On a grassy paddock just outside of the village of Kenmare sit 15 stone boulders "” 13 standing upright and another two prostrate. These large stones arranged in an egg shape comprise one of the largest stone circles in Southwest Ireland, dating back to the Bronze Age. In the middle of the stone circle sits a dolmen with a capstone, often used to mark the burial place of a significant figure in the Munster region. Experts believe the capstone to weigh nearly seven tons, which would have required 30-odd men to drag into position.
The stone circle in Kenmare is one of over 180 in Ireland and of 20 in County Kerry. It's the only one in the region to exhibit an egg shape.
To reach the stone circle, follow the signs from market square along the left side of the road.
Conor Pass is the highest mountain pass in Ireland at 1,345 feet above sea level. It is on the Dingle Peninsula in southwestern Ireland, and it is located along the road that runs from Dingle on the southern end of the peninsula towards Brandon Bay and Castlegregory. The road is narrow and twisting as it weaves its way through steep cliffs. Those driving on Conor Pass will have spectacular views of the glaciated landscapes, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and the coast. It is considered one of the most beautiful scenic drives in Ireland.
Starting from Dingle Town, the road rises 1,500 feet as it approaches the pass. There is a parking lot at the highest point where you can stop and admire the views of the coast. Then as you continue along the road, you will pass Brandon Bay and more cliffs, waterfalls, and lakes. The road also crosses the Brandon Mountains with Ireland's second highest peak, Brandon Mountain at 3,217 feet tall. The road is usually open all year but can be closed during winter months due to weather or if the snow has not been cleared.
Conor Pass can be reached by driving northeast from Dingle Town or by driving southwest from Castlegregory. Length and weight restrictions prohibit certain vehicles, such as campervans and trucks, from using the pass.
Gallarus Oratory is Ireland's best preserved early Christian church. The exact year of its construction is not known, but it is believed to be more than a thousand years old. The church is located five miles from Dingle Town on the Dingle Peninsula in southwestern Ireland. It was constructed entirely from dry stone masonry and resembles an overturned boat. This church is one of the highlights of the scenic Slea Head Drive. Along the scenic drive, visitors will also see views of Smerwick Harbor, the Three Sisters and Mount Brandon.
Visitors will be able to see a church that has not been restored because it hasn't needed to be. The stones were carefully fitted together without the use of mortar, and aside from a small sag in the roof, the construction has held up for centuries. You can enter the oratory through a 6.5 foot doorway, and there are two stones with holes that once held a door. The nearby visitor center shows a 15 minute audio-visual presentation about the Gallarus Oratory, and there is a gift shop.
Gallarus Oratory is located 5 miles northwest of Dingle and can be reached using route R559. Admission is free. The oratory is open all year round, but the visitor center is open from 9am to 8pm during the summer months and closed in the winter months.
No one knows quite how Cromwell's Bridge in Kenmare got its name, but it likely wasn't named after Oliver Cromwell. One popular theory about the stone bridge is that it was named "˜croimeal,' the Gaelic word for "˜mustache,' but when English-speakers overheard locals talking about the bridge, they assumed they were saying "˜Cromwell."
However it got its name, Cromwell's Bridge is one of several beautiful and ancient sites along the scenic Ring of Kerry. It's located just outside the village of Kenmare near the Stone Circle, making it a convenient stop for visitors passing through the area.
Cromwell's Bridge is only a 5-minute, scenic walk from town. Plan to visit the Stone Circle at the same time.