See also Kerry (North)
See also Killarney National Park
The Iveragh peninsula in southwest Kerry is the south county’s outstanding beauty spot and a popular attraction for visitors. Some of the country’s highest mountains lie in the area. The Ring of Kerry (126 miles) is the road that follows the coastline around the peninsula. It starts in Killorglin and ends at Kenmare.
The Bog Village Museum, halfway between Killorglin and Glenbeigh, on the Ring of Kerry route, tells of life in the early 18th century. Killorgin’s claim to fame is the Puck Fair and Scattering Day. Every August a goat is enthroned in the town square, kicking off a three-day celebration and livestock fair. At other times there’s the attraction of the salmon river Laune, and the ruins of Castle Conway.
Cahirciveen, on a harbour, is the capital town and shopping centre for the Iveragh peninsula. The Cahirciveen Heritage Centre, in an old barracks building on Bridge Street, tells the story of both the ancient and Christian past of the peninsula. The tourist information centre is in the same location. 15th century Ballycarbery Castle ruin adds to the scenery.
Portmagee is a fishing village with a harbour and pier. From the village, take the bridge (built in 1970) across to Valencia Island (Valentia). The island is two miles wide by seven miles long. The scenery on the island is dramatic, there being cliffs, a mountain, a lighthouse, and far-reaching sea views. Glanleam Gardens on the island have mixed natural plantings with subtropical ones to create an unusual garden that resembles a rain forest.
Boat trips go from Valencia to the Skellig Islands. (The weather determines whether or not they run.) The Skellig islands—Michael and Small—are known for scenery, sea birds, and their monastic architecture. The Skellig Experience Centre on Valencia Island tells the story of the Skelligs and the monastic settlement (now ruined) in an AV presentation. If you go to the islands, be warned there are several hundred scary steps leading to the ruins.
Ballinskelligs is an Irish speaking area. The roads circling the bay are noted for their scenery; sandy beaches enhance the waterfront. The Cill Rialaig Arts Centre includes a gallery, shop, café, workshops in a thatched building, and exhibitions.
Caherdaniel village is located on Derrynane bay. Three miles west off the N70 (Ring of Kerry) is Derrynane House and National Historic Park. The house, in a 320-acre park, is restored and has a museum. Parts of the 1825 house are open to view and contain furniture and O’Connell family possessions. There are woodland and garden walks.
Castlecove is a small resort with sandy beaches. Nearby are the ruins of 2000-year-old Staigue fort, considered one of the best in Ireland. The 18-foot high and 13-foot thick walls are surrounded by a bank and a ditch.
Kenmare is an Ireland Heritage town on the river Roughty and a centre for exploring the south-west of Ireland. Visit the Kenmare Heritage Centre located in the town square and follow the town heritage trail. There are demonstrations of lace making at the Lace Centre in the square. Boat trips are also available from the town.
Inland, Killarney, a popular tourist spot, is famous for its beautiful setting. It provides lots of attractions and accommodations. There are three lakes (Lough Leane, Muckross lake, Middle lake) linked by a river in Killarney National Park. The lakes are scattered with small islands. You can view Torc waterfall, one of Ireland’s highest, in the park. The town offers golfing and angling. St Mary’s Cathedral, with its high spire, was designed by A W Pugin. It served as a shelter for famine victims.
The Museum of Irish Transport has a collection of vintage motor cars. On the outskirts of the town is a wooded area, the Collwood Wildlife Sanctuary. The Kerry woollen mills at nearby Beaufort are open to visitors. Ross Castle, a mile south of Killarney, is a restored castle with a rectangular keep. It was built in the 15th century.
Muckross estate, in Killarney National Park, is the site of Muckross Abbey, a Franciscan abbey founded in the mid-15th century. On view is a nave and choir, central tower, and south transept. There are cloisters and domestic buildings as well. Muckross House, at the same location, is an Elizabethan style mansion constructed in the mid-1800s. There is an information centre for the National Park at the house. Visitors can view a drawing room, a library, a dining room, and a wine cellar. Gardens reach down to Lough Leane. There is an AV presentation and traditional farm buildings as well.
Innishfallen Abbey on an island in Lough Leane was founded in 640. The monks kept records of Irish history. The abbey was closed by Queen Elizabeth I. Boats are available to the island.
North-west of Killarney is Dingle, another scenic peninsula. Dingle is the chief town of the peninsula and the most westerly town in Europe. In the town is the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium. At the foot of a wooded mountain close to the head of Dingle Bay is a view of the amphitheatre of mountains known as the “Glenbeigh Horseshoe. Drive up the glen of the river Behy and to the tarn from which the river takes its origin. Three miles south-west of Annascaul village near Lispole are the ruins of a square fortress, Minard Castle, that overlooks Dingle Bay. It was built in the 15th century, then destroyed by Cromwell.
The Celtic and Prehistoric Museum is located three miles west of the village of Ventry. It has an archaeological collection of prehistoric clochans, stones, crosses, and ring forts. The Beehive Huts is a large group of prehistoric remains sitting on the south of Mt Eagle. The Famine Cottage shows how families lived during this difficult time in Ireland’s history.
Ballydavid is a fishing village on one of Dingle’s harbours. Off the R559 is Gallarus Oratory and Visitor Centre, a preserved oratory of 9-12th centuries. No mortar was used in its construction. There’s an AV presentation that tells the story.
The Slea Head route leads to Dunquin, overlooked by Mt Eagle. It is the location of the Blasket Centre that tells the story of the Blasket islands (now abandoned) and its peoples. The centre has a bookshop, café, and AV presentation. There are boat trips from Dunquin pier to Blasket.
Ballyferriter is located in the west quarter of the Dingle peninsula. Two miles north-west is Ferriter cove and the remains of a castle, a tower house built in 1460. The Riasc stone and an excavated early monastic site are nearby. Corca Dhuibhne Regional Museum includes displays on the geology, archaeological heritage, and flora and fauna of the area.
Camp, on Tralee Bay, offers a sandy beach. The stone promontory fort on the mountain slope provides great views of the Dingle peninsula.
Kerry South Attractions
Beehive Huts and Dunbeg Fort
Near Ventry on Dingle peninsula
Tel. 0 1 66 915 9070
Tel. 0 66 915 6444 or 0 66 915 6371
Bog Village Museum
Halfway between Killorglin and Glenbeigh on Ring of Kerry route
Tel. 0 66 976 9184
Caherciveen Heritage Centre
Tel. 0 66 947 2777
Celtic and Prehistoric Museum
Kilvicadownig, three miles west of Ventry
Tel. 0 66 9159 191
Cill Rialaig Arts Centre
Ballinskelligs, Kerry (south)
Tel. 0 66 947 9297 or 0 66 947 9277
Collwood Wildlife Sanctuary
Corca Dhuibhne Regional Museum
Ballyferriter, Kerry (south)
Tel. 0 66 915 6333 or 0 66 915 6100
Web: Corca Dhuibhne Museum
Off Castletownbere-Kenmare road
Tel. 0 64 83588
Derrynane House and National Park
Tel. 0 66 947 5113
Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium
Tel. 0 66 915 2111
Web: Dingle Ocean World
Tel. 0 66 915 6241
On the Dingle peninsula
Tel. 0 66 915 6444/6371
Gallarus Oratory and Visitor Centre
Tel. 0 66 915 5333
Valencia (Valentia) Island
Tel. 0 66 947 6176
On an island in Lough Leane
Kells Bay House & Gardens
on the Ring of Kerry, off N70 road
Tel. 353 (0)66 947 7975
Web: Kells Bay
Kenmare Heritage Centre
Tel. 0 64 41233
Kerry Woollen Mills
Tel. 0 64 44122
Ross Rd from Killarney
Killarney National Park
Tel. 0 64 35851
Muckross House and Gardens
Ross Rd from Killarney
Killarney National Park
Tel. 0 64 70142
Web: Muckross House
Museum of Irish Transport
In Killarney, opposite railway station
Tel. 0 1 643 2638
Tel. 0 1 64 35851 or 0 1 64 35852
Valencia Island near Portmagee
Tel. 0 1 66 947 6306
Tourist Information Centres
Tel. 0 66 9472589
The Quay, Dingle, Kerry (south)
Tel. 0 66 9151188
Kenmare Heritage Centre, Kenmare, Kerry (south)
Tel. 0 64 41233
Beach Rd, Killarney, Kerry (south)
Tel. 0 64 31633
Waterville, Kerry (south)
Tel. 0 66 9474646
Photos Ring of Kerry Lakes, Muckross House, Muckross House Lough Leane, Dingle peninsula view, Inch beach on Dingle peninsula © by Barbara Ballard
Other photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Bog Village Museum, Killarney Main St, Beehive Huts by Joseph Mischyshyn; Killorglin Main Street, Ventry beach by Pam Brophy; Cahirciveen Heritage Centre by Dennis Turner; Valencia island near the quay by Linda Bailey; Glanleam House by Dr Charles Nelson; Skellig Michael huts, Skellig Michael puffins by Rob Burke; Derrynane House by Mike Searle; Staigue fort by John Comloquoy; Kenmare village square by John Gibson; Lough Leane, Ross Castle by Peter Craine; Gallarus Oratory by Nigel Cox; view from Dunquin to Blaskett islands by Anne Patterson; Blasket Centre by Ian Taylor; Ferriter cove and castle by Sharon Loxton; Tralee Bay by Jones; Innishfallen abbey by Keith Salvesen
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