The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland’s most famous tourist trails, and it can be enjoyed in full by walking The Kerry Way. The circular route is surrounded by breath-taking views and wonderful green landscapes. The trail is a snapshot of Early Christian Ireland, with pristine examples of ancient architecture around every corner. Along the way you’ll encounter some small towns with big histories. Here are a few of our favourite things to see…
Muckross House is located deep within Killarney National park and will be one of your first stops along The Kerry Way. The 18th century Victorian mansion is steeped in history, and retains much of its interior design from that period. You’ll be transported back in time as you explore the vast decadent corridors, populated with artwork from the period. You are free to ramble around the beautiful gardens that surround the main building. These gardens overlook Muckross lake, and on a crisp silent morning, this is the ultimate spot for reflection.
Gap of Dunloe
Wedged between MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and Purple Mountain is a natural valley referred to as The Gap of Dunloe. The winding pass, which begins at Kate Kearney’s cottage, will lead you through the valley past some gorgeous natural scenery. In the early 1800’s Kate brewed a potent alcoholic drink called Poitín that she would serve to wary travellers. Kate’s ‘Mountain Dew’ is no longer available, and for good reason, but her cottage remains a brilliant rest spot for tired walkers.
Skellig Michael is a stunning rock protruding from the Atlantic Ocean about 12 km southwest of Kerry’s coastline. The modest island is home to an ancient monastery that dates back to the 6th century. It was used as an outpost for monks, who were determined to practice their religion in solitude despite the challenging weather conditions. You will marvel at the original stone dwellings that are perfectly preserved today. There is also a thriving population of birds that have made Skellig Island their home. It’s not unusual to see a family of Puffins ducking for cover between the rocks. Star Wars fans will recognise the island from the 2015 film ‘The Force Awakens’, as the spot where Luke Skywalker re appeared!
Killarney Town is bustling with activity. There are tons of restaurants, cafes and pubs packed into this little hub of Irish culture. Restaurants here use locally sourced produce, including fresh seafood caught just a couple of miles off the coast of Kerry. Whether you’re looking for live music or a quiet nook to relax after a long hike, you’re sure to find the perfect spot for a pint of Guinness. Ross Castle, is only a short distance from the town and can easily be reached on foot. From here you can take a trip to Innisfallen Island, which is home to a 7th century monastery.
Although the aforementioned sites all have cultural and historical value, they really are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to The Ring of Kerry. The trail is littered with castles, monuments, artefacts and holy wells. As you walk The Kerry Way you will encounter examples of Ogham Stones from the 4th century, inscribed with Ireland’s earliest form of writing. Ring forts, which were used to protect farmsteads during the period 500-800 AD, are an astounding example of Early Christian architecture. Much of the trail remains completely unblemished by time.
These are just a few of the top things to see and do around the Ring of Kerry. Your walk along the Kerry Way will lead you to plenty of attractions, scenic points and historic sites.
For more information about any of our walking and cycling tours please contact one of our Travel Specialists.