The Black Valley

The best route to travel in life is, “The Road Less Travelled,” and that route has to be The Black Valley.

Just before Moll's Gap, one begins the trip through the Black Valley. It is desolate,with many magnificent vistas. The road is narrow and treacherous with many elevation changes. Interesting scenery and the only way from the south to the Gap of Dunloe. Photographers will want to make many stops.

Probably the best part of ring of Kerry..a bit scary though but beautiful..worth a visit before you leave County Kerry and Ireland.

You can do it as a short cut from Kenmare to Killarney. On this road you can see the sunset in the Gap of Dunloe. The road is quite rough, with lots of twists, bends and rocks alongside. But the cost of the drive is worth the trip through the Black Valley!

We drove through the black valley from Kenmare on the way to Dingle, in attempts to avoid all the tour buses coming to and from Killarney.

The route wasn't on a map, the owner of our B&B in Kenmare wrote directions on a post it note and wished us well. We took a deep breath and hoped that taking the road less traveled wouldn't end in a disaster. And it didn't.

This was one of the most scenic and breathtaking places I've ever seen. We didn't see another person or car for over an hour. But we did see lots of sheep, waterfalls, and other wildlife. It was amazing to be off the beaten track, winding in and out the mountains. I'm so glad we did it and recommend it to others! But not too many others...or the magic would be gone.

The Gap of Dunloe is part of the Black Valley. It will take about 2 hours to drive the Black Valley but to get to the Black Valley you will need to drive out to Moll's Gap then take a right towards Sneem and then take a right again about 5 yards on, down the hill into the valley.

The Black Valley is a unique area and is located to the southern side of MacGillycuddy's Reeks. It connects the Gap of Dunloe with Moll's Gap. The valley can be seen from Ladies' View, a vista along the road through the Killarney National Park, and is famous for being the last place on mainland Ireland to be connected to electricity and telephone because of its remoteness.

While most tourists stick to the main roads through the Killarney National Park, those who are more adventurous will brave the narrow road through the valley to see a truly wild part of Ireland.

There are very few homes in the Black Valley; one can drive for a couple miles without seeing a house. What visitors will see really depends on the season. During the tourist season, from mid-Spring to late Summer, acre upon acre of bog cotton and wild yellow irises blanket the valley floor.

Wild red fuchsia, purple heather and bright yellow gorse line the road and rocky outcrops. Cascades, streams, lakes and rivers flow through blanket bog and woody glens. Late in the season, leafy woodlands change colors and shows another side of the valley with fiery colors.

At the juncture between the valley road and the Head of the Gap, visitors will come to Lord Brandon's Cottage. The cottage was the hunting lodge for Lord Brandon, the Right Honorable and Reverend William Crosbie (1 November 1771 to 3 May 1832)...Baron of Brandon and Rector of Castleisland.

It was written in his obituary that Lord Brandon was "a man of superior order of mind and of great literary attainments." He was also respected by his friends and colleagues, as he was a warm and generous person.

For much of the last twenty years of his life he lived in his lakeside cottage in Killarney, now called Lord Brandon's Cottage, though the last two years his home was in Nice, France, where the weather was much more suitable for his aging constitution.

Today, the original cottage is in ruin, but there is a cafe on the site which offers refreshments to visitors. Paths wander through the surrounding lands, and there is a jetty behind the house where one can get a boat tour of the Killarney Lakes.

Some Kerry natives will joke about the Black Valley getting its name from remaining in the dark so long without electricity. It was not until 1976 that the Valley was finally connected to the National Grid, making it one of the last outposts in Ireland.

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