Scattered with ancient huts and historic buildings, the Dingle Peninsula has the most rugged coastline in Ireland. National Geographic described the Peninsula as “the most beautiful place on earth”. A great deal of traditional Irish heritage is maintained in this Irish-speaking (Gaelic) region (a Gaeltacht), including traditional music, art and crafts. Considered by many to have some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery, the Peninsula also supports a rare and unique assortment of flora and fauna.
The tour will pass through small towns like Milltown and Castlemaine before reaching our first stop at Inch Beach. Inch Beach is a three-mile-long strand and is known as one of the most visually dramatic beaches in Ireland. Inch has provided shooting locations for several Hollywood films, including the epic Ryan’s Daughter. These films revealed the rugged beauty of the Dingle Peninsula to a worldwide audience. We make a stop for morning coffee and a walk on the beach at 11.30 am for about 20/30 minutes. Then it’s onwards to Dingle coach park, where we stop for approximately 15 minutes for a toilet break. After a short stop, the tour continues to Ballyferriter and Slea Head.
The tour continues to the Slea Head Drive, a scenic circle loop of 26 miles/41 km. During this loop, the group will travel through Ventry, Dunquin and Ballyferriter. Here on this west side of Dingle, the Irish language (Gaelic) is spoken in a natural native way and is very much the first language in these parts. As you round the head of the Peninsula, there are magnificent views of the Blasket Islands, spectacular cliffs and idyllic beaches. This area is the edge of Europe, and history is everywhere - Iron Age forts, beehive huts, early-Christian churches, 19th-century cottages and picturesque stone houses set against a patchwork of fields. This most scenic route winds around the coast to Slea Head, where the view of the Blasket Islands stops many visitors in their tracks.
Slea Head is the most westerly point in Europe. Standing there, looking towards America, instils excitement and empathy with the millions of emigrants who took this route. There are splendid views around Slea Head, especially of the Blasket Islands and the scattered rocks that are all part of an exploded volcanic area. In the storms of September 1588, four ships of the Spanish Armada sailed the Basket Sound in search of shelter. Two reached calmer waters on the eastern side of Great Blasket by outstanding seamanship, but a third sped through the Sound with its sails in tatters and crashed onto the two other ships. Nonetheless, the other two eventually returned to Spain.
The population of the Great Blasket Island, evacuated in the 1950s, produced several books in Irish, including a bestseller, translated as Twenty Years A-Growing by Maurice O’ Sullivan, and a masterpiece, The Islandman by Thomas O‘ Crohan. The autobiography of the storyteller and resident of the Great Blasket Island, Peig Sayers, was published in 1936. Peig is among the most famous expressions of a late Gaelic Revival genre of personal histories by and about inhabitants of the Blasket Islands and other remote Irish locations. Robert J. Flaherty’s film documentary Man of Aran addresses similar subjects. Peig depicts the declining years of a traditional, Irish-speaking way of life characterised by poverty, devout Catholicism, and folk memory of the Famine and the Penal Laws. In addition, there were some 60 books written in the immediate area during the 20th century, primarily in Irish.
The tour returns to the coach park in Dingle at approximately 14:00 hrs (2 pm) for lunch. The town of Dingle is full of delightful shops and worth a walkabout. Your top-rated Driver/Guide will make a few suggestions on the best restaurants to enjoy lunch.
Unfortunately, our day ends with our arrival in Killarney at approximately 17:00 hrs (5 pm).