Dunquin Pier, Kerry. Ireland’s Sheep Highway!
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The narrow winding pathway of Dunquin Pier, or Dun Chaoin in Irish, is an essential stop on Dingle’s spectacular Slea Head Drive and Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. The pier is picture perfect and an iconic Irish location, in part due to the sheep which file up the narrow pathway as they make their way from the pier to the mainland! Dunquin Pier is popular with locals, visitors and photographers – here’s everything you need to know about visiting Dunquin Pier!
Dunquin Pier, famous for its narrow winding pathway which snakes down to the sea, is located in the village of Dunquin, or Dún Chaoin as you might spot on the Irish road signs! Dunquin is the most westerly settlement in Ireland and is surrounded by dramatic coastline and jutting rocks. The stunning setting results in Dunquin Pier being one of the most photogenic spots in Ireland.
The narrow pathway of Dunquin Pier is meant for pedestrians only – the pier became an overnight sensation a few years ago when a visitor attempted to drive their car down the winding path to wait for the first ferry and ended up firmly stuck until he was rescued the next morning! We wouldn’t recommend.
Dunquin Pier is a stop on Dingle’s Slea Head Drive and is part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, a spectacular road trip which stretches from West Cork to Donegal. The Wild Atlantic Way encompasses 2,500 kilometers of dramatic coastline, beautiful beaches, jutting mountains and lush scenery. Other highlights include Achill Island, Skellig Michael (of Star Wars fame) and the postcard perfect Cliffs of Moher.
Ireland’s Sheep Highway!
Dunquin Pier is often referred to as Ireland’s Sheep Highway, likely due to an iconic Irish postcard image depicting the pier filled with sheep as they were transported from the Blasket Islands to the mainland. It’s rare these days but, if you get really lucky, you might see some sheep arrive and file slowly up the pier as they reach the mainland!
The Blasket Islands
The pier is the departure point for the ferry to the Blasket Islands, a now uninhabited group of islands belonging to Co. Kerry. The Irish speaking Islands are famous for its residents who produced some renowned literature including Peig by Peig Sayers and The Islandman by Tomás Ó Criomhthain.
Visiting Dunquin Pier
Dunquin Pier is easily accessed from the Slea Head drive and is close to Slea Head and the stone crucifix sculpture on the route.
Sunset is our favourite time of the day to visit as the evening light makes for great photographs – on a nice evening you might come across a few photographers gathered at the viewpoint to capture Dunquin Pier at its finest!
If you are a movie buff, the 1970 romantic drama Ryan’s Daughter was filmed in the area and the ruins of the schoolhouse are located near to Dunquin Pier.
How to get to Dunquin Pier
Dunquin Pier by Car
Dunquin Pier is on the Dingle Peninsula and is most easily reached by car or on a guided tour which stops at Dunquin. Driving the route clockwise, as you drive along Slea Head from the stone crucifix sculpture there is a turnoff which is marked by signs for ferries to the Blasket Islands. Signs in Irish will display ‘Dun Chaoin’.
There are two stops: the first is the best for a direct view over Dunquin Pier and is perfect for photographs. It is marked by an information sign and a stone monument tribute to the Spanish Armada. Follow the path along the cliff and admire the views – it’s a short walk but do be careful and respect the cliff edge warning signs.
The Blasket Ferry and Blasket Centre parking is a short drive past this stop and, from here, one can walk down the pier. It is steep so don’t venture too far if you are worried about the climb back up!
As you rejoin the main Slea Head Drive road the schoolhouse from Ryan’s Daughter is located at the end of the next laneway on the left side of the road.
Dunquin Pier by Public Transport
Dunquin is difficult to reach by public transport. The nearby town of Tralee is the first point of entry and, from there, take the 275 Bus Eireann bus to Dingle.
From Dingle, Bus Eireann operate the 275A between Dingle and Dunquin on Monday and Thursday only. The first bus departs from Dingle at 8am and the latest return from Dunquin is 12:55pm.
Check the latest bus timetable before travelling.
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