Natrual Landscape of the Conor Pass

The Conor Pass is the highest mountain pass in Ireland and is located on the North side of the Dingle Peninsula.  The drive through the Conor Pass was breathtaking, beautiful views and very narrow twisty roads on the side of a mountain. The Mountain Pass runs through the Brandon Mountains which is the second highest peak in Ireland at 3127 ft.

There is a great lookout point at the top of the pass which allows you to overlook Dingle, the valley and lakes below, and Brandon Bay.  There are some educational panels at the lookout the explain the geographical historical of the area and talk about how ice ages and natural changes to the area shaped the landscape.

I was lucky to visit the pass on a clear day, as a few locals indicated that if the weather is foggy it is nearly impossible to see anything from the lookout or on the road.  After reaching the top of the Pass the road becomes much more rustic.  The road is for two way traffic however the width of the road can only accommodate one car at a time — so if you meet another car one of you needs to back up along the twisty to a spot that has a wide shoulder.  The driving experience was a tad hair raising but the views of the area were well worth it.

Seaside Heritage on the Dingle Peninsula

Dunbeg Fort

The Dingle Peninsula was one of my favourite areas of Ireland.  The sea side town was homey and the surrounding country size was awe inspiring.  The Slea Head drive in particular offered some great views of the the coastline, natural heritage, and a handful of built heritage sites. 

The Dunbeg Fort was the first place we stopped on the Slea Head route. The Fort overlooks Dingle Bay and is located on a rock promontory that has eroded substantially over the years.  The view alone is well worth the admission price to the Fort.  The Fort structure is dry stacked rock and only a small portion of the original Fort still exists, portions of it were lost to erosion. The date of the Fort is contested with some dating the structure from the Iron Age, 500 BC, or 800 AD. 

View at Dunbeg

The Dunbeg site also includes a small visitors centre.  The Centre features an audio-visual presentation room where there is a ten minute video describing the history of the area, the archeological studies that have been done at Dunbeg, and the type of building material used in the Fort.

A short distance away from the Dunbeg Fort there are a grouping of clocháns, also known as beehive huts.  There is little signage around the huts but visitors are given a brief information handout when they arrive that dates the site around 1000 AD.  The rounded roofs of the huts reminded me of igloo construction, particular when viewed from inside.  The few clocháns on the site are all relatively small in height and size but were neat to explore.  The site is located on the side of a hill and the view provides a different vantage point of the area. 

Beehive Hut

Following the Dunbeg Fort and beehive huts the road continues towards the Blasket Island and nearby beach.  The Blasket Island is only 2 km away from shore, but in the 1950s the Irish government had the island evacuated and the 170 residents were relocated to the mainland.  The reasoning being that the island was deemed unsafe for habitation.  The Blascaoid Centre located on the main Dingle Peninsula is dedicated to the heritage of the island and its inhabitants. 

The Slea Head drive was a great mixture of country side, rugged coast line, and heritage sites.  You could easily spend an entire afternoon or day enjoying the sites along the route and in my mind the drive was fare more enjoyable than the more well known Ring of Kerry.