SOUTHERN PENINSULAS TOURING ROUTE: 1 DAY (DINGLE)
You could spend weeks exploring the Southern Peninsulas’ many twists and turns. This south-westerly region of the Wild Atlantic Way spans most of idyllic County Kerry – known for its soaring mountains and pretty lakes – and also moves across into the splendour of West Cork.
This one-day itinerary is the perfect way to introduce yourself to this enchanting region, and experience the relaxed but invigorating Wild Atlantic Way of life. Based around the pretty town of Dingle, you’ll visit a whole host of charming towns and villages on the Dingle Peninsula, admire breath-taking views of the crashing ocean, and learn about a fascinating island once home to a thriving community.
STAGE 1: CASTLEMAINE TO DINGLE TOWN
(44KM VIA R561 AND N86)
Your starting point for this tour is the town of Castlemaine, a gateway to the gorgeous Dingle Peninsula. This jut of land is defined by sweeping sandy beaches, ancient monuments and craggy mountains. Take time for a quick stretch of the legs at exquisite Inch Beach; a Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point where scenes from the iconic 1970 film Ryan’s Daughter were shot. Heading towards Dingle (a 49-minute journey from Castlemaine), you’ll pass by the village of Annascaul and the South Pole Inn, once owned by the intrepid Antarctic explorer Tom Crean.
STAGE 2: DINGLE TO BLASKET CENTRE
(23.9KM, VIA R559)
Drive through Dingle (you’ll be exploring it later!) and continue around Slea Head via the beautiful Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) village of Ventry (11 minutes). You’ll take in amazing panoramic views at the Radharc na mBlascaodaí (‘View of the Blaskets’) Discovery Point. When you arrive at Dunquin (20 minutes), pop into Louis Mulcahy Pottery, where you can sit in the workshop and join in the craft work, while learning about these talented designers’ different styles. Enjoy morning refreshments afterwards in Café na Caoloige. Next up, make your way to the Blasket Visitor Centre, just four minutes away. Here you’ll find out all about the islanders’ rich linguistic literary and cultural heritage, before the last of them left for the mainland in 1953. If you fancy a ferry journey across, the Great Blasket can be visited in season. You can explore the deserted houses there, and catch a glimpse into what life was like there for this farming and fishing community.
STAGE 3: BLASKET CENTRE TO BALLYFERRITER
(6.2KM VIA R559)
One of the most famous landmarks on this peninsula is the Gallarus Oratory, located just past the Gaeltacht village of Ballyferriter, 20 minutes from the Blasket Centre. Thought to be between 800 and 1,000 years old, it’s completely made of stone, resembles an upturned boat and is well worth a visit. Afterwards, enjoy lunch in one of Ballyferriter’s restaurants or pubs.
STAGE 4: BALLYFERRITER TO DINGLE
(13.4KM VIA SLEA HEAD DRIVE)
Return to Dingle via An Fheothanach / Feohanagh, a route that brings you to Brandon Creek. This inlet was the legendary starting point of the voyage of St. Brendan to America, centuries before Columbus. On returning to Dingle, it’s worth spending some time exploring this soulful, bohemian town. From traditional grocery pubs to artisan cheese shops, its winding streets buzz right throughout the year with excellent food, film, culture and arts festivals. If you can, take a boat trip to see Fungie, Dingle’s local bottlenose dolphin. This friendly fella has been swimming around the peninsula for 30 years, and even has a statue dedicated to him on the pier!
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