In July 2006, Doug and I took our 3 boys, then 14, 12 and 10, to Ireland. Doug's sister, Denise, joined us. The following is an edited excerpt from my 2006 travel journal.
Day 4: Today we drove the Ring of Kerry. We started at 8:30 in the morning before the buses started their tours. By getting an early start, and by making several scenic stops where buses can't go, we avoided a lot of the crowds all day (a benefit of driving yourself.)On the advice of others who had gone before, we drove the route counter clockwise. The roads were winding, but not too narrow until Waterville. I liked the fuschia and montbresia flowers by the side of the roads. Our favorite place was Sheehan's Point by the statue of the Virgin Mary. The boys scrambled up the rocky hill while we took in the wonderful scenery. There weren't as many scenic views driving from Castlecove and Sneem to Kenmare, there was too much shrubbery along the roads. We saw a few tour buses pulled off at stops, but not many.
We stopped in Kenmare for lunch. Tried to get into the Purple Heather but it was full. Ate at O'Donnabhain's and it was wonderful. The beef and guinness stew was delicious. We wandered around a small market they had going on, and shopped in some stores. It is a very pretty town, and the perfect size for me.
The drive from Kenmare to Moll's Gap was nice, and the boys did some rock climbing at the Gap. After spending so much time at different stops, we were now meeting up with the tour buses that had taken shorter breaks. For the rest of the drive, we avoided the places the buses stopped.
Killarney National Park was beautiful and I would definitely recommend spending a day there for some hiking. A lot of buses at Ladies View by the store- yikes! We passed that by and stopped at a pull-out near the south end of Upper Lake where we walked through some trees and found more rocks to climb. Doug and the boys climbed down to the small beach while I relaxed up top with my sister-in-law.
In Killarney at 4:00, so we drove the Ring of Kerry in 7 1/2 hours, with plenty of time for stops. We did miss Staigue's Fort, a popular stop for others.* Had Chinese food for dinner, it was interesting to hear Irish phrases with Chinese accents!
*Another place I would like to explore is the Gap of Dunloe near Killarney. I've seen some amazing pictures of the mountain pass between the Macgillycuddy's Reeks and the Purple Mountains and I would love to spend some time there.