• The Beara Peninsula: Secrets I Should Keep

    I shouldn’t tell you any of this. If word gets out about how unbelievably cool the Beara Peninsula is, then everyone will go there. The roads will become clogged with buses and nervous tourists driving on the left for the first time, and I can’t have that. I like the quiet of the Beara Peninsuala, how I can park my car just about anywhere and hear nothing except for the wind and the livestock grazing in the fields. (I like not having to Photoshop people out of my otherwise perfect photographs…)

    You really should know, though.  I feel guilty about stumbling over this treasure and not sharing it. It’s more than I can possibly keep for myself! So, let me tell you what I love about Beara–but keep it quiet!

    1. Healy Pass
    Mein Gott in Himmell.  I cried the first time I drove through Healy Pass and saw Glanmore Lake. If I live another 50 years and practice photography the entire time, I’ll still never capture its true beauty. It has a soul that can’t be stolen.

    Healy Pass

    2. Priest’s Leap
    If you’re feeling brave, take the Priest’s Leap route from Kenmare to Glengarriff. The road progressively narrows into two thin strips of crumbling asphalt divided by a line of trampled grass. There are no guard rails to protect you. If you meet a car coming from the opposite direction, one of you has to–gulp–back up and somehow not leap from the mountain yourself. It’s worth it for the view, though, and for the chorus of sheep that BAAAH at you like a bunch of pissed off old farmhands from Kerry.



    Priests Leap

    Legend has it a priest leaped from the mountain on his horse to escape English soldiers. Magically, he ended up landing miles away in Bantry, no worse for wear.


    Priests Leap Sheep

    I don’t baaa-lieve it!!


    Priests Leap Road

    Let’s hope no one else is on the other side of that bend.


    3. Megalithic Sites Galore
    I’ve hiked over the rivers and through the woods to find many of Beara’s sacred sites. Most require a climb over a stone wall and through someone’s field. Green ladders can be found all over Ireland to help keep gates closed and animals from running free. My sister and I had a lengthy discussion with a farmer up by Athlone last year about it. We didn’t understand a word he said, but we got the gist of it–don’t open the fecking gates!!



    Ardgroom Standing Stones

    Ardgroom Stone Circle

    Killaugh Wedge Grave

    Killaugh Wedge Grave

    Uragh Stone Circle

    Uragh Stone Circle


    4. Children of Lir
    After a 900 year journey as swans, the Children of Lir heard a monk’s bell in Allihies and came ashore, immediately transformed back to human form. The children were later buried on this spot, and now visitors leave offerings for them. (If you believe in that kind of thing…)

    Children of Lir Sign

    Children of Lir Offerings


    5. These Horses Guarding a Fecking Castle
    I would have loved to  have explored the Dunboy Castle estate. Unfortunately, the entire property is fenced (double fenced and triple fenced in places!) to keep trespassers out. Still, what an image!




    This was as close as I could get!


    6. Molly Gallivan’s Farm and the Black Sheep
    Want to experience 5,000 years of history in one hour? Come to Molly Gallivan’s and take a walk through the cottage and farm. If you’re lucky, a little black lamb will greet you! He tried to escape when I opened the gate and then rubbed up against me like a cat. It’s the only sheep in Ireland that hasn’t run away from me.

    Molly Gallivans








    7. Dursey Island Cable Car
    The only cable car in Ireland happened to be on Dursey Island when I arrived, so I couldn’t check it out properly.  Dolphins and whales seem to be regular visitors to the waters around the island, so I may need to make another trip.

    Cable Car



    Retired cable car, now a chicken coop.


    8. White, sandy beaches
    People never believe me when I tell them about the white sandy beaches in Ireland. They do exist! I took a short nap at this beach just south of Allihies.

    Allihies Beach


    9. The Scenery! 
    As previously mentioned, Healy Pass and Priest’s Leap are spectacular, but nothing beats a coastal drive around Beara.

    Beara Peninsula

    Hills of Ardgroom


    Beara Scenery

    Stone Dock


    Beara View

    Even the sheep like the view!

    There’s so much more too: colorful towns, nature reserves, art galleries, abandoned copper mines, and shopping. I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface with my three trips. And like I said—you’re sworn to secrecy. I may have told you, but shouldn’t we keep it all to ourselves?

3 Responsesso far.

  1. susanissima says:

    Splendid narrative and photos to die for. Your wanderlust if our gain! Thank you, Jolene.

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