Located on Valentia Island, the Old Slate Quarry was opened in 1816 by the Knight of Kerry, and supplied slate to London’s prestigious Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. The quarry operated for almost 100 years before it was closed by a rock fall in 1911.
Although the quarry has resumed operation, its most famous for another reason; it’s home to a beautiful grotto that was built into the mined quarry and proves a peaceful spot for quiet reflection. Just a short walk from the quarry, visitors can find panoramic views of Valentia Harbour, Beginish Island, Dingle Bay, and the Blasket Islands on a clear day. Private tours of the Ring of Kerry and its surrounds often include a visit to Valentia Island.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Old Slate Quarry is a must-visit for those interested in Irish history.
- As it’s a working quarry, expect to find slabs of slate and debris around.
- You can watch slate being cut and even take home discarded pieces as a souvenir.
- There is free parking nearby.
How to Get There
The Old Slate Quarry is located on Valentia Island, just off the Ring of Kerry route. For the best views on your approach, leave the car at the crossroads leading to the island’s lighthouse and follow the winding road through the Glanleam woods.
When to Get There
The quarry and grotto is accessible anytime, but if you want to see the small handful of quarrymen at work, visit during the week in the morning or early afternoon.
The quarry is also home to a shrine to the Virgin Mary and a statue honoring Saint Marie-Bernadette Soubirous, the girl who witnessed Mary's apparition in Lourdes in 1858. The statues are positioned in a cave elevated from ground level to a height of about 96 feet (29 meters) and were erected by the people of Valentia in 1954 to commemorate the Marian Year, established by the Catholic Church.