Our Travels: County Kerry, Ireland

If you have been following the Our Travels series on this here blog, you will have noticed that the writers at World Words tend to get around a bit. From Corsica to Guatemala, Oman to Japan, our team members regularly jet off far and wide, sharing their experiences through their post-trip write-ups. But not all of our writers’ travels are far-flung adventures; we love exploring what’s on our doorstep just as much as what’s on the other side of the world.

On a recent trip back to her home city of Dublin, our senior content editor Mandy decided to take a few days out of her holiday to explore one of the most scenic parts of the country: County Kerry. Scroll down to read her story…

Mandy on the deserted Derrynane Beach

Mandy on the deserted Derrynane Beach on the Ring of Kerry

Why I went to County Kerry
I was due back in Ireland for a family wedding and decided I wanted to squeeze in a side trip to the countryside. After some deliberation, I settled on County Kerry. I’d been to Kerry before on school holidays as a child so I knew that I could expect spectacular scenery, but this time – given that I would be there during the tourist-light month of March – I’d get to admire this wonderfully wild corner of the country without the heaving summer crowds. Bliss.

My highlight of the trip
The Derrynane Mass Path, a circular 7.5-kilometre walking route skirting the coast along Derrynane Bay, offers viewpoints so exquisite they could tempt even the most habitually harried among us to pause and linger over the views. It takes walkers from Derrynane House, former estate of the influential 19th-century Irish politician Daniel O’Connell (known for winning Catholic emancipation), along a coastal path, past the crumbling stone ruins of Derrynane Abbey on aptly-named Abbey Island, and into moss-smothered woodland. Along the walk, during a typically changeable winter morning that was hit with hail, rain and shining sun, I didn’t encounter another soul.

The view out over Derrynane Bay

The view out over Derrynane Bay, part of the Derrynane Mass Path

What else I love about Kerry
Kerry is made for road-tripping. Cruising along the almost empty roads of the Beara, Iveragh or Dingle peninsulas in winter is a journey that is sure to provoke sharp intakes of breath as you turn another corner to find godly rays shining down through a crack in the clouds to spotlight the majestic mountains and rocky islet-studded seas.

And speaking of Dingle, this is another corner of Kerry that I particularly love. An Irish-speaking port town with several excellent seafood restaurants, its very own whisky and gin distillery and more pubs than you could ever hope to visit in one crawl, Dingle is no hidden gem. In fact, it throbs with people during peak season. During our winter visit, it was quieter, though by no means sleepy. The traditional pubs, some of which double as shops, are as authentically Irish as they come, with bar tops lined with bags of sprouting potatoes awaiting collection from locals. It’s also unlikely you’ll get through a drink without getting caught up in a conversation with your neighbour.

Why you should go
Kerry is a best-of-both-worlds destination. It has its vast expanses of lonely, wind-whipped wilderness for outdoor adventure as well, but also has warm and welcoming towns, a fabulous dining scene and salt-of-the-earth pubs where singalong and trad music sessions often last well into the wee hours. It’s as quintessentially Irish as it gets.

How you can visit
The closest airports are Shannon and Cork, which are anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours’ drive from Kerry, depending on whereabouts you’re going. Dublin Airport, which offers a much bigger flight selection, is about four hours from Kerry by car. And car is definitely the best way to get around here, with a little hiking for good measure.

Want to find out where the World Words team members are off to next? Keep an eye on our blog for the latest posts from the Our Travels series. And to read more of our travel content about Ireland, browse our portfolio.

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