On one of our last days in Ireland we decided to drive the Ring of Kerry. In some ways this is similar to the Ring of Dingle, but this time we didn’t actually go all the way around. Instead we took a lot of short trips off to random locations from the actual ring itself (and most of them were actually on purpose!).
The first side trip that we took was to Valencia Island. We were on the hunt for St. Brendan’s well. On the drive to the well we stopped on the side of the road to take some pictures. We were on the edge of Valencia Island and were surrounded by fantastic cliffs. Also, you could gaze into the Atlantic Ocean and see the other small islands flanking Ireland’s west coast.
The drive to St. Brendan’s well is not for the faint of heart. After turning off onto a very skinny road you are met with some large potholes. We drove as far as our little mini-van (that I named the Pegasaurus) could take us, and then we walked the rest of the way. When you reach the end of the road, which is surrounded by peat bog you find three ancient Irish crosses and a tiny natural well. Many offerings are often left at the site of the well. This location is famous because it is where St. Brendan came into contact with two dying pagans. After teaching the pagans the faith, St. Brendan baptized them with water from this well, and they became the first Christian converts on the island.
From St. Brendan’s Well you can traverse across the peat bog to the other side of the island. Of course I decided that this would be a great idea. Little did I know I would end up with “squishy bog” as Sara called it…in my shoes. It was completely worth it though as I reached the other side of the island I arrived at a rocky outcrop where I was greeted with an amazing sight. There were large flat rocks everywhere, waves crashing against the shore, as well as the cliffs that I had grown accustomed to seeing.
After returning from Valencia Island to the mainland of Ireland, we hopped from the Ring of Kerry onto the Skellig Ring. Here we found the Cliffs of Kerry. The Cliffs of Kerry are considered the most spectacular cliffs in the county because they are the tallest and have been a popular viewing point for many generations. They stand over 1,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and were formed over 400 million years ago. Most of the year you can view birds such as puffins, but we were a little too early in the season.
From the cliffs you can look out across the ocean to see the Skellig Rocks. One of these islands is called Skellig Michael which used to home an ancient monastery. Unfortunately since we travelled to Ireland in March we were not able to visit this island. They only allow people to visit April-October weather permitting due to safety reasons. If you have seen the newest Star Wars movie (The Force Awakens) this is the island where they shot the last scene of the film. Hopefully we will be able to visit this island sometime in the future!