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Take The Road Less Traveled

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

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The Healy Pass located on the Beara Peninsula in Ireland.

The Healy Pass, Ireland

It has long been known that when you think of Ireland, you automatically think of the color green - leprechaun suits, shamrocks, St. Patrick’s Day beer served in the U.S., the national flag of Ireland. The shades of green seem to be enhanced by the amount of rain in Ireland. #crayolachallenge

When one pictures the southern region of Ireland, the one place that everyone wants to visit is the Ring of Kerry on the Iveragh Peninsula and at the southernmost tip.

Our plan was to be the typical “tourist” and drive the Ring of Kerry; Connie and I were looking forward to this drive and had done a tremendous amount of research.

Unbeknownst to us, our plan would ultimately change. Enter PJ from Molly Gallivans.

Molly Gallivans, just south of Kenmare, Ireland, is a small coffee shop and gift shop that we stopped at on the way to the Ring of Kerry.

Handing us our Irish coffee, PJ, asks us what our plans were for the day.

"Ring of Kerry!" we exuberantly answered.

You don’t want to drive the Ring of Kerry," PJ said in his lilting Cork accent.

“Why?” we ask between sips of the Irish coffee.

"The tour buses, the cars, and the congestion. You won’t get to see anything but the back of a bus,” he explains.

A charming smile crosses his youthful Irish face.

“Drive the Healy Pass,” he says.

In all of our research, we had not heard or come across anything about the Healy Pass.

Again, he doesn’t tell us what to expect, only that it is less crowded and he knows we will enjoy it more. There are more valleys and passes along this twisty turny single track road will be just as enjoyable.

He gave us directions: “take a right out of Molly Gallivans and keep going. You didn’t need a GPS just follow the road.” But... just in case you need a GPS as a backup, this is the one we take with us.

Connie and I look at each other. “Let’s do it!”

We thank PJ, and tell him we will be back. Again, he bids us farewell with that coy Irish smile.

We headed out the door, and follow PJ’s directions. #sundaydrive

The single track roads are easy to navigate and PJ was right, the roads weren’t cluttered with tour buses. We pass only one car on the Healy Pass.

The only “congestion” on the road is the sheep. Keep in mind when driving, the sheep are free range. They have the right-of-way and they do take their time in crossing the road.

The views are incredible. One minute you are driving at the bottom of the pass only to be lifted in twists and around bends to have the mountain cliff open up to vast views at the top. Lakes, hills, and all the various colors of green foliage.

Grab your camera. Pull over and take pictures. Create Memories.

While driving the serpentine roads, have your windows down and be present in the moment.

Out of all the drives we have taken, this is by far the best. The slow pace, the isolated and safe feel, the sheep, the fresh air and the explosion of colors are all worth experiencing.

The feeling of being cocooned in the Pass only to wind your way to the top and being aware of your surroundings, exemplifies this journey.

We stopped at one tiny shop along the way with a lovely selection of wool sweaters, books and candy filled to the brim. No bathroom though. #gottagorightnow

After driving along the Healy Pass for several hours, we made our way back to Molly Gallivans. We opened the door, rounded the corner and there was our friend PJ.

His smile was an understanding. He shared a bit of his Ireland with us and knew that we would experience some of that mysticism and a little Irish secret with us. We nodded, smiled, and thanked him for his suggestion. #LuckoftheIrish

We got it. You will too. This is a must for a drive. The sights, the feel, the experience and the colors are impressive.

A few tips for driving the Healy Pass:

  • It is a single track road. Lots of twists and turns, some turns are just shy of a full circle. Be prepared to make lots of turns!

  • Watch out for slick spots when it has rained. There is also plenty of run-off from the small waterfalls along the way.

  • If you do come upon another vehicle (oncoming or behind you), find the nearest cut out and let them pass. If you are going around a sharp bend, ensure to keep your vehicle to the left. #safetyfirst

  • Have a full tank of gas/petrol. This drive will take a few hours, and there are not any service stations along the Pass.

  • If you are prone to motion sickness, take something to settle your stomach before making the drive. There are hairpin turns throughout the entire drive.

Stop and get out. Stretch your legs along the way. Take pictures and share with us!

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“Healy Pass is a mountain pass at an elevation of 334 metres (1,095 ft) above the sea level located in the Beara peninsula, in the Caha mountain range. It’s one of the Ireland's greatest drives.

The road is truly wild. There is little traffic and the mountain landscape is breathtaking...scenic serpentine road that winds through the mountains at the west coast of Ireland...

The road winds through a desolate, otherworldly landscape, passing between two of the highest summits in the Caha mountain range.

The weather on this zone is harsh and highly unpredictable and it does not take much time for the bright sun shine to change over to moderate to heavy fog. Caution required when traversing and the area is subject to fog and mist in the early morning and late evening.”

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