Ireland's Ring of Dingle

dingleA great alternative to the tourist clogged Ring of Kerry is the not-as-famous Slea Head Drive west from Dingle. Having experienced both routes, I found that the “Ring of Dingle” was much more enjoyable and included some of the most beautiful and interesting scenery I have ever seen. Its dramatic landscape includes many highlights such as the Gallarus Oratory, the curious Beehive Huts and the brilliant views that Slea Head has to offer. It is said to be true that the drive west from Dingle has the greatest concentration of archaeological sites in all of Ireland. There are promontory forts, Ogham stones and ruins of both Pagan and early Christian buildings.

Upon arriving in the town of Dingle early in the evening, we sorted out a place to stay and set out to explore a bit starting at the water’s edge. The picturesque town of Dingle faces a sheltered harbor from which three main streets rise. With its typical Irish houses, painted in every color of the rainbow, just wandering leisurely through town with all its pubs, shops and art galleries was a lot of fun.

dingletownAfter working up an appetite from walking around town taking photos, we sat down for a nice dinner in one of Dingle’s renowned restaurants, Lord Baker’s. The quaint setting and great food made for a very relaxed and enjoyable dinner. After finishing up, we headed back down to Strand Street where we had seen a very inviting pub named O’Flaherty’s earlier on. We immediately found O’Flaherty’s to be a particularly pleasant place and spent the rest of the evening there enjoying the open fireplace and friendly crowd of locals and visitors. There was also lots of music from a constantly changing group of whomever felt like taking a turn. Upon leaving the pub that night, I felt very warm and fuzzy and distinctly remember feeling as if I had just experienced something very special.

The next morning, as our trusty guide book suggested, we stopped at the tourist office in Dingle to pick up a local visitor’s guide that pointed out the most interesting sites and how to reach them before heading west. The drive, which takes a good day, guides you along the famous Slea Head Drive to see beautiful beaches at Ventry, Slea Head and the Blasket Islands at Dunquin and the amazing scenery in Ballyferriter, Ballydavid, Feothneach, Muiríoch, Glens and back again to Dingle. dingle-beehive

The first thing that really stuck out to me was the town of Ventry, a traditional Irish speaking area with beautiful views of its sandy beach and the majestic Mt. Eagle. Slea Head is the most beautiful and rugged part of the peninsula and overlooks the Blasket Islands. This group of islands to the west was inhabited until 1953 and many of Ireland’s great Gaelic literary figures were born and raised here. My favorite stop along the way was at the Beehive Huts. At one stage, there were over 400 of these drystone huts which are primarily single unit structures. The Gallarus Oratory, which dates from the 7th or 8th century, is a Christian cell made of corbelled stone which I found to be very interesting as the cell is as dry inside as the day it was completed. The drive also takes in ancient Kilmakedar Church and the Ogham stones.

The west coast gets a fair amount of rain and while many rain showers usually pass through very quickly, weather is something to consider. However, while it rained on and off the entire day of our drive, it didn’t put a damper on things at all. If anything, it made for a more dramatic setting for our photos.

IMAGES VIA [Flickr tonyhall, Flickr joeforjette & Flickr Werty]

11 thoughts on “Ireland's Ring of Dingle

  • I love Dingle. I spent my 30th birthday there with my Brother. We had oysters and stout there on the water. The Oysters were so fresh they quivered when the lemon juice hit em.

    I also think that Dingle Town is one of the best places for a pub crawl on the planet. This is the part of Ireland where for many, English is a second language, and the traditional music scene is particularly rich. The combination of these factors and kind of a lot of pubs for a small town is just a dream for pub-crawling.

  • In my opinion, Dingle is a better experience than the Ring of Kerry, especially in the busy summer months.
    Leave the driving to someone else! and pack plenty batteries for the camera. I agree with the previous comment about the pub crawl (mind you Galway on a good day is hard to beat, or even Doolin)
    Its the simple things, like when you drive by someone on this route you are often met with a big broad smile and are offered the classic “finger wave”.
    My biggest plus, it takes considerably less time than the ring.
    Eitherway, you cant go wrong! Take it from a native.

  • o my gosh, the beehives huts look amazing – I bet it’s the sort that stays cool in summer? Anyway Dingle looks like a really quaint, picturesque town – a great place to recuperate from the hectic city life – also a great place to get out a pad and pencil and start sketching! awesome:)

  • We have never been to Ireland, but would love to go. Maybe we will do a cycling tour in the near future. It just sounds like the most friendly and welcoming country on earth!

  • Many years ago I had a happy camping trip to Dingle with some good mates. Glad to see so little has changed. A wonderful place but don’t tell everyone or they’ll all want to go there! I recall about half the businesses in the town seemed to be owned by people called Brosnan – obviously a very common name in the area. I doubt the weather forecast there has ever changed from: “Showers followed by rain periods – westerly winds fresh to strong at times.” Still great though – it adds character to an already beautiful place but not a recommended place for a beach holiday I must add!

  • I did both the Dingle Way and the Ring of Kerry in May last year and at that time of year there were few walkers, or for that matter, people, on either of them. I loved them both but for different reasons.

    I offer free, downloadable guides off of my website with a full route description, accommodation choices, where to eat, getting there…
    Visit Way guide)or (Kerry Way guide). The pictures alone are inspiring.

  • There is no place outside the US that calls to me like Ireland does. I think if I ever went there… I would not return.

    I want to stand over the ocean on those breathtaking cliffs every morning with a nice cup of coffee and roll around, like a child, on those lush, grassy, hills.

    I even want to learn Gaelic. I have no desire to learn a single word of any other language.

    The “why?” is what still puzzles me. I have felt the tug of Ireland my entire life.


  • We stopped in Dingle to send emails from an Internet cafe. While I was typing my friend fetched pints of Guinness from the pub. When the Internet cafe owner heard that we weren’t planning to spend the night, he told us that we were missing out… his exact words, “spend the night, but not more than three otherwise you’ll be reorganizing your whole life to move here.” He was so right… Dingle is truly magical!

  • We spent a week in Dingle in a cottage in the hamlet of Dunquin with a fabulous view of the Blasket Islands. It is a special place and we toured all of the ancient sites in the area. We also heard some incredible traditional music in the pubs. Fresh meat from the butcher- a sign told us the farm our lamb came from, wonderful cheeses and fish from the day’s catch. It doesn’t get much better than this, so what if it rains a bit.

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