Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Taking a trip around Ireland's Ring of Kerry

Posted July 4, 2014

They are two of the greatest drives I’ve ever taken.

Along the way, I encountered more than 40 shades of green and at least a dozen shades of blue. The Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula drives in Ireland offer an array of majestic vistas, impressive historical sites and charming towns.

My wife Cindy and I knew it was going to be a great day after our luggage finally arrived in Kenmare - four days after our flight to Dublin. If you ever get separated from your bags in Ireland I recommend going to Dunnes Stores. They have outlets all over Ireland. Their prices are good and I personally like the quality of their underwear, socks and golf shirts.

With fresh clothes and a renewed sense of adventure we took off from our hotel in Kenmare and started roaming the Ring of Kerry’s 111 miles. We took the advice of a travel book and journeyed in a clockwise direction around the ring to avoid tour buses which travel in the opposite direction. Narrow roads create a challenge here.

One of my favorite stops in Kerry was a 2500-year-old circular stone fort. Staigue Fort near Castlecove was built during the Iron Age. I only wish I would have hiked a bit higher to get a more panoramic view of this fort which is represented in this slide show as the second image.

Cindy and I also loved Valencia Island with some grand ocean views and the downhome fishing village of Portmagee. We wrapped up the day by checking into our hotel in Killarney and going on a brisk hike in a national park which included Ross Castle. I was really happy with a picture I took of the castle. It’s number nine on the slide show.

The next day we did the Dingle Peninsula. My good friend Tim Luckadoo of Cary warned me. Visit Anascaul and you will come back with a song! Tim was right. Several songs are brewing in my brain after visiting this lovely community where rugged Antarctic explorer Tom Crean was born. There’s a statue of the so-called “Irish Giant” in Anascaul and a picture of the statue in the slide show.

I was blown away by the story of Gallarus Oratory down the road from Anascaul. We marveled at this beautiful little stone chapel which is 1300-years-old. The history of the church’s construction is fascinating. It is a simple sandstone archaeological site. There is only one of its type in Ireland.

I highly recommend The Goat Street Bistro for lunch in the town of Dingle. Here we heard locals speaking in Gaelic as we enjoyed a fabulous fresh seafood and pasta dish.

Speaking of food, next week I will tell you where I had the best meal of my life as our travels continue up the west coast of Ireland. Here we encounter meadows of stone and stunning cliffside views of the Atlantic. Plus, more pictures and music!

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  • Sheila Rohrbach Jul 8, 2014
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    After a similar trip a few years ago with 3 girlfriends, the pictures make me want to return to my heritage where my grandparents came from......looking forward to the next installment.

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Bill Leslie