Road trip on the Ring of Kerry
Recently I have done a lot of road trips and I was at it again in Ireland. Before this visit to this western part of the island, I have never heard of the Ring of Kerry or what there was to see and do on the 179km (111 miles) circular route and I had to check it out. Starting off in Killarney I headed south to Kenmare, west to Waterville before heading north-east back to Killarney. Here is the lowdown on places I saw and some of the places I stopped to rest, eat, drink and play.
This has to be my favourite town in Ireland (to date), not because it’s a major tourist attraction (but to local standards it is a huge touristy place but hey, the population around here isn’t big and sometimes a deer may wander into town looking for a good time), but because of its charm, how the locals want to engage with me. have long conversations and the restaurants here are simply amazing. Did I also mention that the town has a bar or two?
Well the sights, I didn’t actually check any out in the town but the area is a good place to get some sleep, eat and drink. Here is what I checked out in my short time in this amazing city. Regarding food, I couldn’t try out all the places to eat, if I did, I would’ve come away weighing an extra few kilos. Here are my favourites.
Tatler Jacks on Plunkett Street, a great place to get a good drink but the food here is excellent. There may not be a lot of seating so make sure to have a reservation or get there early like we did. Serves a variety of food from the usual meats, pastas, chicken meals, burgers to curries. O’Donoghues Public House on Plunkett Street was amazing. From the warm welcome, the customer service, to the food was stunning. I had problems getting through the main meal as I had a starter but hey, I was enjoying myself here in this cozy bar. Treyvaud’s – a very well run family restaurant where I met one of the owner’s who knew what sort of food I should be served. The food here just melted in my mouth and I came away with a very big grin on my mouths. The restaurant also has a letter near the main entrance (in a frame) from St James Palace in London, in a response to the restaurant owner about inviting Prince William and company across to Killarney for a meal.
For a quick snack (or an ice cream shall I say), on Main Street there is Murphy’s which has ice cream from the nearby harbour town of Dingle. I tried this place twice as their main product was ice cream with gin (also from the town of Dingle).
My favourite bars in the town – I only checked out a few (but managed to stay for several hours in each). All of them have fantastic staff, great drinks on offer and to be honest, not too expensive. There is a theme bar on Lewis Road called The Shire, which is based on the hit motion picture ‘The Lord of the Rings”. When I was there I kept getting a few surprises by the one and only Gollum who kept sneaking up on me, or grabbing my shoulders as I wait at the bar for a pint of the local brew. On Main Street there is Reidy’s which back in the day was a sweet store which rumours have it (or maybe true), that alcohol was served at the rear. However when I went to the place was huge and like a maze to walk around. It has several different small rooms and a couple of bars dotted about to keep the customers happy. I loved this place when the music kicked in by a local band which got the locals rocking.
Ok, saying that there wasn’t really any sights in town, well, that’s not true. My favourite place to check out was the Killarney Brewing Company where I got to try out a few samples of the beer brewed on site before being taken on a tour.
Now back in the car I headed south and first stop was Ross Castle which is situated on Lough (Lake) Leane and has stood here since the 15th century. Guided tours do take place but a lot of visitors come here for hikes as it is also situated in the Killarney National Park and boat tours on the lake.
Torc Waterfall was the next stop and is situated just off the Ring of Kerry (by a parking lot). The tall waterfall is situated at the base of Torc Mountain and there is a fantastic hiking route to the summit which starts from the steps next to the waterfall to which I did (thinking that I was going to get a view of the waterfall from above but never came across it!)
Heading south on the N71 (the road) I passed many viewpoints on the southern side of Loch Leane and I just had to capture these amazing moments. It was so peaceful, not a soul in sight and it felt like I had the whole national park to myself. This was a truly amazing moment.
Further up the mountain I came to an area known as Ladies View. The view overlooking the Loch Leane and the surrounding mountains down below was once again, a truly amazing moment and again, I had the place to myself. To celebrate, I just had to grab a beer and some cake at the cafe which is also situated here.
The next town I came across was Kenmare, a charming little town with a charming high streets dotted with small boutique shops, small restaurants and local bars. It can get busy here but I was lucky and managed to get a table to sample more cakes and the delicious hot drinks on offer.
The road then rings west towards the Atlantic Ocean and (as I did the Ring of Kerry over two days) the best place to get breakfast was in a charming small town called Sneem. The Village Kitchen located just west off the bridge which goes over the River Sneem. Here I was treated to full Irish breakfast which was simply divine. The cafe does however get busy as the word got about but if you can get breakfast, then come here.
The next sight I saw on the Ring of Kerry was the Staigue Stone Fort which was about 4km north of the main road before reaching Castlecove. Here I came across a ruined stone ringfort which was probably built during the late Iron Age (so around 300-400AD give or take) and was built as a defensive stronghold for a king or a local lord.
Then I just drove, drove, drove, capturing amazing views over towns and the Atlantic Ocean. There are several viewpoints (which are safe to stop in) but not too many. Driving in low season, I found that there were many coaches to avoid on the road so my advice is, don’t drive too crazy. There are other amazing places to stop at like Muckross House, Gap of Dunloe, Molly’s Gap…but I didn’t have the time to do everything and I hope to come back and check out the rest one day. When exploring western Ireland, make sure Killarney and the Ring of Kerry is on the list. The views simply blew my mind and my breath taken away.