Dingle Peninsula

In any other part of the country the stunningly beautiful Dingle Peninsula would be the alpha attraction looking down its nose at all others. In County Kerry though, the Dingle Peninsula has grown up next to the world famous Ring of Kerry, an attraction which takes all the international plaudits. But turn that frown upside down as this plays into the hands of an area that has been allowed to fly under the radar a little and has yet to become overrun. 

 

The best and most accessible way to discover the Dingle Peninsula is the Slea Head Drive. The nicely signposted circular Slea Head Drive roughly follows the R559 and loops around the rugged coast offering a mix of impressive beaches (Coomenoole Strand and Ballinskelligs Beach), wild open countryside, dramatic ruins (Gallarus Oratory, Slea Head crucifix and Dunbeg Promontory Fort) and cliffs galore. The road also looks onto the Blasket Islands - a string of uninhabited islands that were populated by arguably the last community living the old way until the 1940s. You can learn more about their way of life at the Blasket Centre - which, to be honest, is looking a little tired now - or take a boat trip the Great Blasket Island (in high season).

For a staggering introduction to the Dingle Peninsula, the Conor Pass cannot be beaten. Take a slight detour from the main road into Dingle to be rewarded with the frankly terrifying highest mountain pass in Ireland. Clinging to the side of a mountain, the landscape drops almost vertically from the road deep down into the valley below and the whole of the Peninsula stretches out in front. Even if a novice at driving abroad you should give it ago, pat yourself on the back and, if a change of trousers is in order, return along the main road.

Half a day should be set out to do the drive in a leisurely fashion or perhaps a full day if you plan to spend some time in the peninsula's charming capital town. Much less built up and garishly geared towards tourism than Killarney, Dingle Town feels organic. The main - or most aggressively hawked - attraction of Dingle is Fungi the Dolphin, a locally dwelling dolphin that has possibly been used to lure tourists since the Jurassic period. A number of companies offer boat trips to spot this 40-50 year old celebrity sea creature and the rest of Dingle Bay's wildlife. There also a nice harbour and little cafés to grab a bite to eat.

 

In fact, Dingle Town is quite a nice rainy day destination too. There's a little aquarium (harmless fluff for an hour or so) and tours can be had of Dingle Distillery, a true modern day Irish liquor success story. As an added bonus there's a truly impressive pub to people ratio so a pub crawl is an alluring prospect. Be sure to check out John Benny's Pub for drinks and live entertainment

the view from Moll's Gap on the Ring of Kerry

RING OF KERRY

5-star Adare Manor hotel

ADARE, COUNTY LIMERICK

King John's Castle on the River Shannon in Limerick

A WEEKEND IN LIMERICK

© 2018 by Macanta Ireland. 

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