Gap of Dunloe

As pretty as a postcard and only reachable by slow travel, this pass gives you time to breathe the clear air and see the beauty of every wildflower.

Look for a spot where two rocky walls rise up on either side of a narrow road winding out to the green horizon and you will have found the Gap of Dunloe. This breathtaking glacial valley cuts through the mountain range of the MacGillicuddy Reeks to the west and Purple Mountain to the east.

See a view that has attracted County Kerry wanderers for centuries. Five glassy lakes, Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake and Black Lough, lie at the bottom of the valley, tied together by the river Loe. This countryside is untouched, with scrub and wildflowers growing on the hills. Clouds hang low in the magnificent sky as birds dart across overhead.

The whole pass of Gap of Dunloe is about 7 miles (11 kilometers) long. Leave your car behind as this narrow path would be very difficult to navigate by modern vehicles. Instead of driving, make a slow ramble on the path, ideal for meandering and enjoying your surroundings. Journey across the gap in ways travelers have done for hundreds of years before the invention of cars. Leave plenty of time to enjoy the return trip as well.

Pedal your bicycle through the Gap of Dunloe, board a traditional horse and buggy or ride a pony. Hear only the rushing of the clear waters over the rocky riverbed and the gentle noises of sheep and cattle in the hills. At every turn of the winding road, see a new view. These old red sandstone cliffs are also popular for climbing.

Consider one of the tours of the Gap of Dunloe region, which typically start at the historic inn, Kate Kearney’s Cottage. Enjoy coffee and lunch here before you set off on your journey. Go through the pass, then over the Lakes of Killarney by boat to Ross Castle. Many tours go north to south and start close to the village of Dunloe. When reaching the cottage, signage is sparse so bring a good map with you.

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