“To holiday in Kerry and not explore the Ring of Kerry is like visiting Ireland and not trying a pint of Guinness: there’s just something missing.” – I would have to agree with this, and would even take it a bit further by saying to visit Ireland in general and not visit the Ring of Kerry is wrong, so very wrong.
Never in my life have I driven a more beautiful road. “It’s a road that takes you through 10,000 years of dramatic history. It’s a road that takes you from deep forest to the crashing waters of the wild Atlantic. It’s a road through rugged, majestic landscapes: where wild stag roam and where tumbling waterfalls crash into crystal streams teeming with wild salmon.”
We drove the first half of this route as we headed towards our B&B (where we would stay before visiting Skellig Michael), and upon leaving to head towards Cork we drove the other half. This route can be driven all at once of course, but we stopped for a night in between.
The road is a 179km circular route around the South Western peninsula of County Kerry with castles, parks, and other attractions along the way. We were able to visit Portmagee, the Skellig Islands, Ross Castle, and drove through Killarney National Park.
To describe this route in words or photos is nearly impossible, this is something you must experience in real life. Around each corner is a view more beautiful than the last. If that wasn’t enough, there are sheep.
The route took us from the heart of Kerry to our next destination of Cork. As the driver, I found it was difficult at times to focus on the road. I had to pull over a few times to snap these photos, and to soak it all in. There are plenty of pull out spots for drivers to stop and savor.
We went counter clockwise on the route, because that’s what coincided with our destinations, but also because we wanted to avoid coming head on with any tour buses. Fortunately we didn’t see a single bus, and overall the road was mostly desolate.
We gave ourselves a few hours to travel at leisure, and this turned into my favorite drive of the trip. If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, the Ring of Kerry is a spot you cannot miss. There are plenty of shops along the way for a snack or a souvenir. We stopped at a few, my favorite being Avoca.
The view from the parking lot of this shop was enough to get me to stop.
I can still see the green rolling hills and smell the sheep. I was driving in my home state a few days ago and was driving behind a truck with multiple bales of hay. The smell immediately took me back to this day, it is a forever memory I will associate with the smell of farm land.
I’ve never loved the smell of animals more.
Travel Tip: Visit Ireland at the end of May/ early June to avoid the masses. This is still early enough in the travel season to not be overwhelmed by tourists, but late enough you can still experience decent weather.