One of Ireland’s most popular destinations is the Iveragh Peninsula — known everywhere as the “Ring of Kerry. Out at the very edge of Europe, on South West Ireland’s wild Atlantic seaboard, the Ring of Kerry circles the Iveragh Peninsula. Kenmare is situated on the Ring of Kerry.
The Ring is one of Ireland’s best-known attractions. And with good reason, for it takes visitors through magnificent natural beauty. But it’s the lovely contrast between the warmth of the people and the elemental nature of the place that makes it so special, and worth slowing down to explore.
There’s the human scale of small towns, little villages, and sraid bhaile (tiny settlements) linked by the Ring, with a long history of welcoming visitors.
Then there’s the scale of nature, across the Ring: at Iveragh’s heart is Ireland’s highest mountain range and highest peak, Carrauntoohil – part of an ancient glacial landscape that ranks among the best in Europe. Inland, the Ring crosses Killarney National Park – with heart-stopping views of lakes and peaks, waterfalls, ancient woods of oak and yew, and Ireland’s only herd of wild native red deer. Rare white-tailed sea eagles drift overhead. To the west, seals ‘pup’ in sheltered Kenmare Bay. And on the shores of Valentia Island are the Tetrapod tracks – the earliest fossil footprints in the world.
The official Ring of Kerry signs the route from Cahersiveen to Waterville but do not miss the ‘unmissable’ Skellig Ring scenic drive and Skellig Michael – one of the wonders of the world. Take time to visit Valentia Island accessed by ferry just outside Cahersiveen and a bridge near the picturesque village of Portmagee. From there visit the Glen and Ballinskelligs with its great Blue Flag beach and all things these places offer.
You can “do the Ring” within a day. But the Ring will truly reveal itself if you take the time to enjoy it fully.
There is also an established long-distance walking route named The Kerry Way, which takes its own route, and a signposted Ring of Kerry cycling path which uses older quieter roads where possible. The Kerry Way roughly follows the scenic driving route of the Ring of Kerry.
In short, the Ring of Kerry scenic drive on the Iveragh Peninsula has everything. From the mountains to the shoreline, the walks to water sports, the eating, drinking, and other entertainment you can’t go wrong. Stop off in any of the towns along the way and you’ll be in heaven.