The highlight of our entire trip to Ireland was the two days we spent on the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry. It is basically what you think of when you picture Ireland, with rolling green hills set against the blue backdrop of the ocean. Towering cliffs and stone walls and sheep dotting the countryside. It was one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited and I will have to do a few posts to share it all!
The drive from Cork to Dingle was absolutely gorgeous and also incredibly terrifying if you happen to be a person who possesses a neurotic fear of plunging off of cliffs into the ocean.
WHICH I AM.
Seriously, sometimes I have dreams that I am driving around a curvy mountain road and just drive right off the edge into the water. It’s a problem.And the thing about Ireland is, THERE ARE NO GUARDRAILS. None.
There are just these crazy, windy roads on the sides of cliffs that are only big enough for one car at a time and the speed limit is just suggested. It was literally my nightmare come to life. That is why I look slightly frozen with fear in this picture. Because the the edge of the road in the back? That just looks straight down over the water in a sheer drop. My husband, on the other hand, said that he wished all roads were like that and that the drive was one of the best experiences of his entire life. Clearly we are soulmates.
Anyhow, before we left I read a bunch of reviews about what to do in Dingle and finally decided to surprise J with a guided tour around the peninsula. We decided early on to use our spending money on experiences versus souvenirs so I installed the Groupon app on my phone and we used it to buy several of our meals (and admission to some tourist’s attractions, like Saint Patrick’s Cathedral) which helped us save money on food so we could spend a bit more to do things like this.
I booked John at Coastline Tours and it was hands-down the best thing we did in Ireland. I really can’t recommend investing in doing a personal tour enough and we loved John, I highly recommend booking with him. It was so nice that it was just me and J, which meant we didn’t have to share a bus/van with anyone or jockey for spots to take pictures and were able to adjust the pace to spend more time in the places we wanted to see the most.
The first thing we did was drive up to Connor’s Pass, which is home to Mount Brandon, the highest point on the peninsula. When we arrived we were above the clouds and we watched as they dissipated to give us an incredible view. At Connor’s Pass we hiked to the top of a waterfall. It was our favorite moment of the entire trip. The sun was just coming up over the top of the cliffs and the way it hit the water meant that we were literally standing in little rainbows. It was completely magical. The water was so clear that when I first made it to the top I thought I was looking at the edge of the cliff just feet in front of me until I realized that it was just the reflection of the cliffs above in the water creating an illusion. This was the view looking out over Connor Pass from the top of the waterfall This totally made up for that time that J got really sick on our honeymoon and we couldn’t get off our cruise ship at any of the ports and so I just watched a lot of Judge Alex while he slept and looked longingly at the Bahamas from our cabin window. After that we drove to the An Dún Beag fort that sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking Dingle Bay.
(I am killing this fear of heights thing this year, y’all.) Also, last year a storm caused a piece of this cliff to break off and send part of the fort crashing into the sea. And that’s why I look fairly terrified in these cell phone pics) We loved this visit as well. The history was so cool and the views were beautiful…until the fog rolled in. Here is J in the exact same spot about twenty minutes after we arrived: We also went to the beach at the base of the cliffs in Slea Head where John told us the movie Ryan’s Daughter was filmed. It was gorgeous despite the fog. (And again with the teeny tiny little path winding around the edge of the cliff with no guardrail. John kept laughing at me for keeping a deathgrip on the seat. )
Our next stop was at the Gallarus Oratory, which is a stone temple believed to be built sometime in the sixth century. By this time the sun had come back out a bit and I was glad because this was one of the sites that we would never have visited had John not told us about it and it was incredibly fascinating. It was built without mortar, so each of the stones was perfectly carved to form joints with no space in between them. After our tour was over we ventured into Dingletown to have lunch overlooking Dingle Bay. I’ll recap where we stayed, where we ate, and what we did in town in another post since this one was so long! Overall this was our favorite day in Ireland. If you’re planning a trip I would definitely budget to spend two full days in County Kerry to be able to visit the Dingle Peninsula and do the Ring of Kerry, which we weren’t able to fit in on this visit. It was such a great experience.
Here is a little video of us visiting Ireland: What To Do & See In Dingle, Ireland!