Ireland's Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry - Travel Addicts

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Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry

The Gallarus Oratory is one of the beautiful things you'll see in western Ireland. We drove the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula in one day -- which one did we like better?

In the spirit of seeing a lot in a short period of time, we somehow managed to complete two very popular drives in southwest Ireland in just one long day. But which did we like best – Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry?

The Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is a route of rolling hills and jagged coastline. Along the way, the prehistoric Staigue ring fort, which dates from about 300 AD, is still open for exploring, and wildly colored vegetation dots the landscape. There are also sheep everywhere. In breeding season, they, too, can give the appearance of being wildly colored—the sheep are marked with different colors that rub off on their partners when they breed. If the weather had been better, we would have tried for a visit to the island of Skellig Michael just off the coast, but it was not to be.

Driving through the rolling hills of Ireland's Ring of Kerry

Driving through the rolling hills of the Ring of Kerry

Staigue fort is one of many ancient stone structures on the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula

Staigue fort

At 180 kilometers, it’s not a short drive and is nearly four times longer than the drive around Dingle Peninsula. If anything, the length is probably its downfall because it leaves you feeling like you’ve driven a very long way and not seen all that much.

The colorful coastline of Ireland's Ring of Kerry on an overcast day. We explore two of the country's famous drives -- what's better -- Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry?

The colorful coastline of the Ring of Kerry on an overcast day

Sheep on Ireland's Ring of Kerry

So many sheep of so many colors!

We had been warned that the Ring of Kerry was a bit overrated and packed with traffic. We were actually surprised at how little traffic there was on the narrow, winding roads (March is certainly not high season here), but the overrated assessment did prove to be true. Even if it didn’t quite live up to our hopes, it was a lovely drive even in the overcast weather.

Gazing over Ireland's Ring of Kerry from above

Gazing over Kerry from above

Dingle Peninsula

The Dingle Peninsula is what we had thought the Ring of Kerry would be. It’s a much more leisurely road, though still as curving and narrow. The area is a Gaeltacht (a place where the Irish language Gaelic is spoken), so many of the signs aren’t in English, which gives it a fanciful quality like you’ve stepped into the Lord of the Rings. The drive itself offered spectacular views of the rocky coastline of Ireland and a number of sights along the way.

The coast on a drive of Ireland's Dingle Peninsula

A glimpse of sun on the Dingle peninsula

Ruins just off the coast of Dingle Peninsula in Irleand

Ruins just off the coast

The first sight was a series of beehive huts, called clochans that are thousands of years old and were built by the early settlers on the peninsula. Later on, the ruins of the Reasc Monastery offer a glimpse of what early Christianity was like on the peninsula. In addition, one of the absolute highlights of Dingle was the Gallarus Oratory. It’s an old church (likely about 1400 years old) that is still intact, still waterproof and still impressive. Just as we got to the Gallarus Oratory, the clouds cleared and the sun started to come out. It was absolutely gorgeous!

The beehive huts are one of the unique sights on Dingle Peninsula | Irleland's Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry?

The beehive huts are one of the unique sights on Dingle Peninsula

Monument on Irelands Dingle Peninsula

Monument on Dingle

Ruins at Reasc Monastery on Ireland's Dingle Peninsula

Ruins at Reasc Monastery on Dingle

In addition to the ancient sites, Dingle Peninsula is dotted with personality-filled villages where you can stop for a bite to eat or some shopping. The best things in these little towns are the spirits of the people and the music. There’s just something so welcoming about Dingle that it became one of our favorite places in all of Ireland.

Have you driven the Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry? What did you think?

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What do you think about Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry?

  1. Aine Waldron January 11, 2017 at 7:04 am #

    Have done both……Kerry several times……Dingle over and over! There is no comparison. This article is right on. We even rented a cottage and stayed on the Dingle Peninsula for a week. Don’t miss the Blasket Island Heritage Center.

    • Lance Longwell January 11, 2017 at 10:01 am #

      We missed the Blasket Island Heritage Center. We were there in the winter, so it might not have been open. I can’t remember.

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