Kerry Liked It

So He Put A Ring On It

John McKinney

With morning came an end to our time in Kenmare, we were sad to leave this wonderful place that allowed us to see such amazing views around Killarney National Park, the Gap of Dunloe, and the Ring of Beara. It was time to continue our sojourn through Ireland though. Today we would finally be driving along one of the most famous drives in all of Ireland, the Ring of Kerry. Typically, you can do this drive in one day, but we will only be doing half of the drive as the next day we’ll be taking a boat to hike the Skellig Michael, an island off the coast of the Kerry Peninsula. With nearly all day to make an hour drive, we took our time. We explored portions of the Kerry Peninsula that visitors don’t typically get to do.

The Staigue Fort

Our first major stop worth photographing was the Staigue Fort. This fort, built sometime between 300 to 400 AD, has walls that are multiple feet thick. Built in the valleys of hill country and with good sightlines down the hill to the bay, I can easily see why they built the fort where they did. Climbing the walls and walking around the top of the ruins was a blast. Getting in and out of the fort was a bit of a bear for me though. I’m not sure if people were actually this short back then or if they were just more ok with ducking every time they entered a doorway, but I had to almost get on my hands and knees to make it into the fort and to each of the small storehouses they had built into the ground. I only knocked my head on one or two doorways but that’s more than enough for me.

Continuing our drive we decided to take the slightly longer route that would take us to the Ballinskelligs before heading to Portmagee. I’m thrilled we did because our drive into Portmagee took us up on top of a hill high above the sleepy fishing village before heading down. The land sloped up dramatically right as it reached the ocean, the lesser known Cliffs of Kerry. Across the river from Portmagee, stood Valentia Island. The few residents on this island were rewarded handsomely with incredible views.

The Cliffs of Kerry

While less popular than the world famous Cliffs of Moher they were still awe-inspiring. Though, I do wonder what we would have thought had we visited the Cliffs of Moher first as the Cliffs of Kerry are not as expansive as their County Clare cousins. These were the first cliffs we laid eyes on in Ireland and all we could do was stare at the painted cliffs analyzing every complexity. In the distance, rising out of the ocean we saw two islands, the Skellig Islands! We were so pumped knowing that we’d be there the next day.

After checking into our B&B, The Waterfront B&B, a Booking.com find. We walked into town to grab a bite to eat at The Moorings & Bridge Bar. If you’re in Portmagee, you honestly don’t have many options, thankfully The Moorings is actually quite delicious. After dinner, we took a walk around the quaint village. Then, we drove over to Valentia Island to catch the 10 pm sunset before bed.

“Portmagee is an area, that is kept free of artificial light pollution.”

Certified Dark Sky Reserve

With an early wake up ahead of us, we wanted to get to bed as soon as possible. Until I learned that Portmagee is a certified Dark Sky Reserve. Basically, this means Portmagee is an area, that is kept free of artificial light pollution. This results in some of the best stargazing on the planet. The moment I learned this from my friend Google, I jumped up, threw on some shoes and headed to the car to go to the beach nearby which is considered the darkest spot in the area. My dreams were promptly thrashed after stepping outside, looking up, and seeing nothing but clouds. I couldn’t take advantage of one of the eleven certified Dark Sky Reserves on the planet! Defeated by clouds, we headed back inside to get some sleep. We had a trip to the Skellig Michael ahead of us!

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