A Printable, Downloadable, PDF version of this itinerary is available for purchase. Includes Places to Stay in proximity.
ITINERARY AS EXCERPTED FROM KAREN BROWN’S GUIDE
The scenery of the southwest is absolutely magnificent: the mellow charm of Kinsale Harbor, the rugged landscape that winds you towards Glengarriff and its island filled with subtropical vegetation, the pretty 19th-century town of Kenmare, the translucent lakes of Killarney, and the ever-changing light on spectacular seascapes on the Dingle Peninsula. Relish the fabled beauties of this lovely part of Ireland. Take time to detour to Blarney to take part in the tradition of climbing atop Blarney Castle to kiss the stone that is said to confer “the gift of the gab.” Do not hurry: allow time to linger over breakfast, enjoy a chat over a glass of Guinness, sample fresh salmon and scallops, and join in an evening singsong in a local pub.
Recommended Pacing: For this itinerary, select two places to stay near the coast, one in either Kenmare or Killarney, and one in Dingle. Allow one or two nights in each spot.
Your journey to the southwest begins in Youghal (pronounced “yawl”). Sir Walter Raleigh, who introduced the potato and tobacco from the New World, was once its mayor. It’s a pleasant, old town dominated by the clock tower, which was built in 1776 and served as the town’s jail. The one-way traffic system makes it impossible to explore without parking the car and walking. Several of the Main Street shops have been refurbished, but the town still has an unspoiled look to it. Make your first stop the Heritage Center with its displays on the town, where you can pick up a brochure that outlines a walking tour of the old buildings.
Traveling the N25, a 30-kilometer drive brings you to the heart of Midleton where you find the Jameson Heritage Centre in the old whiskey distillery. Marvel at the world’s largest pot distillery in the courtyard (capacity 143,872 liters), learn about whiskey production, visit the huge waterwheel, and be rewarded by a sample of the golden liquor. There’s also a shop and café.
Nearby Cobh (pronounced “cove”) was renamed Queenstown to mark the visit of Queen Victoria in 1849 and reverted back to Cobh in 1922. There’s a long tradition of naval operations here, as its large harbor is a safe anchorage. The Cobh Heritage & Experience, an audio-visual display housed in the restored Victorian railway station, tells the story of this port. Cobh was the point of departure for many emigrants off to seek a better life in America and Australia. For many it was the last piece of Irish soil they stood on before taking a boat to a new life. The ill-fated Lusitania was torpedoed not far from Cobh and survivors were brought here. It was also the last port of call of the Titanic. There’s an excellent shop and café-an enjoyable place to spend a couple of hours on a rainy day.
Retrace your steps a short distance to the Carrigaloe-Glenbrook ferry, which transports you across Cork harbor and eliminates the hassle of driving through Cork city. A short, countryside drive brings you to Kinsale, its harbor full of tall-masted boats. Narrow, winding streets are lined with quaint and several sadly derelict houses lead up from the harbor. Kinsale has some attractive shops and a great variety of restaurants. For lunch, Fishy Fishy is an excellent choice. At all but the ethnic restaurants, reservations are needed for dinner. It’s a pleasant pastime to check the menus on display as you inhale mouth-watering aromas and peek at happy people enjoying their food. A good way to orient yourself is to take the walking tour which leaves the tourist office at 11:15 am.
There has been a fortress in Kinsale since Norman times. A great battle nearby in 1601 precipitated the flight of the earls and sounded the death knell of the ancient Gaelic civilization. It was from Kinsale that James II left for exile after his defeat at Boyne Water.
About 3 kilometers east of Kinsale, the impressive, 17th-century Charles Fort stands guard over the entrance to its harbor. It takes several hours to tour the five bastions that make up the complex. The ordnance sheds are restored and hold a photographic and historical exhibition about the fort.
Across the estuary, you see the 1603 James Fort where William Penn’s father was governor of Kinsale, while William worked as a clerk of the Admiralty Court. Later, William was given a land grant in America on which he founded the state of Pennsylvania.
SIDE TRIP TO BLARNEY
About a half-hour drive north of Kinsale in Blarney lies Blarney Castle and its famous tourist attraction, the Blarney Stone. Kissing the Blarney Stone, by climbing atop the keep and hanging upside-down, is said to confer the “gift of the gab.” Even if you are not inclined to join in this backbreaking, unhygienic pursuit, the castle is worth a visit. The gardens are beautiful, there’s several well-signposted walks, the village is adorable with its shops round the village green, and there’s a great shopping opportunity at Blarney Woolen Mills for all things Irish, particularly knitwear.
Leave Kinsale along the harbor, cross the River Bandon, and follow country lanes to the sleepy, little village of Ballinspittle. As you drive through the village, it is hard to imagine that in 1985 it was overwhelmed by pilgrims. They came to the village shrine after a local girl reported seeing the statue of the Virgin Mary rocking back and forth. You pass the shrine on your right just before you come to the village. Follow country lanes to Timoleague, a very small coastal village watched over by the ruins of a Franciscan abbey, and on to the N71 and Clonakilty and Skibbereen. As you travel westwards, rolling fields in every shade of green present themselves.
Arriving at the waterfront in Bantry, you come to Bantry House. Like so many other Irish country houses, it has seen better days, but the present owner, Egerton Shelswell-White, makes visitors welcome and gives a typed information sheet-in the language of your choice-that guides you room-by-room through the house. The house has a wonderful collection of pictures, furniture, and works of art, brought together by the second Earl of Bantry during his European travels in the first half of the 19th century. In contrast to his ancestors’ staid portraits, Egerton is shown playing his trombone.
Apart from furnishing the house, the second Earl, inspired by the gardens of Europe, laid out a formal Italian garden and a “staircase to the sky,” the steep terraces rising up to the crest of the hill behind the house. There’s a marvelous view of the house and Bantry Bay from the top. If you are not up to the climb, you can still enjoy a magnificent, though less lofty view across the boat-filled bay from the terrace in front of the house. A very pleasant cafe occupies the old kitchen. One wing of the house has been renovated and modernized to provide upmarket bed & breakfast accommodation.
In the stable block next to the house, the 1796 Bantry French Armada Centre relates the story of the French Armada’s attempt to invade Ireland in 1796. It failed and a model of one of the armada’s ships that sank in Bantry Bay is on display-a very interesting look at a little-known piece of Irish history. Eight kilometers north lies Ballylickey.
SIDE TRIP TO GOUGANE BARRA LAKE
From Ballylickey an inland excursion takes you to Gougane Barra Lake, a beautiful lake locked into a ring of mountains. Here you find a small hotel where you can stop for a snack or a warming drink, and a little church on an island in the lake, the oratory where St. Finbarr went to contemplate and pray. The road to and from the lake takes you over a high pass and through mountain tunnels.
Continue along the N71 and just before you enter Glengarriff, turn left for the harbor to take a ferryboat for the ten-minute ride to Garinish Island, a most worthwhile trip. (Harbour Queen Ferryboats, tel: 027 63116, fax: 027 63298.) Garinish Island, once a barren rock where only gorse and heather grew, was transformed into a miniature botanical paradise at the beginning of this century by a Scottish politician, Arran Bryce. The sheltered site of the island provides perfect growing conditions for trees, shrubs, and flowers from all over the world. It took a hundred men over three years to sculpt this lovely spot with its formal Italian garden, caseta, and temple.
From Glengarriff, the road winds upwards and, glancing behind, you have a spectacular view of Bantry Bay lying beyond a patchwork of green fields. Rounding the summit, the road tunnels through a large buttress of rock and you emerge to stunning views of sparse, rocky hillsides.
Cross the River Kenmare into Kenmare. This delightful town of gray stone houses, with gaily painted shopfronts lining two broad main streets, is a favorite with tourists who prefer its peace and charm to the hectic pace of Killarney. Kenmare is full of excellent shops: Cleo’s Store has outstanding knitwear, Quills Woolen Market has vast quantities of woolens, Brenmar Jon Knitwear sells top-of-the-line fine knitwear, The Craft Shop offers souvenirs and pottery, and Nostalgia Linens offers antique and new linen and lace. The town also has some delightful restaurants: The Purple Heather, a daytime bistro; Packies, a lively restaurant; the charming Lime Tree Restaurant in the Old Schoolhouse; and The Park Hotel with its opulent afternoon silver-service teas and superb restaurant. Visit the Heritage Center with its displays of locally made lace. Just a short walk from the Heritage Centre, the Kenmare Stone Circle is the largest in the southwest of Ireland. Walks abound, from strolling along the broad river estuary to strenuous hill hikes. Kenmare is a perfect base for exploring both the Iveragh (Ring of Kerry) and Beara peninsulas and for visiting Killarney. It also serves as a stepping-off point for a side trip to Skellig Michael.
SIDE TRIP TO THE BEARA PENINSULA
If you do not stop along the way, it will take you between two and three hours to drive the Beara Peninsula, where the scenery is wild, but gorgeous. From Kenmare, a minor road (R571) takes you along the north shore of the peninsula to Ardgroom, a picturesque village nestled beside a little harbor at the foot of the mountains. Farther west, Eyeries village looks out over the Skellig Rocks and several rocky inlets. Behind the village, the mountain road rises up through the Pass of Boffickle for a fantastic view back over the bay. In the 19th century, Allihies was a center of the copper mining industry, but now it is a resort with a magnificent beach curving along the bay. At the most westerly point of the peninsula lies Garnish, where a cable car takes visitors over to Dursey Island.
Dursey is a long, mountain island encircled by high cliffs. Offshore are several other islands, the most interesting of which is Bull Rock, a roosting place for gannets. A cave passes right through it, creating a massive rock arch.
Skirting the southern shore of the peninsula, the narrow road hugs the ocean through Castletownbere and Adrigole, from where you can follow the coastal road into Glengarriff or take the opportunity for a spectacular view by turning left and ascending the Healy Pass. It’s hard to turn and admire the vista of Bantry Bay as the road gently zigzags up the pass, so stop at the top to relish the view before continuing down to Lauraugh, where you turn right for Kenmare.
SIDE TRIP TO IVERAGH PENINSULA-RING OF KERRY
Instead of following our itinerary, you can use the Ring of Kerry as a route to Dingle or Killarney, or as a daytrip, traveling this modified version of the “Ring” for a roundtrip from Kenmare to Kenmare.
While part of the drive contains some of the most magnificent scenery in Ireland (between Kenmare and Waterville), some of it is not particularly inspiring (the northern stretch from Waterville to Killorglin) so we recommend that you leave the “Ring” in Waterville and travel cross country to Glencar-thereby avoiding the boring bit. Hope that the fickle Irish weather is at its best for when mists wreathe the scenery, it takes a lot of imagination to conjure up inspiring views as you drive down fog-shrouded lanes. Even if the weather is dull, don’t lose heart, at any moment the sun could break through. Traffic is heavier on the Ring during the summer months when there are more cars and coaches which drive around the Ring in an anti-clockwise direction, starting from Killarney.
Starting at Kenmare, a lovely drive takes you along the Kenmare river estuary with tempting glimpses of water and the Beara Peninsula. Arriving at Sneem, enjoy this most picturesque village with its tiny, gaily painted houses bordering two village greens.
Continuing your journey westward you come to Caherdaniel village where you turn left for Derrynane House, the home of Daniel O’Connell, “The Liberator,” a title he earned for his part in winning Catholic emancipation. If the weather is inclement, concentrate on the house with its furnished rooms, audio-visual presentation, museum, and tearooms. If the weather is fine, spend your time outdoors walking along the sandy beach of Derrynane Bay and crossing the narrow strip of sand that separates the mainland from Abbey Island where St. Fionan founded a monastic order over 1,000 years ago.
Just round the point lies Iskeroon and Bunavalla pier where boats leave for the Skellig Islands (see “Side Trip to Skellig Michael”). A panoramic view of Derrynane Bay can be enjoyed from the Scariff Inn-you cannot miss this landmark, a bright-red pub sitting beside the road 3 kilometers above the seashore.
Cresting the Coomakista Pass, drive to Waterville, an aptly named town surrounded by the ocean on one side and lakes on the other. From here leave the traditional Ring and instead of going to Killarney via Cahersiveen follow a much quieter and more scenic route via Glencar. Travel along the Inny Valley, through the Ballaghisheen Forest and over the Ballaghisheen Pass to Glencar. From Glencar proceed to Killorglin and then to Killarney and back to Kenmare.
However, our suggested route for your return to Kenmare is to take a right-hand turn to Caragh Lake (5 kilometers before your reach Killorglin) and follow the narrow lanes around this beautiful lake and across the rugged Macgillycuddy’s Reeks (Ireland’s highest mountains) to Blackwater Bridge (on the Ring) and Kenmare-a trip to be undertaken only on a clear day.
SIDE TRIP TO GOUGANE BARRA LAKE
Skellig Michael is a very special place, a rocky island topped by the ruins of an ancient monastery lying 12 kilometers off the coast of the Ring of Kerry. Boats run daily between Easter and October, and you need to call at least two days in advance to make a reservation. However, the trip to the island cannot be counted upon until the actual day because it depends on calm seas. Boat service operates from several harbors on the Ring of Kerry-Bunavalla: Kenneth Roddy, www.skelligtrips.com, email: email@example.com; Seamus Shea, tel: 066 9475129; Portmagee: Des Lavelle, tel: 066 9476124, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or Brendan O’Keefe, Fisherman’s Bar, tel: 066 9477103. Remember to wear flat-heeled shoes and take a waterproof jacket, an extra sweater, and lunch. The morning departure for the island and the late afternoon return necessitate your spending two nights on the Ring of Kerry (see listings in Caherdaniel, and Kenmare).
After you arrive at the cove beneath the looming rock, the first part of your ascent follows the path to the abandoned lighthouse, past seabirds’ nests clinging to tiny crevasses in the steep rock slopes. As you round a corner, the monks’ stairway appears and you climb up hundreds and hundreds of hand-hewn stone steps to the monastery perched on a ledge, high above the pounding ocean. Pausing to catch your breath, you marvel at the monks who set out in fragile, little boats to establish this monastery and toiled with crude implements to build these steps up the sheer rock face.
At the summit, six little beehive huts, a slightly larger stone oratory, and the roofless walls of a small church nestle against the hillside, some poised at the edge-only a low stone wall between them and the churning ocean far below. The windowless interiors of the huts hardly seem large enough for a person to lie down. Remarkably, the monks’ only water source was rainwater runoff stored in rock fissures. The Office of Public Works is maintaining and restoring the site and there might be someone there to impart information.
It is reputed that the monks arrived in 600 A.D. According to annals, the Vikings raided in 812 and 823 and found an established community. It is documented that the last monks departed in the 13th century. When it is time to leave this spot, you feel a sense of wonder for the men who toiled in this rocky place, enduring deprivation, hardship, and solitude to achieve a state of grace. As a complement (or alternative) to visiting Skellig Michael, visit the Skellig Heritage Centre on Valencia Island. The center is found where the road bridge meets the island, directly opposite Portmagee. An audio-visual presentation, “The Call of the Skelligs,” takes you to the Skellig Michael monastery while displays show the bird and sea life of the islands.
From Kenmare travel over one of Ireland’s most beautiful roads (N71) for the twisty 34-kilometer drive over mountains to Killarney, stopping at Ladies View to admire a spectacular panorama with the lakes of Killarney spread at your feet.
In amongst the woodlands you find the car park for Torc Waterfall. Following the stream, a short uphill walk brings you to the celebrated 20-meter cascade of water.
Muckross House and Gardens are 5 kilometers out of Killarney on the Kenmare road. (Be sure to choose the entrance gate that enables you to take your car to the car park beside the house). Tudor-style Muckross was built in 1843 in an enviable position beside the lake. The main rooms are furnished in splendid Victorian style and the remainder of the house serves as a folk museum with various exhibits. There’s also a bustling gift shop and tearoom. The gardens surrounding the house are lovely, containing many subtropical plants, and there is no more delightful way to tour the grounds than by horse and trap. Take a step back in time and visit Muckross Traditional Farms (the entrance is on the opposite side of the car park to the house). Stroll up the lane (or ride the old bus) to visit three farms that demonstrate what Kerry farming was like in the 1930s before the advent of electricity and farming machinery. Chat with the farmers and their wives as they go about their daily work. Muckross House and its vast estate were given to the Irish nation by the Bourne family of California, who had a smaller, lakeside estate, Filoli, just south of San Francisco.
Believe everything you ever read about the magnificent beauty of the Killarney lakes, but realize that Killarney, not an attractive town, is absolutely packed with tourists during the summer season. If you would like additional views of the lakes, then a tour to Aghadoe Hill or a boat trip from Ross Castle should give you what you are looking for. Leave Killarney on the road to Tralee (N22) and turn left for the 5-kilometer drive to Aghadoe, where Killarney town, lakes, and mountains can all be seen from this vantage point. If you prefer a close look at the lake and its island, take the 90-minute boat tour of the lower lake, which leaves from the jetty alongside Ross Castle. Tickets for this trip can be purchased from the tourist office in town. Ross Castlehas been restored and you can climb its steep, stone stairs to see what living in a castle was like.
SIDE TRIP UP THE GAP OF DUNLOE
The road through the Gap of Dunloe (signposted from the Killorglin road just past the golf course) is a single-lane dirt track up a 6-kilometer ravine carved by glaciers. Kate Kearney’s Cottage sits at the entrance to the ravine. Legend has it that Kate was a beautiful witch who drove men wild with desire-now her home is greatly enlarged as a coffee and souvenir shop. As you travel up the gap the dramatic setting is enhanced by the purple mountains on your left and Macgillycuddy’s Reeks on your right.
In the past I have recommended an evening drive up the gap to emerge on the N71, just west of Moll’s Gap, and returning to Killarney with a quick stop at Ladies’ View to admire the unparalleled views of the lakes of Killarney. Signs have been posted to discourage motor traffic. I recommend that you either park your car near Kate Kearney’s cottage and walk, arrange for a jaunting car to take you up the gap or purchase a ticket at the tourist office for the Dero Tours day trip. This includes a shuttle service from your lodging to the gap, horse or jaunting car rides up the ravine, transportation by electric boat through the lakes of Killarney, and transportation back to your lodging.
Leaving Killarney, a two-hour drive will bring you to Limerick, but rather than taking a direct route, take the time to explore the lovely Dingle Peninsula. It’s a very special place, a narrow promontory of harshly beautiful land and seascapes where the people are especially friendly and welcoming to strangers. The road from Killarney to Dingle town takes you northwest to Castlemaine where you follow the coast road west through Inch to Dingle town, the largest settlement on the peninsula (it’s only an hour-and-a-half drive from Killarney to Dingle).
Colorfully painted pubs, shops, and houses welcome you to Dingle (An Daingean) where fishing boats bob in the harbor unloading bountiful catches of fish and shellfish. It is not surprising that you find a great many excellent seafood restaurants here. After dinner, ask where you can go to hear traditional Irish music. Dingle’s population is under 2,000, yet it has over 50 pubs, some of which double as shops-like Foxy John’s, where you can buy hardware while enjoying a drink, and McCarthy’s Pub with its poetry readings. There are several interesting shops-Brian de Staic’s jewelry store contains exquisite gold and silver jewelry inspired by Dingle’s flora and ancient Celtic motifs.
Plan to spend at least two nights on the peninsula to experience the beauty and tranquility offered by the unspoiled scenery of the spectacular beaches and rocky promontories that lie to the west of Dingle town. Take time to wander along the beaches or walk along the lanes, where fuchsia hedges divide the fields and friendly locals wave a salute of welcome, and to take the trip to the Blasket Islands. Because Irish is the official language of the peninsula, signposts are in Irish (though commercial maps are in English) so we give the Irish in parentheses to aid you in finding your way. We outline a route that will take you on a half-day drive around Slea Head. But for a real appreciation of the 2,000 archaeological sites of the Dingle Peninsula (peppered with lots of interesting stories), we recommend forsaking your car and taking one of Sciuird’s minivan or walking tours. Michael and his dad, Timothy, offer tours that range from an hour’s walk round Dingle town to visiting ancient, Ogham stones, wedge tombs, standing stones, and ring forts. (Sciuird, email: email@example.com, tel: 066 9151606)
The road to Slea Head, signposted as Slea Head Drive (Ceann Sléibhe), twists and turns, following the contours of the increasingly rocky coast. Stunning seascapes present themselves, demanding that you pause just to admire the view. Several of the farms along the way have beehive stone huts and, for a small fee, the farmers will let you climb up to visit them. Conjecture has it that these small huts were used by early pilgrims traveling the St. Brendan’s pilgrimage route. A large, white crucifix marks Slea Head, which affords the first view of the Blasket Islands (Na Blascaodaí), alternately sparkling like jewels in the blue ocean and disappearing under dark clouds a moment later.
Around the point, the scattered village of Dunquin (Dún Chaoin) and the Blasket Islands Centre come into view. The building is impressive, with exhibits lining a long corridor that leads to an observatory overlooking the island’s abandoned village. Remarkably, this tiny, isolated island abode produced an outpouring of music and writing. Three classics of Irish literature emerged with Peig Sayers’ Peig, Thomas Crohan’s The Islandman, and Maurice O’Sullivan’s Twenty Years a’Growing. The islands have been uninhabited since 1953, when the last islanders evacuated their windswept homes. The center’s large, airy dining room serves food and provides enticing island views.
Before you visit the center, take a left turn, park on the cliff top (opposite the two yellow bungalows), and walk down to Dunquin’s pier, which sits away from the scattered village and is reached by a steep path that zigzags down the cliff. As you round the last twist, you see curraghs turned upside-down looking like giant, black beetles stranded high above the water line. Curraghs are fragile boats made of tarred canvas stretched over a wooden skeleton. St. Brendan is reputed to have discovered America in such a boat. In clear weather a ferry takes day-trip visitors to and from Great Blasket Island. The little village on the island is mostly in ruins, and paths wander amongst the fields where the hardy islanders struggled to earn a living-a café offers the only shelter.
On the road to Ballyferriter (Balle an Fheirtearaigh), the Louis Mulcahy Pottery makes an interesting stop. During the summer you can try your hand at throwing a pot, and thus gain an appreciation for how difficult it is. One kilometer after driving through Ballyferriter (Balle an Fheirtearaigh), an attractive little village with a couple of pubs, pass Tig Bhric (a pub and shop) on your right and make a right-hand turn (small signpost) to Reask (Riasc), an ancient monastic settlement with its large slab cross and foundations of beehive huts.
Returning to the main road, a couple of kilometers’ drive brings you to the Gallarus Oratory (Séipéilín Ghallarais). Over 1,000 years ago many of St. Brendan’s contemporaries lived on the Dingle Peninsula in unmortared, beehive-shaped stone huts called clochans. The most famous example is the Gallarus Oratory, a tiny church built not as a circle, but in the shape of an upturned boat. It has a small window at one end, a small door at the other, and is as watertight today as when it was built over 900 years ago. A privately run enterprise offers a little visitors’ center and a café, and charges a fee to cross their land to visit the monument. If you would rather not pay a fee, drive up the adjacent, public road and the monument is signed a short walk to your left.
Arriving in the nearby village of Múirioch, turn right at the Y for Kilmalkedar Church (Séipéal Chill Mhaolcéadair). This now-roofless place of worship was built in the 12th century on the site of a 7th-century church. However, it dates back even further, for within the graveyard is a magnificent, early Christian cross, an ancient Ogham stone, and an intricately decorated sundial. Within the church stands a rare alphabet stone, which the monks used for teaching the alphabet. Locals refer to the little slit east window as the eye of the needle and folklore has it that if you climb through the window, you will surely marry within a year and a day.
Continuing uphill, the field to your right contains the ruins of the Chancellor’s House. Park your car by the gate on the right that follows the little lane (not signposted) and walk into the farmer’s field to examine the waist-high foundations of the Caher Dorgan Ring Fort (Cathar Dairgáin) with its beehive huts. On a clear day, you get a magnificent view of the Three Sisters, a line of three mountains that tumble into the sea.
Cresting the rise, you travel 5 kilometers of the Dingle Peninsula’s straightest road, known as An Bóthar Fada-The Long Road. It must have seemed a very long road for farmers walking to town. In the distance, the entrance to Dingle’s harbor is guarded by Esk Tower, built in 1847 by an English landlord to give paid work to the men of Dingle. Its giant wooden hand serves as a marker for fishermen to the entrance to the protected harbor.
NOTE: If you get lost on the peninsula’s little lanes, ask a friendly local or follow signposts for An Daingean, Dingle town.
There are lots of interesting walks on the Dingle Peninsula. Two of the more unusual ones are following the Way of Saint Brendan, and exploring the Loch a Duin Valley. The Way of St. Brendan is laid out on a map that you obtain at Cloghane Tourist Office/ Dingle Walks. The route begins in nearby Brandon and follows a well-marked route that the saint supposedly took to the top of Mount Brandon (about five hours of walking). Cloghane’s tourist office also sells a booklet that takes you on a self-guided tour through the Loch a Duin Valley (Sciuird also leads a walking tour). Beginning at the hut beside the road at the bottom of Connor Pass, this route leads you on a well-marked, three-hour walk through the valley’s boglands. Structures associated with prehistoric habitation (2,000 B.C.), ritual, and agriculture, along with several kilometers of prehistoric field wall, still survive. The valley is also of interest to bird watchers, botanists, and geologists.
Leaving the Dingle Peninsula (signposted Tralee), the Connor Pass twists you upward to the summit, where a backward glance gives you a magnificent view of Dingle and its harbor. The view is spectacular, but there is no guarantee that you will see it-all will be green fields, blue sea and sky, until the mists roll in and everything vanishes. Follow the coast road through Ballyduff, Stradbally, and Camp to Tralee. (If you are heading for the Cliffs of Moher, take the N69 to the Tarbert Ferry, which takes you across the River Shannon.) At Tralee you join the main road (N21) for the drive to Castleisland and on to Adare with its charming row of thatched cottages and tree-lined streets. Less than an hour’s drive will find you in Limerick, whose traffic-crowded streets can be avoided by taking the ring road signposted Ennis and Shannon Airport.