Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Southwestern Ireland (County Kerry): Killarney, Gap of Dunloe, & the Dingle Peninsula

We left Blarney Castle and drove about 1.5 hours to Beaufort, which is about 10 kilometers outside of Killarney and our home for the next three days. County Kerry is full of magnificent scenery, an outstanding national park, and two well-known loop drives - The Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. This area is a must for any first time visitor to Ireland.

For our first day we walked the Gap of Dunloe, which is a narrow mountain pass through MacGillycuddy's Reeks and Purple Mountain. We parked the car at Kate Kearney's Cottage, which is a pretty popular restaurant for everyone deciding to attack the Gap (either walking, by jaunting car, bikes, or driving) and set off from there. It's a relatively easy (though long) walk with periods of steep ascents. The sun was shining down so brightly and the beauty is unlike anything we've seen before.

We met a lot of friendly people on the walk and even witnessed a runaway sheep! Poor thing...

The weather held out until we got to a point where we had to make a decision to keep on going or turn around. Although it looked very appealing to keep walking, the skies opened up and it started pouring, and we didn't want to be caught in the mountains during the downpour. So after our three mile walk we turned around and headed back. We dried off and warmed up with some stew and a goat cheese salad at Kate Kearney's Cottage. Yum!

Kate Kearney's Cottage 

Our turn-around point 
The next day we drove around the Dingle Peninsula. We decided against driving the Ring of Kerry (though we saw many parts of the ring as our bed and breakfast was just off of it) because it was super crowded with buses barreling down narrow roads with us driving a stick with the "wrong" hand on the "wrong" side of the road. We were looking for a stress free vacation! The Dingle Peninsula did just that and had amazing scenery of its own. The coastline is full of towering cliffs interrupted by sandy beaches.

We stopped at Inch Beach at the recommendation of our b&b host. Stretching four miles, Inch Beach is very popular with surfers and swimmers and offers a magnificent backdrop as you look out onto the blue waters. It was a very breezy and brisk day while we took some pictures and walked along the water.

Our next stop along the peninsula was the fishing port town of Dingle. It's a good thing we got here relatively early in the morning because it became so crowded with tour buses and the general public after 12. This is a charming town full of pubs that play live traditional music, and shops that sell a plethora of random trinkets and knick knacks. While strolling the streets we found some beautiful artwork to add to our collection, slipped into a teeny tiny restaurant where we had some delicious chowder, and ate ice cream at the legendary Murphy's Ice Cream shop. We had a beautiful and relaxing day in this pleasant town!

Along the drive 

Instead of heading back we drove the Slea Head Loop, which is one of the most famous drives in the area. We headed west from Dingle and hugged the coast as we drove through some of the most breathtaking and dramatic views we have seen. In some places the road was extremely narrow with some sharp cliff-edge bends, which provided some heart stopping moments (although nothing we weren't used to after driving the Amalfi Coast quite a few times!). It was a stunning drive and we're happy that we decided to do it. (More pictures to come from Jon's camera!)

We went into the town of Killarney a couple of times during our stay in County Kerry, mainly for a couple of meals and to walk around the town. I had read that Killarney is swarming with tourists, but it actually wasn't too bad and it's still a nice town to walk around. I don't know if I'd go out of my way to visit it, but since our b&b was so close it made sense to go there. There are quite a few decent restaurants that we ate in and nice streets to walk through.

We had such a nice time in this area of Ireland and wished that we were able to stay longer - isn't that always the case? Next up is the last installment of our Ireland trip - Adare Village, the Cliffs of Moher, Ennis, and Bunratty Castle.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful!! Each new journey to a new city in Ireland brings with it even more exciting, interesting, and gorgeous photos of a beautiful country! (I loved the "run-away" sheep walking along the road!). I hope he/she found their way home! Lol