The spring has announced its arrival in Ireland. The temperatures are up, 14 degrees as I write this and the Sun is with us more often than not. This can only mean trips to and around the justly fabled and majestic town of Killarney and its unrivalled surrounding area. Ireland has many gems to offer her visitors but to my mind, in the ten years we’ve been doing private and luxury tours of Ireland, Killarney has the most to offer. So much so in fact that we often base our clients here for three to four days at a time in one of the many quality and luxury hotels available.
Here we set out a typical day trip around the Lakes of Killarney, to tempt your senses with what we believe in Executive Tours Ireland to be the best Ireland has to offer in all the things that make a vacation a once in a lifetime experience.
Lakes of Killarney Day Trip.
After a hearty breakfast (you’ll need it today!) at your hotel, we’ll collect you in one of our luxury air conditioned Mercedes cars or mini busses and we’ll head straight to the Gap of Dunloe, part of the world famous Ring of Kerry. This breathtaking mountain pass is nestled between the high peaks of the Macgillicuddy Reeks, Purple Mountain on one side, and Tomies on the other. We’ll be going on a traditional Irish jaunting car ride on an old road that starts at Kate Kearney’s Cottage and winds its way leisurely through some 6 miles of glorious scenery to Lord Brandon’s Cottage taking in stunning views of what is Ireland’s highest mountain range. For company we’ll have a knowledgeable and friendly tour guide and some well maintained and expertly looked after Clydesdale horses. The silence and awe of the valley will give way only to the tour guides explanations of the very visible glacial and geophysical shaping of the valley, and the melodic beat of the horse’s hooves on the road surface as they trot our way to our destination. Luncheon at Lord Brandon’s cottage, we are talking the best in Irish pantry and culinary delights which await your delectation.
After lunch, we’ll continue our journey down the other side of the valley. Make sure you’ve plenty of charge on your camera! We’ll be passing Eagles Nests, where you can zoom in and take pictures of mother-nature in all her splendour. Up here you can see them men below as they fish for salmon in the lakes which look like they were oil-painted into the landscape. And so we advance towards the Lakes of Killarney and Ross Castle, and this without a shadow of doubt is Irelands most impressive and awe inspiring scenery. Ross Castle was built by the O’Donoghue clan in the 15th Century and has an important place in Irish history as one of the last Castles to fall to Oliver Cromwell in the Irish Confederate wars. The castle is known for some rather unique architectural traits too. It has a spiral staircase spanning the 5 floors at one end. However, the direction of the spiral is in reverse to the normal way of the time so that it would be deliberately difficult for advancing soldiers to move upstairs with their sword in their preferred hand! There are three main lakes here in all, Lough Leane which takes its name from the Laune river, Muckross Lake or known to some of the locals as Middle Lake and Upper Lake, each one of them as captivating and charming as the next. Just a short spin back to your hotel then where you can relax and maybe look back over your photos.
Killarney and the Ring of Kerry
So if that sounds like a knock-out day, imagine what basing yourself here for three or four days would be like. In addition to the above, you can incorporate a visit to Muckross House and Gardens. Mucross is a Victorian mansion elegantly decorated in keeping with its 19th Century era. Its extensive gardens were designed with the visit of Queen Victoria in 1861 in mind and look just as magnificent today as they would have back then. You can visit the pottery workshop on-site, see traditional spinning and weaving by the Mucross Weavers, shop for contemporary Irish designs at the on-site Craft Shop and also dine at the Garden Restaurant where Torc and Mangerton Mountains create a peaceful backdrop. We can recommend the baked fillet of salmon or braised beef steak with onion and Guinness sauce!
The nearby Torc Waterfall is a work of art carved out by mother-nature herself. With its 18 metres drop, it is equally as elegant in the vibrant lushness of spring as it is in the sultry moods and rusty shades of autumn. Walk the scenic path up to the top and be sure to keep an eye out and your camera ready for glimpses of the many Red Deer who make their home here in Kerry National Park. Mike will buy a pint of Guinness for you if you can catch a deer in the same shot as the falls!
Our clients always enjoy a visit to Kissane Sheep Farm. Over 150 years old, and home to a thousand sheep and lambs, here on this farm you can see sheep dog demonstrations, sheep shearing, feed the pet lambs and enjoy mountain side walks on marked trails. This is a highly recommended and uniquely Irish experience.
In addition to the Ring of Kerry, the Slea Head drive is another touristic scenic route jam packed with traditional Irish delights. Typically this circular scenic route starts in Dingle Town and wanders in a clockwise direction to Ventry, home of one of Ireland’s most renowned and beautiful beaches. Onwards then to stop off for a major photo opportunity at Dunquin, an Irish speaking village that overlooks the rugged Blasket Islands. This is Ireland’s most Westerly settlement and is rather unique. It has a magnificent walk way down to the pier where you can take in amazing cliff views and wild Atlantic scenery. We’ll show you the sights that were included as part of Ryan’s Daughter, the highest box office grossing film in 1970 starring Robert Mitchum and Sarah Miles. This double academy award winning film is based on a taboo affair in 1916 Ireland between a local girl and a British Army Officer.
Moving on up northwards then we head to Ballyferriter through open countryside visibly shaped by its Atlantic closeness. There is a quaint Regional Museum here that is open seven days a week and it explains the archaeology and history of the area in beautiful old school-house sorroundings. We move on up the Dingle Peninsula then to Ballydavid stopping off at the curious Gallarus Oratory – an early Christian Church constructed of large slabs of local sandstone sometime around the 7th Century. After a few snaps there, we’re off for a drop-in at one of the local pubs to refresh and maybe hear some locals playing traditional Irish music. Mount Brandon sits behind the village of Ballydavid and creates a backdrop for the shore anglers who can be seen casting out from boats beyond the incessant Atlantic waves. Mount Brandon is Ireland’s second highest peak and the inlet at its foot is known to have been the starting point of St Brendan’s voyage to America, centuries before Columbus. Back to Dingle town then where a night of dining and lively entertainment awaits those who have taken the Atlantic air and wish to warm up with the atmosphere. We always recommend seafood when dining here, as its straight to the plate from the quay in the town.
Just off the Slea Head drive, but right outside Dingle sits the Conor Pass. Its narrow and twisting road will have your private driver concentrating, while you take in scenery described by one of our clients as “pure magic”. On a good day you can spot the Aran Islands off in the coast, but on a not so good day the views down to the lakes through the glaciated valleys are mystical.
Killarney Town – Atmosphere and Shopping Irish style
There is a warm hustle and bustle about this well maintained and beautifully appointed town in County Kerry. No place in Ireland has such a wealth and concentration of quality restaurants, traditional live music, busy bars and all round craic and banter, we just love it! The very heartbeat of Irish Tourism, Killarney has a number of quality and luxury hotels offering you convenient location and walking distance to shops, pubs and restaurants. We have details on many of these hotels in our Accommodation Links section, but our friendly team will gladly put you right on the best hotel for you. You can take in Killarney and surrounding attractions as part of an Ireland Golf Vacation, a Luxury Tour, or a customized tour of Ireland. Whichever is your preference, at Executive Tours Ireland, we’ll make it your vacation of a lifetime. Call Mike anytime toll free at 1 888 793 0416, from US and Canada, or +353 (0) 87 793 0447 from Ireland and Europe. Thanks for reading and hope to hear from you soon!