Ring of Kerry by day, pub music in Dingle by night
County Kerry Travel Blog› entry 2 of 8 › view all entries
July 15th, 2009 – by: kasteelcru
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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