I love traveling. In Europe, I enjoy historic cities and nature walks. I've visited Scotland, Ireland, and France, among other countries.
What is the Ring of Kerry? It’s not a ring of fairy stones or a natural land formation. It’s actually a road. More accurately, it’s a popular travel route in County Kerry that will take you through a collection of popular tourist destinations and scenic views. The Ring of Kerry, which travels 179 kilometers through the Iveragh Peninsula, is one of the most popular tourist routes in Ireland.
Beautiful Coast and Breathtaking Views
It’s famous for its beautiful coast, historic sites, and breathtaking views. You can take a day to drive through the ring, or take more time to enjoy the towns and history nearby. You can found countless bus tours around the Ring of Kerry or drive it yourself. If you go, you can see the following attractions.
- Muckross House
- Ross Castle
- Ladies’ View
- Skellig Michael
- Derrynane Beach and House
Particularly if you take a bus tour, you’ll probably start your trip around the Ring of Kerry at Kenmare. Kenmare is a small, scenic town overlooking Kenmare Bay. Kenmare has a great selection of Irish pubs and restaurants, so you can start your day with a delicious Irish breakfast. Keep in mind that it will probably be full of other tourists who are traveling to see the Ring of Kerry as well.
Muckross House is a beautiful Tudor mansion built in 1834 by the Scottish architect William Burn. It was originally owned by the artist Mary Balfour Herbert and her husband Henry Arthur Herbert. In 1861, Queen Victoria visited and stayed in the house.
Today, the house is part of Killarney National Park and is one of the park’s highlights. The house is an excellent example of Tudor architecture and the luxurious standards of living of the 19th-century upper class. Visitors can tour the house for an entry fee. It is also a beautiful site from outside, overlooking Muckross Lake. The house also has extensive gardens, which are free to visit.
Ross Castle is also located within Killarney National Park. This 15th-century castle is currently the ancestral home of the O’Donoghue Clan, although it has also been associated with the Brownes of Killarney.
The castle consists of a rectangular tower house, a keep, and curtain walls. Visitors can tour the historic castle and see artifacts such as 16th- and 17th-century oak furniture. Plan to spend some time in Killarney National Park, as there are a number of other beautiful sites and views to see.
If you want one place that epitomizes the beauty of the Ring of Kerry, Ladies’ View is your spot. The viewing area is located 12 miles away from Killarney along the N71 roadway. It offers a fantastic panorama view, taking in lakes, valleys, and hills.
Particularly if you stop on a clear day, you’ll see a fantastic variety of blues and greens making up a breathtaking landscape. Make sure you bring your camera so you can take a few pictures. There’s also a café where you can stop for some refreshments during your tour.
Skellig Michael is one of the most famous historic sites in Ireland. Skellig Michael is one of two islands located about 12 miles offshore from the Iveragh Penninsula. Sometime around the 6thcentury, a monastery was built on the island, and it was occupied until the late 12th century. The monastery has a fascinating history, although much of it is unknown.
In the 9th century, the monastery was attacked by Vikings. In the 10th century, it was dedicated to St. Michael. Even after it was abandoned, monks continued to visit it on pilgrimage. Today, Skellig Micahel is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If you want to visit the site, you can join a tour out to the island, where you’ll see medieval churches, bee hive huts, a cemetery, and a garden. It’s a fantastic site that is wonderfully in synch with the dramatic landscape and that will bring you back in time.
Derrynane Beach and House
If you love old mansions and buildings, make sure to include Derrynane House on your tour. This mansion was the home of Daniel O’Connell, a 19th-century politician who gained the nickname of The Liberator. If you’re interested in Irish history, you can tour the house, which has been converted into a museum about O’Connell’s life.
The house’s estate has been turned into Derrynane National Park, a beautiful 320 acres of scenic land. Nearby is Derrynane Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches around the Ring of Kerry. It overlooks Derrynane Bay, a dramatic and expansive bay. It’s a beautiful place to go for a short walk and take in the sea air.
© 2019 Sam Shepards
Arthur Russ from England on August 22, 2019:
Thanks Sam. Yep, being from the West Country, I'm used to the changeable British weather (often changing by the hour); and when we were on holiday in Northern Ireland a few years ago, it was quite fascinating to sometimes see the rain clouds form above us, as the weather suddenly changed from being calm sunny blue skies to wind and rain within minutes, with little warning.
Sam Shepards (author) from Europe on August 22, 2019:
Yes, it's a beautiful country the only thing you need to keep in mind is the weather and always prepare for rain or a dreary day. Everything is also fairly close to each other so you'll always find some nice place to stop and drink or eat something. Have fun!
Arthur Russ from England on August 20, 2019:
Ireland sure is a most beautiful country. We’ve travelled up the east coast en-route to Northern Ireland, where my wife’s family roots are, but we haven’t as yet ventured down to explore the southwest; towards the ‘Ring of Kerry’. Before reading your article we were not really aware of the ‘Ring of Kerry’, so thanks for writing about it. We are planning another trip to Northern Ireland next year, and while there would like to spend a little more time to explore Ireland itself, so perhaps that might be a good opportunity to venture down southwest and head towards the ‘Ring of Kerry’.
Sam Shepards (author) from Europe on August 20, 2019:
Thank you Liz, nice to hear you enjoyed the write up about traveling the Ring of Kerry.
Liz Westwood from UK on August 20, 2019:
I was never quite sure what the Ring of Kerry was. This is a well-illustrated explanation.