Spending a week in the small town of Killarney was a great decision. I came a few days before the festivities of a conference I was attending. I wanted to make sure I had time to embrace the town as well as the surrounding areas. I knew nothing about Killarney when I started researching it. So I am here to help you want to go to Killarney!
So Killarney is one major national park. The town itself is quite small and easily accessible by foot. I stayed at Neptune’s hostel and could walk anywhere in town within 5 minutes. It is perfect for exploring the pubs at night and stumbling back to your hostel with no worries of how you will get back or getting lost.
I got to explore the Killarney House and Gardens. At one point it was considered the most fabulous mansion in Ireland at its construction. It succumbed to a fire in 1913 and had to be completely rebuilt. Now it is a museum and portal to the rest of the national park. It rained all day when I was there but the flowers were still in bloom and the landscape was so green.
I also got to learn how to make a REAL Irish coffee. Which in case you thought you put Baileys in it, you are sincerely mistaken. It’s sugar, coffee, cream and Jameson!
DINGLE PENINSULA: AN ACCIDENTAL FOOD FESTIVAL
I heard the Dingle Peninsula was the most beautiful thing in western Ireland. I took a bus tour to cover more of the area even though I hate bus tours. The weather was off all day as it always is in Ireland but when we got to Dingle town they were having a food festival. What kind of luck is that?
It was huge, with hundreds of vendors, a parade and costumed characters. It was such a treat to happen upon this. It made a run of the mill bus tour a much more unique day.I tried home made apple cider donuts,vegetarian Scottish eggs, cheese plates, local beers and of course ice cream.
Don’t get me wrong the peninsula is beautiful. They are even filming the new Star Wars movies there. They proudly display that fact all along the roads. I loved the stops we made but unfortunately they are so short and rushed.
Kenmare Bay is a gem in the Ring of Kerry. I set sail on a Seafari boat. What a great way to see the bay. It was a cold morning as we rolled thru the waves and the landscape. It is awesome for animal viewing. I spent the better half of the morning watching sea lions. Essentially they don’t do anything but they are still quite entertaining.
Afterwards I had high tea at Sheen Falls Lodge. The hotel is exquisite. Way, way out of my budget but if I was looking to splurge I might rent a suite there. I really love high tea. I am not a big tea fan per say I obviously prefer coffee but the whole setting, the tiny sandwiches and the elegance.
There is something very fancy about “having tea”.
We had the choice between chocolate making and Molly Galvin’s house. I decided to go with the working farm not chocolate. I was glad I did. The couple that owns it took so much care and precision to making the experience unique and interesting. We got to go thru all the rooms, see the farm as well as go on a short hike up the hill the experience the area. The views were stunning as per usual.
Then they made the poutione. What is that? It is like the Irish version of moonshine. It tastes like fire water. But when in Ireland…
THE BEST THING I DID IN IRELAND-GAP OF DUNLOE
Before I went on this hike I went to the tour desk and asked them one million questions regarding how hard this hike would be. They assured me it was a mostly flat glacial valley. And I guess it mostly was.
It is a 7 1/2 mile hike that ends at the lakes of Killarney. It is on an incline and then massive decent but I can see why she didn’t think it was very hard. Since I suffer from arthritis and more recently torn ligaments in my right foot it was a bit more difficult for me. They gave us three hours to hike it and I needed almost every minute of it. I would say most people could finish in 2 hours easily. I stopped a lot. I rested and took pictures and talked myself thru the parts I found more difficult.
Every view was worth it. I love challenging myself and this was a big challenge but also very doable for me.
If you think its too much the other option is to rent a bike which I saw a great deal of people walking them up or down at a lot of points or taking a horse drawn carriage. It obviously goes much faster and costs about 30 euro more but if the hike is too much it is a great option to still get the experience.
Obviously a big part of Irish culture is getting a pint at a pub. Even though Killarney is so tiny they are not short on interesting pubs.
Whether you are looking for a meal and a drink or a night of dancing you can find it. You can even find a Lord of the Rings themed bar, The Shire, and enjoy they kitsch that goes a long with it. Avoid Gollum or grab a pint with Gandolf.
It is funny to party in a small town. I live on Long Island, in New York. My options are endless and the night never has to end. Most bars in Ireland shut down around midnight or 1:00am.
Everything is next door to each other. The bars are in a cluster on the same block. There is one after hours “club”. Your options are easy but always the same.
There is something personal and quaint about each of the pubs I visited. ( Check out Courtneys, Tatler Jack’s and J.M Riedy’s). Share a pint and listen to some live music.