If you're going to Ireland, I'm sure your list is full to the brim of green activities, dark beer, and arguably the best accents on the planet. And while all these may be worth a hop and a skip to the Emerald Isle, you can't really experience Ireland without doing a road trip. And you can't really do an Irish road trip without doing the Ring of Kerry – a 179km road trip of beaches, lakes, islands, mountains, fields, and medieval ruins.
And good news for you, it can all be done in a day.
My day started at the Black Sheep Hostel in Killarney. I loved this place. Quiet, has a cozy room with books and a fireplace, and has a little garden out back. Not to mention, free breakfast.
Then you start the epic drive. We headed west on N72 toward Killorglin. We were later told we should have started the other direction, but I was with a mom who wanted to visit the Kerry Bog Village before it closed – a little preserved example of how badass the Irish lived in the 1800s – so heading west was pretty non negotiable. It wasn't a problem for us in early March, which isn't the tourist season yet, but we were told heading this way usually puts you with all the tour buses. In busier seasons, it would be better to head through Killarney National Park to Kenmare.
The village is worth seeing, though – especially for its Irish coffee. So while your mom nerds out over fake horses, family legacies, and peat, you can grab one or two Irish coffees for €4.
SERIOUSLY IT'S SO DELICIOUS.
One of my favorite things about road tripping around Ireland is the fact that you come across castles like THIS constantly. And they're just chilling out there, surrounded by neighbors who don't even care to Instagram it BECAUSE THEY'RE THAT USED TO HISTORY JUST BEING IN THEIR OWN BACKYARD. This particular castle is called Ballycarberry Castle, and it's thought to date back to 1398. It's about a 5-minute detour off the Ring of Kerry, and you'll see signs for it.
Moving on, you should head toward Portmagee. It's off the Ring of Kerry, but checking out Skellig Ring, which is a 18km route linking Portmagee and Waterville, is more than worth it – especially for the Kerry Cliffs.
Boat tours to Skellig Island start in mid-March, which means we barely missed them, but that little island off in the distance of these pictures? That's Skellig Michael. It's a monastic site that sits on a terraced shelf 600-feet above sea level, which was developed between the sixth and eighth centuries. It contains six beehive cells, two oratories, and numerous stone crosses and slabs. It also houses a medieval church. Basically, IT'S AN ANCIENT MONASTERY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING SEA.
And fun fact, it was also the island where Luke Skywalker was hanging out on in The Force Awakens.
We didn't go all the way to Waterville after the cliffs because we were already pushing daylight, so we got back on the Ring of Kerry through Portmagee and continued on. Usually, on the way back to Killarney, you go through Killarney National Park, but the road was unfortunately closed. We had to take a detour off the Ring before heading to Dingle, which is about 64km from Killarney. So if you plan on staying in Killarney two nights in a row, you'll have plenty of time to see and do everything while not feeling rushed.
And did I mention there were tons of old cemeteries with church ruins along the way? *drools*
Dingle is amazing. It's almost as amazing as the word Dingle. If you do find yourself in this little fishing town, be sure to check out the An Droichead Beag pub for an amazing trad session and a pint (or four) of Guinness.