europe day 23: ring of kerry

Breakfast at hotel—full irish breakfast (like full english with black & white puddings). Left later than expected at 10.20am. Delay on N22 with a 15-20min wait for convoy construction meant we reached Killarney after 12pm. Stopped at tourist information to get maps and wasted further time at the outlet shopping centre. Thankfully there were only a few shops there.

Set off on the Ring of Kerry route at 1pm. The scenic route is a 179km (111 miles) loop through the rugged coastline of the Iveragh peninsula. It’s one of Ireland’s most popular destination and can be done clockwise or anti-clockwise. Guidebooks say buses go anti-clockwise so drivers may want to go the other way but we ended up anti-clockwise anyway. Still early in the season and didn’t see many coaches. I drove quite aggressively through the initial parts of the ring to try to gain some time. First stop was at Caherciveen, a quaint little town which we thought was on the coast but was actually inland. Nixed the idea of lunching at a seafood restaurant; went to a local café instead and had homemade soup with brown bread and apple strudel.

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The Ring of Kerry led to the Skellig Ring, another loop through the deep coastal part of the peninsula. The car ferry that led to Valentia island was closed so we drove on and crossed via a bridge. Climbed up a very steep gravel road to Shepherd’s View viewpoint on Geokaun Mountain which offered a 360º view of the island and the ocean. Very spectacular. Very windy.

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The bridge crossed back to the mainland at Portmagee, another quaint little coastal village. Wished we had more time to explore, but it was past 4pm and time to push on to finish the Skellig Ring and rejoin the Ring of Kerry.

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The route between Waterville and Catherdaniel was all rugged, dramatic coastline and secluded beaches. There were a few viewpoints and we stopped at a few. Again, feeling rushed so couldn’t stop for as often or as long as we liked. The sun was out, the sky and sea were blue and it was very windy. By then mm had taken over the driving and progress was slower. Headed back to Cork, reached hotel past 8pm, later than we wanted.

Not a lot of choices for dinner, so we opted for the hotel restaurant. The hotel was obviously recently renovated (some rooms on our corridor were still being stripped and we could see/hear contractors drilling and the like). The staff in the restaurant at both breakfast and dinner could do with more training—they were all very keen but service was not as efficient as an established restaurant crew. We had soup and mussels to start and lamb shank (mm) and pan-fried hake (me) as mains. Got a Bushmills 10 from the bar to take back to our room.

A full day at the Ring of Kerry. Felt rushed, even though what we saw was extremely beautiful. Definitely need a return trip.