RING OF KERRY 2 DAYS TOUR
We depart from the St. Stephen’s Green aboard our very comfortable coach.
We proceed through Dublin’s south inner city streets where historic buildings and monuments will be shown to you. Shortly after this we enter the M50 Motorway and change on to the M7, which is the main highway to Ireland’s south-west. We then join the M20 Motorway which is the southern by-pass or ring road around Limerick city.
We arrive in the very pretty traditional Irish village of Adare. Adare abounds with traditional thatched Irish cottages, and early Christian churches, and ruined abbeys. It is also the location for the world famous and exclusive Adare Manor Hotel and championship golf course. We take a short break at the Adare Heritage Centre for a tea/coffee break and to use the restrooms.
We then proceed through the lush and fertile farmland of west Co. Limerick, passing by Rathkeale and through Newcastlewest. We then cross through the Barnagh Gap, which is a shallow hill pass and proceed through Templeglantine and on to Abbeyfeale named after the 13th century Cistercian abbey built on the banks of the River Feale which forms the border between counties Limerick and Kerry. Having crossed into Co. Kerry we proceed along more high ground until we finally arrive at the shallow mountain pass above the market town of Castleisland. We proceed on to Farranfore and Castlemaine.
Kerry has peninsulas which stretch out into the wild Atlantic like fingers. The Dingle and Iveragh peninsulas are noted for their rugged and dramatic scenic beauty. We turn westwards and head out along the south shore of the famous Dingle peninsula or Chorca Dhuibhne (in Gaelic). All of this peninsula is a Gaeltacht area. That means that in this area most of the native population are able to converse freely in Gaelic/Irish as well as English. After a few kilometers we come into the tiny village of Inch. Inch is famous for its long beach which stretches off to the south. Inch Strand is one of Ireland’s favoured surfing venues and it was also used as one of the film locations in the movie “Ryan’s Daughter”, starring Robert Mitchum, Sarah Miles and John Hurt. We make a brief photo-stop at Inch Strand.
We continue westwards through the scenic coastline through Lispole, at which point we see the remains of one of the Railroad bridges of the old Victorian Tralee & Dingle narrow gauge railway which ceased in 1953. The terrain goes inland for a while and we finally arrive in the magic town of Dingle.
Dingle (An Daingean)
Dingle is a famous fishing town with its own secluded harbour inlet from the broader Dingle Bay. The town nestles beside the sea at the foot of a high mountain range. Dingle Harbour is also famous for the fact that 20 years ago a lone male Bottle Nosed Dolphin came and stayed in the harbour. He is still there! He is known affectionately as Fungi and is indeed a very gregarious or social creature, following sight-seeing boats and tourists. He has become a one-creature tourist attraction. We take a boat trip into the harbour for our very own “Fungi Experience”. After a fun-filled day we leave Dingle at about 5pm and head east back along the peninsula on our way to Killarney.
Killarney is a world famous town and tourist destination. It was in fact Ireland’s first tourism spot and was originally made popular by the English aristocracy in the Victorian era. When the first railway was built from Dublin to Cork in 1851, a branch line was constructed from Mallow in north Co. Cork to Killarney especially for the wealthy people to go on holiday to Killarney. Physically, the town is situated at the foot of the Magillicuddy Reeks mountain range amid a series of exceptionally beautiful lakes. The setting is idyllic.
Killarney has a fun and festive atmosphere at any time of the year. There are many beautiful golf courses, hotels, restaurants and pubs. There are also many traditional music sessions in the various pubs as well. It is fair to say that Killarney is Ireland’s original “fun” town, with a really vibrant social life and plenty of “Craic”. You have time to explore Killarney’s evening social life.
After breakfast we go on the bus to visit Ross Castle. This is a typical Irish Chieftain’s stronghold from the middle ages. It was originally built by the ruling O’Donoghue Mor (Ross) clan in the 1440’s. In the 1580’s it was taken from the O’Donoghues by another Irish ruling clan, the McCarthy Mor, of Blarney Castle fame. This is an architectural delight and very much a gaelic defensive fortress, rather than an Anglo-Norman tower house from the 13th century.
Ring of Kerry
We now embark on our stunning Ring of Kerry journey. This is the complete circuit of the scenic and desolately beautiful Iveragh Peninsula. First we go west through Milltown and on to Killorglin. Killorglin is the famous market town which is the centre of the annual “Puck Fair”, a 3-day festival commencing on August 10th. Puck (or Puc) is the old Gaelic word for a goat. The Puck Fair is an ancient pre-Christian pagan festival which dates back to the Iron Age (200AD) and is the world’s oldest non religious festival. Every year the local people capture a wild mountain billy goat and imprison him in a cage and put him on show. He is fed generously for the duration of the 3-day fair before being released back into the wild. While in captivity the Puck is crowned “King Puck” by the oldest virgin in the town. We really are not sure how they decide who is the oldest virgin these days!
We continue west and then we reach the north shore of the peninsula. There are stunning views across Dingle Bay to Inch Strand on your right. To your left is the shelf on which the old Caherciveen railway used to run. High above you, can be seen the disused railway tunnels and viaducts on what was once Ireland’s most scenic and beautiful railway journey. We pass through the barren townland of Gleensk and on to the scenic Kells Bay. From here we must turn inland to go around the mighty mountain, Knocknadobar and then turn west again through the hauntingly beautiful Ferta river valley to its estuary at Cahirciveen, the most westerly railway station in Europe until its regrettable closure in 1963.
From Cahirciveen we pass south to the beautiful seaside town of Waterville, where we stop for refreshments and toilets. The Butler Arms Hotel was the favoured holiday retreat of the silent movie star, the late Charlie Chaplin. To the west we have the beautiful Ballinskelligs bay and to the east we have Lough Currane, a famous lake for fishing. Lough Currane is connected to the sea at Ballinskelligs bay via the Currane River, which is possibly Ireland’s shortest river at a length of about 500M! From here we continue south into the rising ground high above the sea as we go around Farraniaragh Mountain. All the while we are in the midst of some really spectacular scenery. At the top of the mountain pass we pull into the Beenarourke car park for a quick photo-stop to survey the magnificent panorama. From this great vantage point can be seen Waterville, Lough Curranne and Ballinskelligs Bay to the north. To the south can be seen the famous monastic Skelligs Rock, Derrynane Bay, Caherdaniel and the Kenmare River Bay.
Caherdaniel and Derrynane
After the Beenarourke mountain pass we descend down to the south side of the peninsula to the townland of Caherdaniel. In Caherdaniel is Derrynane House, the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell. O’Connell Street in Dublin is named after this champion of the common people. He achieved many privileges, freedoms and concessions for the repressed Catholic population of Ireland through the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. Because of this, he is still known as “The Liberator”. This south-western coastline of the Iveragh peninsula is carved with many beautiful beaches, coves and small inlets. It really is a most enchanting corner of the Ring of Kerry.
We then proceed east along the jagged coast through Castle Cove and then turn inland and proceed through the picturesque village of Sneem. The N70 then turns south towards Parknasilla and continues eastwards. After more beautiful coastline we arrive in the lovely town of Kenmare at the estuary of the Kenmare River.
Moll’s Gap to Killarney
From Kenmare we head north again for Killarney. To do this we again rise into the mountainous region and arrive into Killarney via the beautiful Moll’s Gap. From this vantage point we get a stunning view of the Lakes of Killarney from the south. We then proceed down into Killarney and we have now completed the famous Ring of Kerry. Having completed this magnificent action-filled and breath-taking 2 days tour, we return to Dublin, arriving approx. 8.30pm.