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MOTORCYCLE RENTAL IN IRELAND

Ireland`s Wild Atlantic Way by Motorcycle - Part 7: Dingle Peninsula and Ring of Kerry

The Dingle Peninsula is a must-see on your tour along the southern Wild Atlantic Way.  Breathtaking coastlines, prehistoric finds, a surfer's paradise and a beautiful mountain pass await you here...

Seagulls at Slea Head Seagulls at Slea Head




Via Conor Pass to the Harbour of Dingle

If you are driving to Dingle from Tralee, you will probably use the N86. At Camp turn right onto the smaller R560.
This takes you in an arc along the coast and then towards the mountains, which you can see from a distance.  The small road leads uphill and becomes narrower and narrower. 

To your left, ridges rise and to your right you see an elongated valley.

Views at Conor Pass, Dingle town in the background Views at Conor Pass, Dingle town in the background



The vegetation becomes sparser and the slopes rocky. Soon you reach the viewpoint at Conor Pass. At 456 metres, it is the second highest pass in Ireland. 

In both directions you can see the sea, behind you the north coast of the Dingle Peninsula Dingle and in front of you you can already see the small harbour town of Dingle with the same name.

A few long curves lead from the top of the pass down into the valley and to Dingle. The pretty town is worth a stop and also offers opportunities for a small coffee or snack.

Lots of History on Dingle

People settled in this region over 5000 years ago. Several archaeological finds, such as ring forts and dolmens, bear witness to this today. On the way to Slea Head you will pass the prehistoric museum, where you can learn about Ireland's early history.

Beara Cliffs near the Beehive Huts Beara Cliffs near the Beehive Huts



In the Middle Ages, monks settled here and built very modest stone shelters. You can also visit the round stone huts, called beehive huts, on the way to Slea Head. 

The Gallarus Oratory was also built by monks.

Beehive Huts Beehive Huts



And then there are Famine Cottages: when the potato crops were affected by rot in the middle of the 19th century, the population starved terribly - this was the Great Famine.
Millions of Irish people left their cottages and sailed to North America on sailing ships in the hope of a better life. 

In many places in Ireland you can still find the abandoned cottages and entire empty settlements from this time.


The Slea Head Drive

The R559 from Dingle to the outermost tip of the island, Slea Head, is called Slea Head Drive. You must enjoy this little road at your leisure. Stop now and then and look back, the coast is absolutely worth seeing in both directions.

Shortly after Slea Head you will see rocky islands off the coast to your left, these are the Blasket Islands.

Motorcycle at Slea Head Motorcycle at Slea Head



A little further on the left is Cilmenoole Beach and a little further on Dunquin Pier.
It's worth stopping and taking a look.

Motorcycle on the Slea Head Drive with views on the Blasket Islands Motorcycle on the Slea Head Drive with views on the Blasket Islands



You can drive back to Dingle in a big curve via Gallarus Oratory. From there, follow the N86 to Inch Beach.


Surf and Fun - at Inch Beach

You can drive back to Dingle in a big curve via Gallarus Oratory. From there, follow the N86 to Inch Beach. This is a long sandy beach in the bay of Castlemaine Harbour. 

The beach is well worth a short walk. It is a popular spot for surfers who enjoy the waves of the bay.

Surfers at Inch Beach Surfers at Inch Beach



So much sport makes you hungry just watching! Afterwards, you can relax and recharge your batteries at the surfers' café near the road.


Portmagee and the Skellig Islands

You continue to Killorglin and follow the N70 - the famous Ring of Kerry, which leads around the Iveragh Peninsula. 

At Portmagee you reach "Starwars" country. This is where the Star Wars film crew spent several months filming The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

Starting from Portmagee you can take small boats over to the Skellig Islands. Skellig means rocky needle, and that's what the rugged islands look like.

Beehive Huts on Skellig Michael, photo by irishpost.com Beehive Huts on Skellig Michael, photo by irishpost.com



The Skelligs are breeding grounds for numerous seabirds. On Skellig Michael you can see puffins in summer - funny puffins with colourful beaks. 

There are also the remains of a medieval monastery with beehive huts - stone round huts very similar to those on Dingle. 

This was also the retreat of Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi!


Via Kerry Cliffs to Kenmare or Killarney

You should definitely visit the Kerry Cliffs. They are less high than the Cliffs of Moher, but very beautiful to see. 

Continuing along the Ring of Kerry, you will soon reach Killarney or the harbour town of Kenmare.

Motorcycle at the Ring of Kerry Motorcycle at the Ring of Kerry




Outlook

The next episode will take you to the beautiful Beara Peninsula - you can look forward to it:

Views at the Slea Head Drive Views at the Slea Head Drive





To WAW part 8 - click here





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Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg, September 2022

Picture credits: All pictures are from easycruiser.tours, unless otherwise stated. Cover photo: Dingle coast, seen from the Beehive Huts.
Sources: ireland.com, wikipedia.org, irishpost.com