Ireland is an ideal country for road trips, that is, if you don’t mind driving on the left side of the road – for all you continentals out there – and on impossibly narrow hedge-lined country roads. It’s those roads, however, that are part of the undeniable charm of Ireland.
Although the Irish west coast is my favorite Irish region, the Ring of Kerry is a close second – as I mentioned in my previous post.
My girlfriend and I were staying in Cork for a while, a city that neither of us really liked, and we decided to rent a car in Cork and go explore the southwest. I had read many good things about the Kerry peninsula and was excited to go see it for myself.
The Ring of Kerry is a loop drive around the Kerry peninsula in the far southwest of the green Irish isle. 179 kilometers long, it is the longest of all great Irish loops drives. The Connemara Loop is another fabulous drive that you should check out when in Ireland; just saying!
Driving the Ring of Kerry
From Cork it’s an hour and a half by car to Killarney, the biggest town on the Ring of Kerry and located right next to the national park with the same name: Killarney National Park. That national park is one of the greatest tourist attractions in the country and is made up of bogs, moors, mountains, rivers and waterfalls. We stopped in Killarney for a quick lunch.
It is suggested that when you’re driving the Ring of Kerry, you go in an anti-clockwise direction to avoid getting stuck behind a tour bus. This direction is advised to minimize traffic problems.
There are several highlights on the way, starting with the Kerry Bog Village Museum, a recreation of a 19th-century bog village. The next stop is at Ballycarbery Castle, or what’s left of it. The ruins of this 16th-century castle stand in the middle of a cow field and are incredibly photogenic.
We continued on the Ring of Kerry and passed two stone ring forts before turning right onto the remote, but spectacular Skellig Ring. The Skellig Ring passes by the impressive Kerry Cliffs from which you can see the legendary Skellig Islands out at sea.
Next up were the beach town of Waterville, Caherdaniel and a totally spectacular stretch of coastline. More highlights followed: Derrynane National History Park, more coastlines and the small picturesque towns of Sneem and Kenmare. From Kenmare the Ring of Kerry runs through the heart of Killarney National Park to Killarney, where we started.
, running past ruins, villages, and magnificent landscapes and coastlines. We did it in one long day, but I would definitely suggest allowing more time, as we had to skip some attractions. I’d say that three days would suffice to really take everything in.