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Kenmare – the jewel of the Ring of Kerry
Ireland is one long scenic drive, and the infamous Ring of Kerry is the most prized portion of that drive. Creating a base in tiny Kenmare (population 2175 in 2011) helps avoid Killarney’s tour bus congestion (the ring starts and ends in Killarney).
Kenmare is one of those picturesque, idyllic towns that is hard not to fall in love with. A 19th century market town, it was awarded the title of Kerry’s first Heritage Town in Ireland by the Ireland Tourist Board for its historical, environmental and cultural significance.
After a long day of exploring, Kenmare’s pubs were very inviting.
I love how it was still daylight at night. The sun didn’t set until 10 PM!
We came across this “stag” party while out and about in Kenmare. This is what we refer to as a bachelor party in the U.S. Sidenote: It was the 4th of July, and the Irish seemed keen to celebrate America’s birthday with us!
Hitting the Road
After following the N71 from Killarney to Kenmare, we hit the N70 towards the Iveragh Peninsula, taking in “Ireland’s most extravagant scenery” (according to Patricia Shultz’s 1,000 Places to See Before You Die).
Here’s a little (crappy) video I shot with my friend’s camera (hence the silly question, “Does this zoom?”). Apologies for the poor quality and narration. I just wanted to share some interactive footage.
Along the 110 mile coast-hugging road, the blue seascape continuously meets the green landscape in a dramatic elemental fusion. Rugged, striking, whimsical….these are just a few words that come to mind.
Ireland in Five Days
It’s never ideal to rush and see as much of a country as possible, but many Americans have limited vacation days built in to their work year. Taking advantage of the 4th of July holiday and long weekend, here is what we saw of Ireland in five days.
- Three American girls took Dublin by storm, where we visited the Guinness Storehouse and sampled the city’s best pubs.
- We beelined it out west to Galway and took in Connemara’s “tragic beauty”.
- Making our way south to the Burren region, we explored the Cliffs of Moher and Dunguaire Castle in County Claire.
- Continuing on to our favorite county, Kerry, we drove to the town of Dingle, taking in the divine sunshine and stunning scenery, before heading to Killarney National Park and the Ring of Kerry.
- To conclude our journey, we made our way back east to Dublin via County Cork, stopping in Waterford for a smidgen.
This is definitely not the only way to see Ireland, but considering our time restraints, I think we did a great job covering many of the highlights, seeing a large chunk of the country, and enjoying quality time with locals, absorbing and participating in Irish culture in a small amount of time.
If you are short on time like we were, consider traveling to Ireland around early July, when the days are their longest.
Try to balance two types of travel styles: traveling as if you’ll never come back (i.e. seeing as much as possible) and slow travel (taking your time to really absorb and appreciate the local geography and culture).
Tell me about your Irish road trip! Or is this on your bucket list?