Killarney National Park and The Dingle Peninsula

After arriving in Killarney and checking into our lovely hostel (Neptunes Hostel – I can highly recommend it), we headed into town in search of some dinner.

Killarney is a nice town with lots of pedestrian areas, pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants. Again the sound of fiddles and pipes could be heard from more than one direction.

We found loads of restaurants and places to eat, but we just didn’t find anywhere that seemed reasonable in price. Eventually we settled on somewhere but I still paid nearly 13€ for a hot chicken baguette…

The next day we decided to explore the well known Dingle peninsula.

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As you can see from the picture, Killarney is on the right and the little bit of land that sticks it on the left is the Dingle peninsula. There is a town called Dingle on the south coast of the ‘sticky out bit’.

The weather up until now had been a little dodgy. Biting cold winds, grey clouds and lots of rain. But not conquered, we jumped in our little car and headed for the coast.

Picture the scene… Small winding roads hugging the coastline, steep hills and drop offs to the sea, wet sheep baa’ing (which I decided was them complaining about the weather) and a slight haze of drizzle. Even with the weather, we could appreciate the countryside and the further we drove, the better the weather became.

Now don’t get all excited for us, the sun didn’t break through and enable us to drive with our windows open or anything quite so exotic but it did clear enough to allow us to jump out of the car and take the odd picture here and there.

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What started to appear were small coves tucked around corners, tighter bends as the road tried to match the sides of the hills, sweet little seaside cottages and the odd walker braving the weather.

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But one thing we did notice, the water got bluer and bluer until one bay, which we spotted from the road a little way off, was so blue the water was actually turquoise!! We excitedly made our way to the edge and followed paths to get closer. I was tickled – you look down and saw tropical water and beach, you look up and see Irish countryside and grey clouds, look down for tropical beach, etc. it was truly beautiful.

After a day of beautiful scenery, our tummies reminded us that in order to appreciate more that Ireland had to offer, they would require feeding. We had driven past a restaurant on our journey and headed back to see what they had.

A quiet restaurant called Spillane’s, it had wooden chairs and tables, windsurfers (the boards, not the people) hanging off the ceiling and fresh seafood as their daily specials, we soon found something that appealed. Fresh salmon for my friend and a traditional dish of bacon and cabbage for me – it was delicious.

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The next day, we eagerly set out after eating our breakfast at the hostel. Armed with our map and Anja being my trusty navigator, we made our way through town towards the Killarney National Park, which you can also see in the above map.
The area around Killarney is lush and the woods look magical with thick moss and leafy green trees everywhere. We first visited Torc Waterfall because we both love waterfalls and it’s amazing what a camera filter and a long exposure can do for a waterfall photo.
A small carpark (which must get tight in the summer months) and a short walk up past a bubbling brook and we find our waterfall. We fight through some drizzle but come away with some nice pictures.

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We then spend the first half of the day driving around past mountains and lakes, through valleys and villages. We spot sheep, we spot cows, we spot a LOT of rain and wind. We stop at Ladies View for some hot tea and sweet carrot cake and this give us, and the weather, enough time to recover.

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My navigator then leads me onto a small road and I’m not convinced. I am worried it is a dead-end road that is 15km long. But it turns out to be a fantastic drive. We spend our time winding down the mountain side, exploring the valley floor and its sheep and streams, then wind our way back up going across humpback bridges and seeing mountain lakes and, of course, more sheep. Steep gradients, bubbling brooks, towering mountains and only 2 other cars in roughly 2 hours. It was a beautiful drive and a great way to explore the area.

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So two lovely days exploring two beautiful places. Yes, it’s a lot of driving but the roads are easy, the pace comfortable and if you hop out the car for enough photo-taking, your legs won’t complain too much.

Next article – my absolute favourite thing on my Ireland trip – the Cliffs of Moher.

Check out the photo gallery for pictures of Ireland that I keep adding. At the moment there are not the iPhone pictures as I haven’t started editing the ‘proper’ pictures yet…

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