The Gap of Dunloe
The Gap of Dunloe is truly a sight to see. Motor car traffic is frowned upon; perhaps prohibited through the gap. Although no one will likely stop you, you may get a sneer of two. We didn’t really have much of a choice as our B&B was through the gap in the Black Valley. Driving all the way around to the south wasn’t in our itinerary. The road into the Black Valley from the south was far from a four-lane interstate too. Avoiding motor car traffic through the gap between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. is probably a good idea as that seemed to be the busiest time for the horse and carts.
This is an extremely narrow road through the Gap of Dunloe weaves up through the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountains. You can see a huge boulder alongside the road in the foreground of the photo below. Look further down the road toward the center of photo and you’ll see a pair of boulders on either side of the road. There are several sharp turns around boulders on this road. Be careful, go slow, watch for walkers and yield to horse-drawn traps.
Drive through the Gap of Dunloe
The Gap of Dunloe has long been a popular tourist attraction. The road through it is narrow, winding and is difficult for motor vehicles. A popular form of transport for tourists is the horse-drawn trap, a cart where up to four occupants sit facing each other. The traps are guided by men from families that live in and around the Gap. These ponymen use a rotation system called the Turn which determines who takes the next customers. The Turn has been in existence since the 1920s and is passed down in the families to the next generation. – wikipedia
We had just returned from the Ring of Kerry, looping around from the east and north arriving back at the town of Dunloe on the north side of the gap. Knowing there are no dinner options close to our B&B in the Black Valley, we decided to eat at Kate Kearney’s Cottage. Prior to dinner we walked around the area to look at the horses and carts. It appeared that all of the cart drivers had quite for the evening.
We were approached by a man asking us if we’d like a ride through the gap. This sounded like a fine idea. One hitch. We were nearing the end of our trip and were extremely low on cash. Backstory – our ATM cards didn’t work and we neglected to bring much cash or acquire a pin number for a credit card. The man quoted the price, €50. We had it, but that would leave us with very little cash for the rest of the trip. We needed to hold on to our cash as admission to certain attractions required cash.
I explained the situation to the driver, Paul, and he said “no problem; send me the money once you get back home.” There were several “are you sure” statements uttered, to which his response was always, “no problem.” With a nod and gentlemen’s agreement executed will a handshake we were soon on our way.
His horse, Lucy, was already resting in the pasture. It didn’t take long for Paul to get everything rigged up and ready. I highly recommend this mode of transport through the gap. You will no doubt enjoy it as much as Cyndie and I did.
After the trip, we thanked Paul for the wonderful ride through the gap. He recorded his details on a sheet of paper so we could compensate him upon our return to the states. And so we did along with a handsome tip. This is just another example of how wonderful the people of Ireland are.
After the wonderful ride we were definitely ready to have dinner at Kate Kearney’s Cottage. I decided to deviate from fish & chips since Banger’s & Mash was on the menu. Delicious.
Gap of Dunloe Tours
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