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The Ring of Beara


Kerry’s Lesser Known Cousin

John McKinney

Feeling fully rested, my wife and I were ready to explore our homeland. We packed up the car to head out from Kinsale and on to our next destination Kenmare. We weren’t heading straight there, however. No, we wanted to explore the road a little less traveled, the Ring of Beara. Situated just below the famous Ring of Kerry, the Ring of Beara doesn’t see nearly as many tourists. Though to be honest, I’m not sure why one became popular and not the other. It was as beautiful, if not more so than Kerry. With fewer cars and more importantly fewer buses to clog up the roadways, we enjoyed unabated views. Just goes to show, that sometimes the best places are off the beaten path.

Hillwalking In The Healy Pass

What would become a common occurrence throughout our time in Ireland never seemed to get old, sheep would constantly walk on and around the road. It always brought us amusement and joy. Beara was the first experience we had with the sheep, they were everywhere. All had different colors spray painted on them, I assume to designate who they belong to.

Though I would have loved to drive to the edge of Beara, I knew some of the most spectacular views would be found by cutting through the peninsula along the Healy Pass. Wide-open plains and high rising hills were what this area offered. It was here that we went hillwalking for the first time.

Each time we reached a new vista, we had to just stop and stare. Ireland is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. There is something enchanting about the Emerald Isle. Climbing higher and higher we finally reached the top of the hill. From our vantage point, we could see a sparsely populated area with a few houses surrounding a beautiful lake at the bottom of the valley. We sat at the top of that hill for almost an hour just taking in the view and thanking God for the incredible view. We didn’t see anyone else climb to where we were, no one else even got out of their cars and that’s a shame. The view from the cars through the pass was beautiful but it was over quickly and hard to soak in. From where we were, the view was downright stunning. Pictures just don’t do it justice.

Derreen Gardens

With so much left to see that day, we reluctantly made our way down toward the car to continue on. Our path took us right by the lake we had seen at the top of the hill. Venturing further we made our way to Derreen Gardens on the north coast of the Beara Peninsula.

Derreen Gardens is a serene garden area full of lush growth and fragrant flowers. A peaceful walk around the grounds made us feel as though we were in another time, one less concerned with the latest phone or who liked what on Facebook. I didn’t see anyone on their phone short of snapping a few quick pictures. We saw older couples taking strolls and family picnics by the water. Our own tranquil stroll through the gardens included plenty of time to stop and take it all in, staying until nearly closing time.

“We didn’t see anyone else climb to where we were, no one else even got out of their cars and that’s a shame.”

Kenmare

A few minutes down the road was our last destination of the day, Kenmare. We stayed in another Airbnb home, this one was not a B&B, however. Kenmare, a small town of 2,000 is an easily walkable town with a triangle of streets at its city center. This would be our home for the next few days. It’s strange how a town so small by US standards felt much bigger in Ireland. Kenmare and Killarney are considered the 2 jumping off point for exploring the famous Ring of Kerry. If you’re looking for a peaceful time with a lot less touristy feel, Kenmare is your type of place. Killarney was fun and not a large city by any means, but it is definitely more of a tourist central area. There was more to do in Killarney but we preferred the quaint spirit of Kenmare. Our night in Kenmare was spent wandering the streets looking for shops that bear our surname while eating ice cream, pretty crazy night if you ask me.

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