The Hub of Kerry
Set in the heart of one of Ireland’s finestnational parks, Killarneyhas been plying its tourist trade for more than 250 years. It’s full of qualityrestaurants, pubs and accommodation, all on the doorstep of beautiful lakes,woodland, waterfalls and moors lying in the shadow of the country’s highestmountains, Macgillycuddy’sReeks.
The town’s history dates back to the Neolithicperiod and, based on the copper ore mined on Ross Island, was home to someimportant Bronze Age settlements. Over the centuries, expert stonemasonscrafted forts and devised Ogham script before, eventually, Viscount Kenmaredeveloped the town as the Irish answer to England’s Lake District.
The majority of the one million visitors who descendon the county every year tend to stick to Killarneyand its attractions and the famous Ringof Kerry, a scenic drive around the neighbouring Iveragh Peninsula.
Stretching for more than 110 miles, the longest ofIreland’s renowned circular routes combines incredible coastal scenery withpicturesque countryside and fascinating villages providing perfect stop-offpoints for refreshments. Although the ring can be completed in a day, you couldtake your time and stay overnight in somewhere like Killorglinor Kenmare.
The coastal scenery is at its best betweenWaterville and Caherdaniel, with the UNESCO World Heritage site of SkelligMichael, a jagged 217m high chunk of rock, providing a fascinatingdiversion. Despite its appearance and isolation, from the 6th to the 13thcenturies it was home to Christian monks looking for ultimate solitude.
The more compact Dingle Peninsula, the most westernpoint in Europe at its tip, can also be explored using another circular drive.Its breathtaking natural beauty, mixed with rings forts, ancient ruins andcharming towns like Dingle, make it an experience to remember.
See and Do
Some of County Kerry’smost popular attractions are based around Killarney. As well as the naturalwonders of its national park, there is 15th century Ross Castle, KnockreerHouse and Gardens, the Muckross Estate, with a wonderfully restored 19th centurymansion at its heart, and Inisfallen Island, home to a monastery believed tohave been founded by St Finian the Leper in the 7th century.
The SkelligExperience on ValentiaIsland chronicles the history of the Skellig Michael monks as well asthe island’s lighthouses and wildlife, while the atmospheric ruins of BallycarberyCastle, and two ring forts nearby, can be found in Caherciveen.