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