The Ring of Kerry

By Mark

Every guide book for Ireland says you must visit the Ring of Kerry.  They are right.  A rugged peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean holds much of the history of settlements from the earliest footholds and still shows many of the scars from the Potato Famine.  

The clouds meet the sea and the land

The clouds meet the sea and the land

We knew that the roads were narrow and wound their way around the coastline.   I really wanted to be able to enjoy the sights and take photos without the stress of driving and navigating narrow roads on the wrong side.

We engaged a driver and car for the day and it was a smart choice.  Our driver Tom was a great guide and a lot of fun. 

Our first stop was another Heritage village, showcasing village life around the time of the famine. 

One of the most poignant signs was this eviction notice to a Widow to clear out of her cottage. 

Wreckers would come in and tear out the roof and doors leaving the residents without shelter or support.  Houses like this, are still evident everywhere.  

The town of Cahirsiveen was the turning off point for Ballycarbery Castle and some stone forts.

Unlike the U.S. where everything would have had safety rails and warning signs, you could climb up as far into the ruins as you dared. 

Cahergall and Leacanabuile stone forts were built by hand with thick walls to shelter a farm and their livestock from raiders by land and by sea.

These two were pretty well visited by tourists. Tom took us down a sheep trail, where it was obvious very few visitors went to see Caherdaniel fort.  

The state mowing crew had just finished and the smell of the grass, the sea air and the incredible variety of the shades of green really made us feel we were back in time. 

Old walls and houses and new sheep

Old walls and houses and new sheep

We stopped for lunch in the colorful village of Sneem.

These rocks and the river also seem to appear in every advertisement for the area.  I wouldn’t want to go kayaking or tubing here. 

As we drove back towards the Gap of Dunloe, every time we stopped we had the chance to watch the play of clouds and light on the hills. 

Every few seconds rays of sunshine would break through and illuminate little segments of the valleys and rocks.

Finally we stopped at Torc Waterfall.  A nice hike up the trail with a few hundred folks takes you to lookout points where you can’t tell that another person was in a hundred miles

It was a long day, but one that neither of us will forget.   Of course we had some Guinness and Cider to enjoy as we looked back on the day.   Well only one more adventure to go—Cork and Waterford.