The ring of Kerry is one of the most scenic route and a long due road trip that I was meant to do in Ireland since I arrived. Everyone I know who went there told me that it is a must do. The advantage of living in Ireland is that the Island is pretty small. Driving from Dublin to Killarney takes about 4h drive. I left Dublin on a Friday evening after work and went until Sunday to the south west part of the Island.
For those of you who have never heard of this Irish Unesco World Heritage Site, the Ring of Kerry or Iveragh Peninsula to give it its correct name, is a picturesque trail part of the Wild Atlantic Way.
It is famous for its finest beaches, ancient heritage of Ireland such as Iron age forts and Ogham Stones, Old monasteries and breathtaking landscapes. It is also the region where the last scene of the last Star Wars movie was shot, on an Island called Skellig Islands, 13km away from the coastline.
Many routes exist. If you make a search on Google you will find results showing you what to see according to the length of your trip. I just picked the main sites that I wanted to see around the loop and just went with the flow. That's the main advantage of doing a road trip, you can stop anywhere you want to.
1. Gap of Dunloe
It is a narrow mountain pass that was carved out by slow-moving glacial ice two million years ago. To get there it is preferable to walk to enjoy the landscape. You can drive, but be aware that the road is very narrow and you might encounter cars coming from the other side. Or you can use jaunting cars pulled by ponies or horses for a trip to the gap. It will cost you a fee though, of about 20 euros. So it might be worth walking if you are on a budget!
After the visit of Dunloe, I stopped by a local pub in Glenbeigh named "The Towers" to have lunch. It was very cozy inside with a lovely decoration that makes you feel home. The food portions are very generous as usual once you eat outside of the main cities and the staff very friendly. If you pass by this city, I recommend to stop by this pub to grab a bite before hitting the road again.
2. Ballycarbery Castle
These are the ruins of a castle surrounded by a defensive wall dating from the 16th century. The castle overlooks the sea and offers a panoramic view of the surroundings. A strategic position back then to see from far if there would be any danger coming your way. You can only try to imagine what the life could have been there at that time.
This is a charming little village close by the sea. The town was a favourite holiday destination of Charlie Chaplin and his family. That's the reason why you can find the statue of him in the centre of the village in his memory. It is also there that was held the first Charlie Chaplin Comedy film festival in 2011 in the spirit of Charlie Chaplin.
4. Staigue Stone Fort
This fort is thought to have been built during the late Iron Age as a defensive stronghold for a local lord or king. You can get inside through a small passage of 1.8 metres high. Once inside the walls are 5.5 metres high with a court inside of 27 metres in diameter. You can feel the history once there. Be aware that the road to get there is very narrow and quite long.
5. Killarney National Park
This national park includes many lakes, forests and mountain peaks with a wide variety of species. It was designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981. This is a beautiful place to visit, the landscapes are just breathtaking.
6. Torc Waterfall
You will have to do a 5-minute walk through the fairytale-like forest from the parking lot to reach the waterfall. This waterfall just looks amazing with the surroundings and the green vegetation all around the forest. If you would like a better viewing point you can still climb the steps immediately to the left to get some great views on the lake.
I drove during maybe 9 hours to do the ring of Kerry, stopping many times on the way to enjoy the beauty of the landscapes. That's one thing I love about Ireland, the nature remains in its natural state and that's what makes the beauty of this island in my opinion. There are of course other routes that you can follow, many websites or tours offer various itineraries.
One tip that I can give you is to do it anti-clockwise, I don't know if I was lucky but there was barely no tourists at every spot I have been during the whole trip, so I was able to enjoy it all without being disturb or tourists photo bombing my photos.
Now it is my turn to tell you that if you have enough time during your stay in Ireland, The Ring of Kerry is definitely a must do if you like the nature, you won't regret it.