We had a few days in Kerry last month. November is probably an unusual time to spend time in Kerry but it did give us the opportunity to have most of the county and the roads, more or less to ourselves. This is a good feeling as their roads, especially around The Ring of Kerry are a bit narrow and twisty. It’s part of their charm!
We took the opportunity of the quiet season to visit The Black Valley which is situated in a remote location in the Macgillycuddy Reeks. It is south of the Gap of Dunloe and north of Molls Gap. If you stop at the Avoca restaurant in Molls Gap for a cup of tea and look out the window TheBlack Valley is situated directly below. The trip through the Valley is about 16 kilometres in length.
The day we visited we drove towards Molls Gap from the village of Sneem. On the approach to Molls Gap just after the beautiful mountain lake called Barfinnihy, there is a sign post that guides you left down into the Black Valley. The Black Valley adventure is about to start!
It is a unique and wondrous place. It is where the water system for the Lakes of Killarney start. Interestingly the day before we drove through the valley, there had been a storm and some very heavy rain had fallen. You can see from the photo above the water was starting to cascade down the valley.
There are only a few houses scattered around the valley. It also has a church and a youth hostel which operates a small shop and basically that is it. What it does contain though, is some beautiful scenery and an incredible feeling of tranquillity. It is truly one of the untouched and remote parts of Ireland.
It was the last place in Ireland to receive electricity and it wasn’t until 1976 that it was finally connected to the national grid. Hard to think that it was only then that the people living there were actually able to turn on a light!
The drive into the valley is straight downhill at the start and then alongside a gorgeous river that feeds into the first of the lakes. The road then meanders around the valley and for most of the journey you really have no idea as to where you are or where you are going as signposts are a rarity.
After about 12 kilometres on a narrow road, but one that has a reasonable surface we started a gradual climb that took us past another lake. We drove on then for a few more kilometres and saw in front of us the gap in the mountains which just had to be The Gap of Dunloe and the road then led us to Kate Kearney’s Cottage and on to the main road between Killarney and Glencar. We then turned right and continued our drive into Killarney for a well-earned lunch.
It is probably one of the most fascinating and interesting places to visit in Kerry. The main problem is that if it is a trip you want to make by car, then you have to do it in winter time or else in the late afternoon or evening.
The reason is that in the summer season the Black Valley comes alive with tours coming from Kate Kearney’s Cottage on horse drawn jaunting cars through The Gap of Dunloe and then they pass though part of The Black Valley on their way to Lord Brandon’s Cottage. From there traditional boats navigate through The Lakes of Killarney as far as Ross Castle.
Because of all the jaunting car traffic and as the roads are very narrow The Gap of Dunloe is generally closed to traffic at these busy times so the best way to see the Black Valley in the busy summer months is probable either walking or on a bicycle or on a jaunting car!.
Next year I would love to do the Black Valley adventure on my bike. Yes definitely on my wish list of things to do on a nice summer’s day with the sun shining! Any volunteers?
Ted Dwyer Family Business
I have included a photo I received yesterday from my son-in-law Rossa showing Killarney Golf Club totally submerged from the water that flowed down the Black Valley after the very heavy rain of the last week. The clubhouse is all that can be seen. Scary stuff! As my colleague Dr Dermot remarked it is after all The Killarney Golfing and Fishing Club !