Our second week of exploring the Emerald Isle begins in Kinsale. In the map above you can see the route we took and where we stopped to visit along the way on just the first two days of the week!
After we left Kinsale, we happened upon Harbor view beach and took advantage of a breath taking vista.
Our next stop was the Timoleague Friary.
Not much further down the road we came upon an ancient stone circle….
Our next scheduled stop after a bit of a drive through the beautiful countryside was a boat ride out to Garinish Island with seals basking on the rocks in the bay on the way.
Once on the island, we were able to stroll around the walled gardens and pathways on this beautiful garden island.
After soaking in the beauty of the gardens for awhile we boarded the ferry boat back to mainland to continue our explorations of the Ring of Kerry.
The road meandered through some more very picturesque countryside and we found ourselves climbing over the Healy Pass with some outstanding vistas to enjoy amongst the free range sheep.
Once we cleared the pass in the mountains this gorgeous panoramic view unveiled itself to our amazement!
Next stop, and not much further down in the valley we stopped to visit and take a walk through Dereen Gardens.
After visiting Derreen Gardens we made our way to Kenmare to spend the night at Rockcrest House B & B.
The next morning we still had a bit to drive to get to our next destination, Ballinskelligs, so we climbed back in the car passing the town of Sneem along the way and it’s beautiful waterfall and church.
Further down the road we encountered some beautiful beaches and an ancient neolithic stone fort!
At the entrance to the path to fort was this really cute little coffee shop to get coffee, tea, and some sweets. Just around the corner was the delightful beach at Castlecove with its’ crystal clear water!
A bit further and we came upon Derrynane House and its’ woodland walks, harbor and the abbey on the cliffs on an island above yet another gorgeous beach!
The rest of the drive continued to offer up beautiful vistas until at last we arrived at our destination for the evening at Ballinskelligs Lodge.
Once we were checked into one of my favorite hostels, Ballinskelligs Luxury Hostel, we headed straight down to the beach just about 1/4 mile away and went for a lovely walk along the beach, visiting a ruined castle and Ballinskelligs Priory.
The following day we took a ride around the Skellig ring, visiting the Kerry Cliffs along the way.
stopping in Portmagee harbor to see if we could book a boat ride out to Skellig Michael islands the following day. (I couldn’t show a driving route out to the island but Skellig Michael two islands are the marker out in the ocean to the left of the land. We took a boat ride out to it, not the car!)
Much to our surprise, there was a boat about ready to launch with 2 seats left for Lynne and I, so we promptly climbed aboard and we were on our way right then and there.
First island we came to was Little Skelligs with lots of birds nesting everywhere.
A little further and we were looking at Skellig Michael where the monks lived for a VERY long time during the Dark Ages, ensuring Christianity was preserved. We approached the loading dock where one literally has to jump off the boat the scale the 600 steps to the top but the water was too choppy and rough to attempt a landing. We did however get to get a close up look at the island, the steps leading to the top, the circular helicopter landing pad and a glimpse of the beehive huts and church situated at the top of the island where the monks lived for hundreds of years.
When we returned to the mainland we headed a bit further up the road to visit Ballycarberry Castle and the Cahergall Stone fort to finish off the day.
On Friday, the 19th of May, we said our fare-thee-wells to Ballinskelligs and headed just a short way up the road to Killarney, where we would spend the entire weekend. Along the way we visited another interesting garden, Kells Bay House & Gardens.
We stayed at another hostel called The Killarney Hostel and we really enjoyed it. It was located in an old Manor House and situated very close to some of the prettiest scenery of the nearby Killarney National Park.
We shopped for Aran wool sweaters and checked out the town of Killarney; then we went out to the Muckross House & Gardens and enjoyed the wonderful grounds on the edge of the lake with the jaunting pony carts giving everyone rides around the National Park.
We were going to hike the Gap of Dunloe and at the end catch a boat at the “landing” at Lord Brandon’s Cottage near the Black Valley, but it started to rain and get bitterly cold, so instead we drove toward Mol’s Gap, down into the Black Valley and made it to the landing just in time for Lynne to get to take the boat ride across the lakes back to Ross Castle.
I drove the car back to Killarney to meet her when she arrived about an hour or so later.
After having 3 wonderful days in Killarney, we packed up once again and traveled due west to the delightful and fun town of Dingle.
On the way we stopped at Inch beach. Lynne found a darling little stuffed lamb in a souvenir shop to buy for her grand daughter, Lillian. She started taking pictures of ‘Lambsy’ visiting various sights along her journey. When she returns home, Lynne plans on making a little book of Lambsy’s adventures in Ireland to give to her with the lamb. What a great idea!
We also stopped to visit the ruins of Minard Castle, starring Lambsy….
Not too much further and we arrived in Dingle to spend another couple of days finishing off week 2 of our adventures.
We stayed at a delightful little hostel called “The Grapevine.” What great hosts and what a convenient location. The place was great!
Dingle was so much fun to walk around and explore. Cute little shops at every turn, pubs on every corner…
We attended a traditional Irish music concert at this music shop one evening and had a wonderful time…
Another night we had the wonderful opportunity to get together with my friend, Eileen Walsh and her daughter Victoria, whom I met a couple of years ago on a previous trip to Ireland. They live near Dingle and it was so great to see them both once again.
One of the best fish ‘n chips we’ve had so far was at “Reel Dingle Fish.” It was super fresh and made to order right in front of us!
While we were there we took a drive out on Slea Head drive visiting many sights along the way, including a stone age fort, Blasket Island Visitor Center, and the Gallarus Oratory where we ran into a really nice French couple we had met a week earlier at Ballinskelligs Lodge!
It was a VERY full week! We saw so many things, followed every little finger of the Ring of Kerry, and made some great friends along the way. Even had the opportunity to visit friends I’ve made on previous visits to this wonderful island and that was one of the highlights for me!
The next blog will be all about week 3 of 5 – from Dingle to Westport, which will include our visit to Doolin, the Aran Islands, Galway, the Connemara, the Burren, and the charming town of Westport and all points in between.
(Currently I am in Northern Ireland staying with my dear friend Deirdre Frew and am concluding the 4th week in our adventure! It’s everything I can do to keep up with our adventures! My apologies for taking so long to keep you updated in a ‘timely’ manner!)
Until the next time… happy trails! ~ Claudia