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The Gap of Dunloe: A Hidden Irish Gem

Gap of Dunloe Ireland ©2012 Mike Williams
Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry, Ireland ©2012 Mike Williams
Gap of Dunloe ©2012 Mike Williams
Gap of Dunloe ©2012 Mike Williams
Ring of Kerry Map

The Gap of Dunloe: A Hidden Irish Gem

story by: Mike Williams

One of the hidden gems in Ireland is the Gap of Dunloe in County Kerry. Tens of thousands circumnavigate the beautiful Ring of Kerry, unaware of one of the most awe-inspiring tracks in the country, only about 10km inside it. 

The Gap of Dunloe or ‘Bearna an Choimín’ in Irish, meaning gap of the common-land, is an 11km mountain pass between Macgillycuddy's Reeks and Purple Mountain. The road is narrow and winding, so it is popular to enjoy the ride on the back of a horse-drawn trap, driven by one of the local Gap Poneymen. An old arch bridge called the 'Wishing Bridge' allows both the granting of a wish and passage over the River Loe, the river which connects the five lakes inside the Gap of Dunloe.

Enjoy a Guinness at Kate Kearney's Cottage at the beginning of The Gap of Dunloe, and pay a visit to Lord Brandon's Cottage for some sandwiches and tea at the other end. In between, drink in the amazingly dramatic scenery and the rustic, winding road. You may even have to stop for some sheep and probably shelter from the drizzle at some point. It is a uniquely Irish experience.

Even though the track is only 11km, you should definitely allow for a few hours, particularly if you are walking or taking the horse-drawn trap. Even if you can drive, and many cars are too big to actually fit the road, it can take a while due to having to stop frequently for traffic on the single lane parts. In fact, some of the locals claim that cars are not actually allowed on the track, although cars can be seen on it outside of the peak hours.

Although the Gap of Dunloe is not as frequented as the Ring of Kerry, it can get very busy due to its small size, so it is best to visit in the morning or early evening. But it is well worth the trip.

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photos courtesy: ©2012 Mike Williams

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