At Last the Ring of Kerry
Okay, the Ring of Kerry is on everyone's must see list for Ireland. It would be our second time visiting this part of Ireland but our first driving ourselves. Driving is the most fun way to go. We came from an overnight in Tralee and were headed to Kenmare for a 6 night stay in a self-catering little house walking distance to Kenmare. We woke to gorgeous sunshine and warmer temperatures so decided to do the ring before checking in. Wow!
From Tralee we came to Killorglin and then to Darby's Bridge. Already the scenery was wonderful.
We stopped along the way for photos but our first Archaeological stop was Leacanabuaile Fort.
This is a Ring Fort made from stone that would have belonged to a wealthy land owner. Dates to about the 9th C. The outline of the fort is very distinct and the signage gives good information about what you are seeing. All the forts we visited were at high points in the landscape. This makes sense as they were also used as fortifications when enemies approached.
Ballycarberry Castle is in ruins as you can see. You get a pretty good view of it from the high point of the fort. We didn't go closer than this although you can explore it.
Our next Fort was Cathergal and this was one of my favorites. It's pretty large and intact so you can actually climb the walls of the fort for your views. The center portion which would have been one of the living quarters is also partially restored with entrances quite apparent.
The walls are stacked stone with ledges of varying heights going all the way around. They are accessed by stone steps that are quite narrow with no railings. Wouldn't you love to have this in your backyard?
Super views of the coastline were everywhere. These forts are on a peninsula that juts out into Dingle Bay.
We went back through Cahirsiveen and then took a detour onto R565 which put us on the Ring of Skellig. This takes you to the southernmost point and is also the road to Skellig Michael.
It is hard to portray the stunning majesty of what you see km after km. You want to stop the car every few seconds and take another picture that will never do justice to what you are experiencing. We stopped and just gazed at the beauty created by nature for us to see.
The great island of Skellig Michael could now be clearly seen. We had decided not to visit Skellig Michael as we are not good sailors and it's a pretty rough crossing even on good days. But today would have been a perfect time. You have to book your crossing ahead so there's no guarantee the weather will cooperate the day of your booking.
After arriving in Portmagee we took a side trip out of town to the Cliffs of Kerry. This was our third set of cliffs on the Atlantic Coast. We had been to the Cliffs of Moher and the Cliffs of Kilkee. The road was interesting -- narrow and busy. All that you've read about there being no buses on the Ring of Skellig is not true. We encountered several large tourist buses as we made our way to the cliffs. The roads are incredibly narrow and don't accommodate a bus and a car at the same time. Just be warned.
The day had been spectacular and as we gazed out from one of the viewpoints on the cliff we watched a storm forming over the Atlantic and moving in fast towards us. You could see the rain and then the blue sky. The storm was accompanied by wind and cold so we headed back to the car. It was, however an impressive show by Mother Nature.
We got back on the Ring of Kerry road and decided it was tea time. However, there weren't any restaurants. We saw a brown sign for a beach and castle ruin and headed that way. To our surprise and delight there was a very small cafe right on the beach serving take out with some picnic tables outside facing the beach and the castle ruin. No one but locals there that day.
This was our roadside tea, or should I say beach side. One thing that was a constant all over Ireland was the manner in which they served tea. The pot was properly heated with boiling water. Then tea was added to the pot followed by hot water just off the boil. The scones were homemade current scones served with clotted cream and jam. No plastic in sight -- from a beachside shack cafe. I was in tea heaven.
It was getting late and we were tired and wanted to finish driving and check in to our self-catering while it was still light. We headed back to Kenmare after a truly amazing day on the Ring of Kerry.
Did we see everything? No. But we spent a lot of time at each place we stopped to absorb the history and the beauty of this wonderful Irish treasure.