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Self Drive Slea Head or Take a Tour????

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New Bern, NC
posts: 22
reviews: 3
Self Drive Slea Head or Take a Tour????

I am traveling to Ireland for 2 weeks in May 2012. There will be two of us traveling - friends - women. We will be in Dingle May 24 and May 25 (2 nights) We would like to go to Blasket Island and see Slea Head. Is it better to drive Slea Head or take a tour and let someone else drive? I am wondering if the driver (me) will be able to take in the beautiful scenery or have to concentrate on the drive most of the time. Also, I am wondering how much information we will miss by not having an informed tour guide giving us history, etc. I understand that the Blasket Island Ferry's are very weather dependent as to if they can operate or not. I have been researching Slea Head tours on TA and many people recommend Denis Ryan for Slea Head tours. I e-mailed him and he gave me a cost of 40 Euro for 2 people for 4 hour tour. He also said I should book the tour before I leave for Ireland. I really want to pick the best day that I am in Dingle to see Blasket Island and do not know how I can book a tour of Slea Head in advance without knowing what the weather will be for my Blasket Island trip. Thus my delimma. Any help and advice is greatly appreciated.



posts: 1,008
reviews: 28
1. Re: Self Drive Slea Head or Take a Tour????

I can tell you that we took the Slea Head Tour ( 4 hours ) with Denis Ryan and loved ever minute of it. Just the 2 of us with Denis in his car-- he knows everything. Just search here on TA for Denis Ruan Dingle, and read our tour report and others. We booked with Denis BEFORE we left Florida, as we wanted to be sure to have him

I didn't want to drive, or have my husband drive and miss the amazing views. and didn't want to be on a huge tor bus

Then ask me any qestions, or ask any others! Denis made our Slea Head Tour magical

posts: 5,440
reviews: 8
2. Re: Self Drive Slea Head or Take a Tour????

There is no way I would take a tour if I had a car available!!! All pile out, '10 mins here to take a photo' - all pile back in. Drive it yourself!! There are numerous stopping places along the way, you can pull in and take in the view for 10 mins or an hour, stop where you want to stop, pull in at a cafe,

spend time at Dunquin pier, Ballyferriter museum, go to the Blaskets if the weather and tides permit, the drive is easy, just do it clockwise so you arent meeting the big buses, if you get out of Dingle early you can have the road to yourself, and you can pick a good day.

New Bern, NC
posts: 22
reviews: 3
3. Re: Self Drive Slea Head or Take a Tour????

Thanks for the input. It is my understanding that Denis Ryan's tour is a private personalized tour which eliminates the problem with loads of people on a bus with no time to really visit individual points of interest on Slea Head. The problem I have is that I will only be in Dingle (2) days and would like to do my best to go to Blasket Island on the day that has the best weather and is the most likely to have ferry's operating (if at all). I am also concerned that if I drive Slea Head myself then I will not learn about the points of interest along the way. Is there any kind of map of Slead with points of interest explaining the history and pertinent information of each?

Thanks for your help.


posts: 1,008
reviews: 28
4. Re: Self Drive Slea Head or Take a Tour????

Exactly, Debby, personalized is the way to go. When Denis took us to the beehive huts, for example, a tour bus pulled up--people got out, took a few pictures, and got back on the bus. They didn't even walk up the hill-- pay the 2 -4 Euros extra to have total access

By contrast, Denis took us up the hill, introduced us to the lovely white haired lady who owned the property, went with us into the huts, talked about the special elements of construction that let them build them, showed us that they could be more than one room, etc. talked about how the people used the interior. I won't forget that.

Perhaps you could check with Denis, and tell him what you want, and he could check his schedule and let you be flexible


Saginaw, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Western Ireland
posts: 5,454
5. Re: Self Drive Slea Head or Take a Tour????


While you await further input, this might help with a map and description:


I, too, would choose the personalized tour, as described by Ellen.

Edited: 10:21 am, January 12, 2012
Destination Expert
for Waterford, Dunmore East
posts: 3,283
reviews: 127
6. Re: Self Drive Slea Head or Take a Tour????

Another vote for Denis Ryan,very informative & ou will enjoy the tour with him.

Ventry, Ireland
Destination Expert
for Dingle Peninsula
posts: 6,350
reviews: 94
7. Re: Self Drive Slea Head or Take a Tour????

You could choose to explore the Slea Head drive on one of the days and use the other to travel out to the Great Blasket. You can also combine an eco-tour around the islands with some time on the Great Blasket


Denis Ryan is a legend in these parts, but if he is not available I'd also recommend Diarmuid Begley. Diarmuid is a native Irish speaker and has fantastic knowledge. His link is below


If your are particularly interested in the archeological side of things, Sciuid Tours specialise in this area


If you want to go it alone, have a look at the 33 reviews below and you will pick up some handy tips


Whitney, Texas
Destination Expert
for Ireland
posts: 7,257
reviews: 22
8. Re: Self Drive Slea Head or Take a Tour????

i have driven slea head quite a few times and wouldn't have it any other way....as was stated by fuchsia girl, it allows you to take an hour or four, or six, whatever you choose....there are tons of places to stop, take pics, soak up the few, smell the roses.....

in fact you can do slea head and the blaskets in the same day if you want....that includes stopping at the ruins, cafe, fort ruins, famine house, monk house ruins, etc.......

whatever you decide, you'll love it all, whether you are driving or not....

Destination Expert
for Dingle
posts: 5,518
reviews: 70
9. Re: Self Drive Slea Head or Take a Tour????

4 hours nowhere near enough, I would also drive myself,so I could linger where I wanted and not be tied to just 4 hrs. Plenty of us here to give you direction and info!

Madison, Wisconsin
posts: 508
reviews: 227
10. Re: Self Drive Slea Head or Take a Tour????

I would drive but then that's exactly what my wife and I did. We also stopped many times along the road just to check out the scenery, climbed down the hillside towards the sea a couple times, etc. I hate being on someone elses schedule and prefer to do things in my own way and time frame. Slea Head is an easy drive and you won't miss anything by driving it yourself.