Recently we have done a lot of road trips and we were at it again in Ireland. We both had never heard of the Ring of Kerry or what there was to see and do on the 179km (111 miles) circular route in Western Ireland and we had to check it out. Starting off in Killarney we headed south to Kenmare, west to Waterville before heading north-east back to Killarney. Here is the lowdown on places we saw and some of the places we stopped to rest, eat, drink and play.
This has to be our 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 wonder into the town looking for a good time), but because of it’s charm, how the locals want to engage with us and have long conversations and the restaurants here are simply amazing. Did we also mention that the town has a bar or two?
Well the sights, we 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 we checked out in our short time in this amazing place. Regarding food, we couldn’t try out all the places to eat, if we did, we would come away weighing an extra few kilos. Here is our 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. They serve a variety of food from the usual meats, pastas, chicken meals to burgers and currys.
O’Donoghues Public House on Plunkett Street was amazing. From the warm welcome, the customer service, to the food was stunning. We had problems getting through our main meal as we had a starter but hey, we were enjoying ourselves here in this cozy bar.
Treyvaud’s – a very well run family restaurant where we met one of the owner’s who knew what sort of food we should be served. The food here just melted in our mouth and we came away with very big smiles. 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 we say), on Main Street there is Murphy’s which has ice cream from the nearby harbour town of Dingle. We tried this place twice as their main product was ice cream with gin (also from the town of Dingle).
Our favourite bars in the town – we only checked out a few (but managed to stay several hours in each). All of them have fantastic staff, great drinks on offer and to be honest, not to 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 we were there we kept getting a few surprises by the one and only Gollum who kept sneaking up to us, or grabbing our shoulders as we wait at the bar for a pint of the local brew.
On Main Street there is J.M.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 we went 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. We 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. Our favourite place to check out was the Killarney Brewing Company where we got to try out a few samples of the beer brewed on site before being taken on a tour.
Now back in the car we headed south and our 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 we did (thinking that we were going to get a view of the waterfall from above but never came across it!)
Heading south on the N71 (the road) we passed many view points on the southern side of Loch Leane and we just had to capture these amazing moments. It was so peaceful, not a soul in sight and it felt like we had the whole national park to ourselves. This was a truly amazing moment for us.
Further up the mountain we 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, we had the place to ourselves. To celebrate, we just had to grab a beer and some cake at the cafe which is also situated here.
The next town we 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 we were lucky and managed to get a table to sample more cakes and the delicious hot drinks on offer.
Just outside of Kenmare is the stunning Dromquinna Manor, a watersite estate that caters for weddings and luxury camping (glamping). This is why we were lucky Claire had family in this area of Ireland because her great aunt knew about the amazing restaurant in Dromquinna Manor, The Boathouse. Here he had possibly the best fish meal in Ireland made with beautiful sourced local fish.
Past Kenmare the road then heads west towards the Atlantic Ocean and (as we 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 we were treated to full Irish breakfast which was simply divine. The cafe does however get busy as the word as got about but if you can get breakfast, then come here.
The next sight we came to was the Staigue Stone Fort which was about 4km north of the main road before reaching Castlecove. Here we 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.
We then 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, we found that there were many coaches to avoid on the road so our 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 we didn’t have the time to do everything and we 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 our mind and our breathe away.
Don’t forget to check out our other posts about Ireland here
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