Ventry - Ceann Trá
Ventry (Ceann Trá or Fionn Trá in Irish) is a small village four miles west of Dingle.
It is unusual in that it has two centres of commerce, both comprised of a pub and a shop. One has the Catholic church, and the other, in true balance, has the primary school.
The whole Ventry area is linked by the arc of Ventry Harbour, with one of the most attractive and safest beaches on the west coast of Ireland.
Ventry is a great place to enjoy a seaside, rural holiday . . . or to just escape the bustle of Dingle town.
A razor clam on Ventry Strand. Photograph by Antony Richards.
The village of Ceann Trá has a post office/shop, a pub, a restaurant, a pottery with café but most of all it has a wonderful, long, sandy blue flag beach. Stop here for a walk, a paddle or perhaps even a swim.
The beach and harbour were chosen as the site of "Cáth Finntrágha" a supposed battle between Fionn Mac Cumhaill and Dáire Donn "The King of the World". Written in the 15th Century, but probably incorporating eralier material, this Irish language prose poem mentions numerous local landmarks.
As you leave the village, if you look straight in front of you, about half-way up the hill, you might be able to make out a circular enclosure within which a ruined building stands. This is Rahinnane Castle and Ringfort (Caisleán Ráthanáin). The enclosure (ringfort) probably dates to the early medieval period, perhaps from the 7th/8th to 10th century AD, and it was within these the more comfortable farmers and their families lived. This site was later re-fortified, and probably about the 15th century the building, a ruined tower-house ('castle') was built, by a branch of the Fitzgerald family know as the Knights of Kerry, for this was their stronghold during medieval times. The building was destroyed during the mid-17th century, the time of the Cromwellian war. This site is on private property.
Following on out of the village, continuing along the 'Slea Head Route/Wild Atlantic Way', you will come to the local Roman Catholic church on your left hand side, in an area known as Ard a' Bhóthair (which translates as 'the height of the road'). This later 19th century church is dedicated to St Caitlín (Catherine of Alexandria). The reason for the adoption of this Middle Eastern martyr as patron of a West Kerry parish is unknown. However a colourful (and completely untrue) legend was devised at some stage claiming that her body was washed up on Ventry Strand in a wooden box or barrel . The story goes on to cliam that for some reason it took seven men to left the relics from the beach and she was buried in the village graveyard.