Killarney National Park, County Kerry – Ireland

We awoke to our tenth day in Ireland and after spending two nights at the Hillcrest Farmhouse, we needed to move on. It was going to be a long day full of adventure, so we started our day with the most delicious Irish Breakfast.  We headed to the sheep pastures that were located within minutes of our B & B which are just inside the boundaries of Killarney National Park. I absolutely adored spending time with the sheep; all of their different personalities just made me smile. Killarney National Park is a truly magical place and is so full of beauty and wonder.

Killarney National Park (Irish: Páirc Náisiúnta Chill Airne), near the town of Killarney, County Kerry, was the first national park in Ireland, created when the 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 the only red deer herd on mainland Ireland and is the most extensive covering of native forest remaining in Ireland. The park is of high ecological value because of the quality, diversity, and extensiveness of many of its habitats and the wide variety of species that they accommodate, some of which are rare. The park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981. ~ Wikipedia

The Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry – Republic of Ireland

I agree with Dan when he said, “The Gap of Dunloe in an absolute jewel of the Emerald Isle”.   The Gap of Dunloe or the Valley of Echoes was formed 25,000 years ago during Ireland’s last ice age as a result of a “glacial breach”. This is where a glacier in the Black Valley which was part of the Templenoe Icecap, estimated to be over 500 metres deep, broke through the Head of the Gap and moved northwards carving out this magical U-shaped valley. The glen is a place of enchantment and full of legend and lore. It was an old tradition to ‘wake the valley’ by blowing a horn. One of the most famous local horn-blowers was Paddy Boyle with his magic bugle. It would have been wonderful to hear that bugle, instead we gave it our best “Woohoo”. There are five lakes within the Gap of Dunloe.  Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake, and Black Lough; all connected by the River Loe. Between the first two lakes is an old arch bridge called the Wishing Bridge. Locals claim that wishes made while upon it are destined to come true. The bridge was a beautiful piece of architecture that has probably lasted for hundreds of years.

The abandoned Arbutus Cottages sit at the base of the gap and have been left in ruins. Of course, Dan and I had to stop for pictures. We have learned so many times to stop and capture these sites. Sometimes you can almost hear the stories they have to tell as the wind blows through the open windows. The light that shines through these ruins can definitely add character and atmosphere.

We must have passed through the Gap of Dunloe a handful of times but never during the day from roughly 10am-4pm as it is quite the tourist attraction.  The road is open to the public and locals use it often, but they even try to stay off the road during the busy hours. With our B & B on the other side, we needed to travel the very narrow road and we were never disappointed.  Since the road is very narrow (mostly one lane) and there is high pedestrian and carriage traffic, I would recommend hiking this beautiful area or supporting local business and taking a ride on a horse-drawn trap.

As we made our way back to the B & B, we decided to stop for Dinner at Kate Kearney’s Cottage and walk around the town for a wee bit. During our walk, we were approached by a local who asked if we would like a ride on the horse drawn trap and we accepted. The ride was a wonderful experience, and we feel fortunate that this lovely man had approached us even though most were done for the night. His pony, Lucy, was absolutely stunning and was very well mannered – Thanks Paul and Lucy; you provided a memory that will last a life time!

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

You can see Dan’s post and images from this area here:

Dan Traun – Gap of Dunloe – Part 1

Dan Traun – Gap of Dunloe – Part 2

I hope you enjoyed this area as much as we did. See you on our next adventure!