June 9-11, 2017
It was only a two hour drive from Kinsale to Kenmare, so we took our time and chose some of the quieter roads closer to the ocean. Our only stop was to use the bathrooms and buy a tin whistle at Molly Gallivan’s Visitor Centre, (which would be a fun place to spend more time), and for the rest of the trip, I regaled Erik with tunes on my tin whistle while he tried to drive. 🙂
Kenmare is a nice little town that is a great base for driving the Ring of Kerry or the Ring of Beara. It has a main street with a number of interesting looking shops, pubs, and restaurants and lots of guest houses and B&Bs. However, we chose to stay outside of town this time after we found a neat studio suite in an old building in the rural countryside, about 15 minutes from town.
Because there was no real address to the house, we had to put the GPS coordinates into Googlemaps on my iPad to find our way. And as a side note, I’m happy to say that you can now download sections of googlemaps to use offline. This meant I was able to use my iPad for mapping for the whole trip, and never needed a SIM card (in the iPad). This is particularly useful when you are in remote areas with no cell service.
Once we reached Kenmare, we drove a few kms up the Ring of Kerry road and then turned onto a narrow side road with the typical 6 foot hedge on each side, and wound through the country for about 6 km hoping we didn’t meet another car, until we reached “The Forge”. Our room was on one end of a long 200-year-old stone building that had once housed a forge. The owner met us and showed us around our room which had a small kitchenette, a wood stove, and windows on three sides of the building. It was dark and rustic and so cozy! We had picked up the fixings for a spaghetti supper in town, and it had begun to rain again, so we settled in for the night. After dinner, we made a fire and sat in the cozy armchairs by the fire, and even watched a little Netflix on the TV. I think that was one of the first times I’ve watched TV on this trip!
It was raining and windy all night long, but the skies began to clear in the morning and the day looked like it held promise. We had been planning to drive the Ring of Kerry, but after some discussion and a little research, we decided to drive back into Kenmare, and drive the Ring of Beara instead. It was purported to be “just as beautiful” as the Ring of Kerry (although about 50-75km shorter I think), but without the steady stream of tour busses and stops crowded with tourists. We were sold.
The initial drive was through the usual countryside – always green and gorgeous with patchwork fields dotted with sheep, and divided by old stone fences. Then we drove up into the hills, the trees disappeared, and the hills became rocky with short grass. The road narrowed and the views of the valleys and the sea were absolutely spectacular! We got to the top of one peak, and the wind was blowing so hard, we could hardly stand up. I took lots of pictures but they hardly do it justice. You just need to go there to see those views yourself.
We stopped at an empty little beach and ate sandwiches we had brought along and then finally made our way back to Kenmare where we picked up more groceries, and went home for another dinner by the fire. Although the weather has been fairly wet on this trip, and frequently windy, we seemed to have been lucky when we’ve really needed it to be dryer. My only wish is that I could get some better photos with blue skies so you could see the true colour of this amazing land.
We stayed at The Forge for two nights, and when we headed to Dingle the next morning, we were able to drive part of the Ring of Kerry to Killarney, and so we enjoyed some amazing views in Killarney National Park. What a gorgeous country this is. Sigh…