Gap of Dunloe (Bearna an Choimín) Tours
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The lake-studded glacial valley known as the Gap of Dunloe (Bearna an Choimín) is wedged between County Kerry’s Purple Mountain and MacGillycuddy's Reeks mountain range. The rugged natural scenery along the 7-mile (11-kilometer) paved mountain pass made it a magnet for sublime-seeking, 19th-century, Romantic writers such as William Thackeray and Alfred Lord Tennyson, who waxed lyrical about its beauty. Despite its popularity, the landscape remains as unspoiled as ever.
The pass can be traversed on foot, by bike, or by traditional jaunting cart (pony trap), and can be seen as part of guided and self-guided half- and full-day Gap of Dunloe tours from Killarney. The Gap of Dunloe is bookended by two pubs: at the south end is Lord Brandon’s Cottage, while Kate Kearney’s Cottage—supposedly named after a previous resident who poured out poitín (a traditional moonshine popular in Ireland) to parched travelers—is at the north end. Due to the narrowness of the road and the presence of walkers, sheep, and horses, driving is not advised. Private tours from other destinations along the Ring of Kerry, including Kenmare, Cahersiveen, and Sneem, can incorporate the Gap of Dunloe as well as Ross Castle in Killarney National Park.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A one-way walk along the length of the pass, from Kate Kearney’s Cottage to Lord Brandon’s Cottage, typically takes about 2.5 hours.
- Wear comfortable footwear and bring rain gear in case of showers.
- Choose to end your tour on a high note by adding an optional boat ride across the Lakes of Killarney.
How to Get There
To get to the Gap of Dunloe, follow the Ring of Kerry (N72) west from Killarney for about 4 miles (7 kilometers) before turning left onto the Gap Road. Free parking is available at Kate Kearney's. Organized tours allow visitors to walk, cycle, or travel by horse and cart along the whole length of the pass without having to double back to their car.
When to Get There
The gap sees most footfall in July and August, when the parking lot at Kate Kearney’s often fills up by late morning. If you want a quieter experience, go in early morning or outside peak tourist season, either in spring or autumn.
Tips for Crossing the Pass
Crossing the pass on foot requires a moderate level of physical fitness. If you don’t feel up to the full hike, simply turn back at the head of the gap. It’s also possible to take a jaunting car from Kate Kearney’s to Lord Brandon’s and walk back from there, or join an organized tour that includes pickup, either by bus or by boat, at the end of the route.
Address: Killarney, Ireland
5 Tours and Activities to Experience Gap of Dunloe (Bearna an Choimín)
Embark on an incredible Irish adventure on a unique tour through County Kerry. Set out by open boat from Killarney National Park's 15th-century Ross Castle, passing islands and beneath old stone bridges along the Lakes of Killarney. Then continue via pony-drawn carriage through the remote Black Valley and the narrow and winding Gap of Dunloe. Meander through this stunning mountain pass, marveling at a handful of scenic lakes and crossing the Old Weird Bridge before catching a bus back to Killarney.
Price varies by group size
Price varies by group size
Spend the day exploring Ireland’s most stunning natural landscapes on this full-day tour of the Gap of Dunloe from Killarney. Follow your guide on a seven-mile (11 kilometer) adventure that covers some of the nation’s vast emerald scenery. Enjoy ample time for hiking, take an optional Jaunting Cart ride, and kick back and relax during a boat ride on the Gearhameen River. This tour also includes a stop at the Ross Castle.
Private and Luxury
Client's experience the beauty of the Lakes of Killarney and then travel through the Gap of Dunloe at their leisure to take in the breathtaking sights of the Black Valley and the stunning scenery of the Gap of Dunloe.
Nature and Wildlife
Discover one of Ireland’s most photographed natural landscapes on a half-day tour of the Gap of Dunloe from Killarney. Visit Kate Keaney's Cottage, admire spectacular views of the McGillycuddy Reeks and the Purple Mountains as you hike or ride a pony trap (own expense) through the Gap, then cruise around the Lakes of Killarney to Ross Castle.
We offer a private tour around Ireland. We provide top class vehicle and knowledged drivers/guides. All drivers and vehicles are fully certified. As it is a private tour, our aim is to offer you, your family and friends tailor made tours of Ireland whereby you and your party can enjoy and savour the delights of this island’s most exciting destinations. We offer you the chance to escape to some of the most fantastic locations in Ireland. No tour size is too big or too small as we cater from 1 person upwards. No excursion length is too short or too long, our tours start from day trip onwards. As our trips are tailor made for you, we can extend them upon your request. Together with you, we will plan an itinerary that suits you and your group/party. If some part of the itinerary we offer needs to be changed or you have any suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Together we will create your best itinerary.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What's the best way to experience Gap of Dunloe (Bearna an Choimín)?
The best ways to experience Gap of Dunloe (Bearna an Choimín) are:
- The Gap of Dunloe Adventure Day Tour from Killarney
- The Gap of Dunloe Full-Day Tour from Killarney
- Boat Only Ticket (bike hire not included)
- Gap of Dunloe Half-Day Tour and Boat Ride from Killarney
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