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Driving Beara Peninsula

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Driving Beara Peninsula

The following is really long but, since it took me about two days to put it together, I thought others might like to have it. I got the info from websites and tripadvisor. Please let me know if any corrections need to be made.

Ring of Beara

80km or 128 km (55 to 80 miles) depending on route. Leave Kenmare on the N71 towards Glengarriff crossing the Suspension Bridge.

Beara Historical Trail includes up to 25 Archaeological Sites which are sign-posted from the public roads and parking is provided. The Sites include Stone Circles, Standing Stones, Wedge Graves, Martello towers, ogham stones, and Mythical Sites like the Hag-of-Beara. To reach most of them you need the help of the OS Discovery Map 84 which you can probably pick up in the bookshop in Kenmare.

If you need toilet facilities, your best bet is Castletownbere or any of the little villages (there are toilets at the cable car to Dursey as well). None on the Healy Pass. There is a small shop at the top but it was closed when we passed by so I can't say anything about facilities there.

• Stop and visit Lorge Handmade Chocalates, a shop on the side of the road.

• Bonane Heritage Park – well preserved multi-period archaeological sites from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age right up to pre-famine times – Ring Fort, a stone circle, a bullaun stone, a Famine Ruin, and an ancient cooking pit.

• Molly Gallivans Cottage and Traditional Farm –insight into life before the advent of modern conveniences. Displays of skills and crafts of the rural past.

• The tunnels of the Caha pass were hewn from the rocks and form the border with County Cork. Spectacular views of Bantry Bay.

• Turners Tunnels on the N71 are a series of beautiful hand hewn rock tunnels. The main tunnel is on the Cork-Kerry border. On the Kerry side the main tunnel is followed by three more mini-tunnels, a set of twin tunnels and a final short tunnel. As you approach Glengarriff from the Kenmare side, the main tunnel dramatically frames the entry into the county of Cork. The vista that unfolds before you on the Glengarriff side is stunning with a view of Barley Lake and Bantry Bay.

• Glengarriff – The Blue Pool is a harbor hidden in the middle of Glengarriff. Pedestrian access to the blue pool is beside Quills in the centre of the village. The blue pool is formed where the river meets the sea, a wonderful rocky inlet which is surrounded by lush vegetation. There are a number of beautiful walks through the woods with views of the harbor that are well worth exploring.

• The State Forest is a magnificent area in the heart of old Glengarrif Valley, once the property of Lord Bantry, and is made of ancient woodlands and new plantations. This is one of the few remaining examples in Ireland of the original Oak and Holly Woodland that once covered the country. The property contains Lady Bantry’s Lookout and riverside and mountain walks.

• Garnish Island (37 acres, uninhabited) is also known as Ilnacullin and has a charming Italian garden and pool, a Miniature Temple and a Martello Tower. Seals frequent the rocks on the southern shore of the island. There is a restaurant on the island which serves light lunches and general refreshments. The island was originally a barren rock until early in the 20th century when Annan Bryce engaged an architect and landscape artist to design the layout and plant it as a rare garden. Admission to gardens: Adult €3.50 (Office of Public Works); July: Mon - Sat 09:30-18:30, Sun 11:00-18:30.

Blue Pool Ferry: The Blue Pool is where you will board our ferries. This setting is home to kingfishers and, as the boat crosses the clear waters of Glengarriff Harbor, you may see cormorants, guillemots, shags, herons, terns, oyster catchers, black-backed gulls, swallows, swifts, and our own resident swans. Each trip to the Island always makes a short detour to pass near the rocks where the seals that make their home in the bay clamber out to sunbathe. Tickets may be purchased at our booking office in the centre of Glengarriff next to Quill’s car park. (353) 027 63333.

July & August Landing Depart

Mon – Sat 9:30am - 5:30pm 6:00pm

Sunday 11am - 5:30pm 6:00pm

Boats run every 30 minutes; Prices: Adults: €10.00.

Harbour Queen Ferry Trips to Garnish Island depart from the main pier in Glengarriff Harbour (1 kilometre from Glengarriff on the Bantry Road) every 20 minutes, 7 days a week. Enroute the ferry passes seal island for a photo stop, before continuing the short hop to Garnish Island. 027 63116 (Local);

353 27 63116 (Int'l)

• At Trafrask, there is a plaque commemorating the five Sullivan brothers who were killed when the US Navy ship on which they were stationed was torpedoed; the brothers’ grandparents originally came from Adrigole.

• At Adrigole, you can opt to take a shorter Ring and cross the mountain pass of Healy Pass. This offers a 55 mile loop from Kenmare with beautiful water views from the Pass but if you have time we strongly recommended you continue on the coastal road to experience the fully beauty of the Beara peninsula.

• Leitrim Beg wedge grave stands in a farmer's field near Adrigole. Take the road east from Massmount for about 3 miles, keep an eye out for a sign pointing to your left

• The Healy Pass road (R574) is a mountain road between Adrigole and Lauragh. Cutting through the high Caha Mountains, it rises 334 metres above sea level and passes between two of the highest peaks of the Caha range. This is one of the finest mountain roads in Ireland and is named after Tim Healy, the first governor-General of the Irish Free State, who was born in nearby Bantry.

• Hungry Hill is the highest mountain on the peninsula. Second highest is Maulin, both close to Castletownbere. Look for signs east of town directing you to the mountains.

• Castletownbere is home to one of Ireland’s largest fishing fleets and the largest whitefish port in Ireland. The ruins of Dunboy castle, which was a stronghold of Donal Cam O'Sullivan Beare, a Gaelic clan leader from the early 17th century, are close to the town. Situated on a headland near Castletownbere, this castle was the site of an epic last stand of Irish against English and a subsequent massacre. Ardnakinna Lighthouse (on Bere Island) – Follow a path from the ruins of Dunboy Castle out to the harbor's mouth to photograph the lighthouse. Dunboy woods are open to the public with picnic areas and walks. Tourist Office is in the grounds of the Church of Ireland. Derreenataggart Stone Circle is close to Castletownbere. Go to the top of the town to the Olde Bakery and take the road to the right and follow it up for about 2 miles. At the junction keep left, the circle is on your right. There is a small parking area on your left opposite the entrance to the field.

• Bere Island (about 6 by 2.5 mi; pop: over 200): There are two regular ferries. There are remnants of the vast large Victorian military fortification which Britain built to protect its naval base in Berehaven Harbour and maintained up till 1938, including two intact six-inch guns at Londhart Fort. On the south side of the island a French Armada longboat landed in the 1796 invasion of Cuan Boai, which is now called Bantry Bay. The refurbished Martello Tower is worth a visit. Orca whales, basking sharks and bottle-nose and common dolphins can all be sighted around the Island. Roancarrig Lighthouse – Located on a small islet off the eastern end of Bere Island, marking the eastern entrance to Castletownbere from Bantry Bay. Should be visible from the eastern end of Bere Island.

Bere Island Ferries: depart from Castletown at the slip way across from SuperValu. Bookings are not necessary. Can carry cars and passengers. +353 27 75009; mobile +353 86 2423140.

Departing Bere Island Departing Castletown

Mon-Sat Sun Mon-Sat Sun

7:45* 12:00 8:00* 12:30 *except Sat.

8:30 2:30 9:00 3:00

10:00 4:30 11:30 5:00

12:30 6:30 1:30 7:00

2:30 7:30 3:30 8:00

4:30 5:30

6:00 6:30

8:00 8:30

Murphys Ferry: operates from The "Pontoon" pier, which is located 3 miles on the Glengarriff side of Castletownbere and beside the Berehaven Golf Course, and Lawrence Cove on the Island. Tel/Fax 00 353 27 75014 Mobile 00 353 87 2386095. Prices: foot passengers – 8 euros for round (return) trip. Car + 1 or 2 passengers – 25 euros round trip

Departing Pontoon Departing Bere Island

8:00 (exc Sun) 7:30 (exc Sun)

10:00 9:15

11:30 (exc Sun) 11:00 (exc Sun)

1:00 12:30

3:00 2:30

5:00 4:30

7:00 6:30

8:30 8:00

• A wedge grave lies close to the turn off to Dursey Island from the Castletownbere to Allihies road.

• Dursey Island (4 mi by 1 mi; pop: 6): weather torn landscape. The cable car is a 10 minute trip. To get close to the lighthouse on Bull Rock, which is famous for its birds and tunnel that runs through the base, walk to the end of Dursey Island and use a telescope. Calf Rock has the remains of an old lighthouse which was destroyed in a storm in 1881. It is visible as you walk towards the end of the island. Round trip: Adults 4 euros.

Cable Car Timetable

Monday to Saturday Sunday

9.00am to 10.30am 9.00am to 10.00am

2.30pm to 4.30pm 1.00pm to 2.00pm

7.00pm to 7.30pm 7.00pm to 7.30pm

7pm to 7.30pm are generally for people returning or staying on the island overnight. During July, the car will also operate between 4 to 5pm Sunday.

• Dursey and the three villages of Allihies, Eyeries and Ardgroom are quintessential Irish villages.

• Allihies was once the site of extensive copper mines. Ballydonegan beach, below the village, was created by crushed stones from the mines. The Mine Museum is in the renovated Church of Ireland chapel. The chapel was built in 1845 for the Cornish miners and their families who came to the area and the adjoining cemetery contains some Cornish memorials. Now Allihies is home to many of the famous artists who live in the Beara Peninsula. Leaving Allihies by the Reentrisk road there is rugged scenery.Near Allihies, the Dzoghcen Beara Tibetan Retreat Centre is worth a visit due to its stunning location on cliff edge. Visitors are welcome. Good beaches in Allihies area. You can take the Beara Way up the Mines Road and view the village from on high, and see the remains of the old mines.

• Eyeries has been the location for several movie and TV productions such as The Purple Taxi (1977) starring Fred Astaire, Peter Ustinov, and Charlotte Rampling, and the 1998 TV series Falling for a Dancer. Eyeries overlooks the Atlantic and is also the home of the international award-winning ‘Milleens’ cheese. Try to get the turn just past Eyeries onto a very small back road (sign-posted Ring of Beara and eventually Ardgroom). It will take you right along the coast with fantastic views over to the Iveragh (Ring of Kerry) peninsula.

• An Chailleach Beara (The Hag of Beara) – Legend has it that this rock represents the fossilized remains of the face of the Cailleach Beara awaiting her husband Manannan, God of the Sea, to return to her. Her presence still haunts visitors who leave coins, trinkets and other offerings on and around the rock. The rock lies beside the coast road from Eyeries to Ardgroom on the Kilcatherine Peninsula. Find the turn to Loch Fada, keep on coast road for another mile and it is on your left at the top of a steep hill.

• Kilcatherine Cemetery – Follow the coast road from Eyeries to Ardgroom, you come across it soon after passing the Hag of Beara. The cemetery is thought to have been built by the same monks who built the beehive monastery on Skellig Michael. Some of the headstones are ancient, one of them just a cross hewn out of rock. There is also a famous cat's face just visible in the picture here above the arch.

• Ardgroom – The Ardgroom Stone Circle stands in a field a couple of miles from the village. To find it, go to the Post Office in Ardgroom then head in the direction of Kenmare for approx. 2 miles, look for a minor road coming in from your right and a signpost pointing to the circle. There are two lakes, Glenbeg and Derryvegal, both of which provide good trout fishing.

• Lauragh & Tuosist: Cloonee Loughs are very popular for salmon and white trout fishing. Good views at Teddy O'Sullivan's Pub at Kilmackillogue Pier. Cashakeelty stone circle stands high up in the mountains but is easy to reach. Make your way from Lauragh Post Office in the Ardgroom direction. Just before the road starts to snake there is a signpost with a parking area beyond.

• Derreen Gardens, beside Kilmakilloge Harbour in Lauragh, were planted 100 years ago by the fifth Lord Lansdowne. The growth of exotic plants from many parts of the world caused by the high rainfall of Kerry gives one the impression of walking through a tropical jungle. The garden boasts unrivalled views of Kilmakilloge Bay and the Caha Mountains. 15 miles southwest of Kenmare, on the southern shores of the Kenmare River Admission: €6.00 Adults

• Uragh Stone Circle stands between the Cloonee and Gleninchaquin Lakes, surrounded on either side by spectacular mountains. To get there take the road from Lauragh to Kenmare, opposite the Peacock Camping Site you will see a sign directing you to Gleninchaquin. Follow this road for about 4 miles until you come to a junction and it is off to your right.

• Gleninchaquin Park and Mountain walk – This valley has walking routes around the waterfall, cascades, streams, woodlands and lakes. These are accessible for all ages. It is a family owned park and working sheep farm providing breath-taking landscapes and scenery with streams with log bridges, mountain paths with carved steps, through rock passages, along glens and lakes to higher altitude; a spectacular 140 metre high waterfall, woodlands and Kenmare Bay, all framed by the Killarney McGillicuddy Reeks along the horizon.

62 replies to this topic
Cork, Ireland
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1. Re: Driving Beara Peninsula


Fantastic information there!!! I recommend the Beara Pen all the time but have yet to be very specific about what you can do there.

Well done and a lot of work went into it I can see. I'll be plagiarising this for years to come ;-))

Do you mind if I copy and paste into the 'Top questions about Beara'?

Let me know

Edited: 27 June 2011, 12:51
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2. Re: Driving Beara Peninsula

I am glad you liked it. It did take a long time to do but I know it will help me to not miss anything while driving the peninsula. Since it did take so long to do, I was hoping someone else could use it so, yes, you can definitely add it to the top questions.

Western Ireland...
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3. Re: Driving Beara Peninsula

Great post, def one to add to the stickies!

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4. Re: Driving Beara Peninsula

Thank you for your generosity in sharing your hard work with us all.

I'm one who is definately bookmarking this post for future reference and for our next trip to Kerry/Cork region. The Beara Peninsula is now on the agenda.

If your trip reports are anything like your planning for your vacation, we sure are in for a great treat (and read) when the trip is all over.

Thanks again :-)

Arlington, Virginia
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5. Re: Driving Beara Peninsula

Great work, Daughter-mom. While we saw several of the sites you mention on our one-day drive last month around the Beara Peninsula, there's a lot that we missed. I wish we'd had this information for our trip.

England, United...
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6. Re: Driving Beara Peninsula

What a great post. We spent two weeks in South West Ireland late May /early June, and the Beara peninsula was a real highlight - I preferred it to the Ring of Kerrry, which I travelled some years ago, mainly because there was less traffic and equally spectacular landscape, pretty towns, archaeological sites and walking trails..

. We saw many, though not all of the sites described by daughter-mom, and would certainly use this when we go back, which we definitely will do, The scenery was stunning, and so many lovely and fascinating places to stop along the way , all beautifully described by daughter-mom..

Would just point out that when we were there, the Dursey Island cable car was running every10 minutes or so, people were catching it there and straight back again, without actually disembarking on the Island. Worth it for the slightly scary experience so long as you can cope with heights.The holy water and prayer in the car were comforting!

For a range of graded walks Gleninchaquin was perfect, and for a more leisurely stroll we enjoyed Bonane Heritage Park.

And compared with other places and experiences, I have to confess to being a bit disappointed with Derreen Gardens - lots of Rhododendrons, which are gradually strangling all the native species, and some lovely trees but you had to pay extra for the map to explain what they were. We thought this was a little bit over priced (and the toilet facilitiess were grim, to put it mildly). A nice walk, but I dont know that I would recommend compared to some of the other places we saw..

This post is such a great resource for visitors, thank you daughter- mom for taking the time to share it.

Louisville, Kentucky
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7. Re: Driving Beara Peninsula

This is exceptional! THANK YOU! One quick question: if we were to skip Healy Pass if favor of driving the entire loop, would we be missing a lot? We're staying in Kenmare and will make several trips between there and Killarney, so we'll be getting a taste of mountain passes anyhow. We're traveling with two 7 year olds, so would that make a difference? Would they enjoy the Ring of Beara?

England, United...
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8. Re: Driving Beara Peninsula

Catman, we didnt actually drive the Healy pass, mainly because it is single track in places and I just lost my nerve after lots of mountain roads - its meant to be fantastic though - will do it when I go back. Thinking about 7 year olds, there are plenty of places to stop the car on the Bear loop to have a scramble about so I think it would be fine for them - and the beaches of course.. For children Molly Gallivans Farm would be nice - not much more then 30 mins to an hour, but lots of friendly animals -, and definitely do a boat trip - we took the seafari from the pier at Kenmare - very cold indeed on the boat but they provide you with lovely Foxford blankets to wrap up in, and the kids would love to see the seals. There were little ones on the boat with us and they really enjoyed it. If they arent too nervous about heights they might like the cable car too..

Kenmare is a great base to see this area, and the tourist office in the town has stacks of information , including child friendly attractions.

Enjoy your holiday.

Urbana, Illinois
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9. Re: Driving Beara Peninsula

I just wanted to say thank you for this. This will come in so handy for me :).

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10. Re: Driving Beara Peninsula

I think this should be added to the top questions on the right but don't know how to do it?

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