The Ring of Kerry is a 112 mile circular drive on the Iveragh peninsula in south-west Ireland. It offers both mountain and ocean views. It can be very busy with tourists, and the best way to drive it is counter-clockwise. To take the drive start at the town of Killarney on the R562. Highlights of the Ring
If you don’t have a car there are bus tours from Killarney town centre. However, a bus tour does not give you the flexibility to stop where you want for however long you want and will miss many of the places you would like to stop.
Killarney is a busy town. If you decide on a bus tour, Killarney has all day parking lots where you can leave a car. It also has accommodation, eating, and shopping—as does Kenmare at the other end of the peninsula. With a car you can take minor roads and see much more of the area—and you can stop to take photos.
1. Lough Leane: 15th century Ross castle is located on the shores. Take a boat to tour the monastic ruins on Innisfallen island in the lake.
2. Killorglin is a very busy town in August due to the three day Puck Fair with street celebrations. Nearby is Kerry Bog village which is a collection of old cottages, but be warned it is on the big tourist bus stop. From Killorglin the road becomes the N70.
3. Cahirciveen is the main town at the end of the peninsula. It is home to a heritage centre. From here take a 5 minute car ferry trip to Valentia Island.
4. Valentia Island is home to Glanleam Gardens, an outdoor sub-tropical collection of plants begun 150 years ago. Also on the island is the Skellig Experience Centre, a small cultural and natural history museum. If you are travelling by car you can take the time for a boat trip to Skellig Michael, a 715 foot high pinnacle with ruins of a monastic site. Be warned, however, that the boats are open deck, the water is rough, and the climb to the ruins is dangerous and steep with no handholds on the rock steps. At the top are two chapels and six stone huts.
5. Staigue Fort is one of the oldest stone fortress in Ireland; off the main road.
6. Derrynane House is the home of a former statesman, Daniel O’Connel. The house has a collection of his memorabilia and a carriage he rode in when he was released from prison in Dublin in 1844.
7. Kenmare village is home to a bronze age stone circle, consisting of 15 stones.
8. Killarney National Park is famous for lakes and tree covered mountains. There are walking trails in the park. See further details in our national park article at Killarney National Park
9. Muckross Abbey and House: at the end of the circular route on the way back to Killarney are the ruins of a mid-15th century Franciscan friary. Muckross House is an 1843 historic house with gardens, and 1930s farm buildings. The National Park headquarters is located here.
Three scenic photos and photo of Muckross Abbey © by Barbara Ballard.
Other photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Killarney National Park by Joseph Mischyshyn; Kenmare stone circle by Nigel Cox; Derrynane House by Mike Searle; Staigue Fort by John Comloquoy; Valentia Island by Linda Bailey; Cahirciveen heritage centre by Dennis Turner; Killorglin by Pam Brophy; Innisfallen abbey by Keith Salvensen; Lough Leane by Peter Craine; Killarney by Joseph Mischyshyn
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