Cast your mind back to the night of the 5th of December 2015. Storm Desmond was raging over the west of Ireland causing havoc in its midst. I had (in my wisdom) organised a surprise birthday galavant for Ali. I wanted to bring her somewhere she hadn’t been before and I knew she had a grá for the Skellig islands. So I made a reservation in the ring of kerry hotel and hoped the weather would be kind.
We left Cork city on that Saturday morning and the first comment I got was- “we better not be going anywhere near the coast!”. It was at that stage that I realised that we might not make it to the Kerry Coast. We made it as far as Killarney and I was advised by a lovely man in Topaz that if I stuck to the main road through Killorglin that we should be ok. Ali however was not convinced and she still didn’t even know where we were going!
Its main road the whole way to Killorglin from Killarney and then on to Caherciveen. We were lucky in that the cliffs along the coast road seemed to be sheltering the weather from us but I certainly wouldn’t recommend this drive in bad weather. Especially not with a nervous passenger! We arrived in Caherciveen and drove through the town to our resting spot for the night- The ring of Kerry Hotel. The Hotel is situated within walking distance from the town center and looks out over the bay between the mainland and Valentia Island.
We got settled into our comfy room and turned on the RTE news. Teresa Mannion was in full flow on the prom in Salthill and I was glad I hadn’t planned a trip to Galway! We ate in the Hotel bar and it was really lovely. A nice big a la carte menu and quite reasonable too. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from in Caherciveen too. One I had been recommended was QC’s seafood restaurant. We battled the wind and rain then and headed down to Mike Murts Bar.
This pub is a little treasure in Cahersiveen. We got two really comfy seats beside the open turf fire and admired all the old trinkets. Half of the pub is set up as it would have been when the old shop was there too. There’s a lovely big beer garden out the back too and great spot for meeting the locals.
After drinking our fill we headed back up to the Hotel for a much needed nights sleep after our Journey. After having a beautiful cooked breakfast the next morning at the Hotel we took a stroll back down the town to discover what Caherciveen had to offer. There’s plenty of little gift shops and cafes in the town- some of them were closed due to the time of year.
Did you know that Daniel O’Connell was born here. The Church in Cahercivenn is named after him (the only one in Ireland named after a lay person) and there is beautiful stone glass windows in here if you wanted to go in for a look around. Check out the old barracks at the top of the town also. Its also the heritage center and well worth a look. There’s lots of history in this town as well as being a must stop on the ring of Kerry. It was back in the car then and onto Portmagee to cross over the bridge to Valentia Island. Its a short ten minute drive over to Portmagee and over to Valentia Island.
There are so many places to visit on this beautiful Island. Bray head is up to your right as you cross the bridge, the valentia island lighthouse, Knigtstown and its town clock, the grotto and slate quarry and their heritage centre. Leave yourself a full day to get round the entire Island.
This is where you can also get the boats to Skellig Michael. We visited at the wrong time of year as the boats only run from April to October and depends on the weather. There is only a certain amount of people allowed on skellig Michael each day also so get there early! We will definitely be back to visit! The skellig experience visitor centre is also on Valentia Island and if you have happened to miss the boat it is a must stop on your trip. They have really interesting exhibits in here and the compulsory gift shop and cafe.
Valentia is still a pretty amazing place to visit in the off season- there are beautiful views from all around the Island including the skellig Islands. Make your way up along the road to bray head to get the best shots of the Islands.
We headed back over to portmagee then and hung a right to drive over towards the Kerry cliffs. This is a magnificent viewing point of the cliffs and its well signposted from Portmagee.
This is a family run attraction which allows you a safe viewing point of the beautiful Atlantic as well as some amazing photo opportunities. We witnessed the roaring waves battering against the kerry coastline and its a great opportunity to get the wind in your hair! Alas it was time to take our leave from the Kingdom of Kerry and make our way home. This part of Ireland is probably best visited during the summer but its also well worth a visit in the off season too. We will be back! I have attached all the links below to help you with your plans if you fancy a trip. Remember to leave any tips or comments of bits we missed! As always- Happy Galavanting.