Updated: Jan 22, 2019
Exploring the Beara Peninsula by car through Healy's Pass
We woke up early to watch the sunrise over Barley Lake. Steve from our hotel in Kinsale recommended this location when I was asking about a few different location options. The drive up was steep and windy and this is not a road you want to run into another vehicle going the other way. It turns out no one else was going to brave the cold and wind to see the sunrise as we did not see anyone the entire way up or down.
I like to be early because I don’t want to miss anything so it was very dark when we arrived and I had brought a headlamp. I could have used my rain/wind pants and an extra layer of clothes because to say it was cold and windy would be a huge understatement.
The trail to the lake was exceptionally wet and very squishy. Our shoes had proven to be waterproof but not so much “bog” proof. We made it to what seemed to be a good lookout point and we just had to wait for the sun to come up, if it was going to. Unfortunately, the sun couldn’t break through the clouds but all in all it was a fun adventure and I got a few cool pictures.
Blue Pool and Weavers of Ireland
We headed back to our hotel for breakfast and tried to warm up a bit. I don’t think the hotels like to put the heat on in the main areas during the low season so it took a while to warm up. There was a cute giftshop next to the hotel and a blue pool across the street. My mom and sister headed into the gift shop (Weavers of Ireland) and I headed over to the blue pool.
In the summer, people will go swimming there because it is warmer than the main part of the ocean. They describe it as a magical tidal harbor hidden in the middle of Glengarriff located in a rock basin in the woods. The blue pool is formed where the river meets the sea. Not one person was there as I was exploring and I envisioned what it would look like packed with people. There was also a ferry boat that left from there to go over to Garnish Island (not running at the time), a rope swing near the entrance and benches to sit and enjoy the view. I decided to go on a few trails but didn’t want to wander off too far in case my family came looking for me.
The blue pool’s lush backdrop was absolutely beautiful and I took quite a few pictures. As I walked close to the water it was extremely slimy and slippery so I had to be extra careful not to slip. I decided to head back because I thought they might be worried about me. Well not so much, they were still busy looking at all the merchandise. Glengarriff was such a magical place and I will definitely go back if I get back to Ireland.
Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve
Our next stop was Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve which was just a short 3 minute drive from the town. There were several trails to walk and we decided on the Waterfall Walk because I love waterfalls and it seemed like a fairly easy hike. It was a little busier here then in town but only a couple people on our trail.
This area is exactly what I would envision as a place fairies or magical creatures would live. There was still lush greenery and then fall leaves on the ground as well.
Beara Peninsula/Healy’s Pass
Since we visited the Nature Reserve then we only had time for half of the Beara Peninsula and decided to take Healy’s Pass on our way to the Uragh Stone Circle and Gleninchiquin Park. The scenery was breathtaking and we could stop along the way and take photos because no one was really around. The colors were varied between hues of green and oranges. There was a cool spot that we stopped over a bridge and the sheep were just grazing next to the waterfall of the river.
Uragh Stone Circle/Gleninchiquin Park
Along the way we stopped and asked a man who was cutting down brush on the side of the road if we were headed in the right direction and if the Uragh Stone Circle was open. He was very nice and explained that yes the Stone Circle was open but this time of year the road to Gleninchiquin Park was closed so we’d have to come back the way we came. I have learned to ask people now because most things were marked clearly in Ireland but when I am way out in the country I want to make sure I’m going in the right direction.
We stopped at the Stone Circle and it had a vast beautiful backdrop and a ton of sheep and sheep poop.
After we left, there was a really cool stone fishing dock that went into the water like something out of a fairytale. I waited for a mystical sea monster to pop it’s head out but no such luck.
We continued our journey through Kenmare and stopped at the ladies room. There was never a shortage of public restrooms and they were all very clean and convenient.
Killarney – night 1
We drove through Moll’s Gap and Ladies View and stopped to take some photos. There was just a random castle ruin along the side of the road that was pretty cool. As we approached Kenmare and Killarney we started seeing more and more people. In fact it was extremely crowded then what we had been used to the past couple days. We took our time stopping at the various sites like the lakes of Killarney and a neat church.
We started heading into Killarney and the traffic was way backed up which I just figured well it’s close to dinner time, it’s Saturday and this is a large town in Ireland. We will just take our time and get there when we get there. So here is where the journey to get to our hotel began. After a while we figured something must be going on tonight but we didn’t know what yet. We finally got to town and there was our hotel, now, where do we park. I thought it was behind the hotel so we just followed along the way with all the people. They were putting barricades up on one of the roads so I rolled down my window and asked what was going on and they said there was a parade starting at 6 pm. It was now about 4:15 pm. So I thought ok plenty of time to get back to the hotel and at least stop and check-in.
We tried multiple streets to get back there and I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out. We went on the same road about 4 times (Lewis Road) and this is in bumper to bumper traffic. I remained calm but my face started getting hot and itchy. I’ve never had hives but I’m pretty sure I did that night. We could hardly tell what road we were on and the map book we had wasn’t as detailed for the towns. I got out my phone with maps for the first time this trip hoping that it would work and not just spin and spin. It worked! It turns out the one way I needed to go on wasn’t a one way which I originally thought. Voila, we made it back to the hotel and I stopped outside the door while my sister Lisa went inside to ask where to park. One of the front desk staff (a wonderful young college student) came and drove with me to find a parking spot. We drove around several parking lots and had to just wait for someone to leave. At least this time I had someone that knew where to turn! We finally found a spot which wasn’t totally a spot but everyone was parked there and he said it was fine for tonight. I figured I would just move it once the parade was over.
Luckily Lisa made reservations at the hotel restaurant for us to have dinner that night. They upgraded our room and it was very nice, I think they felt bad for us. Dinner that night was beyond amazing. They had this pumpkin seed tomato bread which was seriously the best bread I’ve ever eaten and I love bread. I can’t remember the last time I ate that much food. The strawberry ice cream and strawberry cheesecake were so fresh and yummy!
Our table was right next to the host and I think he turned away at least 50 people and the place was packed. I would highly recommend this hotel and the restaurant (International Hotel)
After dinner we decided to explore the town. We found out that the town was having their Christmas in Killarney Parade and Turning on of Christmas Lights and every year it rained on them but this year the weather was perfect so it brought even more people to town. I had no idea how big Christmas was in Killarney but everything was decorated perfectly with the storefront windows and the sidewalk décor. They also participate in Black Friday so all the stores had sales and everyone was shopping. Note to self: look up each town website prior to going to be prepared for any events.