A few years ago when I traveled in Scotland, I thought to myself that Ireland will also probably be a nice trip. A few years passed, and here I am, traveling in Ireland. The way it started was that I wanted to attend a Travel bloggers convention in Killarney, so I've built a trip around it, and hoped to see some attractions of the Ring of Kerry. A friend and I landed in Dublin, rented a car and headed south-west…
A must stop on the way to the Ring of Kerry
We continued westward to a place called Gap of Dunloe, which is such a beautiful valley, where you walk through two lakes. We thought of making one direction on foot and one with the carriages there, the so-called Jaunting cars. But we did not check the availability beforehand and when we wanted to come back there were no horses anymore … You can also sail in the lake and spend a whole day there. In this case it is of course recommended to arrive in the morning.
The walk itself is on a paved road and at some point you cross a stone bridge and there is really a very beautiful view on the lake. The rest of the walk, to the second lake is nice but already beyond the peak. The sheep made me laugh on the way – notice how they are painted, in this case they are all purple but there were also other colors.
We returned to the starting point and it was after 6 PM. A brief look at Trip Advisor found that Kate's cottage was also a recommended place to eat. We sat there for dinner and then in the city we went for a beer (on the following evenings it turned out to be a good arrangement). The service was not how-to-say, fast, what actually worked out for us, since it pushed dinner a little bit 🙂 . I ordered a chowder which was not bad and I spotted relatively a lot of salmon.
We arrived at Killarney Earl's Court, which looks quite elegant and is an 8-minute walk from the city center. We walked to the city and went into a pub where a few guys were playing. What I discovered – they have a thing of making the amplification very strong, but other than that it was really nice. There is something in the Irish sound, whether it's an accordion, a violin, excuse me, fiddle(!) or a banjo, and a connection with a guitar that is very pleasant and fun to the ear… The street is full of pubs where quite a few of them had live music.
In Murphy's ice cream, I ate sea salt ice cream, which was intriguing and tasty, and also whiskey ice cream with whiskey in it! But more than that I finally understood that thing of eating ice cream when it's cold, it just does not melt so that's makes it fun!! On the way back to the hotel, it suddenly started to rain hard and we went into a pub until it stopped. That was exactly the end of a performance with a quiet Irish song that sounded like this:
In the morning I ate a Full Irish breakfast which includes an omelet, sausages, a hot tomato and… bacon. Why did I leave the bacon for the end? Because it's not like the one we know from the US. It is different, much less crispy. In this case there were mushrooms, but that wasn't the case through the rest of the trip.
Ring of Kerry
Before leaving the hotel, we consulted with the lady at the front desk, what to do today. She was really nice and said that we can do the Ring of Kerry in 1 hour!! It seems a little problematic considering that it is 170 kilometers… So even if you don't stop anywhere and the road is straight it's problematic. But she was extra friendly, took out a map and gave us some "Do no miss points" along the way. And that is something that characterizes the Irish. They're especially nice.
Before the trip I heard it from several people and didn't really understand what it meant but now that I was here, I understand more. It's all kinds of people you come across for short moments like a waitress, a bartender, the hotel clerk, etc. They all really really want to help and share information.
We left Killarney and drove down a beautiful road that runs through the park. We stopped at Torc Falls and made a nice route that took a few minutes. We continued towards the Ladies view, which is a famous view of Killarney Park. The origin of the name is that some 150 years ago Queen Victoria visited there with some women from her entourage, and she loved the place.
On the way we suddenly got to a narrow road that did not look promising. Because of the trauma of the previous day we checked the map and… we were wrong. The good thing was that a few yards behind us was a place we could turn around… However, the view we saw was kind of Savannah-like.
2 sandy beaches
A beautiful view from Lady's View and now we're driving towards Kerry Ring when the first part is not on the coastline but another way towards Sneem passing through Moll's gap. From there to the two sandy beaches of Castlecove which is just a stop on the road and Derrynane.
In the latter we went for a walk and it was really impressive! So wild at low tide so there was a lot of "beach" to walk on, as I like, a bit reminiscent of the St Malo area in France. We wanted to go to some cemetery we saw at the end but couldn't find a way to reach it. Besides, it looked funny that there were lifejackets in yellow boxes on the beach 🙂 .
We passed Waterville and started the Skellig Ring which is actually an extension of Ring of Kerry (recommended!). Half way through there's a cute little chocolate factory where you can taste and buy chocolate. I thought it could be a nice activity for children but there are no tours there.
A fifteen-minute drive brought us to Kerry cliffs. They were amazing! We parked the car and walked for a few minutes. There are two viewing points, right and left. My recommendation is to visit both. The entrance costs 4 euros per person. The thing is, if you do not know it's there, it's really easy to miss them… This encounter of the stone with the sea, in this rugged way is something that always impresses me and this time too. Now, enough with the words, let the pictures speak :).
You don't come to Ireland for the weather!
From Portmagee (not to worry – at the end of the post there is a map with all the points!) We crossed the bridge to Valentia Island and headed left towards the Bray head observation point. There is a walking path but it was very cloudy so I don't even have a picture from there 🙁 . We crossed the entire island and took a short ferry (7 euros!) Towards Cahersiveen. We tried to see what's there to do and read about some fortress…
We went to the fortress only to find out it's closed for renovations but! Next to it we saw a sign for another fortress and said we would try. We drove another kilometer there and it was really cool! It was a stone structure, perfectly round with "built-in" stairs. So besides the fact there was someone with a red coat that slightly destroyed the picture and did not move (I waited and waited and finally she moved) everything was good :).
From the little I've read about it, no one really knows too much about it… It's hard to date these buildings but it is assumed that someone important lives there.
We slept in Sea Breeze B&B, a nice place in the "city" and in a conversation with the landlady about the weather, the immortal sentence came up – You don't come to Ireland for the weather :).
Note: We were just looking for a place to stop in the Kerry ring and so we stopped at Cahersiveen, it's not that there's anything special about it. We might as well have slept in Portmagee or Waterville.
The next morning we set out and drove north-east on the northern part of the Kerry ring towards Rossbeigh, which is some sandy beach. But WOW what a beach! It was so fun!!!
Tip: Take the car to the end of the road, the road turns into a dirt road, continue a little more, park and go for a walk.
We're in that long narrow peninsula and like always, we are alone there :). Started walking on the left on a beach covered with large pinkish riverbeds. At some point I decided to walk a little to the right to the grassy part… It was grassy but in the middle there were all kinds of textures, sometimes low grass and sometimes dunes, which of course demanded climbing 🙂 . I climbed up and down and went down again to take pictures of such wildness!
Trying to think what it reminded me of… maybe a little of Cape Split don't know exactly why. Except the fact that the two of them are at the edge of the world they don't have much in common.
Here you can actually see the wind on the grass…
Ring of Kerry summary
Here's a short video with the highlights of the day and a map with all the places I mentioned.
In my opinion, it is recommended to plan 1.5 days to the Ring of Kerry. Of course it depends on how much you walk outdoors. But my route can also be extended in about half a day if you want to get to Skellig Michael Island… You simply can't do everything so you have to make choices. Yes life is hard :).