South Kerry – Killarney, The Ring of Kerry, Kenmare and the Ring of Beara - legendary, awe inspiring, majestic and humble!
Killarney is famous for its beautiful lakes and mountains but nowhere in Ireland will you find such an ecological National Park as Killarney. Famous for its native natural habitats and species including ancient oaks, holly woods, yew woods and red deer. The National Park Visitor Centre (located at Muckross House) and the Information Point at Torc Waterfall provide information about the park. The Killarney Valley is steeped in history and heritage, with ancient sites. ruins and sites like Muckross House & Gardens, Muckross Traditional Farms and Ross Castle. Explore Killarney town centre and enjoy the hotels, restaurants, pubs and shops you can find on the main streets and laneways. Added to which shows, events and festivals keep Killarney buzzing all year round.
Travel into Mid Kerry to the gateway of the Ring of Kerry. Starting in Killorglin and on to Glenbeigh, the road winds around the hills and mountains that make up the spine of the Iveragh peninsula. The views open on to Dingle Bay and you can see the vastness of the bay from Rossbeigh and Inch beaches out to the Blasket Islands. You will see the remnants of the Old Railway Tunnel and the “Gleesk Viaduct” as you travel along.
The Golden Mile greets you near Kells, which is a stunning walk and The Kerry Way passes through here on its way around the peninsula. Neighbouring Foilmore is a favourite with hill walkers for its beautiful open landscape and dramatic views. Take a little detour down to the beautiful Blue Flag beach and pier at Kells, a traditional fishing community.
When you drive to Cahersiveen, you will see the vast interior of the peninsula. It's a special part of the Iveragh Peninsula that few people get to see, so if you want to experience another world, take the stunning road less travelled from Glencar to Bealach Oisín mountain pass and on to Cahersiveen, Dromid and Waterville.
Surrounded by mountains and water, Cahersiveen is nestled between Beentee Mountain and the River Fertha flowing out in to Valentia Harbour. Cahersiveen has historical and archaeological importance, and nearby Carhan is the birthplace of Daniel O’Connell, The Liberator.
Take the ferry at Renard pier for Valentia Island, which leaves every 10 minutes during the summer months. A lovely crossing and you may see Atlantic dolphins. The vistas everywhere on Valentia are stunning and as you follow the Valentia Island ring to the south, stop and see the views and landscape.
From Cahersiveen, the Skellig Ring is an amazing detour to enjoy taking in Valentia Island, Portmagee, St. Finian’s Bay (The Glen) and Baile na Sceilge (Ballinskelligs). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Skellig Rocks, were home to hermit monks between the 6th and 18th centuries.
As part of the South Kerry Gaeltacht, Dromid is steeped in culture and tradition. Dromid is separated into two valleys, the Inny Valley (Gleann na hAoine) and the Cumeragh Valley (Gleann an Cumerigh). and the two rivers that flow through each valley. It is a beautiful area influenced by natural features from the rugged lines of the mountains to the lush vegetation and undergrowth of the lakes and rivers.
Waterville is a pretty waterfront village cushioned with the vastness of Ballinskelligs Bay to the southwest and the mountains of the Iveragh peninsula to the east and south. The sweeping panoramas are stunning and can be enjoyed with a stroll along the promenade that stretches the length of the village. Waterville is known for its links golf course and lake, river and shore fishing.
The Coomakista Pass offers magnificent views over Kenmare Bay, Derrynane Harbour, Scariff and Deenish Islands. It is an incredible place to just stop and soak in the view and it is one of the most photographed locations in Ireland.
Next stop on the Ring is Caherdaniel and Derrynane. Caherdaniel Village is on the old butter road, and has a famous old stone fort. This pretty village stands on the shore of Derrynane Bay and is home to the great catholic liberator, Daniel O’Connell and his home Derrynane House & National Park is an interesting place to visit.
From Caherdaniel, the Ring will bring you to Castlecove. Castlecove village is a traditional rural coastal village. It is home to fine sandy beaches and the coastline has created natural rock pools with sandy coves dotted underneath the cliffs. The imposing ruins of the 2,500 year old Staigue Fort, are close by and is the finest example of a stone fort in Ireland.
Sneem Village, neatly settled on the shores of Kenmare Bay where the Sneem river flows into the bay, and is surrounded by the rugged mountains of the Ring of Kerry. The shores are lapped by the mild currents of the Gulf Stream, giving rise to subtropical vegetation on the islands in the Sneem estuary.
From here the Ring offers you a choice of routes, the eastern road to Kenmare or northwards towards Killarney.
Taking the northern route (R568) from Sneem towards Moll’s Gap, you will be amazed by the sweeping valleys. You can take the road less travelled, and follow the signs for Ballagh Beama Pass and follow the winding road that brings you to Glencar. From Moll’s Gap you see the Killarney National Park and the McGillycuddy Reeks in the distance. Take a ramble into the awesome Black Valley and be prepared for the wow factor the deeper you venture.
Taking the Kenmare road, driving or walking (if you are enjoying The Kerry Way), you can visit the dormant 19th century village of Tahilla, which, in its day, was a busy fishing community.
Further along, Blackwater Bridge is a small community divided by the Blackwater River. Lough Brin offers brown trout and the Blackwater area offers fine walks, views, golf, horse riding and trekking. Coss Strand beach and Blackwater pier are where fresh bay fish and shellfish are landed.
This road brings you along to Templenoe or “New Church” on Kenmare Bay where the ruins of the ancient castle of Dunkerron lie.
Kenmare is a heritage town dating back to 1678 and its charming atmosphere is portrayed through every street and lane with colourful shop fronts, galleries, cosy cafés, gourmet restaurants and traditional pubs. Fresh floral displays,unique architecture, a picturesque town square, and friendly locals are everywhere.
To reach Kenmare is an incredible journey and all roads bring you through magnificent scenery. To the north lie the McGillycuddy Reeks, Killarney National Park, Moll’s Gap, Lady’s View and the scenic drive to Killarney town. To the east lie the Derrynasaggart Mountains full of hidden scenic drives and trails. To the south are the Caha Mountains, you will pass the Bonane Heritage Park and go over the Kerry Pass to Glengariff and West Cork. Kenmare is the gateway to not one but two spectacular peninsulas. It lies at the head of Kenmare Bay between the Iveragh and the Beara peninsulas.
The Ring of Beara is a scenic coastal driving route, encompassing picturesque villages and towns, enchanting islands and breathtaking scenery. The finger-like peninsula that projects into the Atlantic stretches from Kenmare to Glengarriff and from Glengarriff to Castletownbere and on to Dursey Island via Ireland’s only cable car. The Ring of Beara is a must for any visitor in southeast Ireland with Cork’s Bantry Bay to its south and Kerry’s Kenmare Bay to its north. There is a rugged tranquillity about the far reaches of the Beara Peninsula. And right at the heart, nestling between the dramatic shadows of the Caha Mountains, a patchwork of green fields and the expansive Atlantic Ocean, you will find the picturesque villages and a landscape steeped in myths and legends. Historical and archaeological sites abound with more sites per comparable area than any other place in Europe!
Heritage, mountain, beach & rugged coastal walks
Blue Flag beaches
Eco-Nature & seal watching
Motor Museum, Kilgarvan,
Bonane Heritage Park, Bonane
Molly Gallivan’s Visitor Centre, Bonane
Gleninchaquin Park, Tuosist
Derrynane House, Derrynane
Tetrapod Footprints on Valentia Island
Staigue Fort, Castlecove
The Kerry Bog Village
The Skellig Chocolate Factory
The Barracks in Cahirciveen
Glanleam House and Gardens Valentia
Derrynane House and National Park