Kenmare, on the Ring of Kerry, is a small delightful town set by the Kenmare river. It boasts a plethora of restaurants, traditional pubs and art and graft shops. On Wednesdays the square is full of market stalls offering a multitude of goods including artisan foods, farm butter, duck and chicken eggs, homemade crafts, paintings of local vistas, bric-a-brac, jewellery and the more mundane, clothes, carpets and tools. The annual Kenmare Fair takes place on the 15th August. Here horses and pony's are bought and sold and old acquaintances, who have not seen each other for a whole year, meet once again to exchange gossip, send wishes to each others families and, retiring to a local hostelry, enjoy a well deserved(or not, as the case may be) pint of Guinness.
In the second weekend of July visitors flock to the town for the annual Food Fair Carnival. A gourmets heaven, it includes artisan foods from local producers, a taste trail, cookery demonstrations, cooking classes for children, tastings of wine, ciders, whiskey, sherry and craft beers, entertainment from various bands, a street carnival and trips on Kenmare Bay for a cooking demonstration and dining excursion.
Kenmare, a heritage town, was the first planned town in Ireland, being laid out in 1670. It is known around the world for its lace production. This was establish in 1864, by the Poor Clare Sisters, in order to provide work for young girls with no prospect of employment. An exhibition of Kenmare lace can be viewed and bought at the Courthouse in Kenmare square. If you're feeling energetic then pick up a Heritage Trail map from the Tourist Office and learn about and explore this beautiful town and its environs. To the north are the Macgillycuddy Reeks, Ireland's highest mountains with Carrantuohill standing out above the rest.
Fortunately there are tours around the Ring of Kerry(Iveragh Peninsula), leaving Kenmare, on a daily basis from the beginning of June to the end of September. This is a trip not to be missed. The splendour, the beauty, the dramatic, the Ring has it all. On a fine sunny day light winds rustle the grass and the sea moves slowly, with barely a ripple, as it encroaches upon clean white sandy beaches. The views from various high points along the route take the breath away and those with cameras make more noise than the gently grazing sheep. Perhaps the jewel in the Ring of Kerry is the area encompassing Derrynane and Caherdaiel. Looking down from Coomakesta Pass the azure sea is dotted with anchored yachts and small islands, while the uncrowded beaches tempt you to stay awhile to enjoy the peace and quiet they offer.
The excursion leaves Kenmare heading up to Molls Gap then descends towards Killarney passing Ladies View, overlooking the lakes of Killarney. The view was named after Queen Victoria's Ladies-in-Waiting who, with the queen, paid a visit in 1861. Killarney is a thriving tourist town taking second place only to Dublin in its number of visitors. It was named Ireland’s tidiest large town(2013) after winning Ireland’s Tidiest Town in 2011. The area offers a natural beauty with its lakes and mountains which include Irelands highest mountain carrauntoohil at 3406 feet.
From Killarney the road runs roughly parallel to the river Laune, as it flows towards the Atlantic Ocean, and on to Killorgin, a town famous for the annual and ancient Puck Fair. Moving on the road passes though Glenbeigh, a delightful small village, with its long sand duned beach, Rossbeigh. A little further and the vista opens up with views of Dingle bay and the Dingle Peninsula. Passing above Kells, a small harbour and beach, the road sweeps towards Cahersiveen. Cahersiveen was the birth place of Daniel O'Connell, a political leader who campaigned for Catholic Emancipation and the right of Irish Catholics to be elected for and sit in the Westminster Parliament in London. He is known as "The Liberator" and the church in Cahersiveen was named after himself, the only lay person to be so honoured. There are several ring forts in the area, as well as a castle and the old barracks, now a visitor centre.
And so onto Waterville, a favourite holiday destination of Charlie Chaplin and his family. There is a annual film festival in his honour. It boasts a wonderful links championship golf course which has been played by many celebrities and professional golfers. The village is backed by Lake Currane, renowned worldwide for its Salmon and Sea Trout angling. Moving on the road passes by Derrynane and Caherdaniel, already mentioned. Derrynane House, once the home of Daniel O'Connell is open to the public and well worth a visit. The last stop is the village of Sneem. A charming village divided into two parts by the river Sneem. Each part has its own village green(or square) and each is decorated with a mass of flowers. In the year 2000 a time capsule was buried on the northern green and will be opened in the year 2100. The road from Sneem to Kenmare runs parallel to the north side of the Kenmare river which can often be glimpsed through the trees.
If boats and wildlife are of interest to you then take a 2 hour trip on the eco-nature Seafari boat around Kenmare Bay. Look out for the seal colony, White Tailed Sea Eagles and other wildlife. There is free use of binoculars and complimentary snacks and drinks.
Visitors can enjoy Deep Sea Diving, Canoeing, Pedal Boats, Sailing, Kayaking, Water Trampolining, Banana Boat Waterskiing and Wakeboarding.
Challenge yourself with Hill Walking, Archery, Paintballing, Orienteering, Crazy Golf, Team Games, Mountain Biking and Obstacle Course.
Kenmare is an idea area for Pony Trekking offering shoreline canters and Mountain treks. Horses to suite all levels of competence are available.
There are are a multitude of golf clubs in Kerry. Locally you will find:
Some fine fishing is available in the local lakes, rivers and from the seashore. Boat fishing can also be had and ghillies may be hired.
Enjoy a sea trip on Seafari around the beautiful Kenmare Bay. Visit the Seal Colony and look out for Eagles.
The Kerry Way is a well marked long distance walking trail around the Iveragh Peninsula. It can be joined at various locations. Guides and maps can be found in tourist offices and shops.
During the summer season there are various festivals in Kenmare. To name a few: Kilgarvin Music festival in June, Kerry Wildlife gathering in July, The Food Carnival in July, Traditional Fair Day in August, Gangs of New York Festival in Aug/Sept and Kenmare Lace Festival in October. And in the evening enjoy a Traditional Irish Music session in one of Kenmares fine pubs.
Visit Bonane Heritage Park with its Ring Fort, The Stone Circle dating from the Bronze Age, Bullaun Stone, a megalithic monument Standing Stone, or the Antiquities of Sheen River Vally.