Bonane is Kerry’s most southerly parish, a small dispersed settlement in the picturesque Sheen River Valley. It is roughly halfway between the pretty market town of Kenmare in South Kerry, and the village of Glengarriff in West Cork. The Sheen River Valley is rich in archaeological heritage. Several hundred recorded monuments range from the prehistoric to the post-medieval period.
Bonane’s environment is characterised by family-farmed agricultural land. There is also some commercial forestry, mainly Sitka spruce. Quiet backroads are ideal for walking, cycling and horse-riding. Several countryside walks have been developed by the local community in the area. The village is also on the famous Beara Way.
Kenmare’s Sheen River has its origins in Bonane where it starts life as ‘Baurearagh River’ in the valley lending it its name. The river winds its way underneath several historic stone bridges before it enters Kenmare Bay. The N71 national secondary road roughly follows the course of the river. It passes through the village of Bonane with its school and church, and links Kerry and Cork at Turner’s Rock.
Bonane’s scenery is very unspoilt thanks to its rural hinterland. Its southern boundaries and road links with county Cork are deservedly called spectacular. Where the N71 meets the Caha Mountain range, a historic, long, hand-cut tunnel ensures a dramatic entrance to Bonane from the Cork side. It is soon followed by three much shorter tunnels cut into the hillside. Further east, a quiet but narrow and often steep mountain road leads the traveller past the legendary Priest’s Leap into Cork’s Borlin valley.
Bonane’s scenic qualities and relaxed life-style make it attractive to locals and visitors alike. The village’s situation only 8 miles (12km) from Kenmare and just over 9 miles (15km) from Glengarriff with restaurants and pubs, shops and amenities, makes it an ideal location for permanent households as well as holiday makers. In 2016, its total population numbered 226 people. Of these, 89% were Irish, 4.8% British and 4.4% from other European countries. In the same year it was recorded that a quarter of Bonane’s year-round occupied housing stock was built pre-1919, a nod towards the people of Bonane valuing history and traditions even in modern times.