December 11, 2013

Dingle Peninsula, Ireland: Tour the Ring of Dingle/Slea Head Drive; things to do + restaurant review

Tour the Ring of Dingle/Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula

There are more than 2,000 archaeological sites on the Dingle peninsula. It is basically an open-air museum dotted with monuments in various stages of decomposition.  Many people think this route is better and easier than the Ring of Kerry, and you won’t see many tour buses on this less-traveled road.  The Tour the Ring of Dingle/Slea Head Drive is 30 miles, and though it is a two-way road, most people drive it clockwise.  Allow about three hours.  Rick Steves describes the loop drive in detail:. I wish I had printed it out.

view of sea from the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland
view of sea from the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland

VENTRY/Ceann Tra  

In between Dingle Town and Slea Head.

beehive huts  

Also called ring forts, these structures are the most numerous and widespread field monuments in Ireland.  Several groups are found here. Made of stone without mortar by seventh-century monks, they kept the occupants dry and are thought to have housed just one family until around 1200 A.D.  It is believed that many of these mysterious huts survived only because superstition said they were "fairy forts."  Entering one surrounds you in a dank coziness.  The first signposted site we came to was up a steep hill and had a E2/person charge.  Homemade signs made me suspicious that it was a scam, but I was told elsewhere later that the farmers do sometimes charge to visit these sites on their property.  My advice is to wait until you come to the second beehive huts site, where apparently admission is always free.  

beehive huts outside Dingle town in Ireland
beehive huts outside Dingle town in Ireland

SLEA HEAD/Ceann Sueibhe  

This is the closest point in Europe to America.  When the weather is good, you’ll have stunning views of the rugged coastline and of the Blasket Islands located 6 miles off the coast.

     ●Slea Head Cafe   

          You can enjoy a warm-up at this tea house.   

DUNQUIN/Dun Chpoin  

Stop for a brownie and latte at this pottery cafe and enjoy the gorgeous view of the Blaskett Islands.

Reasc Monastery  

This spot is hidden but worth the effort to find it. 

Dunbeg Fort Visitor Center

At the base of Mt. Eagle.. One of Ireland's most famous prehistoric sites, this fort dates to 400 BC and was occupied in the 8th century.

     ●Stonehouse Cafe  

          This cafe operates within an authentic Irish stone house.  You can sit outside and enjoy the view of Dingle Bay, maybe with an open-face crabmeat brown-bread sandwich. 

BALLYDAVID/Baile Na Ngall  

This picturesque fishing village is on the western end of the peninsula.

Scanlons Pet Farm  

5 miles west of Dingle, Barr na Nard, Baile an Lochaigh, near the end of the Slea Head Drive.  

Visitors can see and pet farmyard animals.  There is a playground for the children, and a nature walk to Feothanach river.  A picnic area is located beside the river.



Louis Mulcahy shop  

This rambling pottery shop is the perfect spot to select some gifts and souvenirs.  Do allow time for lunch or tea in the cafe, where you can enjoy some delicious food and sample the wares before you buy. 

Gallarus Oratory  

This Christian church highlight comes just before you reach the crest of the hill and start back down to Dingle.  Built circa 800 A.D., it resembles an overturned boat and is probably the finest example of a watertight dry-stone building in Western Europe and it is the only one still standing.

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