A Little Scenic…The Absolute Most Picturesque Drive in Ireland

It’s no secret that I truly love Ireland – I think I have pretty successfully waxed poetic about the country in most of the past week’s blog posts. Fortunately for you, I’m not done yet!

As wonderful as Dingle town is, a trip to the Dingle Peninsula isn’t complete without driving Slea Head Drive. This is arguably one of Ireland’s most scenic drives and contains several of the oldest sites in Ireland all contained in one small area. I filled the car with two other women I met at the hostel, Amber and Laura (who I previously mentioned for the Fungie the Dolphin sighting!).Sheep have all the luck - I wanna live with this view

Slea Head Drive’s Top Sites:

  1. Dunbeg Fort: Perched on the very edge of the cliffs is the promontory fort of Dunbeg, ruins are from the Iron Age. The fort is small and mostly grass-covered for protection and until it can be further excavated and some of the fort has actually tumbled into the sea over the years. The sweeping views of the ocean and straight drop down to the jagged rocks are gorgeous…and what’s a visit to Ireland without scrambling around some ruins!Conquering Dunbeg Fort
  2. Beehive Huts: The family dwellings and small community of huts could go as far back as the Bronze Age (think 2000 BC) and were continually built for thousands of years throughout Scotland and Ireland. I think people back then must have been significantly shorter though because they are tiny! Not for the short and I had to continually watch my head through the doorways.

    An Old Beehive Hut

  3. Blasket Islands: The Blasket Islands were inhabited until a forced evacuation and it’s really a wonder that any human being could live on such remote and rugged islands. Although the islands are only slightly offshore from the coast of the Dingle Peninsula, it was incredibly windy out on the peak and you’d have to be a very hearty person to survive the icy-cold and wet winds.
    The Stunning Blaskey Islands
    Although there are boat trips during high season out the islands our backpacker budgets sent us to the very tip. Just past the sandy beach is a fairly large car-park with a worn and grassy path leading up a steep sheep-poo laced hillside. In true Irish style the path is only meant for the adventurous – I laced my fingers together to give Laura a boost over the rock wall (she’s pretty short!) hopped it myself and we threaded amongst the grazing and sleepy sheep to look out over the Blasket Islands and gaze across the Atlantic toward the US.More Joy at the Blaskey Islands
    The view is stunning and because it’s “off the path” we were the only ones up there for about 30 minutes (which was perfect because each of us were forced to brave the heavy wind and pop a squat!). Although the boat tour is supposedly spectacular, I can’t imagine having missed this short hike.
  4. Gallarus Oratory: About 1200 years old, the Gallarus Oratory (likely an early Christian Church), like Dunbeg Fort and the Beehive Huts are made without mortar. The stones are gradually stacked to reach the top…and it’s surprisingly airtight. A torrential downpour caught up with us when we reached the Oratory and we camped out inside for some time and were completely protected from the strong winds and rains…which is pretty impressive considering this is thought to have been built between the 6th and 9th centuries!Gallarus Oratory on Dingle

  5. Dingle’s Legends: Three Sisters and the Sleeping Giant: Near Ballyferriter, the Three Sisters are a set of three peaks that, naturally, have several Irish legends and stories associated – they even go so far as to claim that Lindbergh’s first sight of land after crossing the Atlantic was the three jagged peaks of land known as the Three Sisters. Dingle's Three Sisters Peaks

    The Sleeping Giant is seen lying down on his back in the ocean – really does look like one! Dingle's Sleeping Giant

Perhaps the best tip I can offer for driving Slea Head Drive around the Dingle Peninsula is to memorize the Irish name for Dingle towm, An Daingean. Although it’s controversial that there’s no English name on the sign, that’s the way it is. Dingle Peninsula is an Irish speaking region of Ireland and though it can get confusing to only see road signs in Irish, it’s still lovely. But with that in mind we had to be prepared for the Irish when making our way back to our Dingle hostel for the night when all of the road signs were only pointing the way to An Daingean!

Bundled Against the cold Awed by the view

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45 Responses to A Little Scenic…The Absolute Most Picturesque Drive in Ireland

  1. ShannonOD December 31, 2009 at 10:25 am #

    I would have to agree! I stopped in there for a pint myself and really
    enjoyed the music :-) There's just something magical about those cozy,
    dark old pubs!

  2. Frankie December 31, 2009 at 4:36 am #

    We made the same trip in the spring of 2009. O'Flaherty's Pub in Dingle is worth mentioning. It hasn't changed since our sister was there 37 years ago! It's an authentic old Irish Pub!

    • ShannonOD December 31, 2009 at 5:25 pm #

      I would have to agree! I stopped in there for a pint myself and really
      enjoyed the music :-) There's just something magical about those cozy,
      dark old pubs!

  3. Frankie December 30, 2009 at 9:36 pm #

    We made the same trip in the spring of 2009. O'Flaherty's Pub in Dingle is worth mentioning. It hasn't changed since our sister was there 37 years ago! It's an authentic old Irish Pub!

  4. ShannonOD November 18, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    The huts were surprisingly sturdy at blocking out the wind, I was incredibly surprised, but the rocks are stacked very tightly and at a slant, so it was pretty neat to go into them and have all air and light blocked out. Still quite not ideal considering the huge winds that come off the Atlantic!

  5. Mark H November 17, 2009 at 11:58 pm #

    The old huts are incredible and must have made for a hard life in such chilly conditions as in west Ireland.

    • ShannonOD November 19, 2009 at 4:12 am #

      The huts were surprisingly sturdy at blocking out the wind, I was incredibly surprised, but the rocks are stacked very tightly and at a slant, so it was pretty neat to go into them and have all air and light blocked out. Still quite not ideal considering the huge winds that come off the Atlantic!

  6. Mark H November 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm #

    The old huts are incredible and must have made for a hard life in such chilly conditions as in west Ireland.

  7. ShannonOD November 10, 2009 at 4:36 pm #

    You could be!! The Irish will certainly give you warm greetings if you make it there, they're about the friendliest people I've met! :-)

  8. ShannonOD November 10, 2009 at 4:35 pm #

    I too felt an instant affinity for the country – it's just such a beautiful and tranquil place. Thanks for stopping in :-)

  9. zulhamsyah November 10, 2009 at 7:24 am #

    Gorgeous ! Ireland IS beautiful, wish i were in that pictures :)

    • ShannonOD November 10, 2009 at 11:36 pm #

      You could be!! The Irish will certainly give you warm greetings if you make it there, they're about the friendliest people I've met! :-)

  10. mina November 10, 2009 at 5:12 am #

    You look like you're having so much fun! I can't wait to visit Ireland. These pictures are fabulous.

    ….& thanks so much for the well wishes.

    • ShannonOD November 10, 2009 at 11:30 pm #

      You guys will love it so much! I am just so bummed for you that your trip is getting off to such a rough start :-) At least you're still in your own country! I look forward to reading about your travels :-)

  11. Walter November 10, 2009 at 5:22 am #

    Looking at your pictures my thoughts fly. It's very beautiful; a place I want to live for the rest of my life. :-)

    • ShannonOD November 10, 2009 at 11:35 pm #

      I too felt an instant affinity for the country – it's just such a beautiful and tranquil place. Thanks for stopping in :-)

  12. zulhamsyah November 10, 2009 at 12:24 am #

    Gorgeous ! Ireland IS beautiful, wish i were in that pictures :)

    • ShannonOD November 10, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

      You guys will love it so much! I am just so bummed for you that your trip is getting off to such a rough start :-) At least you're still in your own country! I look forward to reading about your travels :-)

  13. mina77 November 9, 2009 at 10:16 pm #
  14. mina November 9, 2009 at 10:12 pm #

    You look like you're having so much fun! I can't wait to visit Ireland. These pictures are fabulous.

    ….& thanks so much for the well wishes.

  15. Walter November 9, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    Looking at your pictures my thoughts fly. It's very beautiful; a place I want to live for the rest of my life. :-)

  16. ShannonOD November 9, 2009 at 8:10 pm #

    I know exactly the feeling you are describing! It's incredible to travel to these remote and huge landscapes and just feel like the entire world could end on the other side of the cliff! Ireland is amazing and has a distinctly different pace than Scotland – buy your plane ticket! Well, at least as soon as you can ;-)

  17. Legal Nomads November 9, 2009 at 6:39 pm #

    How many takes for that awesome 'jumping in the air' photo? Looks like you guys had a fantastic time!

    • ShannonOD November 9, 2009 at 6:44 pm #

      My friend held down the button in “continuous picture” mode and I just jumped like a fiend a dozen times ;-) Good thing we were alone because I am sure I looked ridiculous doing it!

  18. Stacey Cornelius November 9, 2009 at 6:43 pm #

    I just found your blog – seeing those pictures makes me want to buy a plane ticket. I've been to Scotland, but not Ireland (yet). Banff was the farthest north I travelled in Scotland. The rugged North Sea coastline was really something to see. I felt like I was looking out at the edge of the world.

    Great pics!

    • ShannonOD November 10, 2009 at 3:10 am #

      I know exactly the feeling you are describing! It's incredible to travel to these remote and huge landscapes and just feel like the entire world could end on the other side of the cliff! Ireland is amazing and has a distinctly different pace than Scotland – buy your plane ticket! Well, at least as soon as you can ;-)

  19. ShannonOD November 9, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    My friend held down the button in “continuous picture” mode and I just jumped like a fiend a dozen times ;-) Good thing we were alone because I am sure I looked ridiculous doing it!

  20. Legal Nomads November 9, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    How many takes for that awesome 'jumping in the air' photo? Looks like you guys had a fantastic time!

  21. Stacey Cornelius November 9, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    I just found your blog – seeing those pictures makes me want to buy a plane ticket. I've been to Scotland, but not Ireland (yet). Banff was the farthest north I travelled in Scotland. The rugged North Sea coastline was really something to see. I felt like I was looking out at the edge of the world.

    Great pics!

  22. ShannonOD November 9, 2009 at 9:06 am #

    I haven't been to Iceland but have only heard really positive things. If you make it back to Ireland it's a must to get out of the city – it's an entirely different experience!

  23. ShannonOD November 9, 2009 at 9:04 am #

    Oh man, you will just have to let me know when you do! :-)

  24. ShannonOD November 9, 2009 at 9:02 am #

    I glad you weren't able to too! Who knew we'd have such a blast ;-) Terribly jealous that you are moving there!

  25. Laura Carter November 9, 2009 at 1:41 am #

    what a FUN day!!! and to think it was the day that started all of our adventures for the next week. :) so glad i wasn't able to make the tour bus and experience the peninsula with you guys! XOXO

    • ShannonOD November 9, 2009 at 4:02 pm #

      I glad you weren't able to too! Who knew we'd have such a blast ;-) Terribly jealous that you are moving there!

  26. Dave and Deb November 8, 2009 at 7:00 pm #

    It looks amazing. I just love scenic drives. We are going to have to get to Ireland some day soon.

    • ShannonOD November 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm #

      Oh man, you will just have to let me know when you do! :-)

  27. lilvtchic November 8, 2009 at 6:41 pm #

    what a FUN day!!! and to think it was the day that started all of our adventures for the next week. :) so glad i wasn't able to make the tour bus and experience the peninsula with you guys! XOXO

  28. Stephanie November 8, 2009 at 4:16 pm #

    You have convinced me I really, really need to go to Ireland. Spent a weekend in Dublin but didn't even get a real taste for what Ireland is all about. The hazy beauty actually reminds me of Iceland a bit.

    • ShannonOD November 9, 2009 at 4:06 pm #

      I haven't been to Iceland but have only heard really positive things. If you make it back to Ireland it's a must to get out of the city – it's an entirely different experience!

  29. Dave and Deb November 8, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    It looks amazing. I just love scenic drives. We are going to have to get to Ireland some day soon.

  30. Stephanie November 8, 2009 at 9:16 am #

    You have convinced me I really, really need to go to Ireland. Spent a weekend in Dublin but didn't even get a real taste for what Ireland is all about. The hazy beauty actually reminds me of Iceland a bit.

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