I needed a break from the hustle and bustle in Paris and Western Ireland is the perfect getaway location for that. Unbelievably tranquil and naturally beautiful.
The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula in the South-West of Ireland. It’s like something out of a movie – small seaside villages, breathtaking coastal views and ancient historical landmarks. So far the only place I had been on the West Coast was Cliffs of Moher but that was a little bit too touristy and restricted for me. Since the end of October is not the high-season anymore, it seemed like a suitable time to go. And oh my gosh, I was so lucky because the weather was only clear and sunny. I had already prepared for the normal Irish weather aka crazy wind, cold and rain. The locals said that the last time this happened was five years ago.
The trip started with a 1,5 hour flight from Paris to Dublin, followed by a 3,5 hour train ride to a small town of Killarney. I would have wanted to see more of it but since we missed the earlier train, I got there in the dark and I only noticed the morning after that they have a Lord of The Rings themed Pub in the town! I was disappointed not to be able to visit it, to say the least. However, the B&B was lovely and I already felt the warm Irish hospitality. In addition, I got to start my first morning in Ireland with a proper Irish breakfast: eggs, black and white pudding, sausages, Irish bacon and baked tomatoes.
It’s quite hard to get around in the rural parts of Ireland. I wanted to rent a car because it would have made my life so much easier, but they don’t rent you a car unless you are older than 24 or you have had your licence for 2 years. That’s so silly. A 25-year old who just got their licence a week ago can drive but a 23 year-old with licence for 1,5 years cannot. Anyways, had to opt for public transportation, which is even more rare in those parts of Ireland. There was literally only one bus per day to some parts of the island. Fortunately, we made it to Cahersiveen, a village with 1400 people, the largest town in the peninsula. The same day we hired bikes and started discovering Kerry county.
I have to admit, I completely overestimated myself. I figured that a 40-70 km trip would be a piece of cake on the bike. Boy, I was wrong. The roads are very hilly and at some points I had to bicycle up some smaller mountains. In the end of the trip I was physically so tired that it became a torture. We cycled about 50 km on this hilly landscape. Nevertheless, the views were crazy. First stop was Valencia island, one of Ireland’s most westerly points with some seriously scenic routes. And of course, sheep everywhere! There are more sheep in that part of Ireland than there are of people.
Luckily the road was only downhill from Valencia island and we cycled through a cute fishers’ village called Portmagee to head to the Kerry cliffs. Kerry cliffs are pretty much the more rugged and less famous version of Cliffs of Moher. Also, it had a great view of the Skellig islands – UNESCO protected islands where the last bit of Star Wars episode VII and the first part of the upcoming movie was filmed. There is no access to the islands this time of the year and even in the summer it is restricted, with only a number of people allowed on the islands to preserve its beautiful nature and an ancient monastery. We arrived on Kerry cliffs just for the sunset. It was beautiful.
Of course, this meant that we had to cycle back in the dark. Oh gosh, that was scary! Ireland’s roads are so tiny and curvy and we had no lights on the bikes. And for some reason there were loads of cars driving so late in the evening who had to overtake us in a rather dangerious manner. It was a horrible 1,5 hour drive back to Cahersiveen. But we made it and soon after we continued our journey to the Dingle Peninsula which I will write about in my next blog post… 😉
Have you ever been to Ireland, what did you like the most?