I was told and read before going to Ireland that if you have only a week,pick to visit just one of the three peninsulas in south west as they are similiar. I definately planned on visiting Dingle,but since I love scenic places, I really wanted to visit Iveragh(the "Ring of Kerry") too. I was glad I did. Although I did prefer the Dingle as it was more rugged, The Ring of Kerry was gorgeous too .I really thought the scenery was different as well. The drive around the ring is much longer than Dingle. 133 miles compared to 30 miles. Be careful, as some of the roads are narrow with no shoulder.
According to Wikipedia: The Ring of Kerry is a tourist trail in County Kerry, south-western Ireland. The route covers the 170 km circular road (N70, N71 and R562), starting from Killarney, heading around the Iveragh Peninsula and passing through Kenmare, Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen and Killorglin.
What it IS, is a road that leads through some of the most beautiful, scenic, pastoral areas of Ireland. It can be done in one day - we drove it's entire length in one day. Doing so is to miss the entire point. This is a drive to be savored - to pull over to drink in all the beauty, to savor the sights and the smells. To ENJOY. We were so consumed with "making good time", that we missed a lot of the majesty. It is a mistake I shall not repeat...
Staigue Fort is an old fortification and a giant stone-ring of an unknown age. The whole building has a diameter of 27 meters and is more than 5 meters high. The walls are 4 meters thick, consisting of chambers and steps and all of the stones were piled up without any cement.
Be extra careful, when driving the narrow road to Staigue Fort because sometimes there is a lot of trafic, including big tour-buses, and so it is the best to always remember the places, where you may go back in order to let the buses pass by.
Directely at the fort there is a big car-park, where you have to pay a small fee, the monument itself may be visited freely and without restrictions any time of the day.
When you click on my picture you may see the giant ringfort in comparison to some visitors.
Sneem is my favorite village in the well-known area of the Ring of Kerry.I still remember the times, when Sneem was just a sleepy village, but recently they got a small museum, lots of souvenir-shops, lots of private B&Bs, hostels & a campingsite...
...and also the average prices went up a bit, BUT still it is a good place for a stop-over, for shopping at reasonable prices !
On my main picture you will see the view from then bridge in the centre of Sneem to the surrounding mountains.
The Ring of Kerry is very beautiful coastal, mountain, cliffs and small town atmosphere. Nature lovers will die for this place. The trick to the Ring of Kerry is to find out when the tour busses are there. Go at least 2 hours before they leave that way you will always be ahead of them. The roads are quite narrow and steep; often drop off into the sea., so you don;t want to be behind a tour bus. Many people opt for the tours because the roads are winding mountain, sea roads. My friend drove just fine and we were able to stop at our own leisure.
There seems to be a problem with fog at certain times of the year. We had no fog at all. As a matter of fact we had warm 70-80's sunny days every day. Not a drop of rain, only a mist one morining. We were there in late June. Clear blue skies. If you have every been to northern California HWY 1 it is similar to that kind of road. The ring of Kerry also takes you inland to the beautiful lakes. This is a must see area of Ireland.
The ring of Skellig is an extension of the famous Ring of Kerry. The latter one offers wonderful views but for me is a bit too touristy. Hundreds of tour buses run along that way stopping at the same scenic spots to let tourists take the same pictures. The Ring of Skellig is not crowded at all because its narrow roads cannot by accessed by buses, which makes it a paradise for an individual tourist. It's length is about 45 km and roads are so steep and narrow that driving there poses a real challenge, especially for those who are not used to such conditions. Any car coming from the opposite direction causes the adrenaline rush as it seems hardly possible for the two cars to pass.
The views are stunning: rugged coast, jagged rocks, green hills, silver waters of the Atlantic - a truly wild region. You can also explore it on foot. It offers many hiking possibilities. On the way your only companions will be birds and sheep, occasionally you can meet a smiling farmer who will wave to you. We were surprised to find many fences separating private properties, but because there was no other path to reach the destination, we soon got used to climbing over the gates.
If there is one place to feast on romatic Eire, it is the Ring O' Kerry. From the lakes and castle ruins outside Killarney, the monasteries, the castle ruins, the waterfalls, hiking trains, luxury hotels, quaint B&B's, golf, sheep farms, wool shops, bric-a-brac bargains, quays, aquariums, dophins, beaches, campsites, pubs, mountain vistas, seaside villages, brightly painted pubs featuring traditional Irish music, and festivals where the goat Puck is proclaimed king~ the Ring O' Kerry offers the best tourist value to at least the romatisized American.
This drive is on every single Irish bus trip that I had a look at for a start place for my drive around Ireland. It has some spectacular views off some very narrow roads. It doesn't really matter which way you go but I would recommend going counter-clockwise which will give you the view as in my photo in front of you on your left as you drive down hill.
This is one of the most beautiful drives in all of Ireland. It's on the western coast on a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. The views are spectacular. The road is narrow and winding. I was surprised that our tour bus did so well on the road. We stopped at the Scarriff Inn for lunch and a scenic break. It's expensive but the views are amazing. As we drove the loop, our guide pointed out burials from the Iron Age marked by groups of up-right stones and a Ring Fort also from the Iron Age. This fort protected early peoples from animals as well as from other tribes. All along the road were wildflowers: orange Montbretia, magenta Fuschia, and golden Ragwort. Having seen only the hanging baskets of fuschia sold in garden centers here in America, I was amazed to see that in Ireland, it makes large shrubs covered with those beautiful blooms.
The Ring Of Kerry is beautiful, but if you are looking for peace and tranquillity...you wont find it here! This route is well worn by tourists and most people that you meet on the way will be tourists too!
All the same, if you are visiting these parts then I think that the Ring is a MUST SEE!! It is absolutley stunning, and you will pass through some stunning towns and villages, seeing amazing scenery on the way!
You can do this route by, car, cycle, hike or tour bus. Personally we always drive, then we can stop and enjoy our favourite places and miss out others !!
The weather here can be changeable at anytime of the day...so be prepared!
We drove our way back to Killarney and decided to go back to Muckross for one last look and to see the Torc waterfall, which we missed on our first way around. The waterfall can be accessed at a clearly marked right turn off of the road. There is a small car park and the falls are about a 100 meter walk up an incline. You can also climb even higher up a number of stairs to the top of the falls. We expected another view of the falls from this vantage, but none came about. It is at this point where you can join three walking trails which lead in various directions. A couple we met told us that we could walk all the way to Kenmare if we wanted to. It was then that we decided to come back with our backpacks someday!
Cahersiveen was the next big town on our map. We knew we would be running into some congestion here because they told us about the parade back in Ballinskelligs. And sure enough, we were driving the parade route again. Luckily, a policeman gave us a detour route just above the main road which took us away from the crowds and parade. The remainder of the Ring of Kerry route didn't give us many stops, but we did get some amazing views of the Dingle Bay and Peninsula across the water. The water appeared to be bright blue, it was so beautiful.
The small towns along the Ring vary in size and level of attraction. Some of them are just a few buildings and some have shops, restaurants, and a bustling atmosphere. One interesting experience for us happened while driving through the town of Sneem. As I stated before, it was St. Paddy's Day. A lot of towns in Ireland hold special celebrations for this holiday, including parades. For many of the towns along the Ring, the road that makes up the Ring is their only major road. Therefore, when we drove through Sneem, we were IN their St. Patrick's Day Parade! There were pedestrians everywhere and they were not keen on moving for our car. We pushed our way through the crowds and past the parade and found ourselves on open, empty roads!
We drove our way through the Southern tip of the peninsula with a stop at the coastal town of Ballinskelligs. This town isn't actually on the Ring of Kerry, but it was an important side trip for us. My great-grandmother was born here and lived in the town until her late teens, when she moved to the US and never looked back. Her mother and father stayed behind in the house and her brother later returned to build a new cottage on the site. Their immediate family is now all deceased, but there is a new family in the house. They use the original house as a storage place for their peet. We stopped in the town and got directions to the farm from the most helpful woman and found it with no problems, although the family wasn't there (they were in the next big town at the parade . . . oh great, another parade!) How neat it was to be witness to this piece of my family history. You can get back onto the Ring from here quite easily, so we continued on our way.