Have you ever heard about the Dingle Peninsula ? What it is and what makes it to be such a popular tourrist attraction ? Located in the south-west of Ireland in Kerry county, the peninsula is stated to be the westernmost point in Ireland and perhaps even the continent of Europe. It is this piece of land that stretches out from the Island towards the Atlantic, like as if Ireland is trying to reach out to it’s over seas distant neighbour, the United States.
Without a shred of a doubt, it’s one of Kerry’s gems and Ireland’s sites of beuty. Attracting a bucket-load of tourists each year, the peninsula has much to offer. From the coastal town of Dingle that the peninsula gets it’s name from where you can explore a variety of different fish in the country’s Largest Acquarium, to the Slieve Mish Mountain range in the east that seems to coat it and for all the wildlife lovers out there, one will get a chance to explore dolphins in their natural habitat.
With almost too many choices being offered by the Dingle Peninsula, tourists may often feel overwhelmed with what to start with and where to actually begin. Among numerous golden dyed beaches and green carpeted mountains, stay tuned to find out which location described by National Geographic was said to be “the most beautiful place on earth”.
It is a promise that can’t be broken, that no matter what you stumble upon on your way, you’ll definetly have to pull-over to appreciate the beauty that your eyes don’t get the chance to gaze upon on the daily.
Currently as the world is held on pause and unfortunetly not everyone has the chance to leave their house to go on a journey (if not everyone!), we shouldn’t allow for that to stand in the way of our imagination. So, let’s use our imagination along with our 5 senses to the best of our ability and picture ourselves on this journey together.
Kicking off our Dingle Peninsula tour with what may be considered, the capital of the peninsula itself, Dingle is a coastal town located on the south-western part of the peninsula, 50km west of Tralee town, 71km northwest of Killarney in the Gaeltacht region. With a recorded population of 2,050 as of 2016 (given with Wikipedia) it is also the only considered town on the entire peninsula. It’s name in Irish (An Daingean or Daingean Uí Chúis) translates to “fort of the Ó Cúis”
Through-out it’s history, the town was predominantly known as a port town. During the Norman invasion of Ireland, Dingle developed as a port town with more goods being exported to the town than Limerick or any other port town in the country in the 13th century.
By the 16th century, Dingle became a great and an important trading spot for Ireland, with goods such as fish and hides being exported and wines being imported from continental Europe. France and Spain using Dingle as a base.
Dingle is hugely known for it’s fishing industry which dates back to approx. the 1830s with greater development being noticed as time progressed, with the arrival of rail transport that allowed for the goods imported into the Dingle harbour to be exported all over the country.
Dingle being known back then as a major embarkation port for pilgrims who would travel to the shrine of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela with the parish church being rebuilt in 16th century under the “Spanish patronage”.
Later in the towns history in the between 1579-1580 Dingle would have been a scene of much of the military activity taking place during the known Second Desmond Rebellion.
Today, Dingle town is one of Kerry’s greatest tourist attractions, (together with the peninsula, tourists sometimes find themselves lost or in a dilemma when choosing between the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula). Dingle town ticks that box when it comes down to offering a handfull of things to do and explore, just like the rest of the Peninsula. Dingle Oceanworld Acquarium is ranked number 8 on Tripadvisor among 46 attractions in Dingle and Ireland’s Largest acquarium in the country that exhibits a variety of different fish, such as Sand Tiger sharks and Gentoo Penguins among many others, aswell as a Butterfly Garden.
Perhaps you might live somehwere far away from the coast and you have always longed to follow your dreams and maybe one of them is exploring and learning about the adorable beings that we’re lucky to be sharing this planet with. In Dingle, you just might make that happen, either for yourself or your family. Dingle offers dolphin boat tours that have the goal of showing it’s visitors a dolphin’s world from a closer perspective aswell as the world of other sea creatures within their natural habitat. On the boat tour, tourists can explore the beautifal Dingle peninsula landscape aswell as the cliffs with the well-known ‘Fungie’ the Dolphin.
But don’t worry if you may feel like your ‘more-so’ a land person who’s adventurous in a different way, Dingle has something for you too. The town has certain landmarks like the St.Mary’s Neo Gothic church built in the 19th century along with the Chapel of the Sacred Heart attached to the Church, St.Manchans Oratory (Shrine) located north-west of Dingle, Harry Clarke’s Stained Glass Windows along with other artworks that are exhibited in JJ Mc Carthy designed neo-Gothic building just up the road from St.Mary’s Church and across from St.James Church. The Dingle distillery where one can explore the production of whiskey or gin, the Irish Famine Cottages south-west of Dingle town just at the coast near Dunbeg Fort and finally the Fahan BeeHive Huts south-west of Dingle also, but not located in the town itself. These are the places that outline the historical significance of Dingle town.
Dingle’s Golf Course Cúrsa Pháirc & Phoill an Daingin is one of two Golf Courses on the the Peninsula which would provide entertainment for those who like a little bit of Golf here and there. One cannot explore Dingle without trying Dingle’s Cuisine with a handfull of different restaurants or diners to pick from, as for the food, Dingle also has a number of pubs and Irish music can be heard throughout along with the seaguls, the sound of the waves crashing into the Harbour really give Dingle it’s voice.
Slea Head Drive
Moving even further west of Ireland’s “westernmost point”, we have the ‘Slea Head Drive‘. So let’s imagine ourselves jumping into the car and kicking our journey off again.
Located on the western end of the Peninsula, the ‘Slí Cheann Sléibhe’ or Slea Head Drive is a circular route that begins and ends in dingle, forms part of the “wild atlantic way” (which is one of the longest known coastal routes in the World, stretching across the Irish western coast from the town of Kinsale Cork county in the south until reaching the Inishowen Peninsula in the north).
Slea Head is classed as “one of Ireland’s most scenic routes” where one is submerged in a long journey through many historic sites, the beautifal landscape and views of the once booming with life Blasket Islands and the distant Skellig Islands which seem to come of as part of the scenery along with the Atlantic Ocean.
When driving on the Slea Head Drive, tourists are advised to do so clockwise only to make their journey aswell as others easier by encouraging free flow of traffic. Due to the limited space for vehicles on such roads, another reason would be to make the journey safer. In our virtual journey that is the direction we will be moving in as we leave Dingle town and reach our first location on the Slea Head Drive ‘Ventry Beach‘.
There are many beaches scattered around the Peninsula hence the Slea Head Drive in it’s western end. Ventry may be the first well-known and popular beach on the drive but certainly not the only one that we will come across on this journey. Ventry is also a village that can be divided in two centres, “Ceann Ceann Trá” that let’s you overlook the pier and the entire area that is linked together by the arc of Ventry harbour aswell as the gorgeous stretch of a golden beach it is that one can stop by for a break to take a walk or if your ‘head over heels’ about photography like myself, then you already know what to do.
Other well-known and highly recommended beaches of the Slea Head Dive that would appear on the podium along with Ventry are the Ballyferriter Beach, Murreagh Beach, Cogher Strand and the Coumeenoole Beach which is pronounced to be “one of the most iconic sites on the Peninsula” that offers some more majestic views of the distant blasket islands from the Peninsula.
The Dunquin Harbour which is a Gaeltacht village in the west Kerry county, Ireland. Dunquin lies at the most westerly tip of the Dingle Peninsula, overlooking the Blasket Islands from where seasonal ferry trips are offered to those who wish to zoom in on the Blasket islands by giving it a closer look. The Harbour’s pier that is surrounded almost entirely by rocky cliffs is that mainland harbour for the Blasket Islands.
Ionad an Bhlascaoid Mhóir or ‘The Blasket Centre Museum’ is worth visiting if one wishes to explore and learn about the history of the Blasket Island, the history of the people who once lived there over many centuries before evacuation in the 1950s.
Another village on the Slea Head Drive that this article suggests to visit is the “nestled in a stunning green valley” Ballyferriter or ‘Boolteens’, is situated in between the hill of Croaghmarin to the south and a rugged ridge of peaks to the north. To it’s east, the Smerwick Harbour and the ‘Béal Bán’ which is a white sandy beach that stretches two-miles across and to it’s western side, the Atlantic Ocean.
Beaches of Dingle Peninsula
The Slea Head Drive is even a longer journey than what we talked about here and no doubt, does it keep many more surprises from us. Kicking it off from where we left off on our journey, we are going to explore some of the gems of the peninsula, the remaining beaches that are yet to be addressed in this article.
Stretching from the Derrymoore strand to Cloghane, the peninsula offers a list of beaches to check out on it’s northern coastline, with certain ones like Kilcummin Bay, Stradbally, Fermoyle and Derrymoore Strand having to be underlined among others.
‘Cé Bhréannain’ or ‘Bréanainn’ in Irish is a Gaeltacht village that lies at the foot of Mount Brandon and on the northern coastline of the Peninsula directly north of Dingle. The Brandon Carter bay is regarded as one of the top windsurfing locations in Ireland and is home to several windsurfing schools of all levels. The Beach lies in an area of natural beauty, situated between mountains to it’s west and the Atlantic to the east. Visitors have the choice of going on an adventure, within an adventure, when choosing to explore the uninhabited valleys and the wilderness of the area.
National Geographic“the most beautiful place on earth”
Castlegregory or ‘Caisleán Ghriaire‘ in Irish, is a village located on the northern coastline of the Peninsula, halfway between the towns of Tralee in the east and Dingle to it’s south-west. It was named after Gregory Hoare who built a castle there in the 16th century. The Village stands at the foot of the Maharees, which is a sandy peninsula that stretches into the atlantic in the north and hence seperating Brandon Bay in the west from Tralee Bay in the east. Doing some research on Castlegregory, perhaps you can came across the ‘Seven Hoggs’ which are the few islands that can be spotted from north of Castlegregory, are also known as Maharee Islands.
From the south, the village is almost entirely surrounded by the Dingle Peninsula mountains and in the far distance in the west, Brandon mountains can be observed. Castlegregory is pronounced to be a major tourist attraction on the Peninsula with such beautifal landscapes and woodland, sandy golden dyed beaches and seascapes aswell as a wild yet attractive rugged coastline.
Lovers of this southern peninsula beach are probably going to kill me for placing this majestic beach so far down this article. Inch Beach is one of the best known and highly recommended beaches on the Dingle Peninsula. It is a long sand spit with a 5km stretch, with the Atlantic Ocean to it’s south and the Slieve Mish mountains to the north, popular among anglers, swimmers and surfers and a nice spot to stop by for a walk (or even a swim!) or to just grab a coffee and relax at Sammy’s whilst watching the waves go by as suggested by Trip Advisor, before proceeding towards Dingle town and further.
Mountains of the Dingle Peninsula
Moving again, this time to explore the last feature of Dingle Peninsula on our journey that we will be talking about, the beautifal green carpeted mountains of the Dingle Peninsula. A couple of times the mountains of the Peninsula were mentioned in this article, whether they surrounded a village or whether they served for recreational activities.
The Peninsula is coated by several mountains, mostly in the centre, spreading all across from the town of Tralee and across towards the Slea Head Drive. The mountains of the Peninsula can be divided up into three main groups, the Slieve Mish mountains in the east, Central Dingle Peninsula Mountains in the Centre and the Brandon Mountain Group in the north-west with such peaks like Brandon point & Mount Bradon (at 952 metres (3,123 ft), falls into the category of the top ten highest peaks in Ireland) just of the north-western corner of the Slea Head Drive.
Leaving Inch Beach, the next place that we are bound to pull in to, just to walk those legs a little!
Located in the heart of the Dingle Peninsula, on the N86 National Road to Dingle town, Annascaul village provides it’s visitors with some of the greatest scenery in this part of the peninsula, as described “brooding mountains” and “stunning coastlines”, Annascaul’s fresh flowing rivers at the speed of motorway traffic, really adds in a lot to the great experience one can make for him or herself when taking a walk there, anytime of the year.
Annascaul is one of Europe’s richest concentrations of ring forts and standing stones, where one can explore the early-christian archeological history of the area, however if history isn’t your cup of tea then don’t worry however, Annascaul will dazzle you with the beautifal views that will become available to you, such as the Annascaul lake or even more distant places like Mount Brandon and it’s bay and or Dingle Bay with some chance of spotting the Blasket Islands aswell.
Before moving on, Fun Fact (yes, there’s gotta be one). Annascaul is the birth place of one of Ireland’s and the World’s famous explorer’s, Tom Crean the Antarctic explorer.
Slieve Mish Mountains
Covering an area of 583 km2 , the Slieve Mish mountains or in Irish ‘Sliabh Mis‘ stretch 19Km (12 miles) from the peak of Barnanageehy, just outside of Tralee town at it’s eastern end, to the so called ‘Cnoc na Stuaice’ which lies almost in the centre of the peninsula, on it’s western end.
This mountain range is pronounced to have more than 17 ‘material peaks’ with their majority located around the Baurtregaum (the greatest and highest peak) aswell as the deep glacial valley of Derrymore Glen and Curraheen Glen in the area.
Some of it’s highest peaks include the Gearhane peak at 792m (2,598 ft), the Caherconcree peak at 835m (2,740 ft) and as mentioned the greatest peak Baurtregaum at 851m (2,792 ft).
The Slieve Mish mountains offer an amazing walking or hiking experience where one can allow him or herself to get lost (not literally however) in their adventure, completely surrounded by nature and looked down upon by the green coated sandstone mountains that are known as the Slieve Mish mountains.
Amazing scenery along with a few of the area’s gems can be observed and explored by following the Conor’s pass which is considered to be one of the places along the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ with the most iconic viewing points, from where places like the Dingle Bay as far as to the Iveragh Peninsula with the famous ‘Ring of Kerry’, can be spotted. Some of these ‘mentioned gems’ include the ‘Lough Doon’ or more locally known as ‘Pedlar’s Lake’, the ‘Conor Pass Waterfall’ and of course as mentioned the evident and dramatic views from the Conor Pass that cuts a way for tourists to travel from back and forth between the south and the north of the peninsula coastlines.
Check out our full gallery of the Slieve Mish Mountains here.
Arriving at our last destination on our Dingle Peninsula Tour, ‘Cnoc Bréanainn’ meaning Brendan’s hill in Irish is located on the northern coast of the Dingle Peninsula in the centre of the long Brandon Group mountain range which besides Brandon, counts 7 other massive peaks. Brandon Point is regarded as the highest peak within it’s mountain range group and belongs in the category of the top 10 highest peaks in the country of Ireland.
The mountain range aswell as the mountain itself get’s it’s name after Saint Brendan and thanks to it’s well-marked trails these mountains have become a favourite destination for hikers and hillwakers but also for the area’s stunning views and perhaps even the challenge that the mountains pose for hikers as stamina is without questioning, required!
Some of Brandon’s highest peaks include Brandon Peak at 840m (2,756 ft), the Brandon North Top at 895m (2,938 ft) and the ‘Cnoc Bréanainn’ or Brandon at the height of 952m (3,122 ft).
That’s all for this week!! Thank you for joining us on this journey. We hope you enjoyed reading our article on ‘Dingle Peninsula’ and found it informative. This is our first ever blog post on this page and your feedback would be greatfully appreciated. Support us by following our page and become a member of the ‘TodaysWanderluster’ Team and if your into photography, please visit our Instagram page at dk.photography.
Au revoir and have a lovely weekend,