The picturesque town of Kenmare, on the Ring of Kerry, with a population of 1,200, is an example of one of Ireland's few planned towns. It was built by Sir William Petty, on the instructions of the first Marquis of Lansdowne. The limestone facades and ornate plasterwork of some of the buildings pay tribute to the craftsmen of a bygone age. Kenmare and its Gaelic name Neidin (Little nest) so named because of its fine setting nestling as it does among the mountains of Cork and Kerry.
Kenmare was named Ireland's Best Kept town 2000. Conspicuous by its neatness it was the first planned town in Ireland, built from the ground up in the 17th century.
To the north lie the Macgillcuddy Reeks, rising to Carrantuohill (Ireland's highest Peak at 1,039 meters), to the East are the Derrynasaggart Mountains while to the South are the Caha Mountains. To the West is the fine expanse of the Kenmare Bay. Kenmare is the perfect centre for the linked and famed "Ring of Kerry" and the "Ring of Beara" tours.
The Iveragh Peninsula has attracted visitors for many years with its undeniable beauty. Its clear coastal waters, rivers and lakes are a fisherman's paradise, while other pursuits such as golf, walking, cycling, horseriding, climbing and watersports are well catered for. To start your tour from Kenmare travel clockwise heading for Sneem on the N70 road. Sneem is a quaint village, in a rush to do very little, surrounding two village greens with its colourful homes, shops and pubs. Do stop and visit its many artists and galleries. Moving on, a must stop is Caherdaniel. From the road the vista is enchanting, perhaps the most beautiful in Ireland, on a good day, a blue sea, small islands, coves, and magnificent sandy beaches. Once seen, never forgotten. Then down the hill to Waterville, a traditional seaside town. In the past it was often visited by Charlie Chaplin and his family, and the man himself is immortalised by a statue on the seafront.
Moving on, leave the N70 for a while and visit Valentia Island and the The Skelligs. There is much of interest on Valentia, prehistoric fossilised Tetrapod footprints at Dohilla, a megalithic tomb at Feighmane, Ogham stones carved with an early form of writing and beehive huts, an ancient form of shelter. Visit the local Heritage Centre to learn about Valentia's past history or perhaps Glanleam a sub-tropical garden.
Take a boat to the Island of Skellig Michael, a rock rising steeply from the sea, once a home to early Christian monks. Back to the N70 and on to Cahersiveen, a bustling and friendly town and birthplace of Daniel O'Connell, the liberator. Take time to visit the Old Barracks, a Heritage Centre for the Iveragh Peninsula.
And so to Glenbeigh and Rossbeigh. Glenbeigh is a charming village with a few hotels, its fair share of pubs, cafe's and gift shops. It holds an annual festival during which its local beach, Rossbeigh, is used for a horseracing event. The beach, backed by sand dunes, is some 6km long. Proceed on to Killorglin, home of the famous Puck Fair, where a goat is crowned King Puck on the 10th August annually, and various festivities continue for the next 3 days. From Killorglin to Killarney.
In a valley, on the shores of Lough Leane, at the foot of Ireland's highest mountains, neighbour to Killarney National Park, Killarney can justly be described as the jewel of Kerry. Much to do and see here, but be sure to visit the Cathedral, the Demesne, Muckross House & Gardens and Ross Castle. Take advantage of the many marked walks, some along the edge of Killarney's lakes. On the home stretch now, take the N71 road to Kenmare. On the way stop off at Torc waterfall where the water off Torc Mountain cascades over vertical cliffs. Now the road narrows and winds, climbing all the way to Molls Gap before descending to Kenmare. The views are spectacular on this last section of the Ring and Ladies View is, perhaps, the most photographed landscape in Ireland.
Another tour worth considering is The Beara Peninsula, smaller than the Iveragh Peninsula but still very beautiful, visit the century old Derreen Gardens. Last but not least, take a day tour though the Gap of Dunloe and Killarney's upper, middle and lower lakes. A coach from Killarney will take you to Kate Kearney's Cottage where you can walk the glacial Gap, a six mile pass, or take a horse powered jaunting car though the pass to the Gearhameen River where boats are available to convey you, via the three lakes, to Ross Castle where a coach will be waiting to take you back to Killarney.
There are over 20 golf courses in Co. Kerry enough for the most enthusiastic golfer. Close to Kenmare are:
Explore the Kerry Way, Ireland's premier walking route or try one of the local routes. Maps, guides and information available locally.
Sailboards, dinghies and day boats are available, as well as cruises on the Kenmare Estuary.
Excellent river, lake, sea and shore fishing. Ghillies and boats available for hire. Maps and information available locally.
Equestrian centres provide pony trekking tours throughout the area.
Traditional Irish Music, set-dancing and discos. The choice is plentiful and varied.
Many interesting and unique archaeological sites.