We have been threatening to travel around the Ring of Kerry for months and months. We are excited that we can finally say – we have done it! All thanks to Pauric’s spontaneous idea to just get into the car and drive.
We have visited the Killarney National Park and drove around the Dingle Peninsula a few years ago with my mom. Initially we wanted to do Dingle and the Ring of Kerry in one day. Gladly we did not. The Ring of Kerry can take 2.5 – 5 hours alone, depending on how many stops you make and how well you can control your wanderlust.
You are guaranteed to stumble upon beautiful sights and scenery. If you are a Star Wars fan, you’d probably like a stop to view or a visit to the Skellig Islands. (tours from Portmagee). Alternternatively, don’t miss out on the Skelligs Chocolate Factory for delicious hot chocolate on a rainy day.
After work on a Friday evening, we grabbed the pooch and embraced the open road to Kerry. The drive was 4.5 hours from our hometown, Trim. By the time we arrived, the pooch was on my lap, snoring. We stayed in a cute, pet-friendly Airbnb apartment in Kenmare.
We headed out early the next morning from Kenmare (or in Irish: An Neidin – meaning little nest) to start our self-drive tour. In Ireland, four seasons in one day is not uncommon. As it’s February, you can expect ice-rain, rain, sunshine and windy conditions. Luckily it’s off season so we could take our time and stop at every lookout point.
**Tip: If you are doing a self-drive in peak season, travel clockwise. Tour buses travel anti-clockwise and there is nothing worse than staring at the back of a bus for hours.
Along the way, we passed a gigantic bridge. We couldn’t resist getting a snap here. Knowing nothing about it, got us searching for information online. Initially we thought this bridge was called ‘The Famine’ bridge. Thanks to the friendly locals and interactive grammers, we discovered it to be (or was) a railway bridge called the Gleensk Viaduct. Services closed in the 1960s. From word of mouth, locals are trying to reclaim the tracks for a cycle way between Glenbeigh to Cahersiveen. However, not all farmers are in agreement with this notion.
The one thing we love about our Isle are the people. Chatty, friendly people…from your neighbor to a stranger, you are guaranteed a good, meaningful (or meaningless) conversation.
Photo Opportunities and view points en-route:
Kerry’s Cliffs & Skellig Michael
Cahergal Stone Fort
Killarney National Park – Ladies view, Muckross House & Ross Castle
If you have never been to Ireland, you will be quite surprised in how narrow the roads are – especially on the Ring of Kerry. So, drive with caution. You will soon be submerged in the local culture of waving (or “saluting”as the locals call it) at each passerby.
We ended our day back in Kenmare, energy levels on low and starving for food. A quick stop at O’Donnabhain’s pub for a pint of Guinness. Thanks to a local’s recommendation, we headed to Mulcahy’s Bar & Restaurant for delicious food. It was the best recommendation of the day.
Tired of our shenanigans of the day, we savoured a nightcap at our apartment around the block.
Kerry is a food lover’s dream.
Here is our top places to eat along the Ring of Kerry:
Kells House & Gardens Cafe, Kells: A hidden gem (literally). Travel down a narrow and winding road further along the Ring of Kerry in Kells (called the sleepy helmet). Sitting on the Terrace, makes this find all the more enjoyable.
Mulcahy’s Bar & Restaurant, Kenmare: They pride themselves on being part of the 100 best restaurants in Ireland. It is not possible to be dissapointed with the quality, here. Best to book in advance.
Mick & Jimmys, Kenmare: Superb, world-influenced breakfast and lunch options.
O’Donnabhain’s, Kenmare: Located on Henry street in the heart of Kenmare, there is no better pint. No better traditional Irish music and voted as one of the best foodie pubs by the Irish times (2018). No need to travel too far – you can stay the night, too.