Coat of arms for County Kerry
A stunning view taken from the ancient monastic site of Skellig Michael with Little Skellig and the Irish Coast in the background
Dunmore Head, Co. Kerry
Green, rainy, mystical Co. Kerry is arguably the ultimate Irish destination. Kerry is known for its clinging to Irish language and music, its fantastic mountains and coasts, its involvement in the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and the Irish Civil War (1922-1923) and its zany, slightly mad local population, with their rolling dialect.
Co. Kerry is easily the most sought-after destination in Ireland for foreign visitors, thanks to the Ring of Kerry, which circumnavigates the rocky Iveragh Peninsula. MacGillacuddy's Reeks here is the one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Ireland, offering unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean from the country's highest peak, Carrauntoohil (1038 m). Further west, the Dingle Peninsula – popular with hillwalkers – stretches out into the Atlantic, culminating at Dunmore Head, Ireland's westernmost point. One of the most unique areas are the Skellig Rocks or Skellig Islands which are two islands off the coast of Ballinaskeillgs. The main island, Skeillig Michael was an early Christian monastery that is now a world heritage site. Note that the rock is very dangerous and a couple of tourists trajically died there in recent years due to falls. A boat journey around the island would be equally stunning.
The Maharees Peninsula, halfway between Tralee and Dingle, is famous for its sandy beaches and clean water. The longest beach in Ireland stretches from the Maharees westwards through Castlegregory to Cloghane village – 12 miles in length. All of the beaches are sandy, and many are suitable for surfing and other watersports, such as scuba diving, surfing, windsurfing, canoeing and waterskiing. Equipment and instruction are available locally
During the summer months, a wide variety of entertainment is available, from currach racing to a week-long carnival in July. Castlegregory Pattern Day is celebrated on 15 August, when the tradition is to eat locally-made mutton pies and wash them down with plenty of Guinness.
Inland, the warm town of Killarney is a popular pit stop, with more pubs per capita than almost any other place in Ireland.
Be sure to take time to explore the serene Killarney National Park, with its myriad of lakes and mountains, and Ross Castle, a 15th century clan fortress. You can take a "jaunty car" (famous horse and cart) around the part for about what we worked out as a euro a minute. The average trip is about 40 mins to an hour. Another way to see the park is by bikes which can be rented just outside the town (cost about 15 euro each for the day with 5 euro extra for a pretty cool little trailer for children). When you are in the park you have to go and see Muckross House. The tour takes about 30 minutes and costs ~7 euro. The house was built for Henry Arthur Herbert in 1843. In 1861 Queen Victory visited the house. The Herberts spent so much money on preparing the house for the Queen's visit that they went bankrupt! Let that be a lesson to you. Appartently the Herberts thought that if they could impress Queen Victoria she would fund the Herberts. While Victoria was impressed, her husband died on her return to England and she was in mourning and forgot about the poor Herberts. Muckross is a stunning house and is definately worth the visit. The house if full of original furniture and the keepers of the house have blocked out the sunlight in many of the rooms to protect the furniture from fading. As a result it doesn't take much to imagine the Queen walking into the room as it stands today. (Note this tour wouldn't be suitable for young children; book the tour in advance).
Most people will stay in Killarney while touring the Ring of Kerry (which takes about 3 hours solid driving, half a day with stops. You drive the Ring of Kerry counter clockwise), however I would suggest trying to stay at least a night at one of the many accomodation sites on the Ring of Kerry such as the Derrynane Hotel (3 star) or the Parknashilla Hotel (5 star) in Kenmare. That said if you do stay in the heart of Kilarney there is a great buzz about the town. The town is full of high end hotels, we liked the Kilarney Plaza Hotel and the Kilarny Park Hotel. If you get a chance head out to the Lake Hotel for dinner and you'll have a stunning view of the lake (when there check out all the family history dotted around the hotel including picutres of Charlie Chaplin who was a family friend!).
Meanwhile, the near-forgotten town of Tralee is known for one thing only: the Rose of Tralee, a rather twee pageant and festival often mocked by the rest of Ireland and the popular Channel 4 comedy Father Ted who had their own ‘Lovely Girl Competition'. For more travel options to Kerry contact our friends at Holidaycheck.com
Gaelic football is a way of life in Kerry, whose team has obliterated the rest of Ireland by winning the Sam McGuire cup a whopping 37 times. The county is also home to several Irish-speaking Gaeltacht areas, including much of the Dingle Peninsula.
Famous Kerry people include actor Gregory Peck's paternal grandfather, Thomas Ashe, who was an ardent Irish nationalist and took part in the Easter Rising (1916). Irish liberator Daniel O'Connell was from Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry, and singer Jessie Buckley, runner up on the BBC talent show I'd Do Anything, is from Killarney.
Listowel Fleadh Cheoil, Co. Kerry
Ring Fort Dingle Also known as Beehive Huts, these date back 4000 years.
Dunquin Harbour, Dingle, Co. Kerry
Jaunting car at Gap of Dunloe, Kilarney, Co. Kerry
The Lakes of Kilarney, Co. Kerry