The Ring of Kerry
Stage One: Killorglin to Caherciveen 38,6 km
Killorglin is where our Ring of Kerry Tour begins. We had connected from our Dingle Peninsula ride . This is a very popular tourist route around the Iveraugh Peninsula. Not only are there many cyclists and walkers, there are plenty of tour busses. One can circle the Ring of Kerry in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Due to the narrow roads, the tour buses are too wide to pass each other, so they all go one direction; counterclockwise. Also they generally leave Killarney around 8:45 am or around 1:30pm, after lunch. To avoid the majority of the buses, we would time our riding based on their schedule to avoid as many as possible and rode in the same direction s the buses; counterclockwise.
We left our lovely B and B beside the river Lough and followed the N70 toward Caherciveen; following signs to Glenbeigh. We encountered little traffic; but, we did pass this horse drawn home away from home.
This has some climbs; but, not like Conner Pass. There are signs pointing out the well used Kerry Way hiking trail which meanders up toward the MaGillicuddy’s Reeks in the distance. After Glenbeigh, the road is downhill over the River Behy and then on to a gentle climb. Then about 17 miles from Killorglin, the climb of the day begins. There is surprising tropical vegetation in this region, due to the warms winds that prevail over County Kerry. The climb culminates at Kells, where you can stop by the restaurant and craft shop. From here it is a 10 mile gradual descent to Caherciveen. This a quiet little town with an interesting Tourist Office that had been meant to be a fort in India; but, somehow got built here.
Stage Two: Caherciveen to Sneem 49,5 km
Today we are still on the N70, with the exception of a few scenic detours. We leave Chaerciveen and the first 10 miles are rolling lowlands and farms before arriving in Waterville. The small beach town on the edge of the Ballinskelligs Bay caters to fishermen; or anglers, as they are called. Leave Waterville and you see Cahemageeha Mountain ahead. The climb begins in about a mile and is steady and moderate. Don’t rush past the views over Ballinskelligs Bay. We continue climbing as the road climbs around the side of Farraniarigh Mountain. As we reach the crest of at Coomakesta Pass, we take in the views, and congratulate ourselves on reaching the summit. It is not as high a Conner Pass; but, the views are also quite spectacular.
From the pass, the next few miles wind along the rocky ledges on moderately rolling road. Looking right we can see the Kenmare River. We descend into the Coomnahoma Valley and continue to Caherdanial. We decided to detour for a visit to Darrynane House and gardens. This was the house of famous Irish Liberator, Daniel O’Connell. Built in 1825 and now a museum, it was a nice stop and the surrounding garden and trails were a nice break for the riding. We retraced our route back to Caherdanial & then back on the N70 with a moderate climb to Castle Cove. Another small detour took us to Staig Fort, which dates back to about 1000 B.C.; another stone relic of Ireland’s past.
Then we backtracked again to the N70 and about 10 more miles of rolling hills into Sneem. This award winning “Tidy Town”, has put on a very pretty face with parks, sculpture garden and brightly painted buildings. We spent the night here and enjoyed a lovely Salmon dinner from the local river; finished by dessert of traditional Irish musical entertainment.
Stage Three: Sneem to Killarney 46,1 km
Today we are riding through one of the most beautiful areas of Ireland. Leave Sneem on the R568. This bumpy little road had little traffic as it winds through mostly barren landscape for twelve miles; passing Barfinny Lake on the way to Molls’s Gap. This is about half way to Killarney and the crest of today’s climb.
From Moll’s Gap we continue on the N71. This a popular cycle route and we found that there was not much auto traffic. Watch for the long haired sheep that jump out from the side of the road without much warning. We continue the gradual descent; passing by several of the lakes of Killarney. After Looscanaugh Lough (lake), there is a small climb to Ladies View; a favorite of the Queen and her ladies in waiting, during the English occupation. It’s a perfect lookout over the upper lake of the lakes of Killarney. Continue on the N71 past the forested Killarney National Park. Three miles from Killarney is the Torc new bridge and Muckross Lake is just a few hundred feet later, with the Torc waterfall, highest in Ireland, just a short distance futher, In another mile is Muckross House and gardens. This was worth a stop to check it out before continuing on to Killarney. This bustling hub is the heart of county Kerry. There is music everywhere and good rail connections. We spent some time; enjoyed the pubs and music as well as exploring Ross castle and taking a ride in one of the many horse drawn jaunting carts.