The Ring of Kerry in Ireland’s southwest corner has been luring tourists since before Queen Victoria stopped on the peninsula in 1861. The combination of amazing coastline, dramatic mountains, picturesque lakes, quaint villages, and a history of hospitality keeps “The Ring” on the must-see list. However, it’s not the only scenic peninsula the Emerald Isle has on offer. Here are five often-overlooked alternatives…
On the western edge of County Mayo, Achill qualifies as Ireland’s largest island where locals speak the native Irish language and the roads twist over hills and bend around rugged cliffs. Wonderfully remote, crossing the bridge to the island feels more like an escape than a tour. Sites include the amazing white cliffs of Ashleem Bay, an impressive famine village, and hidden beaches.
Highlights: Keem Bay, Keel Beach, Famine Village, White Cliffs of Ashleam Bay, Grainne’s Tower
Hook Head Peninsula
Home to one of the world’s oldest light houses, this windswept peninsula is said to provide one half of the phrase “by hook or by crook” (the other half comes from the nearby village of Crook). Visitors to this windswept peninsula on the edge of County Wexford enjoy blooming gardens, a yew tree maze, ancient churches, and haunting tales.
Highlights: Hook Head Light House, Loftus Hall Haunted Tours, Duncannon Fort, Dunbrody Abbey and Yew Maze, Tintern Abbey, The Kennedy Homestead, Dunbrody Emmigrant Ship, Curracloe Beach, Duncannon Beach, Fethard Castle
The Beara Peninsula
Split between Counties Cork and Kerry, the Beara Peninsula celebrates its beautiful coastline with signposted scenic routes for hiking, biking, and driving. The narrow peninsula is shaped in spectacular fashion by two small mountain ranges that slope to the sea providing a haven for those in search of charming villages, archaeology, and delicious fresh seafood.
Highlights: Castletownbere, Beara Way, Healy Pass, Dursey Island, Allihies Copper Mine Museum, Eyeries scenic village, Garinish/Illnacullin Island, Glengarriff, Uragh Stone Circle, Cashelkilty Stone Circle, Derreenataggart Stone Circle.
Ireland’s northern-most point offers a spectacular 100 mile driving route that marks the tip of the awe-inspiring Wild Atlantic Way. Visitors are surprised to stumble upon isolated church ruins, waterfalls, dramatic coastline, remote beaches, and clues to Inishowen’s ancient past.
Highlights: Inishowen 100 Driving Route, Mamore Gap, Glenevin Waterfall, Five Fingers Strand, Buncrana Beach, Donagh Celtic Cross, Malin Head, Grianan Aileach Bronze Age Fort
Just south of the famed Cliffs of Moher, Loop Head usually gets lost in the Atlantic by most visitors. The peninsula hasn’t gone completely unnoticed, in 2013 it was named Best Place to Holiday in Ireland by the Irish Times. Even with that designation, Loop Head still feels “undiscovered” with its craggy coastline, sparse population, and gorgeous scenery.
Highlights: Kilbaha (Loop Head) Light House, the Bridges of Ross, Carrigaholt Castle, Kilkee Beach, the Little Ark Church, Danielle O’Connell’s birthplace, Vandeleur Walled Garden
Creative Commons Photo credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/csperry/
What about the Dingle Peninsula? I know some people will want to know why the Ring of Kerry’s northern neighbor on the list. The answer is simple… Dingle has gotten pretty well known in recent years, so we dedicate pixels to another amazing destination.