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The Ring of Kerry, Ireland’s most famous drive

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To visit Ireland and not explore the Ring of Kerry is like visiting Ireland and not trying a pint of Guinness, it’s just not right

Is Driving The Ring Of Kerry Dangerous?

No, but you have to be a cautious driver. You’re driving on roads that are close to the cliff edge and if you go over, you’ll go under.

What is the Ring of Kerry? Well, it’s a route. A trail. A road. But this is no ordinary road.

You will travel through 10,000 years of dramatic history while the road takes you from deep forest to the wild Atlantic. You will meander through majestic, rugged landscapes, you will see wild stag roam and you will experience crystal clear rivers and streams filled with wild salmon culminating in tumbling waterfalls. This is as real as Ireland gets.

There are literally thousands of things to do when exploring the Ring of Kerry, to wet your appetite we have highlighted a few below.

Muckross House and Gardens

This 19th century mansion, along with its lush gardens, became Ireland’s first National Park in 1932. Inside is luxury on another level, and upstairs you can even enter the perfectly preserved room that housed Queen Victoria during her famous stay!

Star Wars in Kerry

Portmagee is a pretty village, synonymous with the type of delights you’ll find along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. But it’s not where you’d expect to find one of the world’s biggest film production crews. In 2014, though, drawn by the mystical beauty of Skellig Michael, Star Wars: The Force Awakens came to town…

Very soon, Portmagee became the place where Luke Skywalker learned to pull a pint, tutored by The Bridge Bar’s Ciaran Kelly. It’s where the Star Wars wrap party was held, with Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill joining locals (and even a few lucky tourists) for a traditional Irish music session. And it’s where the cast and crew tucked into delicious food served up in The Moorings.

Killarney National Park

South and west of the town of Killarney in Co. Kerry is an expanse of rugged mountainous country. This includes the McGillycuddy’s Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland which rise to a height of over 1000 metres. At the foot of these mountains nestle the world famous lakes of Killarney. Here where the mountains sweep down to the lake shores, their lower slopes covered in woodlands, lies the 10,236 hectare (26,000 acres), Killarney National Park . The distinctive combination of mountains, lakes, woods and waterfalls under ever changing skies gives the area a special scenic beauty.

The nucleus of the National Park is the 4,300 hectare Bourn Vincent Memorial Park which was presented to the Irish State in 1932 by Senator Arthur Vincent and his parents-in-law, Mr and Mrs William Bowers Bourn in memory of Senator Vincent’s late wife Maud.

The focal point of the National Park for visitors is Muckross House and Gardens. The house which is presented as a late 19 th century mansion featuring all the necessary furnishings and artefacts of the period is a major visitor attraction is jointly managed by the Park Authorities and the Trustees of Muckross House.

The former Kenmare Desmene close to Killarney Town is also part of the National Park and features Killarney House and Gardens and Knockreer House which is the education centre of the park.

Killarney National Park contains many features of national and international importance such as the native oakwoods and yew woods together with an abundance of evergreen trees and shrubs and a profusion of bryophytes and lichens which thrive in the mild Killarney climate. The native red deer are unique in Ireland with a presence in the country since the last Ice Age.

Killarney National Park was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1981 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), part of a world network of natural areas which have conservation, research, education and training as major objectives.

Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall is approximately 7 kilometres from Killarney Town and approx 2.5 kilometres from the motor entrance to Muckross House and is signposted from a carpark off the N71. A short walk of approx 200 metres brings you to the waterfall. From that point steps lead to another viewing point at a higher altitude that provides a view over the Middle Lake. The path is also part of the Kerry Way long distance walking route and a starting point for circular walking routes which are indicated by a map down at the start of the trail beside the car park. The waterfall which is approximately 20 metres high is at its best after heavy rainfall. Across the road from the car park jaunting cars can be hired for a trip to Muckross House within the National Park.

Driving The Ring Of Kerry Tips


  • Bring some decent photography gear: When packing for Ireland, be sure to include a decent camera, or even a drone, to hep you capture the most stunning shots of this incredible drive.
  • Be wary of the season: If you’re wondering when is the best time to go driving the Ring of Kerry, well I would say June/early July. This is when we visited and the weather was great and it wasn’t busy on the route. We seen 1 or 2 other coaches the whole time and that was it! If you go out of season in the winter, there is a good chance roads will be closed due to bad weather, so I’m not sure whether I’d risk it. But the shoulder season months of June and September still bring a good chance of decent weather! 
  • Fuel up before you go round: There are places to fuel up whilst driving the Ring of Kerry, but actually the prices are higher and I think this has something to do with tourism. It’s not a massive difference, but if you’d like to save some extra euros, then fuel before you go! 
  • Be aware of sheep: Sheep are cute, fun and they’re everywhere on the island. But they can be a danger to a driver. Sheep can be in the most awkward positions, so if you come across them, make sure you slow down and beep your horn to let them know you’re there (if they haven’t already worked it out yet!). 
  • Start early: You’ll be surprised at just how much there is to see and do when driving the Ring of Kerry, so make sure you start the day early, and beat the coaches. This means you can finish in time for some dinner and live music in the lively town of Killarney. 
  • Bring a jacket: Even if the sun is shining, when you’re driving the Ring of Kerry you’ll find you are driving high up and the higher it is, the stronger the wind and the colder it gets. When Ireland gets warm, it’s lovely- but that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas that just always stay cold! 

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Last updated May 29, 2023


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Frank McGowan

Wednesday 30th of August 2023

When driving the Ring, drive in the anticlockwise direction. We drove it clockwise and found ourselves face to face with a gigantic tour bus, necessitating backing up almost to falling into the water!

Carole Finan

Thursday 30th of March 2023

We loved our travels in Ireland. Friendly people, great food, awesomely green scenery. Everyone seemed genuine in their welcome.