Another early morning start and we were on our way around the Ring of Kerry. With our 8am start there was barely another else on the road that time. Again, based on Rick Steves’ advice, we did the drive in a clockwise direction. The strategy is that the buses go counterclockwise, so if you drive towards them and do the suggested detour (Skellig Ring – the tour buses are too large to do that part of the drive) you miss them entirely, which is what we ended up doing. The only time we saw tour buses was in the late afternoon at the end of the drive near the national park where the roads are much wider when you meet them!
Similar to the Dingle Penisula, the major ‘site’ is the drive itself; however, on this drive there seemed to be more actual sites. Two of my favourites were the two Cahergal and Leacanabuaile ring Forts, especially Cahergal Fort, which is estimated to have been built in 800AD and is seemingly in the middle of nowhere. There were no other people around when we visited and the only noise was the occasional ‘moo’ of a local cow.
Being the lover of chocolate that I am, the chocolate factory on the far east end of the ring of Kerry (ring of Skellig) was a must-stop, along with sampling their free chocolate. After a pre-lunch of chocolate, we had lunch-lunch at a small café called Skellig Mist Cafe in a ‘town’ called Portmagee. I think it’s only one of two cafes, which seemed to be only two of a handful of buildings. We sat outside in the sun and it was so warm, we were in t-shirts. Unfortunately I didn’t see that they have a nice patio out the back that overlooks the mini harbour until we were leaving.
On the way back to Kenmare, the road passes through Killarney National Park. We stopped at Muckross House (the most tourists we saw all day by far) which is a huge manor with vast gardens and a beautiful setting (and even has a farm). We also stopped at Ross castle (I love castles), especially those set on a beautiful lake. Our last stop was to see the Torq Waterfalls in the National Park, which was the busiest place we’d seen all day. I didn’t think it was worth stopping for unless you like waterfalls as much as I love 1200 year old forts and castles!
Both nights in Kenmare we ate at the local pubs. The names leave me, but they were both pretty good and had live music (of course!). With a town made up of two small streets, I don’t think you can really go wrong with the options.