Valentia Island, Co. Kerry
Valentia Island (Dairbhre in Irish), is one of Europe's westernmost inhabited locations, lying off the Iveragh Peninsula in the southwest of County Kerry. It is linked to the mainland by a bridge at Portmagee, as well as by a ferry which sails from Reenard Point to Knightstown, the island's main settlement. The island is approximately 11 km long by 3 km wide.
Valentia was the eastern terminal of the first transatlantic telegraph cable. The first attempt in 1857 ended in disappointment. Subsequent failures in 1858 and 1865 finally resulted in commercially viable transatlantic telegraph communications in 1866 that operated for one hundred years until Western Union International terminated cable operations in 1966.
On the northwest of the island stands modest Glanleam House amid its famous sub-tropical gardens; protected by shelterbelts from Atlantic gales and never touched by frost, these gardens provide the mildest microclimate in Ireland. Starting in the 1830s, Sir Peter George Fitzgerald, the 19th Knight of Kerry (1808 – 1880), planted these gardens and stocked them with a unique collection of rare and tender plants from the southern hemisphere, normally grown under glass in the British Isles. The gardens are laid out in a naturalistic style as a series of walks. There are plants from South America, Australia, New Zealand (the tallest tree ferns in Europe) Chile and Japan. The gardens are memorialized in a selected golden-variegated Luma apiculata "Glanleam Gold" that originated as a sport in the garden. The gardens are open to the public.
The island has many walks and scenic wonders such as the Pre-Historic Terapod Tracks, as well as boat trips to the Skellig rock or sea angling and scuba diving.