See also County Kerry (South)
Tralee, gateway to the Dingle peninsula, is the main commercial centre for Kerry north. It’s a port in an attractive setting at the head of Tralee bay. Most of the town dates from the 18th century and its Georgian houses make an elegant main street.
Tralee’s name is well known from the song, “Rose of Tralee”, and in August the town hosts the “Rose of Tralee” festival. The National Folk Theatre of Ireland offers performances based on the Gaelic traditions of the area. The town’s early history can be experienced at Kerry the Kingdom where the 14th century town and streets are reconstructed and presented in a time car ride.
A narrow gauge light railway runs to the still functioning 1770s Blennerville windmill. Here is an exhibition on emigration, craft workshops, and a restaurant. Fenit, the birthplace of St Brendan, is the harbour on Tralee Bay.
Halfway between Tralee and Listowel on the N69 is ‘A Day in the Bog’, a thatched cottage where you can learn about the flora and fauna of blanket bogs in an AV presentation. They also offer local crafts, a garden, tea, an open fire, and traditional music nights.
Listowel puts on a Writers Week festival in May and a horse racing festival in September. It’s home to a 15th century castle and the Kerry Literary and Cultural Centre where you can find out all about local writers. For its railway heritage go to the old North Kerry broad gauge station near the town centre.
Kerry north offers a coastal drive of 120 miles. Stop at Ardfert to visit the extensive ruins of a 6th century cathedral and abbey founded by Saint Brendan. There are three medieval churches at the site and an exhibition.
Banna Strand has a five-mile long sandy beach, and at Ballyheique is a local maritime centre. Ballybunion offers beaches and a golf course, seaside arcades, and the ruins of Ballybunion castle.
Castleisland, named after its castle ruins, is a market town with nearby showcave, Crag cave. The limestone caverns are thought to date back a million years. The tunnels, chambers, and showcaves are reached by 62 steps down. The Crystal Gallery shows off the cave stalactites.
At Ballylongford are the remains of a 15th century Franciscan friary. Carrigafoyle Castle, in a marsh on shore of Shannon estuary, is a large 15th century tower. There are views from the top. Near Ballyduff is Rattoo round tower. The Rattoo Heritage complex is a village museum and visitor centre.
Tarbert is home to Tarbet House, a Queen Anne Georgian building of 1690. The heritage house contains furniture and pictures of interest. Also of interest is Tarbert Bridewell Courthouse and Jail where the Tourist Information Centre is located. There’s a small museum and coffee shop. From Tarbet you can catch a car ferry to Killimer in Clare. It runs across the Shannon estuary in 20 minute trips every half hour.
Kerry North Attractions
Ardfert Cathedral, Friary, and St Brendan’s Church
On R551 Tralee to Ballyheigue road
Tel. 0 66 713 4711
Two miles south of Tralee
Tel. 0 66 712 1064 or 353 66 712 7777
Carrigafoyle, in marsh on shore of Shannon estuary
Tel: 0 66 714 1244
Day in the Bog
Halfway between Listowel and Tralee on N69
Tel. 0 66 713 2555
Dingle Steam Railway
Ballyard Station on Dingle Rd
Tel. 0 66 712 1064
Kerry Literary and Cultural Centre
24 the Square, Listowel, Kerry (north)
Tel. 0 68 22212
Web: Kerry Literary and Cultural Centre
Kerry the Kingdom
Ashe Memorial Hall, Denny Street, in town centre
Tel. 0 66 712 7777
The Square, Listowel, Co Kerry North
Tel. 0 1 647 2453
National Folk Theatre of Ireland
Town Park, Tralee
Web: National Folk Theatre of Ireland
Rattoo Heritage Centre
Tel. 0 66 713 1000
Tarbet Bridewell Courthouse and Jail
Tel. 0 68 36500
Web: Tarbet Bridewell Courthouse and Jail
Tel. 0 68 36 198
Tourist Information Centres
Listowel Tourist Office
St. John's Church, Listowel, Kerry (north)
Tel. 0 68 22590
Tralee Tourist Office
Ashe Memorial Hall
Tralee, Kerry (north)
Tel. 0 66 712 1288
Photo of Dingle peninsula beach © by Barbara Ballard
Other photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Tralee restored Georgian house by Charles W Glynn; Tralee town park, Listowel town square, Carrigafoyle castle by Colin Park; Tralee town square by Ian Taylor; Blennerville station and windmill, Ardfert cathedral ruins by Adrian Platt; A Day in the Bog Centre by Raymond Norris; Listowel castle by Philip Halling; Ardfert cathedral west door by Nick MacNeill; Banna Strand dunes by Nigel Cox; Ballybunion beach by Warren Buckley; Castleisland viewpoint on the N21 by Mike Searle
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