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A breathtaking gap between Purple Mountain faces - horizontal plates of sheer rock that tilt down toward green and watery abundance - the Gap of Dunloe is a jewel set within the highest mountain range in Ireland. A river runs through the gap, with grassy banks for sitting, and picturesque bridges to cross. This is a place to walk, fingers intertwined with your lover's hand, or to be wheeled in a carriage drawn by Klidesdale horses.
This is a very popular and romantic spot, and driving via car is not encouraged, though we didn't know this. The roads are narrow, just wide enough for one carriage or car to pass. Recommended on foot, bike, or by carriage, so that you may breath in the open air all around you and enjoy an unobstructed view of nature's masterpiece.
The Gap of Dunloe is set within the McGillicuddy Reeks. The space was created two million years ago by glacial movements -- to the west is Carrantuohill Mountain and to the east, Purple Mountain and Lough Leane. The drive to the north is gorgeous as well, a quiet valley road that butts up against the river and through a hush of trees. The drive to the south crosses the River Laune, passing the Hill of Aghadoe, and a twelfth century monastery and Round Tower. Located on a small road outside Derreendaragh the west side of Lough Cough.
What to See and Do in the Area
Other mountain gaps in Kerry: drive the Ballaghbeama Gap and the Ballaghasheen Gap. Visit Glencar, known as "The Highlands of Kerry, Twinned with Glencoa, the Highlands of Scotland." Glencar is a National Heritage and Special Conservation Area that covers twenty square miles. It is located on the northwest corner of Carrantuohill Mountain, outside the villages of Shanacashel and Bealalaw Bridge. The Climber's Inn was established in 1979, and is a mecca for climbing enthusiasts and lovers of the outdoors.
How to get there
From Kenmare, take the N70 west through Templenoe and follow the signs north to Derreendaragh, take the small road heading northeast up to the Purple Mountains.
By Horse-drawn carriage and Boat:
The Gap of Dunloe Tour, O'Donoghue Brothers, Tel: (0)64 31068, Web: www.killarneydaytour.com.
Wear comfortable clothing and pack water and a lunch.
Watch out for the cars and horse droppings.
When to go
April to October when the days are long and the weather is fine.