Bere Island – Oiléan Béarra

Bere Island lies at the entrance to the magnificent Bantry Bay in Co. Cork and guards Berehaven Harbour, one of the deepest harbours in Europe. The island lies 2 km offshore from the town of Castletownbere. Just over 200 people live on the island.

Bere Island (Photo: Seán Ó Crabháin)

The island is 11 km long and, at its broadest is 5 km wide, with the main axis of the island orientated east-west. It has a land area of 17.68 km² . This undulating island is typical of the mountainous character of the Beara Peninsula. The southern side rises steeply from the sea, the highest point being Knockanallig (270m), while the northern side sweeps gently down to the shore. The main areas of productive land are concentrated on the northern side and the gently rolling peninsula at its eastern end. These lower areas are dominated by species-rich peaty grasslands, with well-developed heathland dominating the higher areas. On the southern side, there is a maritime influence on this heathland from salty spray. Roadside banks also provide species-rich habitats due to the lack of traffic and road widening. There are two lakes on the island, Lough Alimin and Lomanagh Lough (Bere Island Conservation Plan).The biodiversity of the island has not been studied in any great detail, so there is much yet to be discovered.

The shores and surrounding waters have good habitat diversity, with some beds of maerl (a soft white sediment, high in calcium) off the coast and the presence of many warm-water species characteristic of the south-west.

Because of its strategic position in the mouth of Bantry Bay, it has a rich military history from the 18th century up to the present day.  Martello towers, a signal tower, a military barracks and military fortification are still prominent features of the landscape.

Already 303 species have been recorded from Bere Island. A list of the species recorded from Bere Island can be downloaded here: Bere Island species list

If you would like to assist with the recording on Bere Island contact [email protected]

For further information about Bere Island and to book accommodation see

Island Wildlife Festival programme

Daily events

Whale & Dolphin watching trips with Sea Safari.

Tuesday 7th June

10:00hrs          Talk on beekeeping – Barry Hanley – Bere Island Heritage Centre

14:00hrs          Walk to Cloughland Lake – Daniel Moriarty – Meet at Murphy’s Shop, Rerrin

Wednesday 8th June

10:45hrs          Walk with Chris Sullivan – Meet at Murphy’s Shop, Rerrin

14:00hrs          Nature walk to Cloughland Tower – Clare Heardman – Meet at Murphy’s Shop, Rerrin

Thursday 9th June

12:00hrs          Talk on Bere Island Oyster & Seaweed Farm – David Andrews – Bere Island Heritage Centre

14:00hrs          Talk on medicinal herbs – Rosari Kingston – Bere Island Heritage Centre

Friday 10th June

11:00hrs          Butterfly walk – Damaris Lysaght – Meet at Murphy’s Shop, Rerrin

17:00hrs          Introduction to Dexter Cattle – Steve Collins – Bere Island Heritage Centre

Evening           Music in island bars – Desy’s bar & The Hotel

Saturday 11th June

10:00hrs          Nature walk and Pond Dipping – Geoff Hunt – Meet at Murphy’s Shop, Rerrin

12:00hrs          Launch of Island BioBlitz 2016 – Bere Island Heritage Centre

14:00hrs          Guided bird watching walk – Niall Tierney – Meet at Murphy’s Shop, Rerrin

21:00hrs          Dusk chorus walk – Niall Tierney – Meet at Murphy’s Shop, Rerrin

Evening           Music with Michael Harrington & Co. – Bere Island Heritage Centre

Sunday 12th June

05:00hrs          Dawn chorus walk – Niall Tierney – Meet at Murphy’s Shop, Rerrin

09:00 hrs         Island BioBlitz surveying

12:00hrs          Island BioBlitz – finishes

12:30hrs          Island BioBlitz – winners announced


The National Biodiversity Data Centre is an Initiative of the Heritage Council and is operated under a service level agreement by Compass Informatics. The data centre is funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Heritage Council.
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