I may have decided to extend this mini series by one more post, I realised how many I have for the final day when we were on the ferry and where we wandered around before which was interesting so it seemed like it’s be a bit squashed in if I put them all in one, plus the Ring of Kerry pretty much deserves its own post to be honest.
The final full day in Ireland we decided to go for a drive around the Ring of Kerry, a route similar to the Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula but south and in an area that has more towns and villages in and is a bit less rural. Although the tourist attractions here are better signposted you still have to be prepared to do a last minute turn so hopefully the roads will be quiet when you go, luckily the roads are bigger than the previous ones we were on though. I would definitely recommend finding a good guide book or setting out with your own itinerary and map of places you want to see, we would definitely do that next time.
This part of the journey started in Dingle, if you want to see more on that you can find my previous post here. Ireland in general, or the parts we went around anyway, has some beautiful scenery and the two ring routes we went on focus on that with some interesting history along the way. Unfortunately again we managed to miss some but I think the things we did visit are definitely worth checking out and I think the one hill fort seemed like it was the less visited of the two in my guide book and it definitely had an atmosphere because we were the only ones there at the time.
I should probably admit that I’m not 100% sure which beach it was we stopped at. I want to say that it’s the Rossbeigh beach but, as these photos are taken earlier on the trip than the Bog Village ones coming up and this should be after that I really don’t know. I would be such a bad tour guide! Anyway, it’s one that’s featured in a few old movies and was beautiful. You could see the remains of the flooding from the few days before with storm Brian as the seaweed had almost made its way into the car park, quite a way from the normal high tide. I’m hoping this is Rossbeigh beach as, wherever it was, it was beautiful and so long. Also it had one of the few places to stop for toilets along the way and had some interesting photos of the movies being filmed in the café/restaurant that was by the car park.
Probably the main thing we stopped for, or the thing we spent the longest at, was the Bog Village. It’s not the most signposted attraction but you have plenty of space to turn into it and it’s worth a look if you want to see houses from a typical bog village in the past. It is slightly more expensive than the 3 Euros of the previous ring but it had mannequins and some ambient sounds played in which added to it. There were also two gorgeous Irish wolfhounds there, both old and spent most of their time laying down but one did come up and say hello to us. When we arrived it was pretty much empty but the tour bus that stopped in before us had finished their lunch in the restaurant (which looked like good food) and were coming in. The houses had some interesting information but a lot of the buildings and pieces in them were similar to in Bunratty from the first day. I’d say both are worth a visit, it may be quite a bit smaller but it does have the history of it as a village itself and the stories of individuals who could have lived there including some rather eerie ruins where the inhabitants had been kicked out and the houses left to fall apart, at least that’s the story given.
There were a few places we stopped with nice views and, if we came in the summer or spring then a stop to see if we could see anything at Puffin Island would have been good. It was way too cloudy on the day we went anyway to see anything but in a clearer day when the puffins are nesting it sounds like it’d be worth a look.
One thing about going on a cloudy day is you do miss some of the views. There is one particular spot, Coomakista Pass, which is apparently one of the most popular views in Ireland. Unfortunately for us when we stopped it was literally white cloud. I kind of wish I’d taken a photo of it anyway. We drove a bit further and came down below the cloud and it was a beautiful view. One worth Googling to get the full effect rather than my photo as it’s still rather cloudy!
The final place we actually stopped was Staigue Fort. It wasn’t the one we intended to go to but the first one had a turn off in the middle of a town and we missed it so we kept going and saw this one signposted when we kept an eye out. There is a long windy road to get there, not one that it’s fun to meet other cars on, and a few times we thought we’d missed it but it kept going. To me this was worth that extra drive (maybe because I wasn’t actually driving) as at the end was an impressive hill fort. It’s 2,500 years o9ld and the walls are 5.5m high. You can climb them in parts and you get a great view, even with the clouds. There’s a little sign by the gate as you go in, a box with a hole in it to put 1 Euro in which is pretty much you paying to be allowed to trespass and goes by trust. There isn’t much there as a tourist attraction to add to the fort but there’s a bit of a write up on a sign. There is also a wishing spot in the stream, I did throw some money in but I’m not sure if they ever collect it, we could see some bits had made their way down the mini waterfalls. For the shop and a café there’s the Staigue Fort House at the entrance, quite a way along the road, that you pass on the way to the hill fort itself that we didn’t stop at but seems to have information in it
In the car park there was a little stand with some paintings on it from a local artist. There was a sign saying they cost 20 Euros each and I decided to get one, I hadn’t really got much on the trip at this point and I do love getting art and putting it up. I’m planning on having this on a little stand on my desk when I move my room around a bit.
I suppose there was one more spot; the Ladies’ View, where some of Queen Victoria’s maids in waiting (I think that’s the phrase), stopped and had a picnic and looked at the view of Killarney when she stayed there. It is a nice view of the lakes leading to Killarney but there was one that was probably more impressive a bit earlier on the route where a couple of busses had stopped so they obviously knew the best places for photos.
And that was the end of our route around the Ring of Kerry, we stayed the night in a hotel in Killarney, The Dromhall Hotel, which was a nice hotel and the food in the bistro style restaurant was great. I would recommend it but there are so many hotels in Killarney that seem around the same age and are a similar size. I think it’s a case of look around and see which is to your taste décor wise or what you look for most in a hotel.
I think that both the Ring of Kerry and The routes around the Dingle Peninsula are worth driving along. If I were to pick one I’m not sure I could as they both had different plusses. I did love the Bog Village and the Hill Fort of the Ring of Kerry but the views and small country roads plus the fact there are so many small places to stop on the Dingle Peninsula were good. I will say that Killarney didn’t seem to have the range of food as Dingle so if you’re a foodie Dingle is probably the one to head for.