Situated in southwest Ireland (County Kerry) is Conor Pass. Although it’s elevation may at first seem small in comparison to other large mountain ranges, it’s views are captivating.
It is the shortest route when traveling from Dingle to Castlegregory but don’t start at dusk or the clouds will blind you as they settle over this mystic mountain pass.
On our first attempt we had waited a little too late. Still, I wanted to brave the narrow, winding road. We’d made reservations at a B&B in Castlegregory and didn’t want to cancel.
At first ascent, I was taken back to childhood trips to Kentucky. It didn’t take much to understand why the Scottish and Irish settlers found their way to Appalachia. The narrow passes, the rocky crags, and the natural wonders are enough to make any weary traveler feel at home.
The danger in driving Conor Pass is threefold. First, the uninitiated American must drive on the opposite side of the car and the opposite side of the road. Check. Now, you must manage your speed as you rev the standard transmission through its paces, handling the narrow curves while keeping an eye out for random sheep in the road or the other travelers descending the one-lane path in your direction. Check. Finally, you must do all of this while keeping your head on a 360 swivel so you won’t miss the natural beauty on every side.
Fortunately, there’s a scenic stopping area near the top of the climb. That’s where I took these pictures.
It was getting late but I knew I had to climb the rocky cliff on my own, certain that I would find an even better view. I wasn’t disappointed. Sheep scaling the heights, a crystal clear naturally-formed lake complete with waterfalls, and – turning back around – the vista below.
Kitty called to me from the car that we needed to get moving since the clouds were closing in. Reluctantly, I descended from my perch as the wind picked up velocity and darkness settled more quickly than I expected.
Nearly everyone else had already left and so I started the little Fiat we’d rented and noticed someone waving through a thickening fog.
Uncertain, I stepped from the car and realized the problem. Here was a young Romanian family on holiday with a flat tire and a dead phone. To make matters worse, they didn’t have the right lug wrench.
Kitty joined me and through our mutually-broken language we made new friends. Combining our wits and the tools from both cars, we fixed the flat, endured the gusting winds, and bid each other Godspeed as we headed in opposite directions down the mountain.
We were hungry and tired but our hearts were filled with the joy that comes from encountering God’s beauty and His people.
Conor Pass remains one of our favorite places when we visit the Emerald Isle. And each time we pass over and view the never-changing sights we recount that first trip and our Romanian sojourners.