The scenery in County Kerry is by far the most popular
attraction in the area and we start our coverage with drives
along the Inveragh (Ring of Kerry) and Dingle Peninsulas.
While the tour of the Ring of Kerry is the most popular, the
crowds on the Dingle Peninsula have increased over the last few
years. The towns and villages along both routes are modest in
size, although you will find no shortage of pubs, places to eat
and tourist shops. Most attractions are modest, but the views
are the reason for visiting.
While many visitors approach both drives as an
endurance race, zipping from one end to the
other with limited stops, we urge you to take
your time and inspect your surroundings.
One of the best things about Ireland is
that is it not like your home. We recommend that
you take the time to explore the differences.
Finally, like the rest of Ireland, many of the
attractions in the Southwest are open only in
summer, so check locally if you are going to
visit in other seasons.
The Ring of Kerry drive is downright crowded in summer and you
may find yourself behind a convoy of tour buses at almost
anytime of the day. Most of the tour buses drive the Ring
in a counter-clockwise direction and some tourists who drive
themselves prefer to drive the same route in a clockwise
direction to avoid the crowds. In addition, many drivers
prefer to take the clockwise route because you will be driving
on the left in Ireland and this means you will be driving on the
side of the road that will give you the most direct views of the
Below is our overview map of the Ring of Kerry. For a more detailed
road map of the Southwestern Ireland, click on this symbol
When used in the following text, the map symbol will link to a detailed road
map centered on the location mentioned in the text. Zoom the
interactive map to for more detail, or use the hybrid view to see satellite
imagery of the area. If you get lost, simply zoom out to find your
location. For now, the overview map below) will work just fine.
The Ring of Kerry circuit, an approximately a 103-mile route (173 km), is
the most famous "drive" in Ireland. It runs along the coastline of the
Inveragh Peninsula. Along the way, you will see picturesque villages,
historical sites, beautiful landscapes and spectacular coastal
scenery. Traffic on the road can be congested in high tourist season, so
start your tour early in the day. Driving the route and seeing sights of
interest to you along the way will take most of the day, so budget your time
Although Killarney is the logical start/stop for the Ring Drive, the town
has become about as touristy as you will find in Ireland. There are
good quality restaurants and numerous pubs, as well as toe-tapping
music. In summer, however, the crowds are large and the town is a continual
traffic jam. On the other hand, how could say you visited Ireland and
didn't stop in Killarney? For more information about Killarney, visit
the Killarney Chamber of Tourism & Commerce
Killarney is also the gateway to Killarney National Park. Although
you could simply drive through the Park on your Ring of Kerry tour, we
recommend that you give it a closer look and consider spending a day there
if its attractions appeal to your interest. Since there are a number
of attractions at Killarney National Park, we cover it n the
second page of our guide to
the Southwest of Ireland.
Most of the tour buses drive the Ring in a counter-clockwise
direction from Killarney and some tourists who drive themselves
prefer to drive the same route in a clockwise direction to avoid
the crowds. In addition, many drivers prefer to take the
clockwise route because you will be driving on the left in
Ireland and this means you will be driving on the side of the
road that will give you the most direct views of the ocean. If
you want to take the clockwise approach, set out towards Kenmare
and follow the N70 all the way round to Killorglin and then take
the N72 to return to Killarney. If you have time, you may
also want to include a visit to Valentia Island, which requires
a minor deviation from the official Ring of Kerry Route.
As we noted above, the main reason to visit the Ring of Kerry is to
experience the natural beauty of the Inveragh Peninsula. With the exception
of Killarney (population 13,427), most towns are quite small; however you
will find no shortage of tourist facilities, pubs, shop and good fun.
We list the "main" towns and attractions that you will pass through during
your tour (presuming you are traveling the route counterclockwise from
Kenmare around the peninsula. If you desire to start from Killarney
and head clockwise to Killorglin, the list is reversed.
(pop. 1701) was named one of Kerry's first Heritage Towns. It is a
small known for its golf course, Lace Museum and the Kenmare Stone Circle,
another of Ireland's mysterious, prehistoric burial grounds.
Sneem (pop. 279), a popular destination for families, is
a colorful little village that has an "artsy" orientation. You will
find several galleries here, as well as sculptures placed around the town.
Staigue Fort is regarded as one of Ireland's largest and
best-preserved round, stone forts. It is located north of Staigue and
is about 12 miles (20km) south of Sneem. Only the walls survive today, but
it is believed that this fort is the typical model for a chieftain's
fort. It is thought that the fort is at least 1500 year
old and once enclosed the homes of the clan's members. The fort
is unusual in the height and thickness of its walls.
Derrynane House (and
National Park - near Cahirdaniel) was the home of Daniel O'Connel, the
Emancipator, who was a heroic figure in Ireland's fight for independence.
The house is has been turned into a museum of O'Connell's life. The grounds
are extensive. See the Heritage Ireland website for
information on hours and facilities.
Waterville (pop. 546) is known for its, golf,
sport-fishing and nested position between Lough Currane and Ballinskelligs
is one that has been popular with movie stars and golf professionals.
You may be able to see Skelling Michael Island offshore this area. If
you are interested in the Skelligs, we cover a visit to Skellig Michael
(Knightstown pop. 156) can be reached by diverting south of the Ring
of Kerry Road and crossing the bridge to the island at Portmagee (pop.
376). Many visitors to Valentia Island travel here to see the Skellig
Experience or to take a boat trip to
Cahirciveen (pop. 1294), the capital of the Inveragh
peninsula, lies on the eastern reach of Valentia Harbor and is a center for
sports fishing. Daniel O’Connell, known as the Liberator for his role
in the pursuit of Ireland’s freedom from England, was born in Carhen near
Caherciveen and is a local "son", but see
Derrynane House near Cahirdaniel for his home and museum. If
you have missed Valentia Island earlier in the route, you can take a ferry
to Knights Town on Valentia Island from here.
The “Old Barracks” (late 19th century) is a popular local
attraction. It was the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks and now serves as
an informal heritage center for the Inveragh Peninsula. The building
itself is quite unusual, but the heritage center is a little underwhelming.
For more information see the official site of the
Those of you interested in the ancient, round, rock forts that are
scattered across Ireland will find two to explore quite near Cahirciveen.
a partially rebuilt circular stone fort, located just to the northwest of
Cahirciveen. It is worth seeing if you have the time. While in
the area, see the Leacanabuaile Stone Fort, just a short distance northwest.
Dates for both forts are indeterminate, but some archaeological evidence
suggests they may be over 1500 years old.
Finally, in the area of Cahirciveen you will find some fine views of
Blaskett Island and the Dingle Peninsula.
Glenbeigh (pop. 280), located at the foot of Seefin
Mountain, is known for its sandy beaches (popular with walkers) and
panoramic views of the Bay of Dingle and the Dingle Peninsula.
Trekkers might be interested in testing the Glenbeigh Horseshoe (from Seefin
Mountain to Drung Hill) reputed to be one of the best mountain walks
in County Kerry. Along the way, you will see glacial lakes and some
pleasant mountain scenery. Expect wet weather and soggy vegetation -
Killorglin (pop. 1627) is known to many as the doorway
to the Ring of Kerry. The town is situated on the River Laune and is a
noted sport-fishing center. In addition, Killorglin is known for its Puck
Fair held annually on August 10 - 12., during which a wild goat is captured,
crowned King Puck and reigns over the fair. Popular folklore is that
fair is the modern continuation of a medieval fair (others say it
originated with the Celts somewhere in prehistory). In any event, it
is yet another time for drinking, singing and dancing. Hard to
believe, but the event attracts over 100,000 visitors each year.
At this point, you can head back to Killarney or continue
west to the Dingle Peninsula, if you are in the mood for more of
nature's beauty. In the next section, we cover two
"side-trips" (Killarney National Park and Skellig
Michael)for those traveling the Ring of Kerry, then move on to
and other attractions in the Ireland's Southwest.
More Places To Visit in Southwest Ireland
Click here for
page 2 of the Southwest, featuring Killarney National Park and Skellig
Or, here for page 3 on the Southwest, featuring the
Or, here for
page 4 on the Southwest, featuring Blarney Castle, Cork, Gougane Barra
and the Drombeg Stone Circle.
Using the Jump Bar at the bottom of the page will take you directly to the
articles on each of the attractions shown.
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Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.