Bohemian rhapsody

It would be easy to arrive on the Dingle Peninsula and not leave the town of Dingle itself. Bohemian, artistic, and genuinely friendly, Dingle is famed for its hardware pubs (where you can buy a pint and some wellies). But push out beyond the town and you’re faced with an incredible 6,000 years of history and the Kerry coastline with its pounding waves, salty winds, dramatic cliffs and wide racing skies. There’s Gallarus Oratory, an Early Christian church overlooking the rippling blue waters of Smerwick Harbour; there’s Coumeenoole Beach, with its haunting views of the Blasket Islands; and there’s the Conor Pass, the highest mountain road in Ireland. Exceptional is everyday here.

Skirting Slea Head

To get the most out of the Dingle Peninsula, head off on the Slea Head Drive, a spectacular driving route that weaves and twists around the coast from Dingle. After you set off, near to Dún Beag, you’ll find the Fahan Beehive which boasts a good collection of clochán, medieval stone houses once inhabited by monks. These cone-shaped structures can be seen along the Slea Head Drive, and if they look familiar there’s a good reason why – the beehive huts on Skellig Michael featured as Luke Skywalker’s hideaway in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Coumeenoole beach, County Kerry

Arguably Kerry’s finest beach, Coumeenoole is all windswept sands, pounding Atlantic waves and jagged black rocks. It’s pure drama – no wonder it featured in the David Lean film, Ryan’s Daughter. More heart-stirring scenery awaits at Dunquin Harbour, with its iconic twisting road that leads down to the harbor. From here, you can catch a ferry to the deserted and poetic Blasket Islands, the most westerly island group in Europe.

Conor Pass, County Kerry

Beyond the coast

The coast is such a powerful presence in this part of the world that it can be easy to forget that there’s more to the Dingle Peninsula than the sea. Just look at the Conor Pass. This single lane mountain-pass twists and turns relentlessly from Dingle town to Brandon Bay. Stop at the summit and you’ll be treated to stunning views of the whole peninsula and its terrain of rust-colored mountain, sweeping green valley and inky corrie lakes.


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