Our local host, James says that Beara Peninsula is ‘very special. It’s an ancient landscape that has be mined and fished for over 3000 years and it’s just really beautiful. It’s not heavily populated and it’s easy to get away from the crowds’. We’d recommend visiting Castletownbere which is Ireland’s biggest white fishing port. Be sure to visit one of the local fish restaurants to taste the catch of the day knowing it has not long come out of the water.
If you are feeling adventurous and want to explore somewhere more remote then head to the West of the peninsula. Here, take a cable car from the mainland to Dursey Island. Navigating through the peninsula can be done by car but we would recommend cycling. This is so that the wild landscape of Southern Ireland is not missed.
The National Park is home to the tallest mountains in Ireland which swoop down into Killarney’s famous lakes. The shores of the lakes are dotted with large expanses of woodland which makes the area perfect for wildlife. James believes that ‘even though Killarney National Park is one of the top destinations outside of Dublin. It is still easy to get away from the crowds’. The main focal point of the Park is the expanse of Muckross House and Gardens. The house still holds all of its original 19th Century décor and is a major attraction for many of the National Park’s visitors.
James suggests Blarney Castle to those who ‘want to see some physical history’. He says that it ‘is a nice spot to visit and once you’ve explored then you can move on to hike Sheep’s Head.’ Blarney Castle dates back to 1446 and was originally built as a stronghold for the South of Ireland. Many visitors are attracted to the castle by the opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone. Legend has it kissing the stone will give you eloquence. There is great debate over the origins of this stone. But no one can deny the power that it has to bestow such powers of eloquence.
Sheep’s Head is a beautiful peninsula and has the mildest climate in Ireland. This is due to its proximity to the Gulf Stream. Locals pride themselves in the fact that their daffodils flower in January. Sheep’s head is one of the destinations that James offers on his walking and cycling tours of the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’. He says that ‘Sheep’s Head is a really beautiful peninsula and, although you may come across the odd walking tourist, busloads of tourists do not come here.’
James also states that ‘Bridia Valley is the best place to see the sunset in Ireland. There’s only a little boutique B&B and small café there. The Black Valley was one of the last places in Ireland to get electricity, the Bridia Valley is even more isolated than that. This is why many people don’t know about it. In the summer, the sun sets between the mountains and it is truly magical. Since I’ve been exploring Ireland it is safe to say the Bridia Valley is my favourite place to see the sunset. I guess that’s saying something.’