By Danny Houlihan
DISTRICT DIRECTOR: Joe murphy / EDITOR: Liam Ó Bharáin
Located on the scenic cliff walk in Ballybunion North Kerry, is the famous Nine Daughters’ Hole or in its Irish name Poul na Ninneen.
Tradition relates that around the year 800 a fleet of Viking longships attacked the coastline of North Kerry from a base on Scattery Island. Moving inland, the Vikings quickly made their way to Doon which at that time was ruled by its king, O Connor, whose castle stood on the edge of a cliff. He never drank water, only wine.
O Connor had the pick of the women as clan wives. Eight beautiful daughters were honouring his castle and his name. The Vikings, who were always on the hunt for treasure, spotted the nine daughters and, in return, the love stricken women spotted them and planned to elope.
O Connor who hated the Vikings flew into rage when the plan was brought to his attention. He immediately brought all nine daughters to the pit, the raging Atlantic waves beating against the rocks below. He told them that his golden torc had fallen in. Forming a human rope, the girls were lowered into the pit. Then he pushed them all into the deep cavern, his evil deed committed to history forever.
But O Connor was a fair Chieftain. He brought all nine Viking leaders to the edge of the pit. Beheading all of them, he then dumped their heathen remains into the pit on top of the women.
O’Connor returned to his castle in peace and drank a large goblet of wine. Tradition relates that if you walk the cliff walk in Ballybunion at sunset the sounds of the wailing daughters can be heard.
- Image of Nine Daughters Hole – Luther 1968 / Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:9_daughters_hole.jpg.
- Image of Nine Daughters cavern- Gosia, by permission, https://www.kerrygeo.com
- Image Looking up from the cavern- Gosia, by permission, https://www.kerrygeo.com/
The power of the sea and the erosian of the rock first forming the horizontal cave and then the vertical geyser blow hole. The colourful cliff here in Ballybunion. The cave shown from the sea, the blowhole uniquely seen from below and the forbidding black rock visible from the surface. All shown to wonderful effect in the photos by Luther and Gosia sourced by Liam O Bharain. Danny Houlihan’s telling of the brutal murders of the nine daughters and their Viking lovers by the girls father, King O’Connor who ‘never drank water, only wine’. Legend, landscape, geology and history. Where does the one end and the other begin?