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.
A very vibrant downtown, with lots of choices in restaurants (and its own brewpub). Lots of history, too. Just outside of town is a 500 BC stone circle and a 1000 year old bridge.
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.
Probably the most “American” town we’ve seen, with plenty of pizza places and a few jazz clubs. But they also consider themselves the keeper of traditional music, with a local saying Dingle is to Irish music what New Orleans is to jazz.
Dingle Peninsula isn’t the featured part of the Ring of Kerry, but it’s also slightly better preserved. It also is longer, and the outer point (with the Basket Islands beyond) is the westernmost point in Europe. Across the Dingle Bay is Skellig Michael, an uninhabited island that played host to Luke Skywalker in the recent Star Wars trilogy. Because Skelling is so rough, the actual scenes between Luke and Rey were filmed on Dingle. This is also part of the country most loyal to the native language. In the summer Dublin kids are bused in for camp to work on their language skills.
The Slea Head Road is a loop around the outer portion of the peninsula, with all the best views.
Conor’s Pass, on Dingle Peninsula, was apparently named one of the most dangerous roads in Europe. Which we didn’t know when we went to find it, but we believe now. It didn’t help that the rain came through just when we got there. But the views were amazing, and a 60 foot rock climb to the top of the waterfall reveals Pedler’s Lake, a glacier-carved crystal clear lake.