One of Ireland’s most stunning destinations is the Ring of Kerry, situated south-west of the country in Country Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is a 179-kilometre-long circular tourist route, renowned for its captivating scenery of picturesque villages and pastures green, craggy cliffs and sandy beaches. The route is so beautiful that I didn’t mind experiencing it again when I returned to Killarney in early October 2017.
Yes, it was my second time to Killarney – and Ireland – after 13 years. The first time I travelled in Ireland was in 2004 – I explored the ‘Emerald Isle’ for two weeks from the capital city, Dublin across to the north-west town of Sligo and ventured down the west coast of Westport, Connemara, Galway and Killarney. In a way, Ireland is special to me as the country was my first solo backpacking trip. Back in 2004, not many Malaysians travelled to Ireland for a holiday unless they were already living in United Kingdom or Ireland, thus many friends thought I was strange for choosing a destination that not many had thought of.
So, when I learnt that the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) Europe 2017 conference was going to be held in Killarney, I didn’t hesitate to book the conference ticket and quickly made travel plans, one of which was to go on a day trip around the Ring of Kerry.
Related Post: Travel Bloggers Share – Ten Hour Layover in London
Ring of Kerry Route
I might not remember the exact order of the route, like, which town or village comes first but basically the Ring of Kerry starts from Killarney and around the Iveragh Peninsula. And the route continues along the coast of Kenmare to Killorglin, the shores of Dingle Bay, Cahersiveen, Glenbeigh and through charming villages of Sneem and Waterville, before ending in Killarney again.
Kerry Bog Village
While stunning views of the Ring of Kerry were the main highlight, I had also enjoyed some of the stops along the way.
Our tour visited the Kerry Bog Village which gives visitors an interesting insight into the Irish rural history and living conditions through the famine years in the late 19th century. The village has period thatched cottages furnished with antiques, figurines and a display of rural farm equipment used at that time.
During the famine years in Ireland, the average lifespan of people was an average of 45 years and infant mortality rates were disturbingly high. Large families were the norm and they lived in small dwellings.
This is a labourer’s cottage which is undeniably small compared to the farmer’s or thatcher’s cottage. Notice the tiny windows in the cottage.
Most cottages of this era had small windows due to tax purposes. Under the laws of the land in Ireland, people paid more for having larger windows as it was seen as a luxury to have more light.
So, to have more sunlight without having larger windows, the Irish were innovative in using the half-door. The bottom half of the door is closed to keep children in and animals out while leaving the top half open to maximise the amount of light coming in. Because the light coming through was from a door rather than a window, they avoided paying taxes, hence the famous phrase ‘daylight robbery’!
Kells Sheep Centre – Sheepdog Demo
Sheepdog demonstration at Kells Sheep Centre is one of the popular stops along the Ring of Kerry route. Kells Sheep Centre is run by local farmer, Brendan Ferris who trains Border Collies in sheep herding. He gave us an excellent demonstration of his sheepdogs responding to his whistled commands, guiding the sheep down the mountains and into the pen.
The charming town of Sneem.
Waterville is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the fresh water lake of Lough Currane. Charlie Chaplin and his family used to come to Waterville for holidays.
Ways to explore the Ring of Kerry
To explore the Ring of Kerry, you can rent a car, drive and explore the route at your own pace.
If you are travelling in the region for a limited time, you can sign up for a full-day guided tour which was what I did. You can book the guided tour a day in advance at any travel agent office located in Killarney town.
Where to stay in Killarney
Killarney is well-known, not only for the Ring of Kerry scenic drive, but also for its lake and mountain views in Killarney National Park. Hence, Killarney is one of Ireland’s leading tourist destinations which also means there’s a variety of accommodation available in this small town from 5-star hotels to B&Bs and hostels.
I stayed at the Killarney Inn, a B&B located just ten minutes’ walk from the town centre and the Ireland’s National Event Centre (INEC) which was the TBEX conference venue.
I stayed in a double room which cost 50 Euros a night, and the room was comfortably furnished with TV and ensuite facilities. Full Irish and continental breakfast were served at the B&B.
How to get to Killarney?
The closest international airport is Kerry Airport, approximately twenty minutes’ drive to Killarney town.