Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Ring of Kerry

Today we started the day by driving around the Slea Head Drive circular driving route of the Dingle Peninsula before driving to the Ring of Kerry route where we drove half way to Waterville.

The Ring of Kerry,  (or Iveragh Peninsula to give it its correct name), a circular tour taking you from Kiillorglin via Cahersiveen and Kenmare to Killarney, takes in some of the most spectacular landscapes of Ireland's Southwest. A mystical & unspoilt region of Ireland its spectacular beauty is beyond question said to be in the top ten most scenic drives in the World.

Along the Slea Head Drive we stopped to view the Stonehouse where even the roof of the building is made of stone.

The An Dún Beag, or Dunbeag Promontory Fort, has been excavated and results show that the earliest phase of construction may have been as early as the 6th century BCE, but otherwise evidence for intermittent temporary settlement much later, in the 8th or 9th centuries CE was found in relation to the inner fosse, and the clochán structure was occupied perhaps in the 10th or 11th centuries CE. Even the excavation results did not reveal conclusively what the site was used for; it may have been defensive, or used for ritual purposes, or it may simply have just been lived in, but it certainly seems to have been a high status site. This small but impressive fort is located on a sheer cliff promontory which projects South into Dingle Bay at the base of Mount Eagle. begun in the late Bronze Age, 800 BC, and was used right through the Celtic period up to the 10th century.

There are donkeys all over Ireland I am not sure if they are employed in work or simply pets.
The Caher Conor complex consists of five structures. The beehive huts (also called clochan) in Caher Conor were probably single family dwellings and were attached to each other with a doorway leading from one to the other. They were built in the form of a circle of successive strata of stone, each stratum lying a little closer to the center than the one beneath and so on up to a small aperture at the top that could be closed with a single small flagstone or capstone. No mortar was used in building, which is called corbelling. The hillside at one time had over 400 of these drystone, corbelled huts surviving, prompting one antiquarian in the 19th century to refer to the area as the "City of Fahan". Dating the huts is difficult because the skill of corbelling has been used in Newgrange (3100 B.C.) and as recently as the 1950s. The huts at Fahan may well date to the 12th Century when the incoming Normans forced the Irish off the good land and out to the periphery of the Dingle Peninsula.

This shows the depth of the walls around these huts which were over 6 feet wide.

The interior of the hut showing the corbelled roof

Views of the Blasket Islands can been seen from the road.

Gallarus Oratory a small, stone-built chapel in the shape of an up-turned boat, is one of the most famous landmarks on the peninsula. The oratory is built of stone without mortar, using "corbel vaulting", a technique developed by Neolithic tomb-makers. Standing handsomely amid farmland on the Dingle Peninsula, it was the place of worship for early Christian farmers of the area. The simple dry-stone structure has remained waterproof and in near-perfect condition to the present day. The oratory is made only of local stones fitted carefully together, using no mortar to hold together. But small traces of mortar suggest the oratory may have originally been plastered inside and out. It has a rectangular base and sloping walls that gradually meet to form the roof. It is 8m long, 5m wide and 5m high. Entrance to the oratory is through a 2m-high, square-headed doorway in the west end. Inside are two projecting stones with holes, which once held a door. The east end has a small round-headed window.

The Kilmalkedar Church site is traditionally associated with St. Brendan, but was reputedly founded by Maolcethair, whose death is recorded in the Martyrology of Donegal under the year 636. There are no remains of the early monastery except possibly for the Ogham stone with the inscription of "Anm Maile Inbir Maci Brocann". The ruined Romanesque church visible today dates to the first half of the 12th century. Also visible on the site is a sundial, large stone cross, and alphabet stone (inside the church near the chancel arch). Some fine stone carving can also be found inside the church. The Alphabet Stone Now erected inside the church next to the chancel arch, stands at 1.22 metres high, the stone was originally taller but the top has been broken off. The west face of this stone is inscribed with the latin alphabet in half uncial script dating to the 6th century and an earlier inscription with the letters DNI meaning Domini. The south face shown right, has an inscribed Latin cross with scrolled terminals. The north face has an inscribed cross but only a scrolled terminal and stem remain. This would have been a beautiful inscribed stone when it was originally carved. The Ogham Stone situated on the northern side of the pathway that leads you to the romanesque church is wonderful holed ogham stone standing at 1.83 metres in height and measures 0.24 metres in width at the base. The inscription reads, ANN M(AI)LE INBIR MACI BROCANN A second inscription on the south side reads either ANM or M(A)QI. This stone may have been a standing stone with the ogham writing added during the early christian period. The Sundial pillar stands at 1.23 metres high and the rectangular shaft and the semi-circular head have a smooth finish. The south east face of the head is divided into four equal sections by lines radiating from the gnomon hole. The north west face of the head is decorated with a cross of arcs. It is now believed that the cross of arcs was a symbol of pilgrimage. The Stone Cross stands at 2.5 metres high. The cross bears a very simple rectangular design on the west face. The east face is plain. During excavations it was discovered that 1.8 metres of the shaft lay below ground level.

The Alphabet Stone

Reverse Side

Kilmalkedar Church

Holed Ogham Stone

Early Stone Cross


No parking on these twisting coastal roads no problem park on the beach

As I said yesterday the weather is so wonderful ever person in Ireland is out and about

Kevin dipping is feet in the Atlantic Ocean and surprisingly it was very warm and pleasant 

Photographs really can not do justice this is beautiful part of the world

Having driven the Slea Head Drive in Dingle then the Ring of Kerry we thought that it was only fitting whilst we are here to add on the Skellig Ring to the western end of the Ring of Kerry before heading home to Waterville for the night. We caught the car ferry from Cahersiveen.

Arriving at Knightstown

Views over Valentia Island towards the Blasket Islands

We stopped at the Old Slate Quarry 

Remotely situated on a flat plain on the northwestern side of Valentia (Valencia) Island is St Brendan's Well. In local tradition it is believed that St Brendan sailed to Valentia across Dingle Bay and scaled the cliffs near Culloo, just in time to baptise and anoint two dying pagans. It is known as Tobar Olla Bhreanain, the well of St Brendan's anointing. There is a leacht or altar built around the well and to the right is a stone inscribed with a cross. I imagine the cross was scratched on to the stone by the many pilgrims doing the rounds at the well. Located on the eastern side of the well are three ancient stone crosses. All three crosses are similar in height and age possibly from about the 7th/8th century. 

St Brendan's Well

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