Take a Trip with Us around County Kerry

Lakes in Killarney National Park

Updated On: April 08, 2024 by   ConnollyCoveConnollyCove

County Kerry truly stands out among the many beautiful and astonishing counties of Ireland. Ireland’s history is prevalent there, as are its several heritage sites. These sites attract visitors from around the globe who want to see the romanticism of old Ireland. We’re here to help and be your Kerry guide.

But First, What and Where Is Kerry?

County Kerry, in the peninsular southwest region of Ireland, is a rural Irish heartland. It aligns seamlessly with the Atlantic Ocean and is home to many gorgeous and astounding landscapes, well-shaped roads, and ancient heritage sites and landscapes. The quirky side of County Kerry (and its residents’ distinctive accent) will most likely draw the attention of its visitors. You will be fascinated with its corners, and you will find outstanding locations wherever you go.

Here are our favourite spots and sites in County Kerry along with some activities to dwell on:

Visit Ballybunion and Its Beaches

Ballybunion, or Ballybunnion, is a coastal town and seaside resort in County Kerry, 15 km from Listowel. What remains in the town is a single wall and two golf courses occupying the area. One is the famous Ballybunion Golf Club, a top-class Links course founded in 1983.

As for the beaches, with exceptional cliff walks and stunning views over Loop Head, a cliff separates two of the most popular sandy stretches here—Men’s Beach and Ladies’ Beach. Today, both beaches are bona fide beauty spots for everyone to enjoy.

Go on Top of Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael is a lonely, steep, rocky island twelve kilometres from County Kerry’s coast. It is the larger of two pointed islands that stick out from the swell of the Atlantic Ocean and extend 230 meters straight up.

The Skellig Michael - County Kerry
The Skellig Michael – County Kerry

According to some legends, those two islands were crucial in prehistoric times. Still, the known history of Skellig Michael began when a monastery was established near its summit in the middle of the 7th century. It was considered an oratory for monks to worship their god and a place of solitude that could only be reached by climbing 600 stone steps.

Viking raids destroyed this monastery in the 9th century and threatened the existence of this community. Despite this, parts of the monastery survived until the 12th century, and the monastery itself is remarkably well preserved. Daily boatloads of visitors from the mainland make the precarious leap to the small harbour at the bottom of the cliff.

Skellig Michael became popular after it was used as the shooting location for the ever-popular Star Wars movie franchise’s recent instalments, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

Travel to the Past at Muckross House

Located in the popular town of Killarney, This fine rural estate is home to rugged horse-pulled jaunting cars, fantastic gardens, craft stores and lake views. Muckross House has a towering 19th-century mansion and a farm set amid the hills.

Eastern Facade of Muckross House in Killarney, County Kerry
Eastern Facade of Muckross House in Killarney, County Kerry

The farm aspect of the estate is a lovely homage to Ireland in the old days with its rugged simplicity. The craft shop sells lots of local treats and souvenirs. At Muckross House, you’ll glimpse a luxurious 18th-century life like never before.

Drive Around The Ring of Kerry

Many people have heard of County Kerry because of this destination. The Ring of Kerry is perhaps the most popular location in Kerry and a powerful household for Irish tourism in general. It has everything: fascinating scenery, winding roads, the Atlantic Ocean views, and high peaks all around—basically, the exact image of Ireland is in tourism brochures.

Moreover, you can check out other tourist locations while driving, such as castles, stone circles, etc… The Ring of Kerry is said by many to be one of the most beautiful driving routes in the world, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Stay the Night in an Irish Castle

Several castles are located in County Kerry, and some are really old. Whether massive or small castles, they all add something to Kerry’s heritage. Most of them are open to visits, and one offers you to stay the night. Here are some:

Ross Castle

Ross Castle, County Kerry
Ross Castle, County Kerry

In the Killarney National Park, Ross Castle is a lakeside castle that has been around since the 15th century. It gives a taste of rural life centuries ago with its super old farm.

Its incredible structure contrasts wonderfully with the timid lake before it. You can stroll off into the wilderness, the castle lighting up behind you along the way.

Listowel Castle

Another 15th-century castle and a dramatic defensive battalion, once the last defence in the region to hold out against British rule, Listowel Castle has recently been restored to its former shape and is now open to visitors. There are not many tours, so you should book ahead.

Ballyseede Castle

Ballyseede Castle is one of the best-known castle hotels in Ireland, dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Set in thirty acres of native woodland in the heart of County Kerry, the castle has been wonderfully transformed into a luxurious hotel.

Ballyseede Castle is ideally located on the main Tralee-Killarney road, two km east of Tralee in County Kerry. It is an ideal location for a memorable vacation. The castle hotel is still an imposing three-storey stone building, with a cut-stone door case following a broad flight of steps up to the hall door. Think of stand-alone baths, incredible views, fine dining, and a chance to play with their resident Irish wolfhound—a night you won’t forget anytime soon.

Take a Tour Inside Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park in County Kerry was established in 1932 to protect one of Ireland’s most precious natural habitats, and it is sublime in every sense of the word. Covering a massive ground of idyllic wilderness, this natural wonderland offers small islands, vast lakes, a 15th-century castle and a 19th-century mansion. It also features an incredible array of wildlife creatures to gaze at. The park is one of five national parks along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Take a Look at Torc Waterfall

Situated at the Ring of Kerry, Torc Waterfall is one of the most magical waterfalls you can ever see. Like all waterfalls, it is best seen after heavy rains. The base of Torc Waterfall is just a five-minute walk from the car park through a beautiful green, mossy forest. At this point, if you are lucky enough to visit after heavy rainfall, you will get a little damp from all the mist as you face an impressive, raging cascade of water that drops over 70 feet.

Play with Fungie the Dingle Dolphin

A staying resident at the harbour of Dingle in County Kerry, Fungie, the dolphin has been an elective figure among the tame animals of Ireland. Dingle is a sheer entertainer; you can reach it by taking a boat for a playful meeting. Better still, if you don’t find Dingle around, you don’t have to pay anything.

Join a Session at Dick Macks in Dingle

Dick Macks is one of the top-rated music pubs in County Kerry and an absolute favourite for its visitors and residents alike. Opened in 1899, you can’t travel to County Kerry and not stop off for a pint or three. If you’re looking for an exciting slogan/mark, there’s a famous sign outside Dick Mack’s that reads, “Where is Dick Mack’s? Opposite the church. Where is the church? Opposite Dick Mack’s.” To this day, one-half of Dick Mack’s is a standard pub, and the other half is a leather shop.

Climb Carrauntoohil

The highest peak in Ireland, Carrauntoohil, might pale in comparison to some of the continent’s greats (it’s only 1,038 metres high – with Mount Halti in Finland surpassing it with 1324 metres and Mount Elbrus the highest of all with 5,624 metres). Still, it is a challenging climb for intermediate-level hikers. There are plenty of genuinely challenging walks around the peak best undertaken supervised, especially the steep, slippery point known as the ‘Devil’s Ladder’. However, Carrauntoohil itself – via the most commonly walked route – is acceptable in moderate weather for those with hiking experience, with rewarding views from the towering metal cross that marks its peak and spectacular views across the Kerry countryside.

Go Camping on Valentia Island

There are several nice camping spots in County Kerry, especially the ones overlooking the ocean. A proper camping site that stands out is Valentia Island. With its stunning views of Skelligs Island and the Atlantic, you can peacefully gaze at the horizon and the night sky with all its stars. If you don’t fancy wild camping, you can check into the Valentia Island Camping and Caravan Park. A full schedule of events in the area, including food and music festivals in the summer, can be found here, including food and music festivals.

Get on Top of Bray Head

Bray Head is a towering viewing point dotted around Valentia Island. It beckons with a sturdy uphill stroll towards the ruins of a signal tower, which sit atop beautiful windswept cliffs. Once at the top, you can embrace fascinating panoramas of the Skellig and Blasket Islands and the Dingle Peninsula. It’s worth the climb.

Eat Some Fresh Mussels in Portmagee

Now that you’ve decided to camp at Valentia Island or anywhere nearby, you should head to Portmagee for lunch. This is one of the most picturesque villages in Ireland, where you can enjoy some delicious food and drinks.

Visit the Blasket Islands

Uninhabited islands ridging against the Atlantic, The Blasket Islands are brimming with views and scenery. It is a group of fabled islands, deserted, battered by the elements, but endlessly fascinating. The enduring fascination with the Blaskets can partly be explained by the brilliance of their unique community of hardy storytellers who existed there until half of the past century. All of them had left the island then, but before doing so, some decided to write down their memories to preserve them.

See Inside The Fitzgerald Stadium

While it’s known that County Kerry has a football team that participates in the league in Dublin, up there at Croke Park, it is also acknowledged that the Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney is their one and true home. Kerry’s football team has left their mark on the history of football in Ireland, as they are known as kings of the sport, and it would be nice to visit the place where it all started and is still going strong.

Witness the Uragh Stone Circle

This neolithic circle on the Beara Peninsula is a worthy detour on the Rings of Kerry. The towering stones overlook Lough Inchiquin, and it’s fascinating to watch as you picture the old history of the people who lived around it and stare down at the hills and lakes that form their backdrop.

Spend the Night Stargazing

As if it hasn’t been established already, County Kerry is one of Europe’s best places for stargazing. The night sky in certain parts of the county is eliminated with stars and free from light pollution. Photographing The Milky Way on a clear moonless night is also possible—pure magic.

Red Cross City

Cathair Crobh Dearg (often referred to as The City of Shrone) is considered one of Ireland’s oldest Christian pilgrimage sites, having previously been an essential pagan fertility site. It’s essentially a stone ráth─an ancient ring fort. The site is named after a triple pagan war goddess named Crobh Dearg (or Red Cross), who later got the title of a Saint when early Christians adopted the site.

In addition to religious rituals, the city has been used for other things, including testing improvised explosive devices in 1915 in preparation for the 1916 Easter Rising.

Take a Photo with Charlie Chaplin’s Vacation Statue

The village of Waterville in County Kerry has been a holiday destination for many travelling celebrities to Europe over the years. Still, no one loved it more than the late and ever-popular actor Charlie Chaplin, who got a statue in the centre of the town just for going on vacations there.

Chaplin and his family used to stay at the vast Butler Arms hotel in the Irish coastal town every year for over ten years, starting in 1959. Chaplin never portrayed an Irish character or shot an adaptation in Ireland. Still, he was so beloved by the community there that he had a permanent bronze statue of him erected. The statue comes with a plague, thanking Chaplin for his humble and benevolent presence.

We hope you enjoyed this entertaining guide to visiting County Kerry. Have you ever visited this vivid county? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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