Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

Prologue: Murphy’s Law

What could go wrong? We’d booked our flight, confirmed all reservations. Our flight from Seattle to Boston arrived early, but the flight from Boston to Shannon developed engine trouble two hours into the trip and was forced to return to JFK airport in New York, where they would service the engine. Our plan was to ride from Shannon airport and catch a train in Limerick to take us to our starting point in Tralee. There, we would catch some sleep before tackling Conor Pass on the next day. An overnight at JFK changed all that. Aer Lingus took care of our hotel in Tralee and got us out of New York,the next day. We decided to stick with our plan of staying the first night in Dingle. We arrived at Shannon and claimed our bikes by 7:00 a.m., giving us plenty of time for the 25.6 km ride into Limerick. Our Irish luck finally kicked in. An early train to Tralee got us started by lunchtime, but we had 48 km to Dingle, including the 481 m summit of Conor Pass.

Stage 1 Tralee to Dingle  48,0 km

It was pretty straightforward, finding our way out of Tralee. Soon we were experiencing the lovely countryside with the traditional rock walls separating parcels of land. We pass by the Blennerville windmill and opted out of stopping the visitor center to pedal on toward our destination. So far, just level riding. We wondered when the climb would begin. There is pass ahead, after all. Finally, we round a curve and looming ahead in the distance is the climb. For us, it was along day without much sleep, since we started in New York. It was also, we were told, a 100 year heat wave going on. Imagine that in Ireland! As we climbed higher and higher on this narrow winding road, we were heating up as well. We did stop partway up at a picnic table, so we could have a a bit of a break & a big drink of our water. Then, we were off to the summit, where we stopped to take in the spectacular views, take some photos & congratulate ourselves. The last part was a welcome downhill and then into the waterside town of Dingle. We had picked a nice B and B, Doyle’s, that was also a nice restaurant. After a shower and a wonderful salmon dinner, we finished the evening with a stroll from pub to pub to take in some traditional music and, of course, something to quench our thirst.

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Stage 2 elevation

Stage 2 Dingle Penninsula loop  41,5 km

This stage is a not to be missed 20 mile circuit of the Dingle Penninsula. It’s a bit hilly; but, nothing major. This is very popular with cyclists and all tourists. Our first stop was a visit to the Gallarus Oratory, which dates to the Eighth Century. Its perfectly fitted stones have kept it completely watertight since then. It’s perhaps the oldest building on the Dingle Peninsula. About a mile and a half down the road from Gallarus are the remains of a fifth or sixth century monastic settlement at Raesk. This rock fortress has pillars and markers adorned with Celtic symbols. Continue on through Ballyferriter. Then From Clogher Head to Slea Head, you are treated to one breathtaking view after another:
To your right is Blasket Sound and the Blasket Islands.

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Oh and you’ll probably see a tour bus or two… as well as plenty of bicyclists.
The road winds downhill into Dunquin, a picturesque town that inspired the creators of Ryan’s Daughter to make their movie here. After Dunquin, there is a brief uphill ride to Dunmore Head,
where you’re treated to one of the more spectacular views in a land of spectacular views. This is Coumeenoole Bay, possibly one of the remotest bathing beaches in Europe.
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Near the tip of Slea Head there is a small parking lot across from the Slea Head Crucifixion Statues that overlook Europe’s westernmost lands.
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Between Slea Head and Ventry, just above the road is something you just can’t miss… it’s Fahan. One of the greatest collection of antiquities in all of Ireland. Here, an ancient road is lined with stone huts and other remains of ages past: Inscribed stones, souterrains, earthen ringforts and the classic beehive huts are mementos of a nearly forgotten Irish past.
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Today, the huts and the grounds are populated by herds of goats who use the huts for shelter. Leave Fahan and meander downhill. Entering Ventry, you can see directly across Ventry Harbor toward Dingle, some five miles distant. The loop continues on the R559 all along the coast and past the Dingle Harbor back into the town of Dingle. Time to wander through town and prepare for a night of pub crawling and traditional music.

Stage 3 Dingle to Killorglin  51,8 km

This ride is an end and a beginning.  We leave the Dingle Peninsula behind and head off to Killorglin on the Ring of Kerry.  There are no major climbs; just some rolling hills as we head out of Dingle, following signs to Castlemaine.  After about 10.5 miles you’ll see signs for Inch Strand.  Strand is the beach and on this wildly unusual week of hot weather in Ireland, this 4 mile beach, stretching into Dingle Bay was a popular destination for locals.  Then approaching Castlemaine, you’ll see the mountains of the Iveraugh Peninsula.  Castlemaine is a crossroads.  We take the road toward Killorglin, about 8 miles on.  As we reach Killorglin, you’ll be greeted at the bridge with a sign announcing that this is on the famous “Ring of Kerry”.  Cross the bridge over the River Lough to ride up into town.  You’ll no doubt see pictures of their mascot King Puck; the goat that rules over their annual Puck Fair.  We had booked a B and B on the River; but across from town and enjoyed passing the evening sitting outside watching the river and the grazing cows.