The Ring of Kerry located in the south west of Ireland, is a 111-mile long circular tourist route. It encompasses several breathtaking sites, numerous towns and villages as well as some of the most scenic views to be found anywhere in the world. The ring passes through several other notable places and attractions and here we’ll look at some of the highlights from this dominant player in the game of Irish tourism.
Killarney town and National Park
The beautiful town of Killarney is a common starting point for people exploring the Ring of Kerry. Situated on the Northern shore of the beautiful Lough Leane, Killarney boasts a varied selection of churches, mountains, lakes and historical sites. Killarney National Park is one of the most popular attractions to the town. Smooth paths with gentle inclines make for an effortless cycling experience. Purple Mountain offers a more challenging climbing experience and is located on the western edge of the park. The Ring of Kerry passes directly through the park and runs alongside Lough Leane and Muckross Lake.
Ceim an Daimh, meaning Gap of the Ox is a mountain pass on the N71 road from Kenmare to Killarney in Kerry. The view from Moll’s Gap includes an incredible image of MacGillycuddy's Reeks mountain range which is home to Carrauntoohil, the highest peak in the country. Moll’s Gap is named after Moll Kissane who was a small pub owner. She became popular for providing her home-brewed poitin and whiskey to the men who worked on the road. The Gap itself is an example of a glacial breach where a 500 meter deep glacier in the Black Valley broke through during Ireland’s last ice age. Today thousands of people stop off at Moll’s Gap each year to enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the County Kerry countryside.
Staigue is a ruined stone ring-fort located three miles west of the quiet village of Sneem. Staigue is considered to be a huge feat in engineering and building due to its clever use of interlocking stones instead of mortar to achieve stability. This process, known as dry-walling, is said to be a contributing factor to the survival of so many ancient structures around the country. It is thought that the fort was built in the Iron Age to be used as a defensive stronghold for a local lord or king. Inside you will find an elaborate network of stairways leading to terraces and corbelled cells adding to the allure of this already impressive structure.
Kenmare is a small town with a population of roughly 2,175 and is situated in the south of County Kerry. The name “Kenmare” is the anglicized form of Ceann Mara, meaning “head of the sea”, referring to the head of Kenmare bay. It’s location on the Ring of Kerry and also the Ring of Beara make it a popular tourist destination and the town is highly renowned for its traditional pubs and great restaurants. The quaint town has been a winner of the Irish Tidy Towns competition on multiple occasions making it a pleasure to visit. Reenagross Park is a beautiful park overlooking the most inland point of Kenmare Bay and is a beautiful place to watch the sun rise or set.
Muckross House Gardens & Traditional Farms
Muckross House is a Tudor style mansion built in 1843. In 1923 it was presented to the Irish people by owners William Bowers Bourn and Arthur Rose Vincent. It then became the first National Park in Ireland and formed the basis of the present day Killarney National Park. Today the house and gardens are an immersive experience offering a detailed look at life in the big house. All work on the farm is done in the old fashioned way using horse-drawn machinery and traditional furniture decorates the interior of the house.
Located just off the coast to the south west of the peninsula is one of Ireland’s most westerly points. Valentia Island is linked to the mainland by the Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge at Portmagee. Valentia is home to several notable attractions as well as 156 permanent residents. Geokaun Mountain and Fogher Cliffs add up to make the highest point on the island. Glanleam House on the northeast of the island, and it’s surrounding gardens are said to provide the mildest micro-climate in the country. The Telegraph Field is the site of the first permanent communications link between Europe and North America.
Whether driving all 111 miles in one day or taking the time to explore the peninsula in more depth, there are endless ways to spend your time on the Ring of Kerry. Our 5 Day Kilkee to Kenmare tour offers extensive coverage of the Ring of Kerry as well as the Dingle Peninsula and more. Follow the link for more details.