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Ireland Travel Guide

Best Places to Visit in  Southwestern Ireland

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            Best Places to Visit in Ireland   Detailed Map  

 

 

 

  

Best Places to Visit in Ireland's Southwest

 
Killarney National Park    Skellig Michael 
Blarney Castle   Cork   Dingle Peninsula    Drombeg Stone Circle          
Gougane Barra   Kinsale   Ring of Kerry   

 

Read our recommendations on the best places to visit in Ireland.

In this section we cover two potential add-ons to your Ring of Kerry explorations.  Although you can simply drive through Killarney National Park while on the Ring drive, we think you might enjoy a more leisurely look.  Also, for the adventurous among, consider a boat trip to the monastic ruins on Skellig Michael. Both attractions are described below.

    The Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park and Skellig Michael

Killarney National Park

If you have time, visit Killarney National Park, which offers beautiful scenery,  the Inveragh Peninsula's three major lakes and a number of historic attractions. The Park is crowded in high season, but enjoyable in almost any season.

The official website of the Killarney National Park provides a detailed overview of the activities available and there is a lot to see and do.  Most of the spots that you will want to see are along the Kenmare Road (N71).  Sights to see include the lakes (Lower Lake (Lough Leanne), Middle Lake and Upper Lake), the Torc Waterfall (about a sixty-foot drop) and Ladies view and a panoramic landscape across the lakes of the Park towards the Gap of Dunloe.  The rumor is that the "ladies" involved in naming the view were Queen Victoria and the her ladies-in-waiting.  Regardless,  the view from the overlook is stunning.

 

              

 

Historic attractions within the Park that you should consider include Ross Castle  (the 15th century castle of an Irish Chieftain and Muckross House and Gardens  (a furnished, beautiful Victorian house with exceptional gardens),  the Muckross Traditional Farms (three showcase farms using "traditional" Irish methods to grow their crops) and Muckross Friary , a 15th century Franciscan friary that has been excellently preserved. 

                            

If you are interested in seeing more of the Park, consider taking one of the boat rides connecting the attractions along the lakes.  See this page from the Killarney National Park official website for more information, or stop by the Tourist Office in Killarney where you will find brochures on the available options.

Skellig Michael

                       

About 8 miles (12 km) off  St. Finan's Bay at the end of the Inveragh Peninsula (the Ring of Kerry drive encloses the peninsula) is Skellig Michael Island (Great Skellig), a rocky outcrop elevated 714 ft  (218 meters) above sea level.  What makes this island so unique is that there is an abandoned monastic complex near the top of this bleak and weatherworn piece of rock.  In the 6th century,  the monastery was founded by St. Fionan and was active for the next 600 years. Eventually the order relocated in the  town of Ballinskellig on the mainland.

The monastic complex consists of several beehive huts and two oratories for worship, which can be reached only by an uphill climb along a dramatic 670-step stone staircase.  Skellig Michael was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. 

              

Access to the island is limited, but a number of boats are licensed to make the tour. The ride to the island can be quite rough and in some weather an approach to the island is impossible.   Most trips take an hour (or slightly longer) to reach the island and afford  2 to 2.5 hours on the rock.  Wear warm clothes and be prepared for wet conditions. Finally, there are no facilities of any type on the island.  We suggest that you bring water and something for a snack.  Scrambling up those steps and the fresh sea air will make you ravenous.

If you are interested in visiting Skellig Michael, you should reserve ahead.   For a list of websites running boats that can take you to the island use your favorite search engine and enter "Skellig Michael boat trips".

For those of you who would like to know more about the Skelligs (there is a  smaller sister island that is well known for its bird colony), but not interested in the boat trip, consider visiting The Skellig Experience.  The Experience is on the waterfront, near the bridge to Valentia Island directly opposite the town of Portmagee. The Skellig Experience includes an audio-visual tour of the island, along with other presentations that will help you appreciate the determination and religious fervor of the island's monastic community.

The Skellig Experience Centre is located  11KM off the western sector of the Ring of Kerry - (N 70).   Take R565 west from Laharan South (located on the N70) towards Portmagee (located just before the bridge crossing to Valentia (Valenica) Island.  You can either backtrack to where you left the Ring or continue your tour through Valentia Island and catch a ferry from Knights Town (at the islands north eastern edge) to Cahirciveen further along on the Ring of Kerry.

Finally, you might want to take a look at Heritage Ireland's page on Skellig Michael.

More Places to Visit in Southwest Ireland

Click here for page 3 on the Southwest, featuring the Dingle Peninsula.

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.

Using the link menu on the right-edge of this page will take you to other sections of scenic Ireland.

If you need information about another travel destination, try our Destination Guide Index or Googling ThereArePlaces.


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Dublin and Vicinity

The Southwest
Cork, Killarney, Ring of Kerry, Dingle, Blarney Castle and more.

The West
Galway, Connemara, Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Aran islands and more.

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Introduction to Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

     
 Killarney National Park     Skellig Michael 
Blarney Castle   Cork  Dingle Peninsula    Drombeg Stone Circle    
Gougane Barra    Kinsale    Ring of Kerry   
   
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