Ring of Kerry by day, pub music in Dingle by night

County Kerry Travel Blog

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Staigue Ring Fort
Woke up early and was in the car by 7:30am. I set my first location point into my all-knowing GPS: N-71 to Kenmore. I started along N-86 to Tralee. GPS said to stay on the south shore of the Peninsula, so I did - and left the main road to go out to R-561. I ended up on a minor road ("road" being a very loose term) in the middle of some field! It was just a dried up dirt path between 8-ft high overgrown grasses. At first I was truly in fear for my life because I knew this was not a one-way street, and it was bendy, so I couldn't prepare myself for any cars that may be coming in the opposite direction. But it was still very early (before 8am), and I started to love this off-beaten journey! Yes, I stopped and took pictures. I finally rejoined a real defined road again at Castlemaine and followed that into Killarney.
Entering Staigue Fort


The drive was probably the most beautiful thing I will ever see. The sun was just coming up, the green hills, the mountains, and the lakes & rivers complimented each other as they can only do in Ireland. I passed through the sites of Ladies View and Moll's Gap before reaching N-70 (the main road of the Ring of Kerry)

Dingle >> N86 to Tralee >> N70 to Castlemaine/Milltown >> N72 to Killarney >> N71 to Kenmare >> N70 to the Ring of Kerry

What was particularly wonderful about this route and driving the Ring clockwise is (1) you go through the Lakes of Killarney, (2) you can easily pull over to the left side of the road (the side you drive on) to take pictures of the water views on your left, and (3) its against the tour bus traffic.
Walls of Staigue Fort


I started my journey around Iveragh Peninsula at 9:45am (after passing Kenmare and driving onto N-70. Rick Steves has an amazing travel book on the Ring of Kerry with precise stopping points along the way. Here is my take on his recommended sites:

17.6 km: Passed through Glacier Lake. Beautiful limestone in a rainforest type setting, minus the humidity. Wish I had stopped to take a picture!

26 km: Visited the town of Sneem at 10:15am and stayed for about 40 minutes. This town is quite charming and has 2 village greens. The square to the east side is called South Square and the one to the west is called North Square. On the first (South) square, there is a statue of Steve "Crusher" Casey, the local boy who reigned as world champion heavyweight wrestler (1937-1947).
Steps on the inside walls of Staigue Fort
There is a tiny waterfall under the quaint stone bridge that connects the 2 squares. The North Square features a memorial to former French president Charles de Gaulle's visit in 1968, when students were revolting Paris. I went into a shop called "The Bakery" for some breakfast I could take with me. I bought some bread and spring water. Best loaf of whole grain bread ever! It tasted a little bit like pumpkin bread. AMAZING.

40.4 km: Turned off the main road for Staigue Ring Fort, near Castlecove, at around 11:15am. I stopped in the exhibition center, egh. Slightly disappointing. It was like a lame gift shop. The actual fort is about 4 miles off the main N-70 road, down a windy, one-lane-for-2 cars-type of rural access road. This was by far my favorite fort along the Ring. Its a very well-preserved, circular drystone wall built without cement, sometime between 500 BC and AD 300.
Narrow doorway
You can climb it and take some birds-eye views of the site. There were a few goats just outside the fort eating grass. I had to snap a few shots before heading back up to N-70..

41.5 km: On the left, there is a place to pull out alongside N-70 to enjoy the views of the Beara Peninsula past Kenmare River, as well as the shoreline of Carroll's Cove beach just further down the road.

46.4 km: Tried finding the Derrynane House, a museum of sorts that was the former home of Daniel O'Connell, but had no luck. Moving on..

52.4 km: Took some stunning pictures at the Coomakesta Pass lookout point.

59.6 km: Entered the town of Waterville at around 1pm. I didn't stay too long. Saw one of the many golf courses just beyond a decorative cement-like wall, as well as the sculpture of Charlie Chaplin near the green.
More beautiful panoramic views.

65 km: After leaving Waterville, I crossed over a small bridge and made my first left onto R-567, leaving the big bus route for the Skellig Ring loop. Shortly after, I was able to pull over and take some pictures of the Skellig Islands in the distance.

75 km: At about halfway to Ballinskelligs, the route turns to R-566. There is a small Skelligs Chocolate Factory along the way. Its in the middle of nowhere. Literally. I walked in and suddenly felt like I was Charlie in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory! They gave me free samples of about a dozen different kinds and flavors of chocolate they make in the store, ranging from brittles to truffles to clusters to chocolate bars. Who knew lemon brittle in dark chocolate tasted so good?! My favorite was the honeysuckle milk chocolate clusters.
Children walking on the top of the walls of Staigue Fort
WOW. Had to bring home a few bags for mom and dad.

77 km: Just after the chocolate factory, along lies St. Finan's Bay. There were a handful of surfers in the water, others just relaxing on the beach. There was a little picnic bench overlooking the cove & a few signs warning strong currents. Great waves!

80 km: Ballinskelligs. Egh, forgettable. Took some panoramic video just to have it documented. To get to Portmagee, I had to drive through another rural field, thanks to Ms. GPS... It was in this very field where I scratched my passenger side of the car. There was a woman with her small children walking alongside this dirt path. As they leaned in towards the high grasses to give me as much room to pass, I grazed an orange diamond construction sign that had fallen and was now a hinderance alongside the road.
Beara Peninsula in the distance
How special.. Just before my construction sign incident, I passed through Coomanaspic Pass. The views from this incredible height are amazing.

83 km: Portmagee. I made it! Cute town with cafes and shops lining the bay. Its a small port town and also the best harbor for boat excursions to the Skellig Islands. A 100-yard long bridge connects Portmagee to Valentia Island. At the end of the bridge, to the left, is the entrance to the Skellig Experience Center. After paying 5 euro, I enjoyed a 10 minute film about the story of the monks and the natural environment of the Skellig Islands themselves. The actual center was subpar at best, with 3 unrefined exhibits and a gift shop. If I had more time than a single day to drive the Ring, I would have enjoyed a boat ride to Skellig Michael and Little Skellig to see the details in person.


93 km: I rejoined the main road (R-565) and drove through Knightstown to the tiny ferry boat which brought me back to the Ring. Short ferry trip of 2 km. Took about 5 minutes. And 5 euro.

95 km: Upon leaving the ferry and getting back onto N-70, I drove through the town of Cahersiveen. Its very easy to miss the turn off to visit the last 2 ancient forts on the Peninsula. Directions: Just after the town church, make a left, cross a narrow bridge, make another left, and follow signs for the ancient forts. There is a tiny parking lot that rests below the hike to these forts. Cahergal is the closest to the car lot. Leacanabuaile is a good hike up a steep hill. But definitely worth the effort. Moss covers the top of the stone and contains four separate "houses" inside the stone walls. Cahergal had a singular drystone building inside the walls of the fort.
Shoreline of Carroll's Cove
The inner face, as in the Staigue Fort, had flights of steps and terraces. And of course, more goat pictures for me.

100 km: Returned to N-70. Views of Dingle Town and Inch Beach line the rest of the views on my trip back to Barr Na Sraide.

I showered up and was ready to hear some nightly Irish pub music! First stop - Murphy's. I walked in and it was PACKED. Its only 10pm! Everyone was there for the music. Two older musicians were playing - one on guitar, the other on accordion. Good times and laughs. After a pint, I decided to experience another pub. Pub #2 - Dick Mack's. I heard they had "reliably good beer." As I'm walking up to the door, I noticed Hollywood stars outside in the sidewalk, recalling famous visitors. Julia Roberts and Dolly Parton were the two I recognized right away. I walked in and heard no music.
Views of Coomakesta Pass
But it was busting with laughs and I decided to stay to at least experience this scene. Two men at the bar immediately started chatting with me. I was by myself so it was nice to have some local conversations. They befriended me and we drank together for the rest of the night. We had a great time talking with the bartenders also. One gal worked at the docks during the day, giving boat tours for Fungie (the Dingle dolphin) and the other was actually the great grandson of Dick Mack himself! It was here at this pub where I had my first glass of Guinness. And it was AWESOME. After the pub closed at midnight, we went to the only late bar in town, called the Dingle Pub on Main Street. Our new bartender friends met us there also. This bar was huge. It had six different sections, plus some more contemporary live music. One gentleman on acoustic guitar played all night, singing top 40 hits.
Plus a little Bryan Adams and Lady GaGa. Very cool. After a few Bushmills on the rocks with my new friends, I called it a night and walked home to get an early start on Thursday morning, Day #3.
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Staigue Ring Fort
Staigue Ring Fort
Entering Staigue Fort
Entering Staigue Fort
Walls of Staigue Fort
Walls of Staigue Fort
Steps on the inside walls of Staig…
Steps on the inside walls of Stai…
Narrow doorway
Narrow doorway
Children walking on the top of the…
Children walking on the top of th…
Beara Peninsula in the distance
Beara Peninsula in the distance
Shoreline of Carrolls Cove
Shoreline of Carroll's Cove
Views of Coomakesta Pass
Views of Coomakesta Pass
Skellig Islands in the distance
Skellig Islands in the distance
Best chocolate factory..
Best chocolate factory..
Surfers beware: St. Finans Bay
Surfers beware: St. Finan's Bay
St. Finans Bay
St. Finan's Bay
Views of Coomanaspic Pass
Views of Coomanaspic Pass
Zooming in..
Zooming in..