Spirit of Ireland

Coastal, Mountain, and Island Hikes in Cork and Kerry

Overview

To hike Ireland’s gorgeous landscapes with our beloved Trip Leaders Con Moriarty and Ann Curran is to experience the wild and mystical side of this amazing island in ways not possible on an “ordinary” tour. We’ll walk the stunning seascapes of the unspoiled Sheep’s Head Peninsula, discover the stone circles and pilgrim trails of the Dingle Peninsula, boat out to the towering pinnacles of Skellig Michael, and hike Ireland’s highest peak, Corrán Tuathail (3,407'), on whose slopes Con’s family has guided for generations. We’ll discover Ireland’s rich cultural tapestry as we hear tales of clans and chieftains, enjoy pub evenings, and meet artists, shepherds, and singers throughout our journey. Come experience days full of magic—and the true spirit of Ireland.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Cork / Sheep’s Head Peninsula

In the lush beauty of West Cork, we hike into a spectacular valley by the sea in the freshest of air and perhaps call on our shepherd friend, Nellie O’Leary. On the narrow ridge of the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, home to farmers and fishermen, our airy hike offers views at every turn, from Dunmanus Bay to the broad expanse of Bantry Bay, as we follow ancient byways through a labyrinth of field systems, along intricate shorelines, and beside rocky cliffs. Con regards his friends in this community “as some of my life’s richest blessings.” We enjoy a warm welcome at our country manor house.

Seaview House Hotel
Ballylickey, Ireland
Days 1 to 2 (2 nights)
Days 3-5
Beara Peninsula / Killarney National Park / Skellig Michael

Named in honor of the powerful Gaelic land goddess Beara, the Beara Peninsula holds some of Ireland’s wildest ground. Our hike straddles a high ridge dividing the counties of Cork and Kerry in the region around the Healy Pass. Bronze Age people recognized the sanctity of the Beara Peninsula and placed many of their most evocative stone circles here. After a hike up to the Gap of Dunloe, a narrow mountain pass between MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and Purple Mountain, we boat out to see dramatic Skellig Michael, a remarkable monastic outpost set atop a pinnacle. Overnights are at the grand Aghadoe Heights Hotel, with its magical views over the lakes of Killarney.

Days 6-9
Corrán Tuathail / Dingle Peninsula / Great Blasket Island

Our hike on Corrán Tuathail brings us to the highest summit in Ireland! Con’s family has lived beneath the peaks of these hills for generations and he describes this as “a powerful place of great shapes, nature, history, and stories.” An easier option is a hike in Killarney National Park, with time to explore lively Killarney town. On the Dingle Peninsula, notched with bays, beaches, and hidden troves of pre-Christian antiquities, we hike a pilgrim route across Mt. Brandon. The town of Dingle is renowned for its music scene, and Ann and Con will take us to the pubs where the finest musicians join in “a session.” Our grand finale brings us to mesmerizing Great Blasket Island, the westernmost point in continental Europe, where we’ll have a sense of walking along the edge of the world. Depart on Day 9 via Dingle.

Benner's Hotel
Dingle, Ireland
Days 6 to 8 (3 nights)

Highlights

Highlights

Enjoy an insider’s introduction to Ireland’s rich traditions and powerful history
Hike the Killarney National Park, Beara Peninsula, and legendary MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, with easy or moderate options
Meet shepherds, artists, poets, musicians—our Trip Leaders welcome you into their world!
Summit Corrán Tuathail, Ireland’s highest mountain, and hike sacred Mt. Brandon
Savor Ireland’s superb culinary scene
Hear traditional music and song (our leaders know the finest local musicians)

Details

Length: 9 days
Cost From: $5495  
Arrive: Cork, Ireland
Depart: Dingle, Ireland
Lodging: 8 nights charming inns and hotels
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

A mix of moderate walks and hikes, 4-6 hours a day, van support