In July, following a week in Dublin, my partner Mick and I rented a silver five-speed Skoda and drove to three peninsulas on the southwest coast of Ireland: Beara Peninsula (Béarra), Iveragh Peninsula (Uíbh Ráthach), and Dingle Peninsula (Corca Dhuibhne) This is a portion of the Wild Atlantic Way (Slí an Atlantaigh Fhiáin). There are mountains, cliffs, sheep, surfers, narrow roads, heather and foxglove, and wind. Lots of wind.
There are hiking trails for all abilities, sweet little towns with the local version of seafood chowder and a nice pint of Irish beer for lunch. There is also the nearby Killarney National Park (Páirc Náisiúnta Chill Airne), the first national park in Ireland established in 1932.
By the time we arrived at these three peninsulas, we just wanted to be outside to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Ireland in July is a busy place with tourists from all over the world as well as Irish people themselves on holiday. Tour buses make their way along parts of the peninsulas, except for the rugged Beara, which provided us with some nerve-wracking passages on the narrow, winding roads. Those moments were when we were the most grateful we’d rented a very small vehicle.
We could have spent several days on each peninsula to immerse ourselves in their different characters, but didn’t have that kind of time. We were lucky enough to drive a loop on each one, get out of the car at a few beautiful spots, and take in as much as we could.
Here are some of the results.
The Beara Peninsula, the most rugged of the three, where the roads are too rugged for the tour buses:
The Iveragh Peninsula, the largest of the three, where you can find the Ring of Kerry, Derrynane National Park, and the Skellig Ring:
Dingle Peninsula, where the surfers go:
Killarney National Park:
Ireland is a beautiful, wild place. I’m already thinking about my next visit.