experiences

Adventures in Ireland: Ring of Kerry and Valentia Island

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For our last day in Ireland we decided to take a bus tour of the Ring of Kerry. There was no telling how well I was going to do driving, and even if things were going great, we figured it would be nice for me to be able to enjoy the scenery.

I found Wild Kerry Day Tours which offered daily tours to the Ring of Kerry year round – the only tour company I found that offered tours in January! The cost seemed very modest for a full day, €24.00 per person with a 10 % (now 15%) discount for booking online. They’re located a little south of downtown Killarney and very close to our hotel.

When we headed there that morning I’d forgotten to print out their directions for finding the place, though I remembered the street, and we drove right past it. The head guy was nice enough though, when he saw us pass, to come out and flag us down the second time around and show us where the free parking in the back was. I didn’t want to ask how he knew it was us!

Wild Kerry Tours Parking Shawna

Because January was such a slow season, we ALMOST had a private tour, but one other person joined at the last minute. Good for the tour company but a little bit of a bummer for us. I was so glad we were taking the tour though. The weather was awful – rainy and grey. Our windows kept fogging up making it tough to see too, so we resorted to wiping them off with our sleeves and gloves every 5 minutes to try to see the view.

Shawna Wild Kerry Tours foggy day

The first stop we made was along side some peat fields (or whatever they’re called). Our driver even found us a piece of peat to look at. It reminded me a lot of hardwood charcoal, yet didn’t seem substantial enough to actually heat modern homes.

Ring of Kerry Peat Field

Irish Peat

Because it was the low season and much of the Ring of Kerry attractions were closed and we were in a small van, our guide took us off the usual route to the incredibly scenic Valentia Island. In addition to the charm of its rolling hills, it also features the site where the first telegraph cable was stretched across the Atlantic.

Valentia Island telegraph site

Extremely brisk winds were also a feature.

Valentia Island breeze

We made our way from the western point of the island to the east, site of the one town, tremendous views of a lighthouse, and a working quarry.

Valentia island lighthouse

Valentia Island Quarry

From there we crossed back over to Portmagee and continued along the Ring of Skellig, stopping for pictures on the rainy, cold beach of Ballinskellig.

ballinskellig beach with shawna

The tour typically stops for lunch in Waterville, but most of the restaurants were closed and none of us were hungry yet, so we continued on incredibly steep but scenic roads, taking in the landscape as our guide regaled us with fun facts and Irish lore.

Horse island from top of ring of skellig

By the time we hit Sneem it was past 2:30 and we were ready for lunch, choosing Green’s Riverside Café & Bistro.

Green's Riverside Cafe & Bistro

We took a few minutes to wander around the town, spotting rainbows and posing atop the amazing waterfall.

rainbow in Sneem

Sneem waterfall downtown

For once in my life I was disappointed to see all the souvenir shops were closed though. Early in the trip I’d assured Shawna we would have many opportunities to buy things with her family crest, but so far that first shop was the only one open. Oops.

On our way back to Killarney we saw a few snow covered hilltops and many amazing, very brown views.

Snow in Ring of Kerry

Ladies View Killarney National Park

It was 4:30 at this point and there was still time in the tour, so we stopped at the Torc Waterfall in the Killarney National Park. It’s an easy 5-10 minute walk from the parking lot, but my heeled boots seemed to be throwing off some of fellow hikers. 🙂

Keri Torc Waterfall Killarney National Park

After the waterfall, our guide was incredibly thoughtful and made a detour to Muckross House because he knew their gift store would be open.

Muckross House gift shop Killarney

That made the whole day perfect. I’d finally been able to see the Ring of Kerry (last time I was in Killarney, hoof and mouth disease had broken out) without the stress of driving in the rain, and we’d been able to find Shawna gifts to take home!

I highly recommend this tour, it’s a great value and covers a lot. If you’re hoping to see everything super green though, don’t go in January.

Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this review (but I’ll admit it would have been flattering if they offered!).

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