Wild Atlantic Wonders: Co. Kerry’s Most Beautiful Islands
Flying into Kerry will give you unrivalled access to some of the most stunning islands of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Make friends with whales and dolphins, take a cable car over the crashing ocean, or stargaze under Ireland’s darkest skies. There’s no better place to leave it all behind…
Just a short boat ride from the Dingle Peninsula, lie the deserted Blasket Islands. The last of the island’s inhabitants left in 1953 but reminders of the fascinating lives of the local farmers and fishermen remain. With a little digging and some help from the Great Blasket Centre, a museum and interpretive centre located in the Gaeltacht village of Dunquin, you’ll uncover a celebrated and historically rich literary history. In fact, the islanders published many books during the 1920s and 1940s that are considered classics today.
Joined to the mainland by bridge, traces of 350 million year old wildlife are found on one of the largest islands off the south west coast of Kerry, Valentia Island. Nowadays a plethora of living flora and fauna make this beautiful island their home. The island is full of contrasts. The western side is dominated by the barren, dramatic cliffs of Bray Head which command spectacular views of the coastline, while the mild effect of the Gulf Stream results in Valentia’s balmy climate and lush, colourful vegetation.
Jutting out of the ocean, the dramatic beauty of Skellig Michael – a 6th century monastic settlement and UNESCO World Heritage Site- becomes clear. Accessible only by boat, Skellig Michael and its sister island, Little Skellig, are lashed by the elements and inhabited almost solely by seabirds (in fact, the islands support some of the largest collections of manx sheerwaters and puffins in the world), and it has been aptly described by playwright Bernard Shaw as “a part of our dream world”; maybe that’s why it was chosen as a filming location for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
It’s a show-stopper of a drive along the northern edge of the Beara Peninsula to Dursey Sound. Here, you’ll find Ireland’s only cable car to take you the short ride high above the waves to secluded Dursey Island. There’s plenty to see including a lighthouse, castle ruins, a signal tower, standing stones and breath-taking sunsets – and don’t forget to look out for dolphins while cruising the 250m across the Atlantic.
Cape Clear Island
Further south, you’ll find a paradise of solitude on Ireland’s southernmost inhabited Irish –speaking island. With its rugged landscape, wild flowers and abundant wildlife, Cape Clear Island is the epitome of unspoilt charm. Make sure to visit the fascinating Cape Clear Heritage Centre to get a real insight into the island’s history or listen to some fantastic tall tales during the annual storytelling festival each September.