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Dingle peninsula/Slea Head Loop info from recent trip

Just got back from Dingle and thought I would pass on a couple of things.

We stayed in an AirBnB in Castlemaine and that was perfect - great base camp for Dingle, or Kerry or Tralee.

When we went it was very foggy/rainy and WINDY. My wife kept asking locals if it was always thins windy and they all without a beat said "what wind". :) So keep that in mind. It did affect our views but we still had a good time.

Maybe I missed in the RS book but a lot of stops along the require a charge - typically 3-5 Euro but it can add up. Some had animals you could feed for a few more.

Re: the ring fort at the 11.1 km mark in RS book - due to the erosion you can't really see much of the fort. If this is the only fort you can see it might be worth it but the ring forts on the Ring of Kerry are FAR better.

The nearby abandoned cottage - well, true to its name it looks pretty abandoned (but still you have to pay to see it). The mannequins inside really need to be replaced. The few signs are unreadable. Clearly it was set up for tourists years ago and then, well abandoned again.

Out of the Blue is small and unassuming (and you need a reservation) but was awesome for dinner.

Posted by
35 posts

Bob, I agree with your thoughts on the Dingle Peninsula drive. We too felt nickel and dimed to see what were not much of a site. Some views along the way are beautiful but overall the drive was not worth the 2/3rds of a day we spent. The Ring of Kerry was much better.
On the other hand we loved the town of Dingle. The Greenmont House (in RS tour book) was great. Doyle's Seafood was very good. The B&b is not too far from Foxy John's pub or Dick Mack's pub. Our favorite pub was the Dingle Pub, great atmosphere and music.

Posted by
20 posts

We just did the drive a few days ago and while we didn't do the Ring of Kerry so we can't compare, we felt that with a little planning it was easy to get great value. We skipped all the little private pay sights and stopped in Ventry for a walk along the beach (with some crazy Irish teens actually out swimming in the freezing water!), then continued to the Couneemoole pullout where you could hike about 20 minutes around Dunmore head and see where scenes from Star Wars were filmed, a must for my husband and son. The Great Blasket centre was totally worth the reasonable admission fee and made a great break along the drive. Then we drove to the Tig Bhric Brewery, which was a super friendly pub, where we ended up spending over an hour visiting with some locals and chatting about the area with them. We finished off at the Gallarus Oratory, following the instructions in the book to skip the paid parking and park much closer for free. Absolutely amazing site, totally worth the drive. All in all it took about 4 hours and we spent 5 Euros each plus the price of drinks.

I do feel that the peninsula could use a bit of an update in the books though. It looks like a lot of locals have taken advantage of the numbers of gullible tourists coming through. Still one of the best days of our trip overall.

Posted by
36 posts

So if you only had a 4 days in the area would you skip the Dingle Peninsula altogether? We are staying in Killarney - things on our list are:
1. Cliffs of Kerry
2. Eco tour of Skellig Michael
3. Visit Killarney National Park
4. Ring of Kerry
5. Dingle Peninsula and Slea Head Loop

Not sure if we should add anything or take anything away.


Posted by
1597 posts

The Ring of Killarney, Kerry Cliffs and Skellig Michael eco tour can be combined into two days. You will be doing part of teh drive to get to both the cliffs and Skellig Michael.
Allow a day for Killarney National PArk, to include some of Ross Castle, Mucross House and Farms , Torc waterfall, Meeting of the Waters, Gap of Dunloe (unless wanting to walk or take a jaunting car, drive this late afternoon or early evening once the jaunting cars have gone).

Dingle and Slea Head nicely fills in the 4th day - and is very different to Ring of Kerry. I personally wouldn't skip it, but that is very much a personal choice. Not knowing exactly which ring fort Bob is referring to at the 11.1km mark in RS it is difficult to comment. Is it Dunbeg Fort? If so, I would agree there are better ring forts on Ring of Kerry and also on the Dingle Peninsula. From the description, the nearby Famine Cottage on the hillside above doesn't seem to have changed much since we first visited 15 years ago, but we still found the background and the story of the famine interesting. Did you find out about this?

Also remember many of the sites are privately owned and on private ground and a few euros to visit helps the local economy and is peanuts compared with the overall cost of the trip.

There are plenty of other things to see - many which you may not find in the guide books.

As already mentioned the Galarus Oratory is worth visiting (and don't pay for the expensive visitor centre).

There are (In no particular order...)

• the Ogham stones at Colaiste Ide/Burnham House.

Reask Monastic Site.

the ruined Kilmakedar Church

Rahinnane Castle.

Minnard Castle

Cashel Murphy

Cathair na BhFionnurach fort on the slopes of Mount Brandon

Cathair Deargain near Ballyferriter

Dunquin pier

Have a read here of places to stop and admire the scenery...

Posted by
20 posts

jimk I agree - we found the Ring of Kerry much more enjoyable than the Slea Head loop.

Posted by
20 posts

dacase90 - a lot also depends on how much driving you want. If you are doing the Kerry CLiffs and the Ring of Kerry, I think you will find the Dingle loop a lot of the same. So unless you really enjoy driving I would do other things. Dingle is a cute/nice town to visit however. The Kilmaekder (sp?) church and the oratory are unique but I think there is more to do along the Kerry route even if you just go from the Killarney area to as far as Skelligs chocolates.

Posted by
1597 posts

Sorry Bob, I disagree - the scenery of Slea Head is very different to Ring of Kerry with its tiny stone walled fields. It is very much a pre-potato famine landscape.

Also look at the list I drew up of things to see - it has a LOT more than Ring of Kerry - although I agree it hasn't anything to match the Cliffs of Kerry. (NOTE - you have to pay to see these as well...) Mind you, you have to be prepared to do your own research to find many of these places and not slavishly follow a guide book... deannelamb were prepared to do this and really experienced what Dingle and Slea Head have to offer.

Still each to their own. It would be a shame if we all liked the same things!

Posted by
399 posts

No one is mentioning the boat rides out of Dingle. We did this a week ago with Dingle Sea Safari and although it was a “soft” day had a great time. We saw two pods of dolphins, seals, the puffins and the scenery from the water and out to the Blaskets was amazing.

Posted by
173 posts

The Blasket Centre really spoke to us, when we visited in 2009. It was very evocative of the lives of the people of the Islands. I can't remember if we visited before or after a concert we stumbled upon. We were in a music shop when I overheard a woman describing a concert that was going to happen in one of the churches the next day. The fundraising concert (for Malawi) was a highlight of our trip. We'd never heard of the Irish composer Shaun Davey, his wife Rita Connolly (what a voice!!), the group Béal Tuinne, and other musicians. We fell in love with the music which included Lusitania May We Never Have To Say Goodbye, and Fill to Me the Parting Glass. Rita also sings Lusitania on a Beal Tuinne album we have. Oh my. LIsten:

(May We Never Have To Say Goodbye: released by the Tara Music label, is a collaboration between Davey, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and a number of famous artists. The album takes its name from the anthem specially composed for the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Croke Park, June 2003, and performed by Rita Connolly, Ronan Tynan and six Dublin choirs.) Here's the song:

Having wiggle room in a travel schedule allows serindipitous discoveries such as the concert. We had moved on to stay in Castlemaine, but drove back for the concert.