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.
The locals insist this is not a city, but compared to where we’ve been it feels like one. The little river reminds me of how the Liffey runs through Dublin.
Clew Bay separates Connemara from Mallaranny, and Bartraw Beach is a strand that reaches out to the first of more than 50 islands in the eastern part of the bay. The loop around the strand is more than 4 km, and is full of grassy dunes with unique wildlife including crabs, birds, and beautiful large snails.