Britain 09 - Day 6
Today we left Killarney and headed south and west to the Ring of Beara. This road circles the Beara Peninsula in a similar fashion to the Ring of Kerry, its more famous cousin. The Lonely Planet tourist guide suggess the Ring of Beara is just as scenic, but without the long lines of tour buses. They may well be right: there were a lot of tour buses in Killarney, yet we found Beara almost deserted. There are many historic sites on Beara (see the Beara Tourism website). When I planned the trip I was not sure that we could easily drive all around the Ring in a day. As it turned out, this was easily accomplished and we reached Glengarriff late in the afternoon, in time for a few drinks in the late afternoon sun, then a musical evening in the bar.
The Ring of Beara
Moll's Gap & Ladies View
From Killarney, we headed south on the N71, past Lough Leane and stopping beside Muckross Lake a few kilometres out of town. We then climbed steeply to reach Moll's Gap with Ladies View, a spectacular view back down the valley and across the Killarney lakes. Ladies View is reputed to be named after Queen Victoria's Ladies in Waiting who visited the area in 1861 and were fascinated by the view.
From Moll's Gap the road heads south to Kenmare, where we turned west on the R571 to follow the coast. At Tuosist the road forks, the R571 going inland, with the R573 following the coast to meet again at Lauragh. We followed the coast for some great views.
At Ardgroom the road again forks, the R571 going inland and the smaller L4911 turning north to the coast and around Kilcatherine point. Ardgroom is a tidy town with a central service station that is also the Post Office, grocery, bookshop and cafe. We stopped here for a coffee, before following the signs around the Ring of Beara. The coffee was better than some we had been served, but half of it ended up in the saucers as the outside table was on such a steep lean!
Coulagh Bay and the Hag of Beara
Continuing around the Ring of Beara we drove around the Kilcatherine Peninsula. At Gortgarriff the view is across the bay with a small island. Here lies an ancient relic, a stone looking out to sea, known as the Hag of Beara. The sign tells the story of the Hag who was an ancient resident, and who outlived her many husbands. All local clan chiefs claimed their legitimacy from her. The arrival of Christianity challenged her domain, and she was eventually turned to stone by St Caitiarin after stealing his prayer book. Today she is still regared as a protector of fishermen, with various offerings strewn around the rock.
The top of the Beara Peninsula
From Eyeries the road rejoins the R571 continues around the coast, continuing through Urchin before cutting south across the tip at Cod's Head and circling back through Allihies and along the southern coast.
Cutting across the central part of the Beara Peninsula is the road that climbs across the Healy Pass. From Adrigole on the south coast we climbed up to the top of the Pass, before returning south, then along the coast to Glengarriff.
We reached Glengarriff in the late afternoon, after the tour buses had departed. Although the town is a tourist centre in the summer, by mid-September most have departed. We stayed at the Glengarriff Park Hotel in the middle of town. After a beer and a long talk to an Irish vet from Bushmills in the north (mostly listening from our side as she did all the talking....) we had fish and chips for dinner in the bar and then were entertained by a group of musicians (mostly American). The bar filled up during the evening with a group that appeared to have a common interest. The next morning, as I went to get the car, the purpose became obvious - the "Forest of Dean Vintage CarRally to Cork and West Derry 2009".
Last updated: 16/06/2017