Jaw-dropping natural scenery. Sweeping coastal views. Patchwork green fields. These are the sights you simply can't miss while exploring the rugged Beara Peninsula.
Straddling both Cork and Kerry, the Beara is truly off the beaten track. Narrow, winding roads ensure life here keeps to an unhurried rhythm. Of the four peninsulas in Ireland's southwestern corner, the Beara receives the least amount of visitors. This in turn gives the area a uniquely unspoiled feel.
1. Garnish Island
Located in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff, Garnish island is a haven for garden lovers. You'll discover all sorts amazing flora when wandering around its famed gardens.
Garnish benefits from a uniquely warm microclimate. Many exotic flowers blossom here that you will not find in other parts of Ireland.
Watch out for seals on the ferry to Garnish Island. A colony of roughly 250 seals bask on the rocky outcrop of Seal Island. As your boat glides across Bantry Bay, you'll get an up-close view.
2. Dunboy Castle
Once the stronghold of 17th Century Gaelic Prince O'Sullivan Bere, Dunboy Castle now lies in ruins. This was the scene of the siege of Dunboy, in 1602. English monarch Queen Elizabeth I sent 5,000 soldiers to suppress the Gaelic rulers of the area.
When you visit Dunboy Castle, you're free to wander the historic remains. Packed a picnic? The views of Bullig Bay and Bere Island from Dunboy Castle make it an ideal picnic location.
Dunboy Castle is the starting point for the Bullig Bay looped hike. This trail hugs the coast before turning inland across verdant farmland. Watch out for traditional dry stone walls, a ruined watch-tower and crumbling walled enclosures, each steeped in history.
3. Gleninchaquin Park
Carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, Gleninchaquin feels otherworldly.
Ringed by forested hills, this rocky valley is equally dramatic shrouded in mist or on a clear day. Look to the north for a dramatic 140 metre (153 yards) high waterfall. This cascade feeds the placid lakes below.
Crowning the magical scene is the Uragh Stone Circle. Dating from the Neolithic Era, Uragh is one of the best examples of a stone circle in Ireland. Its exact use is mysterious. But you can really understand why its builders chose this location - things haven't changed much here in millennia!
4. Healy Pass
Twisting and turning its way across the Beara peninsula, the Healy Pass has become a must-see on the Beara.
This mountain pass runs from Adrigole in Cork to Lauragh in Kerry. It twists its way through two of the highest peaks in the Caha mountain range.
The views here do not disappoint. Glanmore lake opens up beneath you, with vibrant green fields contrasting against rocky mountain peaks. Photos don't do the Healy Pass justice.
At the very end of the the Beara Peninsula lies the scenic coastal village of Allihies. This is the furthest point from Dublin you can reach in Ireland; it really does feel like the edge of the world!
Colourful Allihies boasts stunning views of the Iveragh mountains and coast across Kenmare Bay. In the 18th century the town was a thriving copper mine district and remnants of this era can still be found. Up to 40% of the population of Butte, Montana in the U.S., are descendants of emigrant miners from this area.
The well-known Irish legend of the Children of Lir has a connection to Allihies. According to local folklore, after 900 years of journeying across the sea, the children of Lir were buried there. Mythology aside, the views there are definitely otherworldly.
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