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 oak and 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 on all aspects of the park. The Killarney Valley is steeped in culture, history and heritage, with ancient sites, ruins such as Muckross House & Gardens, Muckross Traditional Farms and Ross Castle. Explore Killarney Town Centre and enjoy the large choice of hotels, restaurants, pubs and unique shops which can be found 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 unofficial 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 “Gleesk Viaduct” as you travel along.
The Golden Mile greets you as you approach Kells, which is a stunning walk and The Kerry Way passes 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, traditionally a fishing community.
As you drive towards Cahersiveen, you will note the vastness of the peninsulas interior. This is another special part of the Iveragh Peninsula that few people ever get to see so if you want to really experience another world, take the stunning road less travelled – from Glencar to Bealach Oisín mountain pass and on to Cahersiveen, Dromid or Waterville – prepare to be amazed!
Surrounded by a combination of mountains and water, Cahersiveen is nestled between Beentee Mountain and the River Fertha, which flows out in to Valentia Harbour. Of great historical and archaeological importance, Cahersiveen is the actual birthplace of Daniel O’Connell.
Take the ferry at Renard pier for Valentia Island, which leaves every 10 minutes during the summer months. A lovely crossing, you may see Atlantic dolphins if you are lucky. The vistas everywhere on Valentia are stunning and as you follow the Valentia Island ring to the south, stop and experience the spectacular views and enjoy the panoramic 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). The 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) - due to the two rivers that flow through each valley. It is a vast area and very beautiful influenced by many natural features from the rugged lines of the mountains and hills to the lakes and rivers with their lush vegetation and undergrowth.
Waterville is a pretty waterfront village cushioned with the vastness of Ballinskelligs Bay to the southwest and the mountains and lakes of the Iveragh peninsula to the east and south. The sweeping panoramas are stunning and can be enjoyed with a leisurely stroll along the promenade that stretches the length of the village. Waterville is renowned both at home and abroad for its links golf course and lake, river and shore angling.
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 views and must be one of the most photographed locations in Ireland.
Its descent in to Caherdaniel is stunning and take time to enjoy the many offerings of the village and Derrynane. Caherdaniel Village, on the old butter road, with its stone fort nearby is an old village right in the heart of the Kerry Way. Full of character and atmosphere, this pretty village stands on the shore of Derrynane Bay. Home to the Great “Liberator” Daniel O’Connell, Derrynane House & National Park is a visit not to be missed.
From Caherdaniel, the Ring will bring you to Castlecove. Castlecove village is a unique and traditional rural coastal village full of activities and events. It is home to fine sandy beaches and the coastline has created natural rock pools with exquisite sandy coves dotted underneath the cliffs. The imposing ruins of Staigue Fort, 2,500 years old are close by and are probably the finest example of a stone fort in Ireland.
With the mountains to your left and Kenmare Bay to the right, the beautiful drive from Castlecove to Sneem offers panoramic views for you to savour.
Sneem Village, neatly settled on the shores of Kenmare Bay where the Sneem river flows into the bay, is surrounded by the rugged mountains of the Ring of Kerry. These shores are lapped by the mild currents of the Gulf Stream, giving rise to subtropical vegetation on the islands in the Sneem estuary.
The Ring of Kerry now 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 and mountain views of this glorious drive. Should you wish to take the road less travelled, follow the signs for Ballagh Beama Pass and you will be enthralled by this wonderful winding route that will bring you to Glencar. From Moll’s Gap, the views are quite spectacular over Killarney National Park and the McGillycuddy Reeks. Take a ramble into the awesome Black Valley and be prepared for the wow factor the deeper in you venture!
Taking the Kenmare road, driving or walking (if you are enjoying The Kerry Way), you will 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 river Blackwater, which is a fine river for wild salmon fishing. Lough Brin offers brown trout and the Blackwater area offers fine walks and 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”, located on the shores of 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 full of arts and crafts, cosy cafés, gourmet restaurants and traditional pubs. Fresh floral displays, unique architecture, a picturesque town square, friendly locals and so much to see and do.
To reach Kenmare is an incredible journey in its own right as all roads and routes 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, and to the south, the Caha Mountains, bringing you past Bonane Heritage Park, over the Kerry Pass to Glengariff and West Cork. And of course, the west! Kenmare is the gateway to not one but two spectacular peninsulas! Situated at the head of Kenmare Bay, the town is part of the famous Ring of Kerry, the Iveragh Peninsula and to the south-west, the incredible hidden gem, the Beara Peninsula.
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 on the area of South East 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 Cahirciveen
Glanleam House and Gardens Valentia
Derrynane House and National Park