This is my favourite part of County Kerry, the Dingle peninsula; maybe I am a bit biased, as my father was born in a small hamlet called Monaree, just a few miles north of Ventry.
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Looking across Tralee Bay to The Dingle Peninsula
We will take a tour of the Dingle Peninsula as if we are driving around, however you can walk, cycle or any other way you prefer. I have probably been along this route umpteen times and know it like the back of my hand. There are hidden secrets on this peninsula that are off the tourist trails. Take the road less travelled and you will find them. The secluded beaches, the quiet walks and the unseen scenery.
The Dingle Peninsula is one of the most favoured spots in Ireland for the independently minded visitor. The National Geographic Traveller has described it as "the most beautiful place on earth". Bounded on three sides by the sea, it combines in its landscape the ruggedness of rocky outcrops and cliffs with the soft shapes of hills and mountains, skirted by coastal lowlands.
For those who stay only briefly, the scenery is what the Dingle experience is all about: the view of the Blasket Islands from Slea Head; the harbours, mountains, cliffs and strands; the view from the Conor Pass . Indeed, every part of the peninsula offers attractive and often dramatic views.
Roads lead over the mountains and along the coasts between irregular grids of mortar less stone walls surrounding small fields. The main road from Tralee divides at Camp: one route continues along the northern coast to Castlegregory, dividing again when one road turns towards Cloghane and another rises high to the Conor Pass over the mountains to Dingle.
The other route from Camp rises to a mountain pass above Gleann na nGealt, the beautiful "valley of the mad", and descends to Anascaul and thence, after a series of hairpin bends, to Lispole and a long straight road to Dingle.
From the direction of Killarney and Castlemaine another road enters the peninsula along a narrow coastal strip beneath the Slieve Mish mountains past the beautiful, long strand at Inch and turns inland through a pass to Anascaul.
So lets take our trip around The Dingle Peninsula. I would spent the night before in Tralee Town. There are loads of B&B`s and fantastic hotels, plus a hundred or so bars with music and great food, but don`t stay up too late if you can avoid it, you have over 110 miles at least to travel the next morning, however I would do the trip in 2 or 3 days.
Next morning, bright and early, have a full breakfast and leave The Mall in Tralee by turning left into Bridge St. then follow ‘Dingle T6B’ along Princes Quay for 1mile before turning right. Drive between a ship canal on the right and the River Lee, and in 1 mile further turn left over the river to enter Blennerville. The Slieve Mish Mountains are visible in the background.
Proceed along the T68 with Tralee Bay on the right and four mountains on the left. The latter are 2,16Oft Glanbrack Mountain, 2,795ft Baurtregaum. 2,713ff Caherconree, and 2,423ft Gearhane.
Continue for about 5 miles until the Stradbally Mountains can be seen ahead and Fenit Harbour can be made out across the bay. In 3 miles you will reach the edge of Camp village where you can stop off at The Railway bar, say hello from the man himself from me, and have an exceptionally good pint of Guinness. (The driver can have a half).
While you are in this area you really must take this detour. The Dingle Peninsula is famous for its walks, but rarely do the guide books mention this little hidden jewel near Camp, Glanteenassig Forest.
Carry on the T68 towards Stradbally, Connor Pass. In 5miles you will
pass a road to your right which leads to Castlegregory, situated in the Magharee Peninsula between the bays of Tralee and Brandon. I would take the detour if you are
not in a rush and experience the beauty of The magharees across Brandon Bay,
you won`t regret it.
In about 2 miles the drive affords distant views of Lough Gill to the right, with 2,627ff Stradbally Mountain and 2,713ft Beenoskee to the left. Proceed through Stradbally village, and continue with views ahead of 2,764ft Brandon Peak rising from the Brandon range. In a short distance the route offers right-hand views over Brandon Bay, Brandon Point, and the fine strand which extends along the west side of the Magharee Peninsula.
After 2m (from Stradbally village) you can either bear left ‘Dingle, Connor Pass’, or take a quick drive to Brandon village where there are stunning views of The Magharees and Tralee Bay, its up to you and depending how much time you have, also you will drive through Cloghane.
The Dingle Peninsula in the west of County Kerry Ireland is home to a wealth of archaeological and historical heritage and is of great interest to archaeologists, historians and folklorists or to anyone interested in their Gaelic or Celtic roots.
Even in the pre-historic period, the area was inhabited, and many monuments of this era, such as Ogham Stones, Promontory Forts, Megalithic Graves and Beehive Huts can be seen. Evidence of one of the earliest human settlements (8000-4000BC) in the area was found at Ferreter’s Cove, near Ballyferriter. This was a temporary settlement, which was used on a seasonal basis.
Remnants of a wide variety of food such as hazel nuts, red deer, pig, hare and birds have been found there as well as fish bones, shellfish and even a cow.
The Loch a’Duin valley near Cloghane contains a number of monuments from the Bronze Age. In this valley, there are over 90 stone structures dating from 2500 BC up to modern times.
There are several kilometres of stone wall running through this area, much of it covered by peat bog, which has built up over the past 3,000 years. From archaeological excavations and pollen studies, it has emerged that the Loch a’Duin Valley was used for agricultural purposes from 1600 BC to the beginning of the Iron Age. The Iron Age (500 BC – 500 AD) is often associated with the Celtic Period and the Dingle Peninsula has many monuments and relics of this era.
I hope you can take time to explore this area, but if not if you go to Brandon and Cloghane you will still have to come back to this point and head up the famous Connor pass. In 1+ mile cross the end of deep Glennahoo Valley below 2,001 7ft Coumbaun .— which rises to the left. In 2miles approximately climb steeply away from the Owenmore River valley to the upper slopes of 2,026ft Slievanea. Brandon Peak and Brandon Mountain— at 3,127ff the fifth-highest peak in Ireland — are visible to the right; also to the right and beside the harbour is Cloghane village.
Continue forward and shortly enjoy fabulous views of numerous small Loughs, then you will meet a sharp bend where a small waterfall provides a high outlet for a tiny Lough above you called Lough Doon.
This is a perfect place to stop and take in the scenery; I usually enjoy a massage of my face from the cold, cold, exhilarating waterfall.(Great to cure a hangover) Take a walk to the Lough above, and another Lough above that.
After a further 1 mile you will reach the dramatic, almost knife-edged summit of the 1 ,500ft Connor Pass, with Slievanea rising to 2,026ft on the left. To the right are the impressive bulks of 1,579ft Beenduff and 1,961ft Beennabrack.
A gentle role down to Dingle, with the sheep and the cows greeting you on the way will bring to Dingle Town.
Now this is Dingle Town, a town with an incredible history a Magnificent marina and loads of places to see. Dingle is the place, whether, alone or in company, you can slow the pace of the world down, enjoy beautiful beaches, inviting bays and majestic mountains. The true magic of Ireland and County Kerry can be found in Dingle and the Peninsula.
Dingle is the main town. Known in Irish as An Daingean, the attractive port is nestled at the base of the hills in a quiet and sheltered harbour. Within the streets of the town, visitors will be happy to find a relaxed, picturesque Irish community.
Local restaurants and pubs are famous for their down-to-earth service, lively entertainment, and delicious beverages, and during July and August, live music is offered nightly.
Besides an energetic music scene, Dingle is also famous for its resident dolphin, Fungi. The beloved bottle-nosed dolphin first appeared in 1984, leaping and playing around the boats in Dingle Harbour. Since then, the docile dolphin has pleased locals and travellers alike. In fact, daily boat rides take eager tourists out on "Fungi Sighting" trips, offering voyagers their money back if the dolphin doesn't show.
Dolphin enthusiasts can also swim with Fungi, provided they wear a wetsuit. Wetsuits and snorkelling equipment can be rented at local Dingle stores, and both Dingle Harbour and the nearby Blasket Islands offer superb water activities. Local businesses also offer fishing trips and horseback riding.
In the Irish language it is called “Daingean Ui
Chuis” “Daingean” means Fortress, “Ui Chuis” means Hussey. Therefore it is The
Fortress of The Hussey`s, a Flemish family that came to the area in the 13th
Dingle’s other water sports is a fair size fishing fleet, Dingle is one of Ireland’s largest fishing harbours, an Ocean-world displaying the several type of local aquatic species and if you rather your fish on a plate there are several incredible seafood eating outlets in and around Dingle Town.
If you are lucky enough to be here in August you will enjoy the Dingle Regatta, an extremely enjoyable boat and sea extravaganza, with accommodation food and drink to suit everyone’s pocket.
Other interests in and around Dingle and Dingle peninsula include horse riding, horse races (Dingle Races every August) scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, the craic and the scenery, Yes!! you have to see the scenery. Spend the night in Dingle Town if time allows it, you won`t regret it.
Are you fit? Ready for another great day? Then get down for breakfast!
Then next morning after a hearty breakfast take the road for Ventry, Ballyferriter. Drive Out of the town and proceed alongside Dingle Harbour, then after 1 mile you will reach Milltown, Milltown is only a short walk from Dingle Town and Milltown Cottages has had rave reviews for B&B.
When you drive through Milltown towards Ventry,‘Murreagh, Ballydavid’cross the Milltown River. In ¾ mile keep straight ahead sign posted ‘Slea Head’, with Dingle Harbour visible on the left. In about 1 more mile continue along a stretch of route which affords views on Mount Eagle, rising to 1 ,696ft beyond Ventry Harbour.
After another mile you will enter Ventry, Paudie O`Sheas bar (The late great Kerry footballer) is on your left. Pop in for a pint, all the locals speak gaelic from here on in. If you can drag yourself away from Paudie`s take a small walk down the road to Ventry Beach.
Ventry Grave Yard is on your right, this is where all my ancestors are laid to rest. If you collect sea shells this is the beach to collect them on, the shells are out of this world, you could spend hours here.
Ok lets get going, time is ticking away and you have to carry on to Slea Head and Dunquin’, and in 1mile turn right and turn left again, then after a further mile you rejoin the coast.
Continue for a short distance and pass through Fahan — the site of some 400 of the stone bee-hive huts known as clochans, plus numerous other ancient remains. Some of the huts are modern farm buildings, and opposite the village is the interesting Dunbeg promontory fort. Views South from here take in Bray Head on distant Valentia Island, with the remote Skellig Islands far beyond.
After another mile pass a sign post indicating ‘Fahan prehistoric bee-hive huts’ on the right. Extensive excavations were undertaken here in the late 1970s, as tidal erosion was causing much of the site to fall into the sea. The defenses consist of four earthen banks, five ditches and an internal drystone rampart. The banks are up to 1 meter high and 3 meters wide, while the ditches vary between 1 and 1.5 meters in depth.
Excavation suggests there may have been a wooden palisade fence surmounting the innermost bank and possibly the second bank. Access to the interior is provided by a causeway kerbed on either side with stone slabs.
The inner stone rampart is of impressive dimensions, up to 6.3 meters thick and 3 meters high. Entry is through a lintelled passageway which features bolt-holes allowing the door to be locked from the inside.
The bar was controlled from two internal 'guard-chambers', one on either side of the passageway. A drystone built souterrain, starting from within the passage, extends for some 16 meters to the north. The main feature within the rampart is a large stone
The Cross At Slea Head, Where Fishermen Met Their Final Night At Sea
In a further 1 mile drive round Slea Head, high above the shore and below the towering bulk of Mount Eagle. This section of the drive affords dramatic views of Dunmore Head, Blasket Sound, 961ft Great Blasket Island, and farther out to sea the smaller islands of Inishnabro and Inishvickillane.
Continue to Dunquin —claimed to be the farthest westerly place of habitation in Europe, as you drive towards Dunquin you will see "Dead Mans (or Sleeping Mans) island". You will next arrive at X-roads, turn left here. In 1.5 miles further pass Clogher Head on the left, with views ahead extending across a small bay to take in Sybil Point and a curious rock formation known as the Three Sisters. Smerwick Harbour and, to the north, 830ft Ballydavid Head can be seen to the right.
Perched on the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, Dunquin is home to around 150 people in the heart of the Gaeltacht –one of Ireland’s Irish speaking areas. You could wax lyrical about the area, a coastline once described by National Geographic as ‘the most beautiful place on earth’ but to consider St Gobnait’s in educational terms is to realise the difficulties, but also the opportunities, presented by its location.
The challenges faced by rural schools are not confined to Ireland, though it’s true that the digital age makes communication easier than ever before. For all that, though, it was easy to see the opportunities available to the 20 pupils in Dunquin.
Speaking Irish primarily, but also having English, they have all the advantages of bilingualism. Through the classroom windows they can see the home of many ancestors, the de-peopled Blasket islands, with their distinctive literary and cultural history. Within half an hour of the playground are stone age beehive huts, the flora peculiar to this peninsula washed by the gulf stream – from palm trees to rock plants, and beaches inundated with the most glorious marine ecology.
OK, Lets carry-on with this amazing scenic drive. After Dunquin you will next meet a T-junction, turn right here sign posted ‘Ballyferriter’, then in 2miles keep straight on through Ballyferriter village. In 1 m meet another 1-junction and turn left sign posted Murreagh, Ballydavid’, then in 1 km turn right sign posted ‘Dingle. Feohanagh’. Cross a bridge and keep forward. In 1 mile turn left sign posted ‘Murreagh, Feohanagh, Gallarus Oratory’, and proceed through barren, rocky countryside.
In just about another mile meet a T-junction and turn left; the road to the right here leads to the ancient Gallarus Oratory’— the only perfect example of its type in Ireland, After a further 1 mile enter Murreagh, turn right, and keep forward with sign posted ‘Feohanagh’. Pass a radio transmitter on the left beyond the village, and after about another mile drive past Ardamore.
Your next stop is Ballydavid, a beautiful sea-side fishing port well worth a stop, A relation of mine runs the local bar there. In a further km keep forward for views to the left of the Dooneen Cliffs. In another km enter Feohanagh and turn sharp left sign posted ‘Ballycurrane’. Pass Ballydavid Head on the left, with fine forward views of 2,509ft Masatiompan and 3,127ft Brandon Mountain, and proceed to Ballycurrane.
Continue for one further mile, meet X-roads, and turn right sign posted ‘Dingle’. The road to the left here leads to Brandon Creek. Climb to a low pass, with views of the Brandon Mountains to the left, and Continue to the summit for views which extend along the valley of the Milltown River to Dingle Harbour.
Ballysitteragh rises to 2,O0Oft on the left. In about 4miles you will reach Milltown again and turn left. then after 1 mile drive into Dingle via the main street. Proceed to the end of this street, cross a bridge, and immediately turn right sign posted ‘Tralee’, In km turn left on to the 168 sign posted ‘Tralee, Annascaul’.
Ascend gradually for several miles, then descend to cross a wide valley which surrounds a coastal inlet, Slievanea and several other 2,000ft-plus summits rise to the left. After 5km pass Lispole and follow a long, winding climb to a low summit, then descend to the edge of Anascaul.
At the nearside of the village turn right on to the L103 sign posted Inch and follow the Owenascaul River between high hills. Meet the coast and drive along the Red Cliffs, with Dingle on the right and views of the mountains which rise from the lveragh Peninsula, The Inch Peninsula, with its fine Sandy beach extending 3miles out into the estuary, can be seen ahead. Rossbeigh Strand and Creek occupy the opposite shore of the estuary.
Pass through the village of Inch, which lies at the base of the peninsula, then you will meet a forked Junction and bear right sign posted ‘Castlemaine’, In a short distance drive close to the shores of Castlemaine Harbour. Pass 1,860ff Knockmore and 1,865ft Moanlaur on the left before meeting the main group of the Slieve Mish Mountains — the peaks Saurtregaum, Caherconree, and Glanbrack — on the approach to Whitegate Crossroads.
After 1+mile (from Whitegate) reach Boolteens and bear right with the main road, Continue for another 2.25 miles and enter Castlemaine. Turn left on to the T661N70) sign posted ‘Tralee’, then immediately left again. In half a mile turn left on to an unclassified road sign posted ‘Viewing Park’, and climb over the lower slopes of the Slieve Mish range. In 2.75 miles reach a car park and 1,000ft viewpoint on the left.
Features that can be identified from here include the Maine Valley, Castlemaine Harbour, the Laune Valley as far as Killarney, and the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountains. Continue, and after a short distance reach a second car park which affords fine views to the north.
Tralee Bay can be seen to the left, with Tralee town and the Stack’s Mountains ahead. Descend to X-roads and keep forward, then in 1 further mile meet a T-junction and turn left on to the T66(N70) for Tralee. In a few hundred yards or so turn left Into Castle St and drive into the centre of the town.
Congratulations, park up, have a cool pint of Guinness, and plan your next Scenic Drive Around Kerry
News & Views On The Dingle Peninsula
Dingle, Dingle Peninsula: Celtic and Prehistoric Museum: “Best museum in Ireland” A visitor from Oakland, California.
On a whim, my wife, 3 kids and myself stopped in at this museum. We all considered it to be the most bizarre and best thing we saw on our whole trip around Ireland!
This place has everything; the largest Woolly Mammoth skull and tusks in the whole world, a large and beautiful Celtic jewellery collection, stone age bronze age fossils, etc.
The gift shop also sells fossils antiques and weird/cool stuff that we didn’t see anywhere else. The guy who runs the place is also a real character, ask to see his goat Sally.
Gorman`s Clifftop House Hotel: "The Best Ever"!!From a visitor of Milan in Italy.
If your in Kerry at all then this is definately the place to stay!!
Hard to pick out what was the best as everything was just perfect.
From the moment we stepped in we immediately felt relaxed and at home.
The rooms where beautiful and so comfy, we had a jacuzzi in ours. Only bettered by the fantastic ocean view.
Dinner is a treat and everything from the breads to begin right through the fantastic fresh fish and scrumptious deserts were the best we had in Ireland.
The host Sile and her staff were chatty and made us feel so welcome in this home from home.
Planning our next visit already.
Stunning And Invigorating Self Drive Vacations.
Stunning And Invigorating Self Drive Vacations.
Oil Paintings From Photographs.
“Heaven on Earth”
Reviewed 24 August 2012 NEW
Dingle is the most peaceful, magnificent, breath-taking, spiritual, awe inspiring place in Ireland. If you are coming to Ireland and have to make a choice. Go to Dingle. Be sure to take in the western area and savour Ireland at its best.
It's like you're one of the last people left in the world here. The little town of Dingle is folksy and so friendly, the views are indescribably gorgeous. You have to go here!! Jennifer100SanJose
Reviewed 18 August 2012
After two weeks in Scotland and Ireland I'd seen a lot of green, but it wasn't until we drove the dingle peninsula that I realized I had never in my long life seen so many different shades of green. The countryside is beautiful, the cliffs are breathtaking and this is a ride to remember. If you're in Ireland, don't miss the Dingle Peninsula! Eileen F We spent a day touring the Dingle Peninsula and the scenery is breathtaking. My advice is to take a whole day at it and stop at every attraction, they are all worth a visit. It is so historic. Just fantastic. ania_mulder
Reviewed 8 August 2012
The scenery of the Dingle Peninsula is something out of this world. It's just so beautiful. Even on a rainy and windy day (and there are lots of these) it still looks amazing. It's a bit more rugged than the Ring of Kerry.
The Irish Times Best Place to Holiday in Ireland competition attracted more than 1,400 nominations. Dingle The Best Place To Holiday In Ireland
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