A beautiful peninsula to explore, allow some time here. There are sandy beaches tucked in all corners
south, west, and north. In Europe, 20%
of the coastline is backed by sand dunes.
Within Ireland, County Kerry has the largest proportion of the nation's
sandy beaches, with a good share on the Dingle Peninsula. Rising above the beaches are picturesque
mountains with lush valleys in between.
See sheep and cows grazing in the most extreme places, truly inspiring
for mountain climbers. With all this,
the peninsula is made for surfing, climbing, and sea faring.
Dunquin Harbour on the Dingle Peninsula
The fabulous landscape attracts many talented artists to
live in the area. It is a wonderful
place to find gifts for the folks back home.
Dingle is the center of metropolitan life, with lots of good
entertainment and eats, and is a convenient hub for many day trips to
Camp is a sheep on the hillside, misty-air-kind-of-town,
located at the foothills of the Slieve Mish Mountains. There is a Viewing Park 1 km outside of
town. From Camp, the road ascends into
the rain clouds that hang along the mountain ridge.
Anascaul is a pretty village with green fields, along a road
that winds into a valley, with cows grazing on the surrounding hillsides. We kept our wipers on full blast driving
through - it was pouring rain with beckoning streaks of sunlight in the
Dingle has gone through an identity crisis as of late -the
Irish name on the roadside signs has been stenciled over with "Dingle" in white
spray-paint. Find out the full extent of
this battle in town - read the news clippings papered to a shop front on the
main drag of town. Dingle has loads of
options for food, entertainment, and fun.
Dunquin has a boat launch with a parking lot and hiking
trail. Park and hike up through a sheep
pasture to a scenic view of Blasket Sound and the Great Blasket Island. There is an Ogham Stone and World War II
guard station on the hill. There are
many galleries and artists studios here.
At Ballyferriter, visit the sandy beaches of Smerwick
Harbour - the sand consists of all colors of the rainbow.
Take the road to Rough Point to visit Brandon Bay. It has another long strip of sandy beach,
cupped around the water. This beach is flat
and long during the day when the tide is out.
It also has some fabulous grassy dunes.
We saw lots of surfboards but no good surf, according to my travel
companion. Look out for loose cows
wandering into the road. It was
windsurfing and kite sailing weather, though.
Fahamore is located at the tip of the skinny peninsula,
there is a tiny pier into Tralee Bay.
From here you can see the Seven Hogs or Magharee Islands.
Castlegregory is a town for those wishing to get into the
wind and water. Lots of surfboards.
Take the pretty pass road from Camp to Aughils Bridge. It feels like the Dingle peninsula's backyard
garden, winding along the edges of foothills.
Coming down the pass, see a great view of Castlemaine Harbour, with its
sandy banks at low tide.
Inch is a popular surf spot with even more sand dunes.
What to See and Do
Café Liteartha is Dingle's Irish-speaking café and
bookstore. There is a good farmer's
market every Friday from 9AM to 3PM in the Dingle Supervalu parking lot - find
fresh baked goods, antiques, plants, cheeses, meats, and handmade wool
sweaters. Visit The Weaver's Shop for
locally made woolen goods (www.lisbethmulcahy.com). Canter in the early morning on the beach with
Long's Horseriding and Trekking Centre (www.longsriding.com). Visit The Blascaod Centre, west of Dingle, to
learn about the history of the Great Blasket Island, known as "The Writer's
Island." Take a boat trip to the islands
on the Great Blasket Island Ferry, leaving from Dingle and Dunquin (www.dinglebaycharters.com). Dive with Dingle Diving in the waters of
Blasket Sound, no experience required (www.divingdingle.ie). Visit the Gallarus Oratory outside
Ballyferriter. Climb Mount Brandon, a
peak that is high and close to the sea.
But if there are any clouds, they hang on this mountain -- you will lose the view and it can become
quite dangerous. A good climb for a
clear day. Drive Connor Pass, Ireland's
highest mountain peak 1,500ft. Pick up The Kerry Way Map Guide, published by
Cork Kerry Tourism, for information about the long walks on the peninsula. Or read New
Irish Walk Guides - Southwest, by Sean O'Suilleabhain, published by Gill
Where to Eat and
James Ashe Pub in Camp, for an Irish Coffee warm-up. Tig Aine Café and Gallery, west of Dingle -
owned by weaver and painter, this is an idyllic setting for lamb stew followed
by fresh baked chocolate cake and a cup of tea.
Watch the ducks play in a pool outside, and trace the mesmerizing
outline of the Three Sisters with your fingertip (www.tigaine.com). The Blue Zone in Dingle is a fun place with
deluxe pizza, a huge wine list, and live jazz.
Located on Green Street. Out of
the Blue is a fine seafood restaurant, located on the waterfront in
Dingle. With dishes such as "Whole Sea
Bass stuffed with thyme and rosemary and garlic butter" (28.50 euro), it had a
line out the door. It looks like a fish
shack outside, but the inside is candlelit and cozy. All fish is sourced from local Dingle
fishermen - absolutely nothing is frozen.
Make a reservation for dinner, Tel: 066 9150811.
Where to Sleep
South Pole Inn in Anascaul, where there's live music and
food. Dingle Gate Hostel and Camping in
Anascaul is highly recommended - very friendly owner Brian is knowledgeable of
the area and has created a great place to stay, especially for big groups, with
camping available in the field, and bike hire too (www.dinglegatehostel.com). There are lots of B&Bs and hotels in
How to get there
From Tralee, take the N86 coastal road west toward Camp, to
Anascaul. From Anascaul, take the N86 to
Dingle. Continue west on the R559
coastal road around Slea Head, through Dunquin and Ballyferriter back to
Dingle. From Dingle, take the Connor
Pass road north up to Brandon, then loop around Brandon Bay heading east to
Fahamore. Turn around and head south to
Castlegregory, then down the R560 to Camp.
Do not take the N86 back to Dingle; instead take the pretty pass road
from Camp to Aughils Bridge. Take the
R561 road west to Inch, then head back to Dingle.
website for all current travel details and restrictions.
When to go
From April to October, when the days are longer and the sun
comes out. The Feile na Casca Arts
Festival, Baile na Fheirtearaigh, in April.
The Feile Na Bealtaine Festival in May.
Ballinclare Fair in Annascaul in May.
World Bodhran Ch. in Milltown in June.
Watch the Dingle Races in August at Ballintaggart Racecourse. The Agricultural Show in August. Patterns Day in Castlegregory in August. Blennerville Threshing Festival in
September. Wren Day in December.
Beautiful, beautiful, utterly stunning and gorgeous
place. More touristy than some of the SW
cork peninsulas, but not as touristy as the Iveragh peninsula, because it lacks
a major highway. This is place to find
many quiet corners, off the beaten path.
I had the fortune of meeting a cool woman who worked at a pottery
studio, and her recommendations opened the doors to many new places, places
that we really liked.
The Dingle Peninsula is seeped in rich history and
folklore. Try to visit the cultural
centers, such as The Blascaod Centre west of Dingle, to learn more about the
area. Information will enable you to
appreciate this truly unique place.
Written by Liz O'Malley - Summer of Travel 2007