the area hosts hundreds of young students, through Coláistí Chorca Dhuibhne, who come to learn the Irish Language and experience the traditions of these unique locations.
Radió na Gaeltachta, which is the National Irish Language Radio Station, is located just outside the village on Bóthar na Léinsí.
There’s never a dull moment in Baile na nGall, sea angling, fishing, walking and cycling are all easily accessible activities which can be enjoyed locally. This is the place to be at sunset and to walk along the coast beyond the village.
During the summer months, you can expect to find traditional music sessions each night at most of the area pubs. Impromptu sessions by local musicians can occur year round at any time of the day or evening.
All of the restaurants in the area are located so close to the sea, that the variety and quality of the seafood served in the area is second to none. It is very easy for one to become enchanted with this beautiful area that touches the Atlantic Ocean and is overlooked by the splendour of Mount Brandon .
There is a choice of accommodation in the area from Bed and Breakfasts to Guesthouses, Hostels to Self-Catering Homes and local Hotel to a Caravan and Camping Site. Something for everyone!
The area is easy to explore by foot or by bicycle as the roads are quaint and quiet. There are amazing walks along the beaches, headlands and along the coastal roads.
Further along, this lesser known area of the Slea Head Drive, though no less enchanting, are the parishes and villages of Muiríoch, Carraig (the Rock) and Feohanagh, (Feothanach- the old Irish word for Windy Place).
The Dingle Way meanders its way through these wonderful villages and Cosán na Naomh (the Saints Way) is another exceptional walk locally.
For those who enjoy more challenging treks, Mount Brandon, Ireland’s second highest mountain, is a life changing experience with the most exceptional views from the summit taking in the Atlantic Ocean and Blasket Islands to the west, North Kerry and County Clare to the north, the spine of the Slieve Mish Mountains to the east and the McGillycuddy Reeks, Iveragh Peninsula and Skellig Rocks to the south. Throughout the year there are pilgrimage walks to the summit.
Two of the best known archaeological sites on the Dingle Peninsula - Gallarus Oratory and Cill Mhaolcéadair, are located here.
Gallarus Oratory is the best preserved early Christian Church in Ireland. The church, which was built between the 6th and 9th century is believed to have been built out of local stones using no mortar to hold it together.
Cill Mhaolcéadair, although associated with St. Brendan is believed to have been founded by St. Maolcéadair, a local saint. The 12th century Hiberno-Romanesque Church is the focal point of this site but do look out for the Alphabet Stone, a holed Ogham Stone, a Sun Dial, a large Stone Cross, two Bullaun Stones, two Holy Wells, St. Brendan’s Oratory and numerous cross slabs.
Brandon Creek, (Cuas an Bhodaigh), is the place from which St. Brendan the Navigator is supposed to have set sail on his legendary voyage in 535A.D. This wild beautiful creek is worth a visit, to spend a little time of reflection, with the backdrop of the sound of crystal waters rushing to meet the sea.