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A Visit to Ireland: Part 6) Slea Head. A Tour of the Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula 2013-049 Dingle Peninsula, near Beehives

 

One of the highlights of any visit to Ireland is a chance to explore the Dingle Peninsula.  While it’s only half as large as the Ivernaugh peninsula (Ring of Kerry), it’s packed with beautiful views and interesting things to see.  This peninsula is a rocky place with steep mountains, rugged cliffs, ancient stone fences, beehive huts and other archaeological treasures, and lovely islands just offshore.   Using Dingle Town as your base, you can very leisurely drive around the peninsula in a day.  The peninsula features Gaelic signs and you’re like to hear local people using the Irish language.

 

Dingle Peninsula, Beehives and old fort

 

Because the peninsula’s road is very narrow, you’ll be spared the large tour bus traffic of the Ring of Kerry.  Also because of the narrow road to Slea Head, traffic is supposed to go in just one direction (clockwise), although not all drivers follow that advice.  The drive is supposedly very busy in the summer but was not busy at all on the nice fall day we visited.

 

Traveling from Dingle town in a clockwise fashion, these are the recommend sites and stops along the way:

 

 

Dingle Peninsula, Dunberg Fort. Entrance

 1) Dunberg Fort.  One of the best preserved forts from the Iron Age (500 BC – 500 AD) clinging somewhat precariously to a cliff’s edge above the bay; parts of it have fallen into the sea.  The fort has multiple defensive stone walls (ramparts) built around a central residential area.  Dunberg fort is interesting to explore but more impressive are the nice views of the coast from here, both east towards Dingle and west to the sea.  Across the road from the trail leading to the Fort is the Stone House, a restaurant and visitor center where you can see a video about the fort.  The staff were very helpful to us, so stop in for a visit.

 

 Dingle Peninsula, Beehives

Dingle Peninsula, Beehives

2) Beehive Huts (clochans).  The tip region of the peninsula has over 400 small stone beehive-shaped buildings where early Christians lived.  Fahan has some of the best, about 1.5 km beyond Dunberg Fort.  They are not built with mortar, but are water tight and cleverly designed.

 

 

Dingle Peninsula. Seagulls with Slea Head.3)  Slea Head (Ceann Sleihhe).   The point after which this drive is named.  A roadside religious shrine (crucifix), a pullout and a good view of the Blasket Islands and Ivernaugh Peninsula can be enjoyed from here.  A little further down the road is another larger pullout often with local folks selling wares (some of which are cleverly crafted).  This second pullout offers even better views of Great Blasket Island and a nice views of Dunmore Head, the westernmost point of Europe.  There are many abandoned old farm homes along the road that were abandoned during the great potato famine of the 19th century.

 

 

Dingle Peninsula. Great Blasket Island

4) Great Blasket Island.  Situated a half mile or so offshore (and as such not part of this drive).  If you’re there on a nice day or staying in Dingle for a few days, consider taking a cruise to Great Blasket Island, boats leaving from Dunquin.  The island is lovely for a hike on a nice day, and offers the opportunity to picnic and explore the abandoned buildings.  Many Irish folks like to think theirs is the “Last Parish before America”  but for the Great Blasket Island this would seem not to be an exaggeration.  If you don’t have time to visit Great Blasket Island itself, be sure you visit the Blasket Center, a museum on the peninsula that recounts the background and way of life of the Blasket Islanders who made a living from fishing and farming until the island was abandoned in 1953 and they were moved to the mainland.  The Blasket Center offers wonderful views of the ruins of their homes on the island.

 

 

Dingle Peninsula, Gallarus Oratory

5)  Gallarus Oratory.  One of the earliest Christian sites, a small elegantly built church from the 7th-8th century which I've previously written about on this website, to which the interested reader is refereed.  It has an unusual shape, resembling an overturned boat, but more a thousand years after it was constructed, it still stands and is still watertight.  I was absolutely fascinated by the Oratory!

 

 Dingle Peninsula, Kilmalkedar church ruins

Dingle Peninsula, Kilmalkedar cemetery

6)  Ruined church of Kilmalkedar.  This was a Norman center for worship on the peninsula, the church dating to the 12th century.  It’s considered an “Irish Romanesque” church.  The church is surrounded by a cemetery, still actively used, but with some medieval gravestones especially at the front of the church.  The front of the church also highlights a partially buried cross and an Ogden stone, with ancient script on it (a series of slashes) dating from the 3rd to 7th centuries.

 

We were lucky enough to have had wonderful weather during our drive, although even on a foggy misty or rainy day it would have been a fascinating destination.  The Dingle Peninsula will leave you with wonderful memories and a warm place in your heart for Ireland.  It receives my highest recommendation!

 

To see a complete list of my posts on Ireland, please click on this link.

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Images (41)
  • Dingle Peninsula, Trail leading to Dunberg Fort
  • Dingle Peninsula, Dunberg Fort.  Entrance
  • Dingle Peninsula, Dunberg Fort's ramparts
  • Dingle Peninsula, Dunberg Fort.  Central dwelling
  • Dingle Peninsula, Dunberg Fort
  • Views of  Dingle Peninsula, from Dunberg Fort
  • Views of  Dingle Peninsula, from Dunberg Fort
  • Dingle Peninsula.  The Stone House.  Across the road from Dunberg Fort
  • Dingle Peninsula, view from near Beehives
  • Dingle Peninsula, Beehives
  • Dingle Peninsula, Beehives
  • Dingle Peninsula, Beehives
  • Dingle Peninsula, Beehives and old fort
  • Dingle Peninsula, Beehives
  • Dingle Peninsula, Beehives
  • Dingle Peninsula, Beehives
  • Dingle Peninsula, Cross etched by one of the Beehives
  • Dingle Peninsula, Beehives, with entrance to fort
  • Dingle Peninsula, flowers
  • Dingle Peninsula, sheep
  • Views of Dingle peninsula from Beehives
  • Dingle Peninsula.  Seagulls with Slea Head.: Distant views of the Ring of Kerry
  • Dingle Peninsula .  Slea Head
  • Dingle Peninsula.  Views of Great Blasket Island and Dunmore Head
  • Dingle Peninsula.  Great Blasket Island
  • Dingle Peninsula.  Dunmore Head
  • Dingle Peninsula
  • Dingle Peninsula.  Farms in the most western part of the peninsula
  • Dingle Peninsula.  Farms in the most western part of the peninsula
  • Dingle Peninsula.  Great Blasket Cemetery
  • Dingle Peninsula.  Blasket Center
  • Dingle Peninsula, northwestern area.
  • Dingle Peninsula, Gallarus Oratory
  • Dingle Peninsula, entrance to Gallarus Oratory
  • Dingle Peninsula, window behind altar of Gallarus Oratory
  • Dingle Peninsula, Kilmalkedar church ruins
  • Dingle Peninsula, Kilmalkedar church ruins
  • Dingle Peninsula, Kilmalkedar church ruins
  • Dingle Peninsula, Kilmalkedar cemetery
  • Dingle Peninsula, Kilmalkedar church entrance
  • Dingle Peninsula, Kilmalkedar church details

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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Comments (7)

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The landscapes of the Dingle Peninsula are truly beautiful and memorable.  What will especially stick with me are the many rocks and stones and how they were used -- fences, beehive huts, even a grand old church (Gallarus Oratory).  

 

I become more and more intrigued by Malta ever day, IslandMan.  It is quickly moving up my travel list!

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

Slea Head on The Dingle Peninsula is one of my favorite places in the world, even though it is not in Italy.

 

 

Slea Head PeninsulaThe Slea Head Cafe is also one of my favorite places for a latte, a brownie, and the VIEW.

 

Slea Head CafeThe coffee and dessert.

 

Latte & Brownie

 

Between Sea Head and Dingle Town is the Stonehouse Restaurant, which overlooks the  Dingle Bay.

Stonehouse RestaurantThe crabmeat sandwich on brown bread was really good along with the view.

 

Buon viaggio,

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Images (4)
  • Slea Head Peninsula
  • Slea Head Cafe
  • Latte & Brownie
  • Stonehouse Restaurant

Thanks for those very helpful comments, rbciao!  I definitely need to try that crabmeat sandwich at the StoneHouse restaurant next time we're there.  I was extremely pleased with how helpful and pleasant the StoneHouse staff were!

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

Originally Posted by GarryRF:

IslandMan. Those limestone megalithic stones in Malta got me. I heard a passing tour guide telling folks "Where that man is standing is a fertility temple"  Whoooa !

Too late .. first kid 9 months later - to the day !

GarryRF.  Any megalithic stone that can make a man carry and deliver a child for 9 months has earned my respect -- and a place in medical history!

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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