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Knightstown

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Overview





Valentia Harbour is situated on the southwest coast of Ireland upon the south side of the entrance to Dingle Bay, in a sheltered Valentia Island bight that faces the mainland and is surrounded by floating breakwaters. Knightstown is a small fishing port and ferry terminal that is Valentia Island’s only settlement. It provides visiting yachts with berths alongside its breakwaters and a choice of sheltered anchorages and moorings.

Valentia Harbour is situated on the southwest coast of Ireland upon the south side of the entrance to Dingle Bay, in a sheltered Valentia Island bight that faces the mainland and is surrounded by floating breakwaters. Knightstown is a small fishing port and ferry terminal that is Valentia Island’s only settlement. It provides visiting yachts with berths alongside its breakwaters and a choice of sheltered anchorages and moorings.

Knightstown is an excellent harbour that affords complete protection from all wind and sea conditions. Except in strong north-westerlies, the principal entrance provides straightforward access, at any state of the tide, and it is supported by a sectored light and good alignment markers to help circumvent rock ledges on either side of the entrance.
Please note

During northwest gales Valentia Harbour should be avoided as a heavy sea breaks right across the northern entrances and Portmagee is the better option.




1 comment
Keyfacts for Knightstown
Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
4 metres (13.12 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
March 29th 2022

Summary

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 55.586' N, 010° 16.928' W

Just outside the entrance at the souteastern head of the eastern breakwater.

What is the initial fix?

The following Valentia Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
51° 56.286' N, 010° 19.427' W
This is a ¼ of a mile northwest of the entrance on the 141° T on the leading marks or lights.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head Route location.

  • Make toward the Fort Point lighthouse then the centre of the entrance.

  • Acquire the leading 141° T marks/lights as soon as possible to pass between the dangers off each side of the entrance.

  • Adhere to the marks tightly when passing in through the entrance.

  • Pass to the east Harbour Rock - keep it to starboard.


Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Knightstown for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Cahersiveen - 2.3 nautical miles NE
  2. Cooncrome Harbour (Cuas Crom) - 2.5 nautical miles NNE
  3. Portmagee - 3.9 nautical miles SW
  4. Ballinskellig Bay - 6.9 nautical miles S
  5. Kells Bay - 8.9 nautical miles NE
  6. Darrynane Harbour - 11.1 nautical miles SSE
  7. Ventry Harbour - 11.8 nautical miles NNW
  8. Dingle Harbour - 12.7 nautical miles N
  9. West Cove - 12.7 nautical miles SE
  10. Great Skellig (Skellig Michael) - 13.2 nautical miles SW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Cahersiveen - 2.3 miles NE
  2. Cooncrome Harbour (Cuas Crom) - 2.5 miles NNE
  3. Portmagee - 3.9 miles SW
  4. Ballinskellig Bay - 6.9 miles S
  5. Kells Bay - 8.9 miles NE
  6. Darrynane Harbour - 11.1 miles SSE
  7. Ventry Harbour - 11.8 miles NNW
  8. Dingle Harbour - 12.7 miles N
  9. West Cove - 12.7 miles SE
  10. Great Skellig (Skellig Michael) - 13.2 miles SW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

Resources search

Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

Expand to new tab or fullscreen



What's the story here?
Knightstown Quays
Image: Michael Harpur


Knightstown, charted as Knight's Town, sits at the junction of where Valencia Harbour and the Portmagee Channel forms the south side of Valentia Harbour. The harbour is set in a sheltered island bight that is protected by the wide-sweeping arms of a pontoon/breakwater. It provides perfect shelter against all winds and sea and is easy to access through its well-marked harbour. The small town is more a single street village than a town fronted by several historic quays. It serves as the terminus of the ferry which runs to the mainland opposite.


Knightstown and its pontoon breakwaters
Image: Michael Harpur


The harbours deep surrounding pontoons, that are connected to land to provide walk-ashore access, offer excellent berths with water and power for a small fee. Enclosed harbour visitor moorings are also available and a wide range of anchoring with options to find perfect security from all winds are available nearby.

Yachts along side the outer pontoon/breakwater just inside the entrance
Image: Michael Harpur



How to get in?
Doulus Head (left) to Knightstown (far right)
Image: Tourism Ireland


Convergance Point Use Ireland’s coastal overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head Route location for seaward approaches. Valencia Harbour's outer entrance lies between Reenadrolaun Point and Doulus Head. Doulus Head is clear but there is a rock outcrop that dries to 2.6 metres 200 metres east by northeast of Reenadrolaun Point and a shoal, called the Coastguard Patch, breaks offshore in severe conditions.


The entrance between Fort Point and Beginish with breakers over their ledges
Image: © Trebography


The harbour has three entrances, two of which are in this area. Its principal entrance lies between Fort Point and Beginish (Beginnis) Island to the northeastward. But it is possible to take a more northern approach available by rounding Beginish Island's northern side through Doulus Bay and Lough Kay. Finally, there is a completely alternate southern approach via Portmagee Sound. The other approaches are more involved problematic if a swell is running, or, as with the southern entrance, obstructed by a bridge that limits access to vessels of low air draught.

For this reason, the focus of navigation is on the main entrance that lies between Fort (Cromwell) Point and Beginish Island to the north which is the most straightforward for newcomers. However, information is available for these alternate approaches from the low air draught southern Portmagee Channel in the Portmagee Click to view haven entry and the northern approach around Beginish Island is detailed in the Cahersiveen Click to view haven entry.


The narrows of the entrance between Fort Point and Beginish Island
Image: Tourism Ireland


The main entrance may be positively identified by its lighthouse Fort Point, a white tower 15 metres in height, standing on the southern side. Beginish Island may also be positively identified by a conspicuous former pilot lookout that stands on the summit of the 63-metre high summit of Coarhacooin Hill about a ½ mile to the northeast, the highest point of the island. Make toward the Fort Point lighthouse then the centre of the entrance.


Cromwell's Point and the narrows of the entrance
Image: Kmcnamee via CC BY-SA 4.0


Initial fix location The Initial Fix is a ¼ of a mile outside the entrance and on the 141° T leading marks/lights inside the harbour. The entrance is narrowed by rocky ledges, both drying and sunken, that extend 100 metres north from Fort Point and the foul ground off the west point of Beginish Island. The transits lead past these dangers and, as such, it is important to acquire the leading marks/lights as soon as possible to pass between these dangers.


Valentia's sectored light and alignment marks of 141° T
Image: Graham Rabbits


The 141° T track is in the white sector of the lower mark's sectored Port Entry Light. The light, visible even in strong sunlight, is set in the front of the harbour's two leading beacons. These towers are situated ¾ of a mile within the entrance and on the north side of Valentia Island. The front is a white conical tower beacon with a faint vertical red stripe. The rear, positioned 122 metres behind, red stripe with a triangular top on white background, is reportedly difficult to see although a vaguely triangular shape can be seen on the skyline.


Passing to the north of Fort Point
Image: Graham Rabbits


By night, and as above, first, track in on the Fort Point Light F1.WR.2s. White sector 102° to 304°T, but in Dingle Bay is obscured by Doulus Head at 180°T. Then steer in through the entry narrows, very tightly on the white sector 140°-142°T of Front - Lt.Oc.WRG. 4s11/8M; Rear Oc.4s5M.


The entrance within Fort Point and Beginish Island
Image: Michael Harpur


Whilst steering in on the 141° T marks/lights expect a confused sea at the entrance, but it is only challenging during northwesterly gales. Once inside the entrance, the waters settle down and the principal dangers are well marked and lit.


Harbour Rock
Image: Graham Rabbits


The first is the clearly visible 130-metre long Harbour Rock that dries to 2.6 metres and should be kept to starboard. It lies on the west side of the fairway approximately midway between Fort Point and the front beacon. It is clearly marked by an East Cardinal Beacon (Yellow/Black East Cardinal iron mast) Q(3) W10s, 4m, 5M. By night it is covered by the Red section of the Fort Point sectored light and presents no difficulty. However, again it is best to keep in the transits, as on the port side there are ledges and sunken rocks extending 400 metres off Cruppaun Point.


Yacht at anchor in Glanleam Bay
Image: Andrew Bailey via CC BY 4.0


It is possible to anchor in Glanleam Bay a ¼ mile south by southwest of Harbour Rock and a ⅓ of a mile to the west of the leading marks. It is a pretty anchorage in depths of 4 metres, or less, had over sand, about 200 metres out from the head of the bay where there are moorings. Land on the beach near a derelict boat slip at Trabaun.


The Foot east cardinal off the north of the breakwaters northeast corner
Image: Michael Harpur


Once Harbour Rock has been passed the harbour trends to the east. After this, the least depth of the entire approach is 5.8 metres, which occurs in the vicinity of Harbour Rock, and the path is free of outlying dangers so proceed as convenient. But do not be tempted to cut directly for the first corner of the Knightstown pontoon/breakwater. A shallow gravel spit, that dries 1.2 to 0.6 metres in places, extends east-northeast from Valentia called 'The Foot'. Its extremity is marked by an East Cardinal Lit buoy VQ(3) 5s that should be kept to starboard before rounding up to pass down the outer pontoon.


The entrance to the harbour is located on the southeast corner of the floating
pontoons

Image: Michael Harpur


The entrance to the harbour is located at the southeast corner of the floating pontoons, is approximately 33 metres wide and is screened off by a further pontoon.


The entrance as seen from the southern pontoon/breakwater
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Come alongside the inside od the floating square-configuration pontoon/breakwater that is connected to the shore via a jetty. There were six visitors moorings just south of the Knightstown pier but these may have been removed as most people opt for the pontoon's walk-ashore convenience and services (readers please confirm).


Yacht alongside the pontoon/breakwater immediatly inside the entrance
Image: Michael Harpur


Knightstown's old pier has a depth of 1.7 metres LAT at the pierhead and it is possible to come alongside during the day for a short period. The car ferry runs a shuttle service to the mainland at Reenard Point from a slip located close south of the old pier so be careful not to obstruct the operation. The ferry berths at the pier in the evenings so it has to be kept clear. Please contact the Harbour Master before planning any berthing.


The ferry slip with the old pier behind it close north
Image: Michael Harpur


Anchor off Knightstown to the south of the harbour entrance, staying clear of the car ferry's track to Reenard Point, or as convenient in the Portmagee Channel. 3.0 metres will be found across this area with good holding over sand/mud. This area is well sheltered in west winds and convenient for landing.


The ferry alongside the slip in Knightstown
Image: Michael Harpur


Cross over and anchor to the south of Reenard Point in easterlies. The pier at Reenard Point is constantly being used by the car ferry that lands on the slip on the northwest side. It has 5 metres LAT on the southeast side and it is possible to land at its slip when the ferry is away but pull the tender clear.
Please note

When anchoring in the vicinity of Knightstown please identify and avoid the submarine cable marked on all charts laid between the town and Reenard Point.




Reenard Point
Image: Michael Harpur


The west side of 'The Foot' is good in winds from southeast round to southwest, where depths of 2.5 metres with a good mud holding ground. There are visitors moorings located here also. A good anchorage in 2 - 8 metres can be had off the southeast bight of Beginish Island in any northerly winds.


Reenard Point and the ferry slip as seen from the north
Image: Michael Harpur


In winds from southeast to west, the aforementioned Glanleam Bay seen to starboard when passing Harbour Rock offers excellent protection.


Why visit here?
Knightstown, in Irish 'An Chois', takes its name from the Norman 'Knights of Kerry', the FitzGeralds, who were benign and beloved Protestant landlords.


Valentia Island and Knightstown as seen from the mainland
Image: Michael Harpur


In 1830, the 18th Knight of Kerry, Maurice FitzGerald commissioned the renowned Scottish engineer Alexander Nimmo to draw up plans for a new village that was at first referred to as the New Town of Valentia. Fitzgerald worked tirelessly to improve Ireland and the conditions of the people by championing the commercial interests of Kerry, and particularly, Valentia. At the time he and Nimmo were planning to develop Valentia harbour to be the first trans-Atlantic steamer port. Nimmo himself noted… 'The great ultimate object is, as I have always thought, to open a depot at Valentia for the western world: a matter which will do wonders for the whole west of Ireland'. But the great port for the western world would never come to be. The difficulties of getting coal to Valentia and, by then, vessels could journey directly to the already established English mainland ports, such as Liverpool made it unviable.


Knightstown Quay designed by Nimmo
Image: Michael Harpur


Nevertheless, the initially 1830-31 port designs of Nimmo, were beginning to be put in place in the early 1840s when the village was swept up in the success of the Valentia Island Slate Quarry. The quarry had opened in 1816 and by the 1840s it had built a worldwide reputation for its premium quality slates that could be ut into large flat slabs. At this time the produce of Valentia's quarries was roofing some of the world's most important buildings such as London’s Houses of Parliament, Westminster Cathedral and Paris’s Opera House. The large slate slabs could also be used for counters and shelving and to this day the Public Records Office in London has 21 miles of shelves made of Valentia slate.


View landward from Knightstown's historic quay
Image: Michael Harpur


Its success was driven by innovative steam-powered slate saws that were then a new technology. Quarries up to this time used water-powered saws to cut the slate but this was not possible on Valentia because the water was not easily available. But its coastal location kept the cost of coal fairly low, as were labour and transport costs, so the quarry thrived using new steam-driven saws. The works started to move into the village at this time and continued to expand until the 1850’s when the quarry was employing more than 500 men on Valentia. In 1851, it is claimed that Valentia had the largest slate saws in the world, and it was the biggest slate site in the world until the 1860s after which the Welsh sites would finally eclipse Valentia.


Knightstown's clock tower
Image: Michael Harpur


Alongside all this quarry activity, various businesses and trade began to spring up around the village and it provided the impetus for the development of Knightstown. Valentia had by this point also become important for being the eastern terminus of the first commercially viable transatlantic telegraph cable. Prior to the laying of the Transatlantic Cable, it took approximately two weeks, weather permitting, for a message to reach North America from Europe as all communications were sent via boat. The reply then took a further two weeks to return, weather permitting.


The Dwelling House, Knightstown
Image: Michael Harpur


The idea of laying a transatlantic cable was first proposed in 1845, and the Atlantic Telegraph Company began the process in 1855 by SS Niagara and HMS Agamemnon. The latter was nearly lost when a storm in 1857 snapped the cable at the edge of the continental shelf, 560 km out to sea causing the attempt to fail. This was followed in 1858 by a briefly successful cable to Knightstown. It wasn’t until 1866, after many efforts ended in disappointment, that a cable was successfully laid and landed under the auspices of the newly-formed Anglo-American Telegraph Company. This connected Knightstown's Foilhommerum Bay to Heart's Content, Newfoundland and it revolutionised international communications overnight. The Anglo-American Telegraph Company, which would later become Western Union International, operated from Valentia Island for one hundred years until it finally terminated its cable operations in 1966.


Fishing boats being worked on on the quay
Image: Michael Harpur


Today Knightstown is the largest settlement on Valentia Island with a population of 172 of the island's total population of 665. It is very pretty and is also where all the island’s facilities are located – pubs, restaurants, dive schools, lifeboat, ferry, harbour etc with a fine view back inland. Being a planned development of the 1840s, Knightstown is one of Ireland's very first 'town-planned' villages and it has an unusual architectural character. The village is unlike any other in Kerry and appears to have more in common in architectural style with a small Victorian village on the south coast of England than Ireland.


Pontoon with Cable Station Terrace on the waterfront behind
Image: Michael Harpur


Knightstown has, to the largest part, managed to retain its distinctive character with its attractive streets and impressive terraces. Market Street which forms the core of the village runs west to east from the Church of Ireland and terminates in the beautifully restored clock tower on the pier. The Cable Station building, which is one of over fifty Protected Structures in the village, was designed by the renowned 19th century Cork architect Thomas Deane in 1868. The varied assortment of buildings along the Cable Station Terrace, formally the officer’s houses, are a further addition to the rich architectural mix found in Knightstown. It is also possible to see that Nimmo's original great ferry port design had envisaged a bridge that would line up the main street with Renard Road on the mainland.


View from Geokaun Mountain
Image: Tourism Ireland


The village and island's history is best experienced in the Knightstown Heritage Museum. Housed in the old schoolhouse, built in 1861, on the road towards Geokaun Mountain, this is one of those wonderful local museums that has a treasure trove of artefacts that tell the tale of the village and island’s history beautifully.


Puffing Island, Lemon Rock and the Skelligs as seen from the southwest end of
Valentia

Image: Zilayah via CC BY 3.0


At just 11km long by 3km wide, the island itself can be best experienced by bicycle. It offers superb views most that, especially from Geokaun Mountain and Fogher Cliffs, the island’s highest point which offered unparalleled 360° views. A short walk up to the radio station from Knightstown leads to the historic slate quarry (3 km /2 miles). The quarry, abandoned in 1911, reopened in 1999 and produces all kinds of slate objects. Situated, 275 metres above the sea, it also offers views out over the Skellig Islands offshore. A longer hike in this corner of the island leads to the tetrapod trackway: footsteps left by dinosaurs some 350 million years ago. A monument at Telegraph Field, at the western end of the island, commemorates the establishment of the first permanent communications link.


The pontoon/breakwaters make an already protected harbour very snug
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating point of view, Knightstown offers a very secure spot with all the basic amenities available ashore. It provides a solid southwest coast bolthole in the event of bad weather, which it can do so very quickly. In addition to this, the wonderfully protected harbour is a joy to visit that, along Cahersiveen, provide ideal bases from which to explore the glorious Kerry landscape.

Yacht moored alongside the outer pontoon
Image: Michael Harpur


The island has added special interest for generations of boaters as its weather station readings are reported on the British Isles shipping forecast. Though it might seem like the name 'Valentia' or 'Valencia' Island might come from the Spanish city of Valencia, it comes from an anglicisation of, 'cuan Bhéil Inse', 'harbour-mouth of the island' that referred to the sheltered harbour entrance. This went through 'Bealinche' as was recorded in 1598 and 'Ballentia' in 1612 before evolving to the present 'Valentia'. Valentia is also home to one of Ireland’s VHF radio coast stations a and coast guard station. So a visit here has the possibility of making a weather station report a fond memory.


What facilities are available?
Knightstown is the only town on the island where you will find a few pubs and restaurants but otherwise not much. You will find supplies limited to bread, some general stores and fuel. There is a boatyard in the Portmagee Channel that is capable of lifting a 20-tonne large yacht and can cater to
hull and mechanical repairs. Diesel is best obtained at Cahersiveen.

From April to October, the Valentia Island Car and Passenger Ferry operate a daily shuttle for cars and foot passengers between Knightstown on Valentia Island and Renard Point. The five-minute ferry ride saves a round-trip of about 25 km (15 miles) by road to Portmagee, on the mainland, connected by a bridge. Bus services: A bus service is available only at Cahersiveen. Nearby Cahirciveen has all requirements.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred in Knightstown.


With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford. Additional corrections by Simon Brewitt.







An aerial view of Knightstown and Portmagee




An aerial view of the entrance


About Knightstown

Knightstown, in Irish 'An Chois', takes its name from the Norman 'Knights of Kerry', the FitzGeralds, who were benign and beloved Protestant landlords.


Valentia Island and Knightstown as seen from the mainland
Image: Michael Harpur


In 1830, the 18th Knight of Kerry, Maurice FitzGerald commissioned the renowned Scottish engineer Alexander Nimmo to draw up plans for a new village that was at first referred to as the New Town of Valentia. Fitzgerald worked tirelessly to improve Ireland and the conditions of the people by championing the commercial interests of Kerry, and particularly, Valentia. At the time he and Nimmo were planning to develop Valentia harbour to be the first trans-Atlantic steamer port. Nimmo himself noted… 'The great ultimate object is, as I have always thought, to open a depot at Valentia for the western world: a matter which will do wonders for the whole west of Ireland'. But the great port for the western world would never come to be. The difficulties of getting coal to Valentia and, by then, vessels could journey directly to the already established English mainland ports, such as Liverpool made it unviable.


Knightstown Quay designed by Nimmo
Image: Michael Harpur


Nevertheless, the initially 1830-31 port designs of Nimmo, were beginning to be put in place in the early 1840s when the village was swept up in the success of the Valentia Island Slate Quarry. The quarry had opened in 1816 and by the 1840s it had built a worldwide reputation for its premium quality slates that could be ut into large flat slabs. At this time the produce of Valentia's quarries was roofing some of the world's most important buildings such as London’s Houses of Parliament, Westminster Cathedral and Paris’s Opera House. The large slate slabs could also be used for counters and shelving and to this day the Public Records Office in London has 21 miles of shelves made of Valentia slate.


View landward from Knightstown's historic quay
Image: Michael Harpur


Its success was driven by innovative steam-powered slate saws that were then a new technology. Quarries up to this time used water-powered saws to cut the slate but this was not possible on Valentia because the water was not easily available. But its coastal location kept the cost of coal fairly low, as were labour and transport costs, so the quarry thrived using new steam-driven saws. The works started to move into the village at this time and continued to expand until the 1850’s when the quarry was employing more than 500 men on Valentia. In 1851, it is claimed that Valentia had the largest slate saws in the world, and it was the biggest slate site in the world until the 1860s after which the Welsh sites would finally eclipse Valentia.


Knightstown's clock tower
Image: Michael Harpur


Alongside all this quarry activity, various businesses and trade began to spring up around the village and it provided the impetus for the development of Knightstown. Valentia had by this point also become important for being the eastern terminus of the first commercially viable transatlantic telegraph cable. Prior to the laying of the Transatlantic Cable, it took approximately two weeks, weather permitting, for a message to reach North America from Europe as all communications were sent via boat. The reply then took a further two weeks to return, weather permitting.


The Dwelling House, Knightstown
Image: Michael Harpur


The idea of laying a transatlantic cable was first proposed in 1845, and the Atlantic Telegraph Company began the process in 1855 by SS Niagara and HMS Agamemnon. The latter was nearly lost when a storm in 1857 snapped the cable at the edge of the continental shelf, 560 km out to sea causing the attempt to fail. This was followed in 1858 by a briefly successful cable to Knightstown. It wasn’t until 1866, after many efforts ended in disappointment, that a cable was successfully laid and landed under the auspices of the newly-formed Anglo-American Telegraph Company. This connected Knightstown's Foilhommerum Bay to Heart's Content, Newfoundland and it revolutionised international communications overnight. The Anglo-American Telegraph Company, which would later become Western Union International, operated from Valentia Island for one hundred years until it finally terminated its cable operations in 1966.


Fishing boats being worked on on the quay
Image: Michael Harpur


Today Knightstown is the largest settlement on Valentia Island with a population of 172 of the island's total population of 665. It is very pretty and is also where all the island’s facilities are located – pubs, restaurants, dive schools, lifeboat, ferry, harbour etc with a fine view back inland. Being a planned development of the 1840s, Knightstown is one of Ireland's very first 'town-planned' villages and it has an unusual architectural character. The village is unlike any other in Kerry and appears to have more in common in architectural style with a small Victorian village on the south coast of England than Ireland.


Pontoon with Cable Station Terrace on the waterfront behind
Image: Michael Harpur


Knightstown has, to the largest part, managed to retain its distinctive character with its attractive streets and impressive terraces. Market Street which forms the core of the village runs west to east from the Church of Ireland and terminates in the beautifully restored clock tower on the pier. The Cable Station building, which is one of over fifty Protected Structures in the village, was designed by the renowned 19th century Cork architect Thomas Deane in 1868. The varied assortment of buildings along the Cable Station Terrace, formally the officer’s houses, are a further addition to the rich architectural mix found in Knightstown. It is also possible to see that Nimmo's original great ferry port design had envisaged a bridge that would line up the main street with Renard Road on the mainland.


View from Geokaun Mountain
Image: Tourism Ireland


The village and island's history is best experienced in the Knightstown Heritage Museum. Housed in the old schoolhouse, built in 1861, on the road towards Geokaun Mountain, this is one of those wonderful local museums that has a treasure trove of artefacts that tell the tale of the village and island’s history beautifully.


Puffing Island, Lemon Rock and the Skelligs as seen from the southwest end of
Valentia

Image: Zilayah via CC BY 3.0


At just 11km long by 3km wide, the island itself can be best experienced by bicycle. It offers superb views most that, especially from Geokaun Mountain and Fogher Cliffs, the island’s highest point which offered unparalleled 360° views. A short walk up to the radio station from Knightstown leads to the historic slate quarry (3 km /2 miles). The quarry, abandoned in 1911, reopened in 1999 and produces all kinds of slate objects. Situated, 275 metres above the sea, it also offers views out over the Skellig Islands offshore. A longer hike in this corner of the island leads to the tetrapod trackway: footsteps left by dinosaurs some 350 million years ago. A monument at Telegraph Field, at the western end of the island, commemorates the establishment of the first permanent communications link.


The pontoon/breakwaters make an already protected harbour very snug
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating point of view, Knightstown offers a very secure spot with all the basic amenities available ashore. It provides a solid southwest coast bolthole in the event of bad weather, which it can do so very quickly. In addition to this, the wonderfully protected harbour is a joy to visit that, along Cahersiveen, provide ideal bases from which to explore the glorious Kerry landscape.

Yacht moored alongside the outer pontoon
Image: Michael Harpur


The island has added special interest for generations of boaters as its weather station readings are reported on the British Isles shipping forecast. Though it might seem like the name 'Valentia' or 'Valencia' Island might come from the Spanish city of Valencia, it comes from an anglicisation of, 'cuan Bhéil Inse', 'harbour-mouth of the island' that referred to the sheltered harbour entrance. This went through 'Bealinche' as was recorded in 1598 and 'Ballentia' in 1612 before evolving to the present 'Valentia'. Valentia is also home to one of Ireland’s VHF radio coast stations a and coast guard station. So a visit here has the possibility of making a weather station report a fond memory.

Other options in this area


Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Alternatively here are the ten nearest havens available in picture view:
Coastal clockwise:
Cooncrome Harbour (Cuas Crom) - 1.5 miles NNE
Kells Bay - 5.5 miles NE
Dingle Harbour - 7.8 miles N
Ventry Harbour - 7.3 miles NNW
Great Blasket Island - 8.5 miles NW
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Cahersiveen - 1.4 miles NE
Portmagee - 2.4 miles SW
Great Skellig (Skellig Michael) - 8.2 miles SW
Ballinskellig Bay - 4.3 miles S
Darrynane Harbour - 6.9 miles SSE

Navigational pictures


These additional images feature in the 'How to get in' section of our detailed view for Knightstown.




































































An aerial view of Knightstown and Portmagee




An aerial view of the entrance



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Michael Hallissey wrote this review on Jul 6th 2020:

Re Valentia,

The pier marked ferry pier is in fact the old pier .
The ferry uses the slip just to the south of it.
The lsland he two villages Knightstown (the foot ) on the eastern side and Chapeltown about two miles west which has a bar/resturant and B&B . The boat yard ( Murphy Marine ) is on the southern shore and has a 50 ton lift .... Repairs overhauls and hard standing ( great winter stopover)

Haulie Hallissey

Average Rating: *****

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