The tour of the Ring of Kerry started in Killarney City Center and made stops at cities and at scenic overlooks along the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. The areas we passed through included: Killorglin, Mountain Stage (a scenic overlook), Cahersiveen, Valentia Island, Portmagee, Waterville, Derrynane National Park, Sneem, Lady’s View (a scenic overlook in Killarney National Park), & Killarney National Park. The Ring of Kerry is not to be confused with the Kerry Way which is a 124 mile (200 kg) walking tour of the Iveragh Peninsula and can be done in a minimum of 9 days but depending on one’s physical abilities a 12-14 days may make the experience more realistic and enjoyable. We might like to come back one day and give this a go.
Our guide for the trip was Thomas with Mor-Active Tours, and he was wonderful! Just like Donal from our Gap of Dunloe tour, Thomas had a great personality, interacted with all of the participants and his love for not only his job but his home town and Ireland was apparent in the way he spoke and gave us Irish history, lore & interesting facts. Our tour was small and we traveled in a Ford Transit van rather than the big tour buses, which was a refreshing change. This allowed for us to get to know some of our tour mates a little bit better. We had some very nice chats with a couple from North Carolina, she keeps a journal like I do & a California couple who, earlier in the week, did the Iron Man in Dublin.
Our first stop was the town of Cahersiveen, which was really only a quick stop to grab a cup of coffee or snack. We did pass the home where Daniel O’Connell was born and the church that bears his name, the only church in Ireland that does not bear the name of a saint. I was keen on seeing Cahersiveen, even if it was so briefly, because my sister-in-law has family from here and her parents renewed their vows for their 50th wedding anniversary at the Daniel O’Connell Memorial Church! A brief feeling of connection, even if it is vicariously through extended family!
There were a few on our tour that had signed up for some different excursions. Three went on the “Star Wars” Tour, which was a boat ride out to the skellig islands. Two others went on a cycling excursion around Valentia Island and the rest of use opted for the hike of Valentia Island.
This was the highlight of our tour! The 1.25mile path led up to a point called Bray Head, which is the very southern tip of Valentia Island. There is the ruins of a watch tower that was erected in 1815, along with other watch towers along the Irish coast, to signal each other in case of an attack from the sea; the last time this watch tower was in use was by soldiers in WWII. Before leaving on the tour we had bought croissant sandwich’s & pastry from a bakery in Killarney and had our lunch at Bray Head. The views are truly fantastic and almost beyond words really. We could see the skellig islands from Bray Head; it is everything I thought the Irish coast would be and being able to see it in person was such a blessing! We had about an hour and a half to explore this area at our leisure. I highly recommend this to anyone traveling to Ireland.
Below: The trail head map & the start of our hike.
WE MADE IT!!!
Our next stop was the village of Portmagee; named after Theobald Magee, a smuggler for the English then as his own “entrepreneur”. We stopped here for lunch, since we had our lunch on Bray Head we found a café and had tea & cake at their outside picnic tables. Portmagee’s latest claim to fame is centered around the Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens because the last few moments of the movie were filmed on one of the skellig islands and a few of the cast stayed in Portmagee. Many of the businesses have cashed in on the increased in tourism due to the movie and there were many references and trinkets directly related to the Star Wars film.
We continued on with the tour, making a few more stops to view some scenic parts of the country; the most notable an area called “Ladies View”. In 1861 Queen Victoria came to Killarney National Park and visiting this spot her ladies-in-waiting were so taken with the view that it was named after them.
This marked the end of our time in Killarney and County Kerry; I am so sorry to have to leave. Killarney has truly captivated me and I think a part of it will reside in my heart forever. Maybe one day I will get to visit here again. Blessings and prayers to all who made our time in Killarney so wonderful!