Ring of Kerry
Discover the famous Ring of Kerry Coastline
Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is one of those famous routes. Worldwide, there are relatively few roads that achieve favourable international fame. Route 66, one of the original highways in the US and Highway 1, also in the US, hugs California's Pacific coastline and rewards those travelling on it with some fantastic scenery.
Achieving the same international renown is Irelands famous and very popular Ring of Kerry. This 111-mile circular tour threads its way through a mix of spectacular scenery, including mountains, woodland, wild boglands, sandy coves and villages.
The traditional starting point is Killarney, but it can get crowded and become something of a procession. Our expert driver-guides will get you out there earlier or later to avoid the traffic and catch that pretty light at the beginning or end of the day. Let us help you customise a Private Tour of Ireland.
Ireland's Iconic Scenic Route
Highlights of The Ring of Kerry
What to expect
The region has a diverse range of invertebrates, mammals, birds and Ireland's only herd of Red Deer. Try and spot otters, mink, red squirrel, badger and stoat. The climate is mild and wet, so be prepared.
Cahersiveen is a small town that stands at the head of Valencia Harbour. Two significant buildings dominate the town, the O'Connell Memorial Church and The Old Barracks. Daniel O'Connell was born in 1775 in a now ruined house in the settlement and became a distinguished barrister. His fight for Catholic emancipation led him to become one of the most important political figures in 19th century Ireland. It gained him the nickname 'The Liberator.'
The Old Barracks
The Old Barracks building was built in the 1870s to protect the Irish end of the transatlantic cable and double as a police station. It is now a Heritage Centre with exhibitions and information relating to the area. A short distance away are the ruins of the visible but currently inaccessible Ballycarbery Castle.
Adjacent to the castle is the stone ringforts of Cahergal and Leacanabuaile. Both are worth a visit. Cahergal was built around 600AD and is one of the best examples of an early medieval stone fort. Leacanabuaile was constructed during the 9th or 10th century to protect a farmstead.
Portmagee is to the west of Cahersiveen and is a delightful little village. In the past, principal activities were smuggling and shipwrecking. The settlement is named after the notorious villain and smuggler, Thomas Magee. The many inlets and bays were difficult to police, and Magee made full use of the cover they provided to pursue his trade in contraband spirits, textiles, and tobacco. On his death in 1727, his wife and sons carried on the family business.
Portmagee is the departure point for Boats trips to Skellig Michael, a group of three rocky islands. The Largest, Great Skellig, was the site of a monastery founded in the 7th century that was, for some 600 years, home to Irish Christian Monks. At the summit of the 230-metre high rock, the monks lived in beehive huts' above the near-vertical cliff walls. It is a World UNESCO Heritage Site. Access is by climbing a 1,000year-old 500ft stone stairway. Nearby, Little Skellig is home to some 20,000 pairs of gannets, hundreds of kittiwakes, guillemots, petrels, and shearwaters.
Kenmare has a long history and became a recognisable settlement in 1670. Located within a large agricultural area, it has a market and is a popular little town.
Muckross House and Gardens
Standing within the magnificent Killarney National Park is Muckross House, a charming 19th century Victorian Mansion close to Muckross Lake's shores. The rooms feature period furniture and décor. The gardens are also magnificent and well worth a visit.
Sitting on the edge of Killarney's lower lake is Ross Castle. The stronghold was built by O'Donoghue Mor 500 years ago. Legend has it that O'Donoghue rises from the lake on a white charger and circles the lake. Ross was one of the last Castles to be captured by Cromwell during the conquest of Ireland and held out until 1652.
The largest lake Lough Leane means "lake of learning" and is probably a reference to the monastery on Innisfallen Island, a centre of learning in the early middle ages. The scenery around the lake is spectacular.
Ladies' view is around 12 miles from Killarney on the road to Kenmare. It's a truly stunning view, perhaps the best known in Killarney National Park. The name was given after Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting were so enchanted by it. It is well worth ensuring that you include it in your visit.
Touring and accommodation
The South West of Ireland is, for many, the most beautiful region of the Country. Not only do you have the spectacular Skellig Islands to sail to, but you have Killarney National Park to tour and the sublime Ring of Kerry drive. Don't forget the lesser-known Dingle peninsula with some of Europe's most dramatic cliff-scapes. Please see our customisable Private Tours of Ireland here.
Killarney is the obvious place to stay, and there are plenty of options. We recommend the Killarney Park Hotel, although there are many options. Killarney is a lively little town, a happy place in Killarney National Park.
The Wild Atlantic Way
One the Great Coastal Drives
- Tailored Driver-Guided Tours
- Guided Hiking
- Boat Trip to Skellig Michael
Help us make your trip exceptional
Our UK and EU office based staff will listen to what you want to see and experience.
Whether you are a honeymoon couple, a family or a corporate incentive group, our team’s collective resources will be brought together to build the experience that’s right for you.
We will require your arrival and departure dates, details of your personal preferences and places that you would like to visit as well as the events you would like to experience.
We will then prepare a draft itinerary and send it to you by email for your approval. Once agreed, we will send you a Booking Confirmation with Personalised Itinerary and Information Pack via email.