Cloghane-Brandon (Clochán Bréanainn, also (but less commonly) referred to as An Leith Triúch) is an area on the northern coastline of the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Southwest Ireland, comprising the neighbouring villages of Cloghane (An Clochán), Brandon (Bréanainn), and surrounding townlands.
Approximately 40 km west of Tralee by road, Cloghane-Brandon is a quiet area of great natural beauty, nestling at the foothills of Mount Brandon to the west, and overlooking the broad sweep of Brandon Bay and the Maharees to the east.
This is a sparsely populated area on the Dingle peninsula. There is one shop in the locality (opposite the church in Cloghane). The nearest petrol station, supermarket and post office can be found along the coast in Castlegregory, or in Dingle town (both 15 km away, 15-20 minutes by car).
There is a Tourist Information office on the main street of Cloghane, in Tinteáin Ceoil (on the premises of Mount Brandon Hostel, next door to O'Donnell's pub).
During the 19th century the harbour of Brandon was the main mackerel fishing port on the south west coast of Ireland. Fishermen in naomhógs(curraghs) made of wood and canvas ventured out into the wild Atlantic in pursuit of shoals of mackerel. Boxes of salted Brandon mackerel were sent by road, rail and ship throughout the world.
It is possible to get to the area by public transport (see below), but the majority of visitors arrive by car, using same to get around within the area and to visit adjoining areas on Dingle's North Shore such as the Maharees(CastleGregory), Glenteenasig and Camp.
Cloghane and Brandon are stopping places on the Dingle Way, so some travellers arrive by foot to stay a while before setting out for their next stop on the way.
Tralee, the largest town and administrative centre of County Kerry, is a transport hub for the Dingle peninsula, and indeed the greater Kerry area. Tralee is well-serviced by national rail and bus services, terminating at Tralee Rail/Bus Station. For further information, see Getting to Kerry.
From Tralee the direct route is along the N86 towards Blennerville/Dingle. Proceed straight ahead at Camp (R560, signposted Castlegregory/ Connor pass) instead of continuing along the N86, which veers left towards An Daingean (Dingle) & Anascaul at this point. Continuing along the R560, veer right onto a minor road (signposted An Clochán/Brandon point) or continue on towards the Connor pass and take a right turn further on, signposted "Clochán".
From Dingle the direct route is up over the Conor Pass and, post-descent, taking the first left turn (signposted "Clochán").
- There is a public bus link from Tralee to Dingle, operating every two hours daily, Monday-Saturday - see Bus Éireann timetable - Route 275. From Dingle, it is a relatively short hop by taxi over the Conor pass to Cloghane-Brandon.
- There is a public bus link from Tralee directly to the village of Cloghane, but it only operates on Fridays - see Bus Éireann timetable - Route 273.
When booking accommodation in the Cloghane-Brandon area, check with the accommodation provider re transport from/to Tralee, Dingle and other neighbouring areas. Accommodation providers will arrange for group-transportation and/or arrange informal transportation for individuals, if possible.
Local taxi: Tom O'Connor +353 66 713 8140, mobile +353 87 291 7835
Everyone in the area speaks English fluently. However, Cloghane-Brandon is part of the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) area of the Dingle peninsula, so Gaeilge (the Irish language) is cherished and underpins the culture. Local people will be very happy to teach you a few common words and phrases.
- 1 Loch a'Dúin (Lough Adoon) (Following the road back out of the village - towards Tralee/Dingle vs forward to Brandon Point - take the first right past the bridge (over the Owenmore river) at the outskirts of the village. After about 3 km you will meet a T junction, with signposts to Castlegregory & Tralee (left turn) & Conor pass/Dingle (right turn). It is usually possible to park at the T junction. Enter Loch a'Dúin via a turnstile at a gate on the opposite side of the road.).
- The Loch a'Dúin Valley, 1,500 acres in extent, contains eighty to ninety stone structures dating from the Neolithic period up to modern times, including a wedge tomb, standing stones, "fulachtaí fiadh" (ancient eating places), inscribed rocks, a fortified island, and the remains of stone "beehive" huts (clochán, pl. clocháin).
- A comprehensive booklet on Loch a'Dúin can be purchased at the Tourist Information office in Cloghane. The booklet includes a self-guided trail of the archaeology, geology and flora of the valley - a circular walk of about three hours' duration which takes you around many of the more easily spotted monuments.
- You can also walk to the lake, stopping a while to let the landscape come in on you, before heading back the way you came - a shorter walk, but no less worthwhile.
- 2 Srón Bhroin (Brandon Point) (signposted from Brandon and about 2.5 km north of Brandon by road, this is the end of the road, the northernmost point in the area accessible by road). An excellent sea-bird watching spot, best in autumn when strong westerly or northwesterly winds funnel birds into the bay. Also a noted area for whale and dolphin watching.
- Bird watching
- Pomarine and Great Skuas are regular, as are Manx and Sooty Shearwater, Storm Petrel, Gannet and Kittiwake. Rarer but regular in autumn are Great Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Long-tailed Skua, Sabine's Gull, Leach's Petrel and Grey Phalarope.
- In winter, Blue Fulmar and Little Auk are occasionally recorded. Numbers of seabirds very variable in winter, often passage is poor, but occasionally Auks, Kittiwake, Gannets and Fulmar can be seen in hundreds or even thousands.
- Some extremely rare seabirds have been recorded, mostly in August and September, including Little Shearwater, Fea's Petrel and Wilson's Petrel. Although not a particularly good passerine migration spot, Alpine Swift has been recorded, as has Waxwing, Lesser Whitethroat and Scandinavian Rock Pipit. Snow Bunting and Lapland Bunting are scarce but regular in autumn after Northwestern gales, and Chough and Peregrine can be seen at any time of year. Wheatear and Fulmar nest commonly in summer. >
- Whale and dolphin watching
- Almost one third of the world’s species of whales, dolphins and porpoises have been recorded in Irish waters. In 1991 the Irish government declared Irish waters a whale and dolphin sanctuary - the first of its kind in Europe.
- While whales and dolphins can potentially be spotted from any point along the coast, Brandon Point is the one spot on the northern coastline of the Dingle peninsula with a proven track record of sightings (per Fáilte Ireland, with advice from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group).
- From the car park at Brandon Point, follow the footpath up the hill to get a long view of the eastern coast of Ireland - as far as Galway on a clear day.
- 3 Gleann na hUamha (Glenahoo) (The entrance track to Gleann na hUamha is signposted from the main road about 700 m to the east of a sharp bend where the road crosses the Gleann na hUamha river. If approaching by car, parking on the main road is an option. The nearest off-road parking is at Baile Dubh (Ballyduff) cemetery/burial ground, about 1.2 km to the west along the road.).
- The Glenahoo Valley is one of the least known and one of the most dramatic of the glacial landforms on the Dingle peninsula - a classic trough gouged out by glacial erosion, with towering vertical flanks and a flat floor. At the head of the valley (a walk of approximately four kilometers) you will find the ruins of two cottages, an evocative reminder of the valley's isolated pre-Famine settlement.
- About 50 meters further on is a good place to stop and take a seat on one of the many rocks close to the river (an excellent picnic area), in order to take in the aspect of the two waterfalls feeding the river. For some, this is the end of the walk, and well-worth the effort.
- From the head of the valley, many follow the way-marked track up through the mountain pass, which was the route taken by travelers on their way to Annascaul in days gone by. The track posts can be followed up to a spot point with an excellent view. To the west, the Brandon Range; below the great crescent of Brandon Bay beach, beyond which lies Kerry Head; on a clear day you should be able to pick out Loop Head. The peaks of the Slieve Mish range stretch away to the east and you even have a view across to the Iveragh Mountains.
- Continued onward travel leads to descent into Anascaul on the southern side of the peninsula.
- 4 Mullach Bhéal (Mullach).
- 5 Pedlar's Lake, Conor Pass. On the way up the Conor pass from Cloghane-Brandon to Dingle, there is a parking area at a lay-by beside a small waterfall. Climb up the rocks from here and you will find a beautiful little lake surrounded by an amphitheatre of stone.
* 6 Cappagh. Cappagh beach is small, sheltered and safe for swimming. It is much-visited by young familes because it is a great place for children to splash and play. When the tide is in, there is a gradual wade in with soft sand underfoot. When the tide is out there are a number of pools and rocks to explore. There is a small car park at the entrance to the beach.
- 7 Ballyquinn (pronounced "Ballyguin") (Proceeding from Cloghane to Brandon turn right at Halla le Chéille and follow the road down to the beach. Ballyquin beach can also be accessed by taking a short walk across from the seafront at Brandon and crossing a footbridge over the small river ("Owenafeanna")).
- 8 Brandon. The small beach at Brandon quay is another spot favoured by families with young children because it is safe for swimming and cars can be parked nearby. There is little or no beach when the tide is high.
- 9 Trá Bán (pronounced Trawbawn, lit. "White Beach"). This is a beautiful secluded beach north of Brandon village, rarely visited by tourists. Inquire locally re access, swimming safety, etc.
- 10 Fermoyle. This is part of the great crescent beach of Brandon bay (called "Fermoyle beach", "Kilcummin beach", "Stradbally beach", etc., depending on the point of entry). Regardless of tidal conditions, it is possible to walk at least 12 km along this expansive beach.
A fine selection of way marked trails has made the area a popular destination for walkers. Walks range from short shoreline strolls to the high level Brandon Ridge Walk. A booklet entitled "Siúlóidí an Leithriúigh - Cloghane & Brandon Walking Guide", detailing over 20 graded local walking routes, is available at the Tourist Information Center.
- Explore More. Explore More provide Mountain Skills (MS1 & MS2) courses in the area, and also provide a variety of walks lead by qualified Mountain Leaders, with current First Aid certification.
Fishing in the area is superb. Cod, pollock, ling, various species of dog fish, mackerel, turbot, skate, bass and shark may be caught off the coast. Local beaches (Cappagh, Drom and Fermoyle) are perfect for shore anglers - good bass and flounder. Brandon pier is also a popular spot for fishing. The Owenmore River, entering the estuary at Cloghane, is bursting with salmon and sea trout.
No licence is needed for sea angling, or for trout, pike and coarse fishing. However, a licence is needed to fish for salmon & sea trout. Further information is available from the official Inland Fisheries Ireland website, which provides information on Irish fishing regulations, a facility to purchase a license online, and a list of fishing tackle shops (where licenses may also be purchased). The nearest fishing tackle shop is:
A licence does not confer the right to fish for salmon or sea trout and that permission or permits are required to fish for same.
- Owenmore Fishery, ☏ , (mobile), ✉ email@example.com. There are approximately five miles of fly fishing along the main part of the Owenmore River in Kerry, with 33 named pools and an additional 180 acres of lake fishing. The salmon, grilse and sea trout begin to run in April. The runs continue through spring and summer into early October. The major valley bottom lakes are visited by both Atlantic salmon and sea trout. These migrating fish spend the summer and autumn months in the lakes before their winter spawning period. The higher lakes are populated by resident brown trout, with Arctic char also reported. All the fish in the Owenmore system are wild stock and the fishery is entirely self-sustaining.
For permits, and to get acquainted with this river system, contact Owenmore Fishery.
- Fishing permits for the Owenmore Fishery are also available at O'Connors Bar and Guesthouse, Cloghane.
Self-drive boats can be hired from Lynes Cottages, for sea-angling or pleasure tripping purposes. Instruction is given in the safe operation of the boat, and all essential equipment is provided (oars, life jackets, anchors, flares and charts). Rods, reels, tackle and bait can also be provided, at extra cost.
- Castlegregory Golf Links, ☏ , (mobile), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A scenic nine-hole course overlooking Brandon Bay.
Music, song and dance
- Tinteán Ceoil — Tinteán Ceoil, on the premises of Mount Brandon Hostel in Cloghane, preserves the tradition of “bothántaíocht” - people gathering together for an evening of storytelling, song and dance. Open every Monday evening of the year, with Maura Begley (a well-known and loved local musician and singer) directing the evening. More frequent sessions are held during the summer months, with the addition of a session on Thursday evening in particular, directed by Eoin Lynch.
- All are encouraged to join in, or simply be part of the inter-generational experience, where people of all ages share their love of song music and dance.
- Opening time is 7:30PM. Admission is €5. The bothántaíocht usually lasts two hours, finishing at 9:30PM, though it has been known to go on a while longer on occasion. There is a 10 minute chat-break in the middle, during which tea and scones are served (no extra cost - included in the admission price).
- April Féile Sléibhteoireachta (Hillwalking Festival) - Early April. Easy, moderate and difficult walks.
- July Féile Lughnasa (Festival of Lughnasa) — This is a four day festival (Fri-Mon) held on the last weekend in July.
- Typical activities include:
- Nature and hill walks including the traditional ascent of Mt Brandon, with music, poetry reading and a picnic at its peak; fancy dress parade; sand-castle contest, best-dressed teddy bear, pet-show, face painting, sheep shearing, dog trials, tug-of-war, sheaf and welly tossing, drumming workshop, kayaking.
- Stage drama/comedy (in the community hall, Halla le Chéile); music, teen disco, table quiz, poker classic, cheese and wine, trad sessions. The distinctive "Féile" mutton pies are served in local pubs.
- August Brandon Regatta — On one of the last Sundays in August, the annual race meeting of the traditional canvas and tar covered boats, or “Naomhóga” is held in Brandon. There are several races, in a number of categories (men, women, under-18, junior, etc.) Winners and losers alike celebrate with music and song afterwards.
- July Coláiste Gaeilge (Irish College) — Towards the end of July. An immersive course in the Irish language Daily activities on the course include nature walks, cookery lessons and fishing, all through the medium of Irish.
The nearest ATMs are in Castlegregory and Dingle. The nearest banks are in Dingle.
- 1 Siopa an Phobail (The Shop). The one shop in the area is located in Cloghane opposite the parish church.
A community initiative, this small shop is an outlet for day-to-day essentials: general groceries, postage stamps, pre-paid refuse sacks for waste disposal, and so on. It also stocks a modest selection of locally-produced artisan foods (breads, cheeses, preserves, etc.)
Siopa an Phobail houses Bácús Bhréanainn (Brandon Bakery) which produces a range of unique artisan breads. Bácús products can be purchased in the shop itself and in a number of shops in Dingle.
The Cloghane-Brandon area is home to a number of talented artists. Besides exhibiting their work nationally and internationally, some of the artists have established galleries locally, where their recent works can be viewed and purchased. The galleries are open all year, and visitors are welcome to drop in casually. However, it is wise to ring a gallery in advance if you wish to guarantee access, particularly during the winter months.
- 2 Brandon Gallery (Michael Flaherty), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 3 Stiúideo Lios na Caolbhaí (Niall Naessens), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 4 Teer Gallery (Mary Neville), ☏ , (mobile), ✉ email@example.com.
- Other local artists include: Maeve McCarthy (RHA), Clodagh Edwards, Mary Jane Verniere (steel, copper and bronze metalwork) and Sue Hook.
- Many pubs (and some B&Bs) display works by local artists, available for on-site purchase.
- An Gallery Nua (upstairs in O'Donnell's pub, Cloghane), ☏ . This gallery is a showcase for local artists, where representative works can be seen and purchased.
Eat and drink
Traditionally, "pubs" (short for "public houses" - houses accessible to the public on a walk-in basis, licensed to sell alcoholic drinks) have functioned as social centers for rural communities. Nowadays many public houses in rural Ireland function as restaurants also. There are no "pure restaurants" in the Cloghane-Brandon area, with the possible exception of O'Connor's, which has a dedicated dining area to the rear of the house, for evening dining.
- 1 O'Connor's, ☏ . Eat & drink. Part of O'Connor's Guesthouse.
- 2 O'Donnell's (Tigh Tomsí), ☏ . Eat & drink.
- 3 Mullally's, ☏ . Eat & drink. B&B, also self-catering accommodation available.
- 4 Murphy's, ☏ . Eat & drink.
- 5 Tigh an Cúinne (Kathy's). Drink. Opens in the evenings. Informal music sessions, set-dancing.
Bed & Breakfast
In general, B&B facilities within the area are high-standard and provide en-suite bathroom, hair dryer, clothes iron, television, WiFi access, tea and coffee making facilities and so on. However "the exception proves the rule", so it is important to have your own personal check list to hand when making inquiries.
- 1 Benagh B&B, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2 O'Connor's Guesthouse, ☏ . O'Connor's Guesthouse also has houses available for holiday rental (in the village of Cloghane or close to the village).
- 3 Mount Brandon Lodge, ☏ . Open 1st June to 1st September
- 4 Ridgeview B&B (Drive 500m up the lane to the side of the church in Cloghane. Ridgeview B&B is on the left), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 5 Tír B&B (Teer B&B), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holiday home rental
- 6 Brandon Mountain Cottage, Cappagh, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 7 Brandon Mountain Cottage, Cloghane, ☏ .
- 8 Hillside Cottage, Brandon, ☏ , (mobile), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 9 Lyne's Cottages, Brandon, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Brandon Bay Cottages, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Two rental homes on offer: a stone cottage and stone farmhouse, both located between the village of Brandon and Brandon Point.
- 10 Mount Brandon Hostel, ☏ , ✉ MountBrandonHostel@eircom.net. Single, double, twin and family rooms (all en-suite). Barbeque/picnic recreational area. Two self-contained apartments (within the hostel) available for holiday rental.
In Cloghane, Mount Brandon Hostel and O'Connor's Guesthouse provide serviced camping facilities (camping area, shower, toilet facilities, etc.) at a reasonable price. Wild camping is also possible - but please check with nearby residents or landowners and tread lightly.
This is a safe place to stay. However, there are a number of things to watch out for:
- Be seen at night. Outside the villages there is no street lighting, the roads are narrow, and driving visibility is often poor due to rain. If you are walking at night, wear a reflective jacket or light-coloured clothing and carry a torch.
- If renting a house, safeguard it when leaving for the day or evening by ensuring windows are closed, etc. Do not leave valuables lying around in plain view through the windows.
- When the tide is out, a great expanse of sand is exposed on the inlet to the Owenmore river. It is a common pastime and quite safe to walk on this. However, be aware of the turn of the tide - the tide comes in quickly (because of the very shallow incline) and if you venture out too far without an eye to the tide, you may have a mad scramble to avoid getting wet.
If you do run into any difficulties, these are the garda (police) stations in the district:
- Castlegregory Garda Station, ☏ . This is the garda station with responsibility for policing the Cloghane-Brandon area.
- Dingle Garda Station, ☏ . If you can't get through to Castlegregory for some reason, try Dingle.
If you experience a genuine emergency where there is a danger to life or risk of serious injury, a crime is in progress or about to happen, etc., dial 999/112 for immediate emergency response.
- Dingle Medical Centre, Dingle, ☏ .
- Dr. Tony Sills, Castegregory, ☏ .
- Kerry General Hospital (University Hospital Kerry), Tralee, ☏ .
- O'Keeffe Pharmacy, Dingle, ☏ .
- Walsh Pharmacy, Green Street, Dingle, ☏ .
- Teahan's Pharmacy, Tailors Row, Castlegregory, ☏ .
- The Village Pharmacy, Strand Street, Castlegregory, ☏ .
Vodafone provides the best coverage for mobile phones in the area, although reasonable signal strength from other providers can be obtained in particular spots that are in line of sight with the relevant mast. Enquire locally - people will be happy to help.
Most of the pubs in the area, and the local hostel, provide a free Wi-Fi connection.
Maria Lyne ( +353 66 713 8257) offers a hair salon service in the village of Brandon.
Travel over the Conor Pass to visit Dingle town, which is a hub for major attractions on the southern coast of the peninsula, such as Inch Strand and Slea Head drive.
|Brandon, County Kerry|