Ring of Kerry – Two Weeks in Ireland

| October 4, 2012
Ring of Kerry

Dramatic cliffs seen on the Skellig Ring of Ireland near Portmagee

After visiting the Muckross House near Killarney, we made our way to Kenmare for the night, which is located near the head of Kenmare Bay at the southern end of the famous Ring of Kerry. Kenmare is a quiet town of about 2,100 people with nice accommodations and a village center with pubs, restaurants and shops.

Kenmare Ireland

Donna waiting to start our drive around the Ring of Kerry

We arrived in Kenmare late afternoon, just in time to check in and have dinner. We stayed at a modern, comfortable and nicely appointed place called the Brooklane Hotel. Although there was a nice-looking restaurant adjoining the hotel, we decided to take a short walk in the misty rain and have dinner in the town center. Don’t believe anyone if they tell you the food in Ireland is bland. At every turn during our trip to the emerald isle, we had a wide selection of high quality menu choices. After dinner, we turned in for the night and woke up early the next morning to begin our adventure in Kerry, Ireland.

Ring of Kerry Road

The narrow roads of the Ring of Kerry

Before leaving on our trip to Ireland, I did some research online and emailed a local B&B to come up with a winning strategy for driving the Ring of Kerry, which one of the top attractions in Ireland. My primary concern was coming head-to-head with large tour buses while on the narrow and winding roads on the Ring. The tour coaches drive counter-clockwise around the Ring and we were planning to drive clockwise from Kenmare. Driving clockwise kept us from getting stuck behind the string of buses but meant that we could encounter one or several buses coming from the opposite direction. The road you see in the photo above is typical of the Ring of Kerry…and just about everywhere else on the west side of Ireland. In some cases the road is too narrow for two cars let alone a car and a bus.

Driving tips for the Ring of Kerry

So, to keep our drive tour bus free, we simply left early from Kenmare and timed an excursion around the Skellig Ring, which is off of the main Ring road, to let the bulk of the buses pass before rejoining the main road to finish up our drive. As a result, I don’t remember meeting a single bus on the road!

Ring of Kerry Map

Our drive on the Ring of Kerry (courtesy Google Maps)

Here are the details of our drive. First we left Kenmare at 8:15am and drove about 45 minutes (with time to spare for a few pictures) to nearby Snell for coffee and and scones. You can see sleepy Snell in the photo below. It was nice to sit in one of Snell’s quaint cafes for coffee as we contemplated our trip and the beautiful sights that lay before us.

Snall Ireland

Time for coffee and a scone in Snell, Ireland on the Ring of Kerry

We left Snell and worked our way around the Ring, stopping to take pictures as the sights unfolded. I could not resist shooting a few photos of the many cows that peppered the landscape. I just looked for safe places to pull the car to the side of the road and walked to my subjects as necessary. It is impossible to stop for every photo opportunity with so much to capture along the way!

Ring of Kerry Cow

A Kerry cow with a hairdo that would make Elvis jealous

There are points along the drive where the beautiful landscape and gorgeous blue water can be easily photographed. I felt the only way to capture the true essence of these beautiful scenes was to make  panoramas. Just click on the panoramas below to see larger images with all of the detail. If you look closely at the first panorama, you will see a man with his dog on the beach. It seemed a little chilly to me to be swimming but he did not appear to mind at all.

Ring of Kerry Coast

Ring of Kerry panorama I – Quiet, beautiful, green and blue

One of the memorable sights in Ireland was the ubiquitous presence of Montbretia. This gorgeous plant can be found along the many country roads in the west of Ireland from July to September with a wonderful display of spikes of bright reddish-orange flowers.  Because it is a familiar sight in the west of Ireland, it is heralded by many to be one of their native plants, along with Fuchsia.


Ever present orange Montbretia on the Ring of Kerry

As we continued our drive, we came across another scene of breathtaking beauty shown in the panorama below. It is hard not to be captivated by the luminescent green landscape edged by rugged cliffs and shoreline descending into the pristine blue ocean. There is sense of peace and calm when gazing at a scene like this. The low-lying clouds that blanket the hillsides seem to protect and comfort you as they roll overhead.

Ring of Kerry Panorama

Ring of Kerry panorama II – 360 degrees of beauty

Just like we experienced in Switzerland, the rural architecture has a remarkable sense of consistency. Many of the farmhouses are simple rectangles with chimneys on one or both ends. I assume the house below is a duplex due to its mirrored features. I think the simple lines of the houses compliment the simplicity of the landscape, which enhances the scenery as a whole. The houses here are simply understated, well maintained and very charming.

Ring of Kerry Cottage

An Irish house on the Ring of Kerry

Just after completing the Skellig Ring Road and rejoining the main ring road around the Ring of Kerry, we came upon the town of Cahersiveen and its Cahergall Ring Fort. The fort was built sometime between 300 B.C. and 500 A.D. without the aid of mortar or cement. It would have taken 100 men six months to build a fort of this stature. Although the purpose of the fort is subject to debate, it is believed that the people that built them would retreat to the fort in time of tribal war. There are three of these forts on the Ring of Kerry and are said to be among the best preserved in all of Ireland.

Ring of Kerry Sheep

Scratching an itch near Cahersiveen at the Cahergall Fort on the Ring of Kerry

Although nothing can substitute actually going to the Ring of Kerry yourself, I hope this post has provided a compelling glimpse into our experience. As the map shows, we ended our drive around the Ring of Kerry on the beautiful Dingle Peninsula, which will be the subject of my next post!

Cahersiveen Ireland

Cahersiveen’s Cahergall Fort on the Ring of Kerry

Other posts related to this trip to Ireland


Category: Ireland, Photography, Travel

Comments (2)

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  1. ABarlow says:

    Man, what an awesome scene. Really hope one day I’ll get to go to that place. It’s tops on my list!

  2. Lee says:

    Thanks Aaron. It is an awesome place with 360 degrees of beauty!