Ballaghisheen Pass: A Journey Through the Natural Beauty and Rich History of County Kerry

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By jeroen

Experience the Breathtaking Views of Ballaghisheen Pass and the more challenging road of the Ballaghbeama Gap

It was a beautiful evening when I finally reached the Ballaghisheen pass. The sky was filled with a spectacular pink and purple glow as the sun slowly set behind the mountains. I got out of my car and breathed in the fresh mountain air as I enjoyed the view of the beautiful mountains and valleys of County Kerry.

The Ballaghisheen pass left a lasting impression on me due to its stunning sunset at that moment. This winding road takes you through and over the mountains and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. It’s hard to imagine that this road was once used by shepherds and farmers looking for fertile land and new pastures for their livestock. Especially if you drive over the Ballaghbeama Gap. 

As I continued to drive, I was surrounded by the natural beauty of the region. I passed mountain meadows, grazing sheep, and babbling brooks, and felt completely at one with nature. But the history of the pass also gave me a sense of humility and respect for the difficult times that the Irish population has endured. I will write more about this for those interested.(later in this article)

When I reached the end of the pass, I felt inspired and recharged. The Ballaghisheen Pass is a wonderful example of the natural beauty and rich history of Ireland. It is a road that you have to experience to truly understand.

To capture my experience, I made a video of my journey over the Ballaghisheen pass. You can watch it below to get an idea of the beauty of this impressive road.


Unfortunately, I have no photos taken of the Ballaghbeama Gap. Given the time we had taken for the Ballaghisheen Pass there was little time left to really take pictures, I have yet to find a place to sleep and prepare supper. So,…I decided to enjoy the moment and didn’t take any pictures of it.

Here  are some impressions of Flickr:

Ballaghbeama Gap



There are some remarkable facts about the Ballaghisheen Pass & Ballaghbeama Gap

The name “Ballaghbeama” comes from the Irish language and means “narrow pass of the woman”. It is not entirely clear who this woman was, but some people think it may be a reference to a mythical figure from Celtic folklore.

The Ballaghbeama Gap is one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland. The highest point of the pass is about 460 meters above sea level.

The road is notorious for its narrow width and winding turns, making it a challenge to drive especially the Ballghbeama Gap. Both passes are therefore often avoided by large vehicles and trucks. (and advised also for campers above 6 meters)

The Ballaghisheen pass offers a beautiful view of the mountains and countryside of County Kerry. On a clear day, you can even see the Atlantic Ocean.

The Ballaghisheen Pass is a picturesque route in County Kerry, Ireland, located between Curravaha and Glencar. The pass offers stunning views of the surrounding area. It is popular among cyclists and hikers due to the breathtaking landscape, and every year a climbing event on the Ballaghbeama Gap is organized where participants cycle up the pass to raise money for charity.

Near the Ballaghisheen pass lies the village of Curravaha, where the famous Irish poet Brendan Kennelly was born. Kennelly wrote poetry about the beauty of the County Kerry landscape and the mountains surrounding the Ballaghisheen pass.

Traveling through Ballaghisheen Pass and Ballaghbeama Gap


Hey there adventurer! If you’re in the mood for a road trip with your van and your vehicle is no longer than 6 meters, then you can certainly take on the challenge of the Bllaghisheen Pass! If it’s larger, I would think twice. I’m not even sure if there are any prohibition signs… so check this first!

But beware, this is not a journey for the faint-hearted! You must be an experienced driver and have confidence in your driving skills. It’s a winding road through the mountains with stunning views and breathtaking landscapes. And maybe the road it’s self is not an problem it is the car that comes from the other direction.

If you think you’re ready for this epic journey, you need to be well-prepared. Make sure your camper is in top condition. Just be sure to take it slow, keep your eyes peeled for other drivers, and enjoy the ride!

!!however, when it comes to the Ballaghbeama Gap, I would only attempt it with a small overlander or a normal car Forget about trying to take a camper above 6 meters through this narrow pass. Trust me, it’s just not worth the risk! Even with a smaller vehicle, it can be a challenging experience, especially when encountering other adventurous drivers heading in the opposite direction.

But don’t let that scare you off! You have also a pair of nice walking shoes for transportation. The stunning views and rugged landscapes make this journey one you won’t forget. 


The Balaghisheen is pretty easy if… you’re up for a bit of a challenge, the Ballaghbeama gap is definitely worth tackling on your bike! It’ll test your stamina, but the sense of achievement you’ll feel at the top will be totally worth it. And if you’re traveling with a tent, there are some deeper riverbeds near the Ballaghisheen Pass that are accessible by bike and make for a fantastic camping spot. Just be warned, Ireland is known for its windy weather, so you might find yourself pedaling hard one minute and feeling like a superhero the next as the wind carries you along! But that’s all part of the fun, right? So, dust off that saddle and hit the road – the Ballaghisheen Pass is definitely a must-see on any cycling adventure

A Nerdy Deep Dive into its Legends and Rich History”

Discovering the Rich History and Culture of Ballaghisheen Pass in County Kerry”

But the Ballaghisheen Pass also has a rich history and culture. For example, it was the location where the Irish freedom fighter Michael Collins operated during the Irish War of Independence. There are various monuments and memorials near the pass that commemorate these important events from the past.

During World War II, the Ballaghisheen pass played a significant role. It was used as a secret route for Allied soldiers and resistance fighters trying to get from the southwest of Ireland to Northern Ireland. The pass was also an important transportation route for food supplies to the affected areas in the west of Ireland. However, during the Great Famine (in 1840), the pass was also used as an escape route for people trying to flee hunger and poverty. Some of them later emigrated to other countries, while others sought refuge in the cities or other parts of the country.

In the 1930s, the pass was further developed as part of a program to create employment in the area. This included the construction of the road we know today, along with some bridges and other infrastructure.

Today, the Ballaghisheen Pass is mainly used by tourists and local residents who enjoy the spectacular views and the beautiful landscape of County Kerry. However, the history of the Pass is still palpable, and it has played an important role in the development of the region. The history of the Ballaghisheen Pass is still evident in various aspects of the landscape and culture of the region. Here are some examples:

The landscape: The Ballaghisheen Pass offers a beautiful view of the mountains and valleys of County Kerry. It is easy to imagine how in the past, shepherds and farmers crossed this landscape in search of fertile land and new pastures for their livestock.

Local culture:

The history of the Pass is still intertwined with the local culture of the region. Traditional Irish music, dance, and literature are important elements of the culture of County Kerry, and these art forms are inspired by the landscape and history of the area.

Monuments and memorials:

There are several monuments and memorials near the Ballaghisheen Pass that commemorate important events from the past. One example is the Michael Collins Memorial, in honor of the Irish freedom fighter Michael Collins, who operated near the pass during the Irish War of Independence.


The history of the Ballaghisheen pass is also found in local stories and legends. Some of these stories are about mythical creatures that live in the mountains and valleys of the region, while others tell of historical events and characters from the past.

In summary, the history of the Ballaghisheen Pass is still evident in various aspects of the landscape and culture of County Kerry. It is an important part of the history and identity of the region and remains a significant tourist attraction and historical monument.

In addition, there are several fables and stories associated with the Ballaghisheen pass. Here are some examples:

The legend of the passing spirit: According to local legends, a spirit roams around the Ballaghisheen pass. The story goes that the spirit of an old woman appears on the pass and guides passersby. Some believe that the spirit is a friendly guide who helps lost travelers, while others believe it is a warning of danger on the road.

The myth of the banshee: Banshees are mythical creatures from Irish folklore that are associated with death and mourning. It is said that the Ballaghisheen pass is a place where the banshee appears to announce the impending death of someone.

The mystery of the disappeared carts: According to some stories, carts used to disappear regularly on the Ballaghisheen pass. The story goes that the carts were swept away by supernatural forces and taken to an unknown destination.

The legend of the golden treasure: It is said that there is a hidden treasure buried on the Ballaghisheen pass. The story goes that a wealthy merchant hid his riches in the ground before he died and that the treasure can still be found on the pass for those who know where to look.

These stories and fables add to the mystique and folklore of the Ballaghisheen Pass and make it even more interesting for visitors and locals.

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