Ballybunion (Baile an Bhunneanaibhgh in Gaelic) is situated in north county Kerry, at the mouth of the river Shannon estuary, the largest natural estuary in Europe. Ballybunion faces out west to the north Atlantic and across the Shannon estuary to the shores of County Clare. The village of Ballybunion is a mere 35 miles from the famous Killarney National Park and was the site of the first transatlantic telephone transmission made from the Marconi wireless station in 1919 to Louisbourg, Cape Breton Nova Scotia, by W. T. Ditcham, a Marconi Engineer.
Ballybunion is steeped in a long history stretching back to the 14th century, when the castle which forms the focal point of the village, was erected by the Geraldines (center of the photograph above). The castle was acquired from the Geraldines by the Bunyan family (1582; of whom I am a member), from which the village of Ballybunion derives its name. The castle was lost a year later (1583) by William Bunyan, for the role he played in the Desmond rebellion. In 1612 the castle and lands were granted to the 16th Lord of Kerry and Lixnaw, later in 1783 Richard Hare was in possession of the castle, until finally in 1923 the castle came under the care of the Office of Public Works, who remain custodians of the castle to this day.
Ballybunion is home to the Ballybunion golf course, a world renown golf links that is ranked in the top ten golf courses in the world. The original golf course is over 100 years old (formerly known as the Cashen course, a name acquired due to its location at the mouth of the Cashen of the Feale river), this original course was designed by Robert Trent Jones. The golf course of Ballybunion was the subject of a recent visit by president Bill Clinton of the United States of America (August 1999), Ballybunion has been selected as the venue for the 2000 Murphy's Irish Open Golfing Tournament.
Ballybunion is situated in a region of the island of Ireland that is free from industry and the pollution and environmental problems associated with industry and large population centres (as are the majority county regions of this unspoiled country). As a result, Ballybunion is a site of great natural beauty (see the images of Ballybunion) and possesses a wide range of flora and fauna. By the shoreline it is not unusual to see a multitude of birds nesting and foraging including seagulls, shags, cormorants, herons and because of the mild winter climate, various other migratory birds. Many marine animals can be observed along the coast such as sea otters, seals and seal pups,porpoises, dolphins, lobster and salmon.
The waters and surrounding countryside of this picturesque area have won the European Blue Flag award. This award is an acknowledgment by the European union, to regions that achieve a standard of water quality that is free of pollution. This award is subject to yearly renewal, and therefore, guarantees continued environmental quality in areas such as Ballybunion that achieve the standard of this award. This fact makes Ballybunion and the surrounding coastline, ideal for the harvesting of sea vegetables, such as dulse (dillisk/ sea grass/ Palmaria palmata) and Irish moss (carrageen moss/ Chondrus crispus) providing a product of a quality and with a flavor which we are sure is unsurpassable (ordering information).