Hi everyone, Alesha here at the keyboard again 🙂
After we wrapped up our time in Cork, we headed toward Killarney with a few stops along the way. First we headed for the small sea town of Kinsale, a super cute little city with a nice harbor and view of the Atlantic where a lot of Irish locals go to get away from the city.
We walked around town for a bit, and then drove a little way up the hill to check out an old fort that was nearby. The view looking out from the fort was beautiful, but it cost money to get in so we decided to just admire from afar. At this point Brandon mentioned this beautiful place he’d found while researching called Mizen Head (which is actually the Southwestern most point in Ireland) that was a couple hour drive away. We had some time before we had to check in to our AirBnB in Killarney, so we decided to go for it.
The drive out to Mizen Head was pretty crazy, with more narrow Irish roads and playing chicken with oncoming cars and increasingly thick fog and rain. As we got closer to the coast, we began to realize that we likely wouldn’t be able to enjoy the amazing views Mizen Head boasted because the fog was so thick, but at that point we were committed so we decided to go for it anyway. Sure enough, when we arrived it was totally socked in and you couldn’t even see the ocean. We walked around a bit, took a few photos in the fog and then figured we would keep heading toward Killarney. Before we left, Brandon wanted a cup of coffee, so he ran into the little cafe there to grab a cup while I waited outside. Staring out into the fog, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, but it looked to be slowly clearing up. By the time Brandon came back out with the coffee, the fog was definitely lifting (our pleas to the fog gods worked!), and we decided to pay the fee to walk around the point. The cliff views and views of the Atlantic Ocean were amazing, and we were so lucky that the fog cleared just in time for us to enjoy them!
Killarney, Day 1
Once we’d seen the sights at Mizen Head, it was time to head toward Killarney. If I’m being honest, my nerves were already a little bit shot from the windy, narrow drive up to Mizen Head so when Google Map’s proposed route to Killarney included a number of R (usually narrow) roads, I decided to take us a different way on the N road (usually wider). The drive was okay for awhile, but then the roads got REAL scary guys. We ended up on this EXTREMELY narrow road, along the side of a CLIFF in the fog with a bunch of long, one-lane tunnels that you had to hope no one was driving into on the other side. So I’m sitting in the front seat, holding on for dear life and freaking out as I stare down the side of the cliff, and Brandon wasn’t even phased. If he was nervous, he certainly didn’t show it! I don’t think it was quite as bad as driving in Cork, but it was pretty intense. I wish I had pictures to post of the drive, but unfortunately I was too busy willing the car to stay on the road to take photos.
We finally made it to Killarney and headed for our AirBnB to meet our host Olive. Olive, and her husband Billy, were there waiting for us when we arrived at their beautiful home, which was inside a gated community and situated on a beautiful piece of property. Olive immediately welcomed us to their home and showed us to our luxurious suite where we’d be staying for three nights. The room was huge, with large windows looking out onto their property, and had a giant en suite bathroom that was to die for. During the tour, Olive also made a point to mention that our room was at the front of the house so they wouldn’t hear us if we wandered in drunk from the pubs (haha). It is also worth mentioning that Olive laid out breakfast for us every morning, and sat and had a cup of tea and chatted with us each day while we ate. She was delightful!!
After we’d gotten settled, we wandered into downtown Killarney to find some food and a pint. Killarney was a beautiful and luxurious city, with many upscale hotels and restaurants. Because it is situated right at the gateway to the Ring of Kerry (a very popular tourist attraction, which I’ll come back to later), it draws quite the tourist crowd. We found a cute pub and enjoyed a few pints of Guinness and dinner before heading back early to tuck in.
Killarney, Day 2 (National Park, Ross Castle)
Killarney is situated right next to a national park, so the next morning we decided to go for a hike/walk in the park. It was a soggy day, but we’re no strangers to rain, so we put on our rain jackets and headed off. I’ve had some issues with small sores on my feet from my tennis shoes, so I opted to wear my Chacos and get some Irish mud between my toes. Our trail took us on a nice 40 minute loop through the park, including the highlight of the loop: Torc waterfall. The waterfall was beautiful, and even in the rain it was pretty busy with tourists.
The rest of the day was pretty low key…we checked out a castle, chased after an epic sunset, and drank some local brew at Killarney Brewing Company (the first decent craft beer we’d had in Ireland!).
Killarney, Day 3 (Ring of Kerry)
On our last full day in Killarney, we went on a bus tour around the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry consists of a 179km long circular scenic drive that takes you through spectacular Irish countryside, villages, and provides incomparable views like nothing you’ve ever seen. We ended up on a smaller bus than the usual giant tour buses that make the drive, and our driver Morris took us to several places that we wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise. We got so lucky with the weather, with clear blue skies and visibility for miles. Morris joked that the last time he had weather that good, there was a nun and a priest on board the tour.
One of the coolest parts of the tour was a stop where we got to see a traditional Irish sheepdog demonstration. I know, it sound like it would be boring, but it was actually really, really cool. The shepherd showed how he uses sets of unique signals to guide his two dogs in rounding up and sorting his sheep. He showed us all of the different varieties of sheep and explained their uses (meat, wool, etc.). We learned a lot!
But overall, the views were the best part and the photos don’t do them justice.
When we rolled back into town, we did some pub hopping and then headed back to get a good night of sleep before driving toward Galway the next day.