The past three days have been a whirlwind of driving and exploration—I am just finding time to sit down and write again. Today, we arrived in Fanore, a small village in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland. After a long drive and dinner at a nearby pub, we are back in our Airbnb lounging in the cozy living room. Now, I have time to write about Kenmare!
Kenmare is a beautiful village in the south of County Kerry. It is located at the head of Kenmare Bay where the Roughty River flows into the sea. It is also at the junction of the Iveragh Peninsula and the Beara Peninsula. It was a great spot to pick because it was not only gorgeous and just what we wanted in a small Irish town, but it was also centrally located and right near the Ring of Kerry and the Ring of Beara, our gateways into the Irish countryside the past few days.
On Friday, we spent most of the day walking around town, poking in and out of the shops and admiring the architecture. Walking around Kenmare is simple: there are three main streets and they form a triangle at the center of town (Main Street). Naturally, there is a lot of rich history. The town has ancient roots—one of the largest stone circles in the southwest of Ireland is located there going back to the Bronze Age when it was constructed (2,200-500 B.C.). It was fun to walk around, snap some photos, and try some of the restaurants. A few we recommend is the Lorge Chocolatier (their hot chocolate is delicious), PF McCarthy’s (great pub food), and Maison Gourmet (great breakfast cafe)!
Killarney National Park
On Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day, we stopped for takeaway breakfast and made our way to Killarney National Park for a day of exploration. We got to drive a little on the Ring of Kerry and were in awe of how beautiful it was. We’ve never seen views like this before!
These two photos are from Ladies View on the Ring of Kerry in Killarney:
We continued to drive on the Ring of Kerry and throughout Killarney National Park (which is over 25,000 acres—so we didn’t explore it all!) and stopped at the Torc Waterfall. The woods are covered in green moss—again, something we haven’t seen before, and the waterfall is beautiful.
Our last stop on the tour was Muckross House, a 19th-century mansion set among the mountains in Killarney. It stands close to the shore of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney’s three lakes, and was the home of Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, Mary Balfour Herbert. In 1861, Queen Victoria visited the house and stayed for two nights.
We were able to take a 45-minute guided tour of the house, but we were not allowed to take photos. Let’s just say that the house is adorned with deer antlers (two hunting families lived here) and an eclectic mix of bric-a-brac. We highly suggest visiting Muckross and taking a tour—it’s a gorgeous Victorian home and the staff is super kind!
We then drove back to Kenmare for an authentic St. Patrick’s Day pub experience. Throughout the day, we noticed that people were wearing sprigs of shamrock on their left breast to celebrate the holiday. A waiter at the pub told us many Irish folks celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a religious holiday, kind of like how Americans celebrate Christmas. A lot of the razzmatazz that you see throughout Ireland is simply to appease tourists. We took the countryside route and ordered a Guinness, ate some traditional Irish meals (not corned beef or cabbage), and listened to some Irish music in a local pub!