We left the Dingle Peninsula for the small city of Ennis, but decided to take a short cut over Conor Pass.
By now we have been in Ireland for over a week and about half way through our family adventure. I’ll admit, I am getting a little tired of driving. So, I decided to take a short cut over Conor Pass to liven things up. It is the highest public road in Ireland and largely regarded as one of the most dangerous roads in Europe.
The road cuts across the Brandon Mountains linking Dingle on the south side of the peninsula with Kilcummin on the north side. The Brandon Mountains contain Ireland’s second highest peak, Brandon Mountain, at 3127 ft. Compared to the Cascades back home in western Washington they are mere hills, but are still dramatic and beautiful in their own right.
The pass is very winding and narrow, but does have sum pull-outs where you can stop and let other vehicles sneak by, which was luck for us because we needed them. My short cut to liven the drive up definitely got my heart racing at times. Luckily, most Irish drivers are very polite, which cannot be said of all Europeans.
The Brandon Mountains are steep and jagged due to the relentless work of glaciers during the last ice age. They have left their indelible mark on the pass. We noticed the characteristic cirque land features, which the Irish call corries. These steep amphitheater shaped valleys are dead giveaways that glaciers carved the area.
Thankfully, we successfully traversed the Conor Pass and head along the north shore of the Dingle Peninsula. Our next obstacle was the Shannon Estuary. To cross this, we needed a boat. Luckily, the Shannon Ferry makes crossings twice an hour. Otherwise, we would have had to drive over two hours around the estuary. Being from the Seattle area, we are well accustomed to ferries so felt right at home.
Once safely on the other side of the estuary, we made for our next bed and breakfast outside of Ennis. Ennis turned out to be an unexpected gem of a small city. I’ll get to that next time!