There’s more than one Kilgobbin in Ireland. There’s one in Dublin and one on the edge of Tralee Bay in the shadows of the Slieve Mish mountains. If you’re heading down the scenic route toward Dingle there’s a tiny little road near the village of Camp that leads to a stunning old church, a cemetery and an unbelievable view of the bay.
The crooked road eventually dead ends into the water. You can only drive partway down it before it narrows too much and the gravel gives way to mud. When you get out of the car, there are 10 foot tall hedges that protect and line the path, lending a magical air of secrecy to it. They have a permanent lean to them because of the many years of bay breezes that have forced them to grow askew. It’s a feast for the eyes no matter where you look.
When you are looking back toward the main road, this is what you will see.
It’s a breathtaking view, no? That castle in the distance is not a castle at all. It is the amazing old Kilgobbin church that is the center of an equally stunning old burial ground. This Church of Ireland sanctuary has been around for hundreds of years and is still in use on Sunday mornings. It’s not quite Catholic and not quite Protestant, or maybe it’d be more accurate to say that it’s a little of both, just like those at rest in the cemetery.
The grounds are treacherous and uneven. Sturdy walking shoes are a must. There are gravestones that have no words left on them – eroded by age, bay winds, and salty air. There are crypts that perch precariously on the uneven earth, looking crooked and unstable. It seems like they’re ready to slide open at the slightest vibration yet somehow they remain where they’ve been for hundreds of years. Trees and plants have reclaimed parts of the grounds, overhanging all the benches and crawling on the old stone walls. It’s an exceptionally beautiful and eerie place.
This stone was one of the tiniest markers and in theory one of the older graves, since you can no longer read anything that used to be engraved on it. All that remains on it is a texture you can feel but can not decipher. Nature remembers though – and creates a single flower for whoever is resting there.
In stark contrast, we found this one next, proof that the church is not alone in its continued use and the burial grounds are also taking new residents. This one obviously had friends and family with a sense of humor.
Shortly after exploring the grounds, we remembered that just a short walk away was the bay. It is the perfect quiet place for a picnic where you can watch the water and relax. This place is a treasure – one that is worth the stop and a few minutes of exploring and photography.