Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ring of Kerry - March 2009

I’m going to say something really stupid: The Ring of Kerry is highly overrated. Ouch! I know! I already regret saying it. After all, I didn’t even see everything on it. I say it’s overrated because many people when given the choice between exploring the Dingle Peninsula or the Ring of Kerry will choose the Ring of Kerry. Why? Because more people have heard of it and there are WAY more bus tours for it. Well you know what? Screw the bus tours. Tiffany and I did the Ring of Kerry on our own in a rental car. And we started at the “end” of the prescribed route to avoid large masses of people. And it worked. (I strongly recommend doing it this way.) So why am I blogging about it? Well, I had the good fortune to see both the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. And I am blogging about Dingle later. The mistake that we made was seeing the Dingle before we saw the Ring of Kerry. And the Dingle is spectacularly beautiful all around. The Ring of Kerry not so much. I mean, there are many great things to see, but we probably would have appreciated the Ring of Kerry more had we seen it before the Dingle Peninsula. The Ring of Kerry more than pales in comparison as far as overall scenic awesomeness. Therefore, I am going to blog about the Ring of Kerry first so as not to make the same mistake twice (so to speak).

We started for the Iveragh Peninsula from our B&B in Tralee. We stayed with a lovely woman named Eileen Hooker at the Sheridan Lounge. If you’re ever in or around Tralee, you will be missing out if you do not pay a visit to her. (And you’d better do it soon because she’s selling the property!!!)

We made our first stop at Cahergall Stone Fort. We were a bit apprehensive at first because it was a bit off the beaten path but we finally made it up the dirt path to the fort. We were not disappointed!

We were able to appreciate Ballycarbery castle from a distance but we didn’t attempt to walk the path to Leacanabuaile Ringfort. From the looks of it we would have had to walk through a pasture full of cows and onto private property. We chickened out. Next time, though, I’m going!

We continued down the road and debated heading to Valentia Island but decided against it; the Skelligs Experience (as far as we knew) was still closed for the season and the puffins had not yet arrived. I’ve decided that the next time I go to Ireland, I WILL SEE PUFFINS! Finally, we made it to Waterville and took a little shopping break. I bought a nifty little Ring of Kerry map and checked out the monument to Charlie Chaplin.

On the way from Waterville we stumbled upon a parking area overlooking the water that had a curious statue with a Greek inscription.

Not far from Waterville we came across the Ogham Stone outside of Caherdaniel. We drove all the way to Derrydane House knowing full-well that it was closed but we thought we’d check out the outside. (We couldn’t see much – the place is covered in plant growth!)

We continued along the ring to Staigue Ringfort. Which had a TINY entrance. Tiny enough so that not very many people can get in. You basically have to be petite. But it was awesome otherwise.

Staigue Ringfort:

From the Staigue Ringfort we made our way along the coast to the picturesque town of Sneem. There we shopped and paused for tea. Walking across the bridge in town was a delight and exploring the town was a nice way to start winding down for the day.

Sneem Church:

View from bridge in Sneem:

We spent the night at Kenmare at the Druid Cottage. We had a pleasant stay and an excellent dinner from the Chinese restaurant down the road. (Great waiter!)

In the morning we visited the Kenmare Stone Circle before heading on up to Killarney National Park. There we saw Torc Waterfall (a must see), basked a little on the shores of Middle Lake (not yet infected with zebra mussels apparently), and took a tour of Muckross House. Muckross was amazing and the gardens were even more so. After Muckross, we headed to Ross Castle where we took an excellent tour of the beautifully-restored interior.

Kenmare Stone Circle:

Killarney National Park:

Torc Waterfall:

Middle Lake:

Muckross House & Gardens:

Ross Castle:

After Ross Castle, we started the drive back to Cork so that we could catch our flight back to reality in the morning. L You know, now that I’ve revisited all of this, the Ring of Kerry ain’t so bad after all. It’s pretty incredible, actually, and I would recommend the tour to anyone. Don’t try to do it all in a day, though, because that’s crazy. We gave ourselves a day and a half and we still missed a ton of stuff. And of course, do it before you see Dingle. ;)

View on the way to Sneem

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