Tag Archives: #‎discoverireland‬


Bealick Mill

After driving through Killarney National Park we made our way east on N22 toward Macroom where we met Bealick Mill on the River Larney.  This water-mill dates back to the early 19th century.

Bealick Mill

The location of this mill is very important in Bealick Mill MapIrish history for other reasons as even the mill’s name is derived from “Bealach Leachta”, a route used by local saints. There are also standing stones nearby which commemorate the battle of Bealach Leachta, a legendary battle fought in 978AD.

Bealick Mill


Cork and Macroom Direct Railway Stamp
I.B RedGuy’s Fine Stamps

The present building , erected in the early 19th century as a corn mill, served the surrounding parishes. Hardings of Firville, local landlords, were the first owners. Macroom-Cork Direct Railway transported the produce to the Port of Cork for export.

Macroom had electric street lighting from 1890, courtesy of SamuelBaldwin’s solid fuel generating system. It was one of the first towns in Ireland to enjoy such a luxury. The Town Commissioners decided to upgrade the service in 1899 and Macroom & District Lighting Syndicate installed a water powered generator at Bealick, which was now known as Looneys Mill. The mill supplied the town’s street lighting until the advent of the Electric Supply Board in 1935.  Francis St. Aubyn Horgan of Firville bought the property in 1936.  He used the water power his foundry, Macroom Engineering Company which manufactured manhole covers, road signs etc. up to 1964.



Killarney National Park

Killarney - Hillcrest Farmhouse Irish Breakfast
Hillcrest Farmhouse Irish Breakfast

Killarney National Park was just to the east of where we stayed in the Black Valley.  A section of the Ring of Kerry (N71) runs right through the park.  We had not explored it at all during our two night stay at Hillcrest Farmhouse, other than the sheep pastures that were just inside the park boundaries a short walk from our B&B.  On our 10th day in Ireland we woke up, readied ourselves for a long travel day, packed up the car and consumed another terrific Irish breakfast.

We visited the sheep one last time on our way out of the Black Valley.  They were quite entertaining each time we visited them.

Killarney National Park, near the town of Killarney, County Kerry, was the first national park in Ireland.  It was created when Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish Free State in 1932. The park has since been substantially expanded and encompasses over 25,425 acres of diverse ecology, including the Lakes of Killarney, oak and yew woodlands of international importance, and mountain peaks.  It has Ireland’s only native herd of red deer and the most extensive covering of native forest remaining in Ireland. – wikipedia

The park roads boasted some magnificent views.  One specific spot is so grand that  it was given a specific name: Ladies View.  Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting visited this spot during the royal visit in 1861.  There is a nice gift shop, cafe and bar for your convenience.  Great coffee.  This is where I found the best price on a wool zip up coat.

Ladies View

Just down the road a wee bit from Ladies View is a castle ruin and church.

As we drove through the park more, it became very clear that we could have spent another day in this area.  The scenery was wonderful.  Unfortunately, we had to move along and get closer to Dublin where we would fly back home in a few days.

More views of the park





Ring of Reeks

There is another ring beside the Ring of Kerry.  Widely known for cycle tours, the Ring of Reeks boasts some outstanding beauty.  There are more official maps the outline the cycle route; the map below is my own account of the path we traveled.

Ring of Kerry & Ring of Reeks

The roads in this area are very narrow, hilly and full of curves.  You are definitely off the beaten path here away from the coastal roads.  The scenery is amazing.  We happened upon a fox that was up to no good; the farmer dispatched it and hung it on a fence.  As we were traversing these roads we came upon a farmer working his dogs and baby sheep along the road from one pasture to another.  This was a welcome travel interruption and fun to watch.  A prime example of getting off the beaten path.  There is so much to see; a wonderful surprise may just be down the road a wee bit further.

Molls Gap

Top Cross

Black & Bridia Valleys




Dingle Peninsula MapPerched on the westernmost tip of Ireland — and Europe, for that matter, residents are fond of saying, “The next parish over is Boston.”   – www.dingle-peninsula.ie

The Peninsula

The Dingle Peninsula is named after the town of Dingle.  It is the northernmost of the major peninsulas in County Kerry. It ends beyond the town of Dingle at Dunmore Head, the westernmost point of Ireland and arguably Europe.
– wikipedia

The Town

Dingle Town is on the south coast the peninsula. The landmass to the south of the town offers protection from the ravages of the Atlantic Ocean.  The harbour is home to the Dingle fishing fleet. The town is one of the most visited in Ireland. Its narrow streets are dotted with fine fish restaurants, art galleries, craft shops selling local pottery, clothing made from hand weaved cloth, sculptured figurines, gold and silver jewellery. The town has a large number of pubs where nightly entertainment is available, in particular traditional Irish music where musicians can just wander in and join in the session.
– http://dingle-insight.com/

Even though we stayed in the area for two days, we didn’t spend much time on this peninsula.  We made our way to Dingle Town after a loop around the Ring of Kerry.  It is only a wee bit of a deviation from the ring to the north and west.  The southern peninsula road (N86) boast some magnificent views.  One noteworthy area is near Annascaul (photo below).Road to Annascaul

The town itself is very bright and cherry.  The town centre was quite busy even in April.  We parked at the waterfront and browsed the shops and harbor.

The Harbor

The Black Valley was more our speed.  It wasn’t long and we were on our way back there, but not before stopping for a pint.  We found Knightly’s Bar & Restaurant in Castlemaine.  Pretty sure fish and chips happened at some point even though there exist no photographic evidence of the event.



Blind Piper Pub
Blind Piper Pub

Caherdaniel is a village in County Kerry, Ireland, on the Iveragh peninsula on the Ring of Kerry. It is on the southwestern side of the peninsula, facing onto Derrynane Bay.  Derrynane House was the home of Irish politician and statesman, Daniel O’Connell. It is now an Irish National Monument and part of a 320-acre National Park.

DERRYNANE BAY & BEACHDerrynane Beach is part of the national park and it is pretty amazing.  A welcome stop along the way to take in some salty Irish air and stretch our legs.  We were very lucky when visiting beaches in Ireland.  We always seemed to arrive at low tide.  The receding water made very interesting designs in the sand.

Skellig Islands

There are sightseeing trips to the Skellig Islands from Derrynane Harbour daily during the Summer season.  We were a wee bit too early to take advantage of such excursions.

Both of the Skellig islands are known for their seabird colonies, and together comprise one of the most important seabird sites in Ireland, both for the population size and for the species diversity. Among the breeding birds are European storm petrel, northern gannet, northern fulmar, Manx shearwater, black-legged kittiwake, common guillemot, razorbill and Atlantic puffin.  There are typically 4,000 or more puffins on Great Skellig alone. Red-billed chough and peregrine falcon can also be seen.

The surrounding waters have abundant wildlife. There are many Grey sealBasking shark, minke whale, dolphin, beaked whale, and leatherback sea turtle have also been recorded. The islands have many interesting recreational diving sites due to the clear water, an abundance of life, and underwater cliffs down to 60 meters (200 feet).

The last scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shot on Skellig in July 2014.  Additional filming took place there in September 2015. The remains of the Skellig Michael monastery appear in the film, representing an ancient Jedi temple.


The Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is a 179-km-long circular tourist route in County Kerry, south-western Ireland. Clockwise from Killarney it follows the N71 to Kenmare, then the N70 around the Iveragh Peninsula to Killorglin – passing through Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen, and Glenbeigh – before returning to Killarney via the N72. – read more (wikipedia)

The Iveraph Peninsula

The Iveraph Peninsula is a very The Ring of Kerry Mappopular destination.  The Ring of Kerry is one of the most beloved areas to visit in the Republic of Ireland.  I highly recommend straying from the prescribed route a wee bit.   We did not stray and we missed Kerry Cliffs, Foilhommerum Bay and Balycarbery Castle on the tip of the peninsula.

The Kerry Way

The peninsula is also home to The Kerry Way.  The Kerry Way is a walkers’ version of the Ring of Kerry.  It is a 113 mile long The Kerry Way Mapcircular hiking train the begins and ends in Killarney.  It typically takes 9 days to complete.  What an adventure that has to be.  As you can see on the map below, there are B&B’s all along the way.  You can make arrangements to have your luggage delivered to specific B&B’s at scheduled times so you need only carry day packs while walking.  [link to interactive map]

Traveling the ring

We visited The Ring of Kerry in April well ahead of the peak tourist season.  There was still plenty of traffic; I can only imagine how crazy it gets during the peak summer months.  There is no debating it’s beauty and no wonder about why it is such a popular place.  This was the most “touristy” area we traveled through in Ireland.  Our goal was to avoid big cities and touristy areas.  We made an exception for this area.  If you are in the area, you must take the time and at least drive the loop.  The sites to stop at are many and the views grand.  The map below illustrates the locations of the photos that follow.

Iveraph Peninsula Map









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

Horse-drawn trap

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

Trusting Generosity

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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