Waterville and Ballinskelligs Bay play an important part in the mythology of ancient Ireland. According to the “Book of Invasions” written about 1000 AD, Cessair, the granddaughter of Noah, landed in Ballinskelligs Bay and became Ireland’s first invader. Here too, the last of the mythical invaders, the Milesians, settled in 700 BC and reportedly left behind many of the archaeological sites found in the area.
These rich legends, along with the earliest memories of Kerry history, combine to form a mystical aura that visitors to Waterville can sense even today. No area captures this feeling more than the sand hills and strand that border Ballinskelligs Bay and form the present day Waterville Golf Links.
The early spread of golf in Ireland owed much to the influence of the forces of the British Empire. It seemed, wherever there was a garrison, there was also a golf course. Golf at Waterville on the other hand was introduced through technology by the men who arrived here to work on the first transatlantic cable relaying messages between North America and Europe.
They came first to nearby Valentia Island in the 1860s, then to Ballinskelligs in the 1870s, and finally to Waterville in 1880s. Hundreds of technicians and workers arrived in these remote areas to build and man the Cable Stations, and it was inevitable that they should turn to sport and recreation. Golf was part of this agenda but it was of the crudest kind and generally played in winter when the grasses died down.