Moll’s Gap (Co. Kerry / Southwest)
Moll’s Gap (Photo by ® Rodrigo Melo – Iri…)
Moll’s Gap, a scenic mountain pass in MacGillicuddy’s Reeks, is one of the most famous panoramic viewing point on the Ring of Kerry. Although the vistas in all directions are indeed magnificent, the place tends to be so jammed with tourists in summer that it is difficult to enjoy.
Moll’s Gap derives its name from Molly Kissane, who ran a shebeen here at the time the Killarney / Kenmare road was constructed c.1820
Molly’s descendant John Kissane owns a local farm that specialises in breeding increasingly rare native Irish mountain sheep; visitors are invited to adopt an animal.
Black Valley is a remote glacial valley of exceptional beauty and tranquillity in MacGillicuddy’s Reeks, surrounded by mighty summits classified as munroes by mountaineeers. The valley is on the Kerry Way, a walkers version of the Ring of Kerry beginning and ending in Killarney. (Photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen)
Due to its remoteness, this was the last community in Ireland to be electrified, and was finally connected to the telephone network in 1978.
The ancient woodlands for which the valley was famous were consumed for charcoal over two centuries ago, while the rhododendrons that now cover its slopes were only introduced in 1880. Orange-berried arbutus trees are the jewel in the area’s botanical crown, and broad-flowered butterwort (carniverous!), London Pride and various ferns, liverworts and mosses are also to be found.
Bears, wolves and elks have long been extinct, while the last wolf in Ireland was killed locally c.1710. Golden Eagles, considered a pest 150 years ago, have also disappeared, but may be reintroduced in the same way as the still unusual white tailed sea eagle was in 2007.
In addition to spectacular peregrine falcons, look out for unspectacular but very rare Iberian Greater Spotted Slugs.
Purple Mountain / Sliabh Corcra is a massif comprising three main peaks: Purple (832m /2,730ft) Tomies (735m) and Shehy (571m). Before the C19th, the whole massif was referred to as Tomish / Toomish. According to Samuel Lewis (1837), Purple Mountain is “so called from the colour of the shivered slate on its surface“.
The Gap of Dunloe
The Gap of Dunloe is another extraordinarily beautiful glaciar valley, rather too famous for its own good. (Photo by irish-photographs.com)
The Gap is traditionally explored on horseback, by horse-drawn jaunting car or pony trap, but is also ideal for hardy walkers and cyclists. The old red sandstone cliffs are popular for rock climbing.
The road is poor and motorised traffic in the minority, especally during the tourist season, so patience and care are required of drivers.
Kate Kearney’s Cottage, named for a legendary C19th beauty who used to sell illegal poteen, is now a friendly family-run restaurant and traditional music and dance venue.
Tomies Wood is all that remains of a once vast and very ancient oak forest; it still claims to be the oldest and biggest of its kind in Europe. This is a good place to spot both native red and Japanese Sika deer, and is home to many interesting birds, especially owls
Beaufort (Co. Kerry / Southwest)
Beaufort (pop. 200) is an unremarkable crossroads village in a very scenis setting, adjacent to the River Laune. The parish contain-s over 100 sites of archaeological / historical interest, such as earthen Ring Forts and church ruins, but most are in poor condition.
The Beaufort Bar reputedly serves the best pint of Guinness in the county, and also has a good restaurant.
Beaufort House, an attractive Georgian edifice incorporating parts of a small mid-C17th castle, set in beautiful woodlands overlooking the River Laune, has several cottages attached; the house and cottages are all available for holiday rental.
Ballymalis Castle, a late C16th Tower House on the banks of the River Laune, commands fine views of Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrantuohill. Although traditionally counted as an O’Mahony castle, it is more likely to have been built by the Ferris family. Interesting features include triple-mullioned windows on the third floor, some with depictions of doves. The floors have vanished, but narrow winding stairs survive.
Beaufort is only 5km from Killarney Town.