Gap of Dunloe, Ring of Kerry: Ireland's Fun Though the Driving's Scary

Monday, May 23, 2011 | Killarney, Ireland

Maggie made new friends on our hike through the Dunloe Gap.
The town of Killarney is the gateway to one of Ireland's most famous tourist destinations: the Ring of Kerry, a 179km loop around the Kerry Peninsula, which juts off the island's southwestern coast into the Atlantic and is known for its stunning scenery.

My mom, sister, and I spent our first afternoon in the area hiking the Dunloe Gap, a scenic pass in the peninsula's central mountain range. From a small parking lot, visitors either set out on foot or by rented horse carriage along the narrow lane that winds 3.5 miles across the valley floor to the gap's narrowest point. We opted to test our luck with the weather by walking.

Along the route, we passed reed-filled ponds and meandering streams, moss-covered trees, wildflowers and delicate ferns, and plenty of animals. There were ducks and herons, grazing horses, local sheepdogs, and of course quite a few sheep, whose owners apparently spraypaint blue and red
splotches on their sides to differentiate their herds. (At first glance, the red ones look like they've been gnawed on by some sort of carnivore.) We crossed old stone bridges and passed several country homes, but with the exception of animals and the occasional passing horse carriage we were almost entirely alone on our walk.

After successfully walking to the gap's center and back, we drove through Killarney National Park and along 20 kilometers of very serpentine coastal road—the start of the Ring of Kerry—to the scenic overlook known as Ladies' View. Though not far, this distance was enough for us to experience several near-collisions with the tour buses that careened around the tight curves of the Ring's not-quite-two-lane road. Before returning to town we stopped by the Torc Waterfall and Ross Castle, built on the shore of Killarney's Lower Lake in the 15th century.

After the day's driving and hiking, by the time we reached a pub that evening I was so tired that I just about faceplanted in my meat and potatoes.


Anonymous said...

If the system is the same in Ireland as it is in England, then the colour isn't to differentiate herd but to distinguish which ram got jiggy with which sheep. The rams have a harness with a paint bag attached to their belly, then when they do their thing a mark is left on the sheep. Just a wee farming fact for you there!

Sounds like you enjoyed your holiday. You still in Rwanda? You should pop by again... we have a really nice flat now!

Andrew G. Farrand said...

Thanks, Jen. Always good to have a farmer on hand to set me straight when it comes to such subjects. You have just taught me so much that I did not know about the way sheep are raised in the UK!

In Rwanda but overloaded with work - hoping to make it another time soon though.


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