The Ring of Kerry – What to see and do
The Ring of Kerry – What to see and do
The Ring of Kerry, a 150 mile drive around the Iveragh peninsula, is probably the most famous scenic loop in Ireland and remains a must see on tourist itineraries, especially Americans on vacation.
Its rugged scenery, made famous in films such as Ryan’s daughter has every feature that you can find in Ireland. It has rich green pastures, mile after mile of pristine beaches, island views, rugged cliffs, and carved mountains. Beautiful little villages, where you can stop for a quiet pint and trad. music or some local produce in the restaurant.
The Ring of Kerry is driveable in a day by car or bus. To cycle the Ring takes about 3 days. The more time that you give to it, the more you will enjoy it. Bus Eireann run a public service on the Ring of Kerry though these can be sporadic outside of the tourist season, these buses stop at Killorglin, Glenbeigh, Caherciveen, Waterville and Caherdaniel. It is advisable to drive the route anti-clockwise, so as to avoid being stuck behind a tour bus.
Staigue Fort is located just outside Caherdaniel Village, it is an impressive Iron Age fort, dating from the 3rd century. It walls stand 18ft high and 12 feet wide. The walls have inbuilt stairs and offer commanding views of the run down to the sea. It is not believed that Staigue Fort was a military fortification but rather a communal defence and protection. The Ring of Kerry is one of the richest areas in terms of archaeology in Europe.
This beach on the Ring of Kerry is my personal favourite. It is a mile long, narrow strip of land that juts out in to the sea. One side is windswept by the Atlantic, while a short hop to the other side is sheltered and calm. There are stunning views of Dingle Peninsula and Inch. Burke’s activity centre in Rosbeigh offers horse trekking, crazy golf, a hedge maze and a working farm. It is quiet easy to spend an enjoyable day here.
While not having the postcard quality of the other settlements on the Iveragh peninsula it has its own charm and is a good place to base oneself for exploring locality, especially heading out towards Skellig Michael. Caherciveen has several features that are worth seeing. The Barracks Heritage centre, based in an old Royal Irish Constabulary barracks, the notoriously violent colonial police force, gives a good overview of the locality’s history, and of what a police Barracks on the Ring of Kerry was like a hundred years ago.
Skellig Michael, is a rock jutting 700 feet out of the sea, 7 miles off the coast of Kerry. It was a home to a community of monks from the 6th to the 13th Century, you can still see the bee hive huts and the carved steps where they lived, prayed and meditated. It is easy to see why they chose it; there are few places that I have been that are so spiritual and beautiful. It is quite amazing to see how the buildings were built from dry stone, still standing, still water proof when one is sitting in the cell, looking out at the grey sea, merging in to the grey sky. The land, sea and sky on Selig Michael are often, all the same colour and merge in to one. Be careful climbing up those steps though.
Kenmare town was named as one of the top ten places in the world to retire by Forbes Magazine. It is the main town of the Ring of Kerry, and while having all that Killarney has to offer, is not as over run with tourists in the summer time. There is a sense of prosperity and wealth in Kenmare, with its immaculately maintained streets and boutique restaurants. It has one of the finest hotels in Ireland, just outside it, an old aristocratic residence, where you can enjoy fine dining and clay pigeon shooting. The town always has good music and life in it, o’Donnabhain’s pub is especially good for Trad and the craic.
Kenmare has positioned itself, as a water play resort, with activities including Sea Kayaking, diving, wind surfing, and marine wildlife boat trips from the harbour via Seafari. It is an enjoyable experience to go out with Seafari and watch the seal pups play near the boat.
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