Coastal, Mountain, and Island Hikes in Cork and Kerry

Overview

Crashing seascapes, emerald valleys, the twining music of the fiddle, the lilting rhythm of the language, and a people who offer one of the warmest welcomes in the world—this is the magic of Ireland. In the exuberant company of our beloved Trip Leaders Con Moriarty and Ann Curran, you’ll enjoy an insider’s view as you hike and explore the most spectacular mountains and coasts of Southwest Ireland. Remote Sheep’s Head Peninsula, the ancient woodlands of Killarney National Park, the stone circles and pilgrim trails of the Dingle Peninsula, extraordinary Skellig Michael (seen in the recent Star Wars film)—they’re all on this journey. Along the way, hear tales of clans and chieftains, enjoy pub evenings among new friends, savor the emerging Irish food scene, and meet artists, shepherds, singers, and more. Come experience the true Ireland with us!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Cork / Sheep’s Head Peninsula

We breathe in the freshest mountain air on our hike into a spectacular valley on the Cork-Kerry boundary, perhaps meeting a shepherd along the way. On the narrow spine of the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, our airy trail offers incredible views at every turn, and among the day’s highlights will be meeting with members of this vibrant community.

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Days 3-5
Beara Peninsula / Killarney National Park / Kerry Way

The Beara Peninsula holds some of Ireland’s wildest land, and our hike straddles a high ridge. As early as 4,000 years ago, Bronze Age people recognized the power and sanctity of this peninsula and located some of Ireland’s most beautiful stone circles in the deep valleys. We follow the Kerry Way to Killarney Lakes, with a spectacular descent into the Gap of Dunloe, a narrow mountain pass between Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and Purple Mountain. Con’s family has lived in the shadow of these hills for generations and he describes this as “a powerful place of great shapes, nature, history, and stories.” His grandfather guided Victorian travelers through this stunning landscape.

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Days 6-9
Skellig Michael / Dingle Peninsula / Great Blasket Islands

We boat out to dramatic Skellig Michael, a remarkable Christian monastic outpost set atop a rock pinnacle, then head to the Dingle Peninsula, a misty spine of sandstone mountains notched with beaches, bays, and troves of pre-Christian antiquities. On Mount Brandon, one of the great spiritual anchor points on Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard, we follow a pilgrim route past a spectacular line of sea cliffs. Our grand finale finds us in the ethereal Great Blasket Islands. Hiking along the ancient green roads of mesmerizing Great Blasket, the westernmost point in Europe, we’ll have a sense of walking near the edge of the world. Depart on Day 9 via Cork.

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Highlights

Highlights

Hike the Kerry Way, Dingle Peninsula, mystical Blasket Islands, Sheep’s Head Peninsula, and boat to Skellig Michael
Enjoy an insider’s introduction to Ireland’s rich folklore, traditions, and colorful history
Whiskey tasting with an expert, meet a shepherd and his border collies
Traditional music, lively pub evenings, charming hotels in great locations

Details

Length: 9 days
Cost From: $4695  
Arrive: Cork, Ireland
Depart: Shannon, Ireland
Lodging: 8 nights charming inns and hotels
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

A mix of moderate walks and hikes, 4-6 hours a day, van support (for luggage or if you wish to skip a day’s hike)