The Dingle Peninsula , County Kerry

The Dingle Peninsula is a place of intense , shifting beauty. Spectacular mountains , long sandy beaches and the staggering splinter-slatted mass of rocks that defines the extraordinary coast at Slea Head all conspire to ensure that , remote though it is , the Dingle Peninsula is a must see on your tours of Ireland.

The upland scenery is scenery is at its most dramatic at Mount Brandon , which rises to 3119ft and affords splendid opportunities for hiking. There are many fine beaches all around he peninsula: at the tiny village of Inch three miles of sand stretches out into the ocean; Castlegregory on the Maharees Peninsula acts as a magnet for wind surfers and surfers; and as you travel West , both the inland and coastal scenery intensifies with superb beaches at Ventry , Murreagh and Ballyferriter , as well as on the Blasket Islands , to name but a few.

There’s plenty of myth and history too: the peninsula has one of the greatest concentrations of Celtic ruins in Ireland. Ring forts , beehive huts , oratories and stone crosses are prevalent here and the vigour of the Christian culture that set out from here to evangelise and educate the rest of Europe is almost palpable. The best of these ancient monuments lie at the West end of the early Christian Gallarus Oratory and the medieval church of Kilmalkedar , Northwest of Dingle town.

The now uninhabited Blasket Islands once generated a wealth of Irish literature , and indeed the Western half of the peninsula (which is called Corca of Chorca Dhuibhne in Irish) remains a Gaeltacht region.

The peninsula has a place in film history too: Ryan’s Daughter was filmed here , as were parts of Far and Away , starring Tom Cruise.

On a fine day exhilarating views stretch out as far as the monastic settlement on Great Skellig , off the Iveragh Peninsula to the South; but it can be more exciting still in the rain , when the cloud shifts down over the land and you find yourself in a white mist through which the dim shapes of oratories and beehive huts loom.