Ballykissane Pier

Introduction

Nestled near Killorglin in County Kerry, this picturesque location offers visitors a unique blend of tranquility and history. The pier is not merely a scenic spot; it is a silent witness to pivotal events in Ireland’s quest for independence.

In the early 20th century, Ballykissane Pier became an unexpected stage for a tragic incident tied to the 1916 Easter Rising, an event that would shape the nation’s future.

Casualties of the 1916 Easter Rising
Casualties of the 1916 Easter Rising

The loss of three Irish Volunteers in the waters here adds a poignant depth to the serene surroundings. This peaceful spot is often overlooked by the hurried traveller.

Historical Background

The presence of the four individuals at Ballykissane Pier on the night of April 21, 1916, is deeply rooted in the context of the Irish struggle for independence. These men were part of a covert mission related to the Easter Rising, an insurrection aimed at ending British rule in Ireland.

The men in the car—Con Keating, Donal Sheehan, Charlie Monaghan, and Tommy McInerney—were members of the Irish Volunteers, an organization dedicated to Irish independence.  

Plaque of where the Transatlantic Cable arrived in Valentia
Transatlantic Cable

The four men were on their way to Valentia to set up radio communications with the German arms ship the Aud and Sir Roger Casement at Banna Strand. The arms were crucial for equipping the Volunteers for the rebellion set to commence on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916.

Two people walking on Banna Strand
Banna Strand

However, in the darkness and unfamiliarity of the night, they took a wrong turn in Killorglin that led them to Ballykissane Pier instead of their intended destination. The driver, Tommy McInerney, mistook the pier for a bridge.

Tragically, their car drove off the pier and plunged into the River Laune. Con Keating, Donal Sheehan, and Charlie Monaghan drowned, while Tommy McInerney survived.

If they had made it to Valentia, it would have all been in vain because the Aud had no wireless radio. They were planning to send light signals to Sir Roger Casement on the shore.

They were not the only car going to Valentia Island that night. In front of them were Colm Ó Lochlainn and Denis Daly. They waited for the second car at Mountain Stage for an hour, thinking it had broken down.

Restored Old Cahersiveen Barracks
Cahersiveen RIC Barracks

They continued, and just outside Cahersiveen, they were stopped by two RIC officers who informed them that the military was guarding the wireless station. They claimed to be medical students heading to Waterville and were allowed to pass.

Colm Ó Lochlainn declared it too dangerous and cancelled the mission. It wasn’t until a month later, when he was in Belfast, that he read about what had happened to the other car.

This tragic event at the pier underscores the perilous and often chaotic nature of the efforts surrounding the Easter Rising.

The loss of these men was a significant blow to the Volunteer efforts in Kerry and is remembered as a somber prelude to the larger struggle that unfolded in Dublin and across Ireland during Easter 1916.

The Pier Today

Physical Description

Ballykissane Pier stands today as a modest yet picturesque structure jutting out into the River Laune. The pier is constructed of sturdy stone, weathered by time and the elements, giving it a rustic charm that complements its natural surroundings.

Approximately 45 metres in length, the pier provides ample space for fishing and sightseeing. The Ballykissane Monument stands tall to the right of the pier.

At the end of the pier, a small area allows for comfortable fishing or simply enjoying the panoramic views of the river and surrounding landscape.

Annual Commemorations

Each Good Friday, the pier becomes a site of remembrance, with local community members and historians gathering to pay tribute to Con Keating, Donal Sheehan, and Charlie Monaghan.

During these annual commemorations, floral wreaths are laid at the pier, and sometimes short ceremonies or talks are held to educate visitors about the historical significance of the first casualties of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Fishing at Ballykissane Pier

Fishing at Ballykissane Pier is a quintessential experience that is highly recommended to all visitors. The pier, with its serene environment and rich waters, offers an ideal setting for both amateur and seasoned anglers. 

The Fishing Experience

The tranquil waters around Ballykissane Pier are home to a variety of fish species, making it a favoured spot for fishing enthusiasts. Here, one can expect to catch a range of fish, including mackerel, pollock, and sea trout, among others.

The best times for fishing are typically early morning and late afternoon when the fish are most active. This peaceful time of day also provides a stunning backdrop, with the gentle lapping of the water and the rising or setting sun creating a picturesque scene.

Types of Fish at Ballykissane Pier

Fishing at the pier offers a rewarding experience due to the variety of fish that can be caught in its waters. The types of fish you might encounter during your visit include:

Frequency of various fish species at Ballykissane Pier
Frequency of various fish species at Ballykissane Pier

Mackerel

Mackerel are plentiful in the waters around Ballykissane Pier, especially during the warmer months. They are usually found in schools, which can lead to a productive fishing session.

The mackerel surround the sprat and drive them up to the surface of the water. It is like the water is boiling when they are hunting the sprat. 

Pollock

Pollock is another common species at the pier. These fish tend to inhabit deeper waters and can be caught using both natural bait and artificial lures. Pollock provide a good fight, making them an exciting target for anglers looking for a bit of a challenge.

Sea Trout

Sea trout, often sought after for their size and taste, are a prized catch in this area. They are most commonly found in the estuarine waters where the river meets the sea. Fishing for sea trout can be particularly rewarding during their migration periods.

Bass

Bass, known for their strength and agility, are frequently caught around the pier. These fish are often targeted by sport fishermen due to the challenging fight they put up. Be careful with the fin above their spine because it is prickly. Bass are typically caught using lures and live bait. 

Wrasse

Wrasse are commonly found around the rocky areas of the pier. These colourful and hardy fish are known for their strong bite and can be a fun catch. Wrasse often require the use of specialized rigs to fish effectively around the rocks where they dwell.

Mullet

Mullet are very hard to catch, but bread is a preferred bait. They normally eat plankton, and you can see them swimming past you and your line. A fish weighing 3 to 4 lbs is a good catch.

Conclusion

Ballykissane Pier stands as a testament to both natural beauty and historical significance. The pier is forever marked by the tragic events of 1916 when the waters claimed the lives of three Irish Volunteers linked to the Easter Rising.

This poignant history imbues the location with a solemn reverence that contrasts with its serene surroundings.

As a site of historical reflection, the pier invites visitors to ponder the sacrifices made during Ireland’s struggle for independence. Ultimately, it provides an experience that is both moving and enriching, ensuring its place in the hearts of those who visit.

FAQ’s

What is Ballykissane Pier?

Ballykissane Pier is a historic pier located in Killorglin, County Kerry, Ireland. It is known for its scenic views and historical significance.

Where is Ballykissane Pier located?

Ballykissane Pier is situated near the town of Killorglin, on the River Laune, in County Kerry, Ireland.

What is the historical significance of Ballykissane Pier?

The pier is notable for being the site of a tragic event during the 1916 Easter Rising when three Irish Volunteers drowned after their car went off the pier. They were the first casualties on the Good Friday of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Is Ballykissane Pier accessible to visitors year-round?

Yes, the pier is accessible to visitors throughout the year.

Are there any guided tours available at Ballykissane Pier?

There are no specific guided tours for the pier.

What activities can visitors do at Ballykissane Pier?

Visitors can enjoy fishing, walking, and taking in the scenic views at Ballykissane Pier.

Are there any nearby amenities or facilities?

While Ballykissane Pier itself has no facilities, the nearby town of Killorglin offers various amenities, including restaurants, shops, and accommodation.

Can I fish at Ballykissane Pier?

Yes, fishing is a popular activity at the pier, with the River Laune offering opportunities for catching various fish species.

What wildlife can be observed at Ballykissane Pier?

The area around the pier is rich in wildlife, including various bird species and aquatic life in the River Laune.

Is there any public transportation to Ballykissane Pier?

There is no public transportation, but visitors can reach the pier by car or bicycle from Killorglin.

Is there parking at Ballykissane Pier?

There is very limited parking at the pier and no designated car park

How far is Ballykissane Pier from Killorglin?

It is approximately 2 km.

What are the best times to visit Ballykissane Pier?

The pier is beautiful year-round, but spring and summer offer the best weather for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Are there any special events or festivals held at Ballykissane Pier?

While there are no specific events held at the pier, Killorglin town hosts the annual Puck Fair in August, which is one of Ireland’s oldest and most famous festivals.

Check out my web pages on the Ring of Kerry Drive, The Skellig Ring and Slea Head Drive.