The guidebooks say that If you want to experience the raw natural beauty of Ireland at first hand, then a trip around the beautiful Ring of Kerry in Ireland’s southwest is a must. The circular route, which covers about 170km, and takes all day, covers some breathtaking scenery, and that was our route for today. This route is one of the worlds great scenic drive and the most popular trip in Ireland.
We left Killarney on the road to Killorglin and made a short detour into the Killarney Golf and Fishing Club which has a large lake and three splendid 18 hole golf courses. This is the site of the Irish Open.
Killorglin, with it’s eight-arch stone bridge over the river has an annual festival involving a goat. It is said that a goat once saved this town from invasion by Oliver Cromwell’s troops, so each year a wild goat is taken from the mountains and placed high on a pedestal in the town. People flock from near and far to see the goat and enjoy the music and drink which flows for the three solid days of the Puck Fair!
The road onwards to Glenbeigh passed a quaint thatched cottage and then ran close to Caragh Lake, a fisherman’s paradise. Glenbeigh is a sleepy picturesque village, which is home to a long sandy beach called Rossbeigh which we made a detour to visit. It seemed very windswept and bleak.
Back on the main loop road, we continued on to the pretty fishing village of Kells, which also boasts its own sandy beach and stunning views of Dingle Bay and the Atlantic. This was the third village called Kells that we have found in Ireland and the cafe there (opposite the caravan park) served the worst cup of coffee that we have had so far on this entire trip.
Next, we came across the town of Caherciveen which is the main market town on the Ring, so it’s quite busy. This town was the birthplace of Daniel O’Connell, a famous political leader in the early 19th century. The main street in Dublin is named after him.
The highlight of our day was a side trip to Portmagee and Valentia Island. We had a very nice lunch in the cafe at Portmagee, at the end of a line of multiple colored buildings in the main street.
The island of Valentia is reached via a causeway and as some remote cliff top scenery and stunning seascapes. From there, we could see the Skellig Islands. These are two small, steep and rocky islands lying about 12 km away and are famous for their thriving gannet and puffin populations, and for an early Christian monastery from the 600’s that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On our return to Killarney, we passed the half way mark along the Ring at Waterville with it’s famous 18 hole championship golf links course (one of the top 20 in the world!).
Along the southern coast of the peninsula there were a lot more wonderful coastal views all the way along to a village with two triangular town greens and the rather odd name of Sneem. With all of this wonderful scenery, I took over 200 photos today.
The last leg of our trip was through some of the highest mountains in Ireland and over Molls Gap. There is a fantastic view from the cafe across to the MacGillycuddy Reeks and the glaciated Black Valley. Further along the road we came to ‘Ladies View’, one of the most beautiful views of the three Killarney Lakes and the National Park. It is so called, because when Queen Victoria came to Killarney in 1861, her ladies-in-waiting were overwhelmed by the view that they saw from here.
Just before reaching Killarney we stopped at Torch Waterfall for the final photo stop of the day.