Ballaghisheen Pass

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The landscape is a grassy plain bounded on all sides by mountains and truly on a bright, sunny day it has few equals anywhere in Ireland.

Ballaghisheen pass (Bealach Oisin) Scenic Drive is a stunning 1.5 hour (60km) route from Killarney to Waterville or vice versa through the centre of the Iveragh Peninsula to some of the most remote and scenic parts of county Kerry. There are few equals in Ireland to this grassy plain with its broad view of the mighty Macgillycuddy’s.

It is an alternative to the famous Ring of Kerry drive which takes the coastal route around the Iveragh Peninsula in the county. The return journey can either follow the same route back or you can take the northern or southern parts of the Ring of Kerry route.

The landscape is a grassy plain bounded on all sides by mountains and truly on a bright, sunny day it has few equals anywhere in Ireland. Near Killarney, the route skirts around the MacGilliycuddy Reeks Mountains, the highest in Ireland, and continues onto the remote centre of the county to the Bealach Oisin (in Irish) or Ballaghisheen Pass where there are amazing views east toward the Reeks and west towards Waterville and the stunning coastline.

Continue along the road until the mountains start to come closer and the road begins to gently climb. Before long the road is climbing steadily and up ahead Ballaghisheen Pass is visible.

This is a lonely spot with little sign of human involvement, something confirmed by the broad view from the top of the pass back towards the mighty Macgillycuddy’s Reeks.

However, approaching the top of the Ballaghisheen Pass a shock awaits you in the form of a long line of double poles carrying electricity lines stretching from the pass itself into the distance and leaving a grotesque imprint on a place of such great natural beauty.

Despite this misgiving, power lines or not, this is a simply magical landscape. Please don’t be put off from visiting it soon. Top of Ballaghisheen Pass where there is parking on both sides of the road.

I should also say that the road from Glencar to the pass is quite narrow but with a good surface.

The pass is reached from Killarney by taking the left turning a few hundred metres past the Fossa Camping & Caravan Site on the N72 road to Killorglin, xalled "The Gap Road". This is signed for the Gap of Dunloe, Kate Kearney's Cottage, etc. Follow the winding road past the turnings for Gap of Dunloe & Carrauntoohil, which is Tomies Cross. you will arrive at another cross roads, take a left and this will be the start of your drive  through Ballaghisheen Pass.

Keep on driving (or cycling), the Wayside guest house is on your left drive along Cullina Park, pass Kerry Climbing Club, over the River Gaddagh, round a few bends and then there is a long straight stretch of road (As good as any Roman Road).

Eventually you will arrive at another junction, keep to the left. Cottoners River will be on your right. You will eventually reach Hydro Track car park, keep on driving (or cycling) cross over Cottoners river, eventually Loch Acoose near Glencar will be seen on your left.

Stay on the same road, you will arrive at a fork in the road but keep to your left. Pass The Irish Oak Renewal Foundation, then you will arrive at another junction, keep to the right here as if you go to your left you will be driving through Ballaghbeama Gap. Another long stretch of straight road  and there before you will be Ballaghisheen Pass.

After you travel through the pass the road becomes more winding and bendy but keep on till you arrive at another junction, if you are going to Waterville keep to the left, Caherciveen is the right hand fork. Travelling to Waterville you will see the River Rinny on your right, the junction at New Chapel Cross and left into Waterville.

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