Me, Mom and Grandad at Ballydavid Pier

Me, Mom and Grandad at Ballydavid Pier

“Conas atá sibh?” “Go maith!” we both answered in unison.

Baile na nGall, or Ballydavid, is a special place for Mom and I. Translated as “Town of the Foreigners”, it’s more like a second home rather than a foreign land.

Not only is it a great spot for an off-the-beaten-track drink, it’s also the place where my Grandad was born.

Paddy Kavanagh, Pat, or Pádraig Ó’Ciobhán as he was known, was born in Ballydavid (the “fíor Gaeltacht” he mused), in 1915.

Joining An Garda Síochána in 1935, and after a spell in Phoenix Park Garda Depot, he was sent to Glenbeigh where he met Clare woman, Winifred Vaughan – “my first and last love” he would declare.

They married in 1939 and had four children.

He was a gardener with a great love of nature. In the moorland, he loved nothing better than sitting on a turtog on the bog, listening to the moorhen and lark in the evening while smoking his pipe – a signature look that he acquired over the years. “The moorland was Majorca at home”, he’d say.

Through his practice of meditation and his strong faith, he nurtured a very spiritual nature. His best advice for success was: “Never become so important that you took yourself too seriously”.

Grandad died in 2006 after a short illness, aged 91.


Ballydavid3Ballydavid is a small, quaint, uncommercialised townland in the Kerry Gaeltacht.

Home to a few houses, pubs, a beach, pier, the Irish language radio station Raidió na Gaeltachta and now a seaweed bathhouse, it oozes old-school Ireland.

It’s here that we come across locals who are willing to speak the cúpla focal with randomers like us.

“Conas atá sibh?” a man quizzes as he heads towards the pier, “go maith!” Mom and I answer in unison.

Moving past the pub you can head towards the back of Ballydavid and Siúlóid na Faille (or cliff walk) where you’ll soon come across a rundown watchtower.

With the Atlantic swishing and crashing down below, it’s a magnificent, scenic route – an ideal spot too for a moment of reflection.

The walk itself takes about two hours and loops back towards the village if you take a right after the path meets the road at Dooneen Strand. Then head back and take a well-deserved drink at Begley’s or Tigh TP’s – we have many a time!


If you’d like to read more about Grandad, you can see an interview he did in The Kerryman here.

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