Dingle Peninsula Ireland

www.DinglePeninsulaGuide.com will bring you the complete visitors guide to the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland. In a country well known for it’s beautiful scenery, the Dingle Peninsula stands out as one of them most stunning landscapes on the island of Ireland.

Dingle Peninsula Bus Tours

Probably the most popular way for visitors to tour Dingle is by bus or coach. The advantages being that such tours take the stress of driving out of your hands (particularly if you are used to driving on the right-hand side of the road or not used to narrow roads) and gives you an opportunity to take in all the sights and information about the peninsula.

It is possible to see much of the Dingle Peninsula in one day, and I would certainly recommend you spend and hour or two in Ballyferriter Museum before touring the rest of the region, as the information you discover there will add value to the tour that follows.

Mount Brandon

Play At Height At Dingle’s Indoor Climbing Wall

For those of you climbing the walls looking for something to do on a rainy day, you could do worse than make a visit to the Dingle climbing wall at Play At Height. West of Dingle Town, in Miltown, you’ll find this fantastic and impressive indoor climbing facility, the largest in Ireland and just a few feet shy of the highest of its kind in the country.

I don’t recommend any activity on this website that I haven’t tried myself, so despite my not being very good with heights, I recently headed out to Play At Height to test my climbing skills.

Quick Set-up

climbing-helmetGetting set-up for a climb is quick and painless. The staff will provide you with a harness that is easy to wear and adjust. You have to wear a helmet too, and again these are easy to adjust. The line is then connected to your harness with a strong secure metal clip. The walls graduate in different levels of difficulty which is basically dictated by the slope of the assent. There are hand and foot grips attached to the wall and at the very top there is a pulley type of device that your line is connected to.

My Ascent To New Heights

There are different rope systems in place, and I used the ropes that do not require someone to hold the line on the ground while you climb. The instructor suggested climbing up a couple of meters and then descending, just to get confidence in the ropes ability to support you. Of course, once I started climbing I didn’t want to waste all that hard work just to test the rope system, onward and upward (and don’t look down)!

The climb was not too difficult, and the trick is to use your legs more than you may naturally be inclined. Many people depend so much on their upper body strength, as a result they can soon tire out their fingers and arms. By using your legs more to support your weight to rest while climbing, you can ease the burden on your arms and hands.

“What Goes Up Must …”

Upon reaching the top of the wall it was now time to finally test the rope/pulley system for my decent. Being a little ‘uncomfortable’ with heights, I had avoided glancing down until this point. Probably not a great idea, one look and I started to doubt my sanity, and felt a growing urgency to get back on to solid ground. Obviously, to achieve this there is only one way – you have to let go of the wall. I clung on for a few extra seconds as my brain tried to convince my fingers to release the hand grips on the wall. Reluctantly they let go and I dropped… about 6 inches and my decent almost stopped completely. My confidence in the rope system was restored and the next part was a lot of fun, as I abseiled down the wall, holding the rope and using my legs to bounce off the wall. To avoid embarrassment it’s best ot ready yourself for the landing. Many people who fail to adjust their body tilt at the end of the decent end up landing gently on their ass on the padded floor and rolling on their back.

It was quiet a thrill to be honest, and I was only on the floor a few seconds before heading back up to do it all again!

Multiple Wall Climbing Challenges

There are other wall climbing challenges that do not need any ropes. These are for lateral climbing, for practising moving horizontally along a wall, and boulder climbing. My fingers and forearms were pretty tired, but I had a go at the bouldering wall which has varying degrees of overhang. This has a massive thick padded mat below it, so if you do manage to climb to the top of the 15 – 20 ft height, your fall is not a concern. Even the easy part of this was deceptively difficult to climb, and the ‘easy part’ of the overhang was too much for me, and off I dropped flat on my back.

Pause For Thought…

While lying there catching my breath, I thought it an opportune time to take stock of these indoor climbing wall facilities right in the heart of the Dingle Peninsula. If you enjoyed climbing as a child, you’ll enjoy it as an adult. The climbing wall is as challenging as you need it to be, with differing levels of difficulty for everyone’s physic. My little girls (four and six years old), both enjoy climbing here (they’re like little spiders!). For those who get into it as a sport, there are extremely difficult overhangs for the advanced climbers to keep you challenged. In fact, the facilities are used for international climbing competitions, so highly are they regarded abroad.

Play At Height DingleGreat For Families Too

This facility is also a big hit with families. There is a small padded play area to keep younger kids amused, and basic tea/coffee/snack facilities for moms and dads who just want to catch their breath for a few minutes. Kids love the climbing wall, and it’s a excellent form of exercise as it strengthens muscles, builds confidence and kids get a great sense of achievement from the challenges. For young climbers four years and over, there is a popular discounted kids club on every Thursday between 5 and 6pm.

Learn more about the Dingle climbing wall http://www.playatheight.com/joomla/index.php
Check out other great Dingle Peninsula activities you can enjoy.

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Posted in Dingle Peninsula Ireland by Peter. Comments Off on Play At Height At Dingle’s Indoor Climbing Wall

Dingle Peninsula Surfing – A Beginners Guide Dude

Like most Irish people who have seen the surfing classes on beaches, I always meant to give it a go but never got around to it. Well I finally DID get around to taking a class recently with Kingdom Waves, and my only regret is that I didn’t try it earlier! Find out about my first surfing experience below:

surf Kerry Inch beach

Peter (that’s me) Catches A Wave

The surf class took place on a dull morning in late September, the rain was on and off all day, and I’ll admit to wondering if I was in the whole of my health to be even contemplating getting into the water on a day like this. Tom Leen (owner of Kingdom Waves) welcomed us all (it was a group class) and kitted us out with wetsuits.

What It’s Like To Wear A Wetsuit

This was my first time to wear a wetsuit, and for anyone who doesn’t know, the zip goes to the back (I was putting mine on the wrong way around, oops!). You’ll also need to have swimming trunks/swim suit to wear under the wetsuit.

Well the wet suit was just that – wet. Not sopping wet, just kinda’ damp but not cold. Tom said they were as dry are they were ever likely to be. Once on, I started to feel much warmer, things were looking up for avoiding Hyperthermia. Once zipped up and suited, you’ll probably feel a little odd. If you can imagine what a rubber band feels like you’re probably getting the idea. The other instructor called Aidan (A.K.A. Smurf) gave us all a Kingdom Wave t-shirt to wear over the suit for identification, as there were other people surfing and it’s hard to tell one surfer from the next without the shirts.

Surf Class Begins

We were invited to grab some boards and instructed in how to properly carry them. Then we did some gentle warm ups. Our group was mixed in age, from early twenties to mid fifties, and everyone was able for the warm ups. After that we gathered round Tom and Smurf and they guided us through the basics, things like:

  • pushing the board through the surf
  • how to correctly mount the board with the correct placement of our feet
  • how to paddle
  • how to push our bodies up while still lying on the board so we can surf a wave
  • how to slow or stop the board should we need to avoid a collision with a person.

Surfs Up!

It wasn’t long before we were in the water trying to catch our first waves. There was a great sense of fun from the group, with people laughing and chatting, all of whom had never surfed before. Tom had already established that a couple of people in the group could not swim, and we were all instructed to only go waist deep in the water. I suspect the non-swimmers were being kept under close surveillance, but doubt they needed it. I spotted one of the non-swimmers zipping though the waves lying on her board. I could hear whoops and roaring laughter as she sped toward the beach.

Seconds later I was sharing the same experience as I caught my first wave and felt a rush of joy as the sea carried me to shallow water. I wasn’t the only one smiling from ear to ear, the entire surf class were laughing and joking, all heading back out to the waves. Tom and Smurf gave further instruction in the water, and with every attempt at a wave we each improved our skills. After about half an hour, Tom decided were were ready for our next on-shore lesson, this time we would learn how to stand up on the surfboard.

We all gathered round the instructors again as they explained the principles of standing up on the surfboards. They then went back out into the water and showed us how they did it. Back on the beach, we practised going form a lying position to a standing position on the board for a few minutes. We were all eager to get back into the waves to give it a go.

Standing Up On A Moving Surfboard

I’ll be honest, standing upright and balancing on a surfboard that’s being propelled by a wave is not easy to do, so expect to take many dips before you come close to getting it right. I made many failed attempts before I actually managed to get to my feet for a fleeting second before tumbling in the waves. However brief that glorious moment was, it was enough to give me a massive thrill and sense of achievement. Others around me were doing the same and obviously enjoying the buzz. More attempts led to more success, and one second standing on the surfboard became two…it pretty much stayed at two seconds, but I was having increasing success managing to stand on the board so that was great.

To be honest I did not want to get out of the water, and about four of us out of the group lingered on as long as we could with Smurf. As the saying goes, ‘all good things must come to an end’, so we reluctantly headed back to the changing area.

Getting Out Of A Wetsuit

Not as difficult as some make out, just pull the zip handle at the back and peal the suit off. The hardest part is getting your feet out but it’s hardly worth mentioning.

Post-Surfing Experience

Despite the time of year the water did not feel cold. It was actually around 15 Degrees Celsius. Plus the wetsuit did a great job of keeping me warm, so coldness was never an issue throughout the two hour class. It’s funny that the only time I felt cold was getting changed at the start and when I was dressed again after the class. Luckily I had brought an extra warm top, because it was needed after surfing. A hat or hood would be handy (or heady) too.

Okay, unless you’re used to swimming a lot, you’ll probably feel a little stiff around the shoulders and uppers arms the day after surfing. It’s a good idea to stretch your muscles shortly after surfing to lessen the soreness. Still, ‘no pain, no gain’.

If you’ve been giving it your all on the waves you’ll probably need to eat and drink soon after surfing. I’d have eaten the leg off a donkey if it was put in front of me, but settled for a ham and cheese salad sandwich and a coffee instead.

Overall, my first surf lesson was a great experience, and if Tom and Smurf from www.KingdomWaves.com can take a landlubber like me and turn them into surf god, I’m sure they’ll do the same for you. As one lady in the group correctly stated, ‘surfing is something you can do badly and still enjoy’. Never a truer word said!

A Little About Adventure Water Sports In The Dingle Peninsula

One of the great advantages Ireland has as a tourist destination (as well as living here!) is that it’s surrounded with ocean and has many wonderful sandy beaches. The dingle Peninsula is so popular because we have some of the best blue flag surf beaches in Ireland.

It’s possible for visitors doing a Dingle Peninsula tour to visit many of these blue flag beaches in a single day. Thanks to the stream from the gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic ocean maintains a steady warm temperature throughout the year, making sea water sports and activities something people can enjoy all year round (with the aid of a wetsuit that is!).

Increased availability and affordability of wetsuits and other water sports gear for sale or hire on the peninsula has greatly contributed to the rapid growth in water adventure tourism. For example, to rent a wetsuit and surfboard on Inch beach costs about €10. Ireland and Kerry in particularly has seen a massive growth in surfing and sea kayakking over the past 5 to 6 years. It’s fast becoming THE place to be for surfing in Europe, with surfers coming from as far as Australia to catch a Kerry wave.

Final Word On Kingdom Waves

When it comes to surfing, Tom, Smurf (and I suspect all the instructors of Kingdom Waves) are the real deal. These guys eat, sleep and breathe surfing, and when they’re not delivering excellent lessons to novices like me, they can be spotted around the Dingle Peninsula and Fenit hunting for the perfect wave.

Check them out at there website www.KingdomWaves.com.

P.s. No body used the word ‘Dude’ on the day, though I was sorely tempted to do so.

dingle peninsula map

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Discover Annascaul, The River Of Shadows

Annascaul Village is in some regards considered the gateway village to the Dingle Peninsula. The parish population is around 1500 people. The village has a pottery shop (handmade ceramics), two newsagents, lots of accommodation providers, one of which is a guest-house with café/restaurant.

Annascaul Pubs

Annascaul Pubs

For a small village, Annascaul pubs number six (at one time there was nine pubs in this small village, including the famous Dan Foley’s, now sadly shut down). Many of these pubs offer food, and often there is live music or some form of entertainment.

Tom Crean

Tom Crean

Tom Crean Antarctic Explore and Irish hero returned to the village after his adventures and opened the South Pole Inn. This pub is full of memorabilia and photos of Crean’s adventures and is a must see when visiting the village. Find out about Tom Crean.

Jerome Connor

Jerome Connor

Another person of immense interest but who is little know of, is Jerome Connor, Sculptor. Jerome spent his early years in the parish, and it is said he spent much of his time as a child chipping away as rocks with little hammer and chisel. After being educated in the Arts in Dublin, he later moved to America where he became a renowned and respected sculptor. He works are recognised masterpieces and several bronze pieces of his were gifted to Annascaul Village. Sadly they are not currently on exhibition but we hope to see them publicly again in the near future.

BaseCamp Annascaul

While the entire Dingle Peninsula is rich in history and archaeological sites of interest, Annascaul is truly a gem in the Kingdoms crown. It’s location on the peninsula means it is not only perfectly situated for visitors to use as a base camp for exploring the peninsula, but also North Kerry, and Killarney and much more of the county.

Annascaul has many beaches within a 10 minute drive including the popular Inch Beach, Minard Castle and beach, Bunineer, Dun Seanna and many more.

Annascaul Fairs and Festivals

For a small village, Annascaul sure does like to party!

Annascaul Horse Fair

  • There are two Ballinclare horse fairs each year, said to be the oldest horse fair in Kerry.
  • The local walking club also hosts an annual walking festival that has been seen many hundreds of visitors to the area enjoy both local and regional walks, both road and mountain. The club also have regular bi-weekly walks enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
  • In recent years the Annascaul BeerFest has grown in popularity, and has raised many thousands of Euro to gift to community and local charities.

Annascaul Beerfest

Discover Annascaul, The River Of Shadows

Annascaul village is in a valley, overlooked by a glacier lake. The river that flows through the village (The River Of Shadows) is sourced in the crystal pure waters of the lake. The area is rich in archaeological sites including several standing stones, ring forts and cairns. Due to the natural beauty of the area, it is popular with many visitors who enjoy:

  • looped road walks
  • hill and mountain walks
  • landscape painting
  • fishing
  • cycling
  • surfing
  • light aircraft flight
  • and more
  • Without knowing something about this pretty little village, it would be easy to just drive through it on your way to Dingle or Killarney. However, many of those who do stop and find out a little about the area, soon realise why many believe it to be a jewel in the peninsulas crown. Visit www.Annascaul.net.

Inch Beach near Annascaul

Minard Castle

Gallarus Oratory and Castle

Gallarus Oratory Dingle

Gallarus Oratory Dingle Peninsula

The Gallarus Oratory was built sometime between the 7th and 8th century and is a small chapel probably used for private worship.

The oratory is the only perfectly intact remaining example of a small corbel-built oratories based on a rectangular plan, most being beehive rounded shaped structures, many examples of which can be seen around Slea Head.

Corbel roofs were built with a downward tilt of the stone to ensure rain flows off the structure without allowing water into the building. (Probably Ireland’s best known corbel-roof structure is Newgrange in Meath.)

With rectangle plan structures such as Gallarus this is an extremely difficult piece of engineering to pull off, and Gallarus is a testament to the skills of the builders who put up the structure so many centuries ago.

Gallarus Corbel Roof

Gallarus Oratory has two openings, a western doorway and small eastern window. The doorway has a double lintel, on the interior of the doorway two stones project out from the wall, each stone has a round hole, possibly for the attachment of a door.

Gallarus Window and Door

The round headed window splays more widely towards the inside of the wall. Some downward sagging has occurred cross the length of the roof, but besides that the building is in excellent condition.

The grounds were probably donated to the religious order by a local chieftain and the inhabitants would have been pretty much self-sufficient, growing their own food on the land around the oratory, keeping some livestock and of course sea fishing along the nearby coast.

Gallarus Oratory Rear Window

The Office Of Public Works are responsible for maintaining the site which is well kept, and has a Fuchsia-lined walkway to it from one entrance.

Gallarus Oratory Path

More Photos Of Gallarus

Gallarus Grave

Gallarus Oratory Kerry

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Ballyferriter Museum And Heritage Centre

When exploring the Dingle Peninsula I strongly recommend an early visit to the Ballyferriter Museum. For a small charge you will have access to a wealth of historical information about the entire peninsula and the people who have populated the region since prehistoric times right up to the present.

The museum has many interesting artefacts including Ogham stones (ancient writing style unique to the Irish Celts), stone age tools, weapons and garments. You’re visit here will give you an impression of the living standards on the peninsula through the ages. One really interesting lesson I learned is how many of the locations on the Dingle Peninsula derived their names; for example the Danish influence on place names is widespread and many of these names still persist since the time when lands in Kerry were awarded to the Norman’s by the English King John the Second.

Ballyferriter Museum

The reason I recommend you visit the museum early on in your exploration of the Dingle Peninsula is because it will add value to all the sites you visit there after. Unfortunately there is not always a lot of information available to visitors when you do reach a village or archaeological area of interest, so knowing the history of a particular harbour, or knowing the significance of a ruin will greatly add value to your visit.

I’ve been to the museum in Ballyferriter a number of times with my family and it never fails to impress. One item on display I always get a kick out of seeing is the cannon that’s just inside the entrance porch to the building. It’s dated from the Napoleonic Wars and was found washed up on a beach on the peninsula.

Ballyferriter Museum EntranceBallyferriter Museum Opening Hours:

The museum is open 7 days a week May – September, 10:00 – 17:30. From October to April you can arrange a visit by appointment only. Call +353 (0) 66 9156100. Web: www.westkerrymuseum.com

There is also a coffee shop and book store in the same building which is open during normal business hours all year round (as far I know anyway). The book shop has some interesting books about the Dingle Peninsula and I always found the lady running the cafe and museum to be very friendly and helpful.

Ballyferriter Church

The little parish church is located across the road from the museum. It’s a typical small rural Romanesque style building.

Ballyferriter Church

This section is being updated…

Map Of Ballyferriter

This map shows directions from Dingle Town to Ballyferriter. Coming from Dingle direction, the West Kerry Museum is on the left, across from the church, you can’t miss it. There is also a coffee shop in the building and a wide selection of books on sale too.

View Ballyferriter West Kerry Museum in a larger map

 Ballyferriter Museum Opening Hours

Brandon – Dingle Peninsula

Brandon (An Bhréanainn)

Mount Brandon

Mount Brandon

Mount Brandon, the ninth highest peak in Ireland, is located on the Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry. The mountain gets it’s name from Saint Brendan who is believed to have climbed the mountain in order to view the ‘unknown Continent’ (America). Mount Brandon is at the centre of a high mountain ridge known as the Brandon Group. Mount Brandon got it’s rocky formation from ice age glaciers. On the North side of the mountain lies the small rural village of Brandon.

The mountain is popular with walkers who visit the area year round. Catholic pilgrims also walk here every Good Friday each year, following the route marked with small white crosses known as ‘The Saints Road’ (Cosán na Naomh) to the large metal cross at the mountain’s peak.

The origin of The Saints Road as a route for pilgrimage pre-dates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and historian Máire Mac Néill has argued that it’s origins were in a pagan festival of the Irish sun god Lug Lámh Fada (Lug of The Long Reach).

Brandon Creek

Brandon Creek is the site St Brendan allegedly departed on his voyage to America (see details further down this page). Here a river runs to the small bay, still used by fishermen to this day.

Brandon Creek Dingle Peninsula

Brandon Creek

Mount Brandon Walks

If you intend to hike the Brandon Mountains, remember to prepare for any weather, pack warm clothes, wear good hiking boots, bring rain gear and snacks. You can attend organised walks with Annascaul Walking Club, or Dingle Walking Club, or perhaps as part of a Dingle Peninsula walking tour.

If you opt to go hiking alone, please be sure to inform someone of where you are going, what route you intend to take and when you expect to return. It will also be prudent to bring additional gear such as a survival bag and survival blanket, plenty of water, signalling glow-sticks, and hat, scarf, gloves. There have been fatalities on Brandon so these precautions should be taken seriously!

As mentioned the views can be stunning, and who knows, maybe on a clear day you’ll be able to spy Brendan’s ‘Unknown Continent’.
Brandon Creek Bay

Brandon Creek

St. Brendan’s Voyage

Voyage of Saint Brendan

St Brendan, the Patron Saint of the Kerry Diocese, was born in 484 A.D. to a ruling class known as the Altraige people, and lived in the area of Tralee Bay. His cult was to become important to the Christian tradition of Corca Dhuibhne (Dingle Peninsula) and his story, The Voyage Of Saint Brendan, became a Medieval tale of wonder that is still told to this very day.

St Brendan is believed to have spent forty days on Mount Brandon praying, fasting and preparing for a journey that would see him sail from Brandon Creek in 535 A.D. with his fourteen monks, and eventually reach his destination in Newfoundland seven years later. His motivation for this daring journey was to bring the Gospel to the ‘unknown Continent’ to the West (America).

Brendan’s epic journey earned him a place in the imaginations of many peoples and nations. His famous voyage was re-created by traveller and writer Tim Severin in the 1970’s. He too set out on his adventure from Caus a’ Bhodaigh (Brandon Creek) in a replica of the type of boat that Brendan is thought to have used himself. Like Brendan and his fourteen monks, Severn had many adventures along the way before reaching his final destination in Newfoundland.

“Legend has it that St. Brendan, a man of God, pushed back the boundaries of knowledge and explored new worlds. Brendan discovered a new world which offered a second change to mankind. Fourteen centuries later, Brendan was followed by millions of his sons and daughters. They sought the opportunity to live free from hunger and repression. As we sail into the unknown waters of the future, we will follow Brendan’s mast and go forth with faith and courage towards new horizons together”. ~ Ronald Regan, President of the United States of America, on his visit to Ireland, 1984.

Below are photos of a monument that commemorates The Voyage Of St Brendan, located near Brandon Creek at the foot of Mount Brandon.

st. brendans voyage brandon creeksaint brendans voyage brandon

voyage of saint brendan - mount brandon

st brendans voyage dingle peninsula

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Ballydavid Co. Kerry

Baile na nGall – Ballydavid Co. Kerry

The charming fishing village of Ballydavid (Baile na nGall) is located by the shores of Smerwick Harbour. This little village commands wonderful views of the Three Sisters, Dun an Oir and the impressive Mount Brandon. The site is popular with national and international visitors who wish to explore the history and archaeological sites of the area, including the famous Galluras Oratory and Galluras Castle.

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Ballydavid Peer

Ballydavid Village Dingle Peninsula

Ballydavid pub

Ballydavid pubs

Ballydavid Fishing

Ballydavid cottages

Ballydavid Beach

Ballydavid Bay Dingle Peninsula

Ballydavid Accommodation

baile na ngall ballydavid








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