We were supposed to go to Cork today, but it was so darn crowded we jumped on the M and went up to Cashel instead. The Rock of Cashel is beautiful and as expected, but the ruins of the Hore Abbey, a former Benedictine Abbey that is both well preserved and available to run through, was the highlight. So what if it was Central Ireland.
A stone beacon looking out over the Celtic Sea south of Baltimore, erected by the British around 1800. Nice views at sunset.
The southern-most tip of Ireland contains a lighthouse reached by an arching bridge over the Atlantic below. Tourists were everywhere, but the views from the point were still something to see.
As the Normans conquered Ireland 1,000 years ago, the O’Mahony Clan retreated to the furthest tip of the Mizen and built a Norman-style castle to defend themselves. They were no dummies, building at a spot where sea cliffs were on one side and Dunlough Lake on the other. It was never conquered. Today it makes for a great, spooky place in the middle of nowhere. A great payoff for just 4 km over the hills.
Beara is empty and deserted and wonderful. We could see the tour buses across the Kenmare Bay on the Ring of Kerry. The roads are tiny, and somewhat crazy, but the scenery is beautiful. At the tip is the only cable car in all of Ireland, a quick 10 minute trip over the Atlantic Ocean (!) from Lambs Head to Dursey Island.
An unexpected find on the Beara Peninsula (the one tour buses aren’t allowed on). It involved a crazy drive even by Irish standards, but was well worth it. We hiked after visiting and when we came back by two hours later the tide had come in so much the caves were inaccessible.
Ross Castle is one of the landmarks of the National Park. There are a lot fewer tourists on the nearly 6 km of trails around the island that start from the castle and offer great views of Lough Leane, marshes, and a nearly century-old copper mine.