Gallarus Oratory

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by atherts on July 11, 2006

We made a perfunctory effort to find the Gallarus Oratory in 2002, but probably took a wrong road. The roads on the peninsula wind around and are not well signed unless you have a good map or directions. You can’t really get lost, just displaced until you get back to a main road. It is well worth picking up a free map at a local shop or tourist site that gives you a rough idea of the location of different sites. There is a good map available for a small cost that shows roads and sites that will get you where you need to be. The best solution is usually just to keep driving as distances on the map are deceiving. You will either end up where you want to be and realize that the distance on the map is nothing like reality, or you’ll end up somewhere else that could be more interesting, and/or you’ll go back and start over. Any way you do it, approach it as an adventure and you’ll lower the stress level. We did find the Gallarus Oratory after some more wrong turns. We also found some other sites that we stopped at on the return trip to our cottage.

There is a visitor centre at the Oratory, and we were fortunate that there were no tour buses. This is a regular stop for buses, be forewarned. We viewed a short presentation at the centre that was instructive and well done. It runs continuously, so you can pop in and out. The visitor centre is not on the Duchas system and has a moderate charge. You must walk through the gift shop (the usual stuff) to get to the path to the Oratory and to the bathrooms. It is a little stretch of the legs to the actual site, and could be unpleasant in bad weather. Fortunately, the sun was slipping in and out of the clouds and the effect was quite striking. There are good views along the path to the hills and harbor and well framed between brightly flowered fuchsia bushes and stone walls. The actual site is a bit sterile and manicured. The Oratory is clean of any plants and sits in a graveled area. It is impressive for its structure and construction. You can go into the building and examine the interior construction as well as possible in the minimal light. It is quite small but in amazing condition. There are some other items of interest on the site, but overall it's a bit anti-climatic.

In 2005, we discovered that proceeding past the turnoff to the Oratory and continuing up the road a way is a turnout with a gate that leads to a back entrance to the Oratory. You bypass the visitor centre and entrance fee and go directly to the Oratory. This path is shorter and easier for older visitors. Overall, this site is worth visiting for the unique construction of the Oratory and the excellent presentation.

Gallarus Oratory
Dingle Peninsula
Kerry, Ireland

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