Slea Head Famine Cottages and Animal Park, County Kerry

Slea Head Famine Cottages and Animal Park, County Kerry

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Step back in time to one of Ireland’s authentic famine cottages. Located on the Slea Head Drive, with magnificent views overlooking Dingle Bay and the Skellig Islands, the Famine Cottages offer visitors an inside look as to how West Kerry families lived during the 1800’s.

In the main cottage, built in 1845 using mud and stone, experience the atmosphere of this unique cottage, which was home to the Kavanagh family. Once housing an original thatched roof, the Earl of Cork in 1860 had the roof changed to a slate roof, making it one of the first slated cottages in the area. Until recently this cottage had been home to a number of visitors to the Dingle Peninsula, some of them seeking a return to a simpler lifestyle, others such as writers and photographers seeking inspiration from this house and its surroundings.

The Famine Cottages consist of 5 original dwellings and as you visit you will see how the main cottage progressed up until 1950 when the cottage was last inhabited. The other cabins include the outhouses or “Tigh na mBá” (cowhouse) and “An Stábla” (stable), which were built in 1880. It is here that the farm animals were housed during the winter months. Also at the rear of the Cottages is a beehive hut. During the era of the Famine a pig was kept within its small confines. It hence earned the name "Puicín na Muice" (pig's house). The last cottage is called Tigh Phait (Pat’s House), who was a peasant farmer, evicted from his own house in a nearby village and allowed to stay in this small cabin by the Kavanaghs. This cabin is typical of the type of hovel that Irish peasants occupied during famine times and holds a fascination over all our visitors.

In the beautiful surroundings of the Famine Cottages, on the lower slopes of Mount Eagle, there is an Animal Park where you can find a rare selection of Irish breeds such as the Irish Red Deer, the Kerry Bog Pony, the Kerry Cow, the Dexter Cow and the Connemara Pony. There is a lovely walk to view them, where you can also enjoy the craftsmanship of the network of traditional West Kerry stone walls.

Come and discover for yourself how people lived in a time of great hardship including farming, poverty, emigration and survival. The Famine Cottages provides background information on the Famine that can be read as you travel through these atmospheric dwellings.

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