You know what we love about Ireland? The hearty stews. Listening to some lively traditional music, Riverdance style, in a cosy pub with a hearty stew. And a pint of Guinness. After a day voyaging the landscape, pretending you’re a giant at the Giant’s Causeway or a Lord of your own tiny castle, Ballinskelligs for instance. A castle with an incredible coastline view. And now you’re sitting in a pub, reading the quote from a famous Irish myth that’s scrawled on the wall, soaking up the legendary Irish hospitality, eating a hearty stew. Half the time you’ve no idea what the people around you are saying, with that thick accent and all, but you know it’s good-spirited.
Breathtaking scenery and charming folk. A land of fascinating myths, celebrated writers, kick-you-in-the-gut beers, and photoshoot-worthy views.
It’s why we keep coming back to Ireland time and again. We keep adding new departure points because we simply can’t help ourselves. We want to share as many parts of Ireland with you as we can... while also getting to explore them ourselves.
It’s why we’ve opened up a new departure point out of Killarney. This sweet little town can be found in the southwest of Ireland’s County Kerry, a stop along the Ring of Kerry scenic drive. The town itself is a treat to explore but a huge appeal is its over-the-bridge location from Killarney National Park.
Sitting snuggly on Ireland’s southwest Atlantic coastline is the Dingle Peninsula. What’s there to see, you ask? Beautiful beaches, craggy cliffs, luscious mountain ranges and quaint Hobbit-like hills. All with a vast array of ancient sites for you to explore, from early Christian monastic ruins to beehive huts strong with the Force... it’ll make sense later, we promise. The Peninsula stretches about 30 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, so you can expect a range of dramatic sea cliffs such as Slea Head.
Sometimes your holiday is staying within a city’s limits and seeing all there is to see – museums, art galleries, cathedrals. But sometimes a good road trip is in order. And who doesn’t love a scenic drive? This 179 km-long circular route is a big showoff in our opinion. Rugged landscapes, enviable coastal views, quaint seaside villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites along the way... if your feet are itching to get out of the house and out of the city, consider the Ring of Kerry.
But sometimes you only have one holiday. Or a few short days in which to explore a certain place. So, if you’re coming to Ireland’s south, we wouldn’t blame you for being torn between the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. With that in mind, we thought we’d run you through some of the highlights of both regions so that you can decide which one is best for you. Note we visit many of these on our new tours, but not all.
In countries like Ireland, there’s something about coming across a tiny village. There’s a quaintness to it that cannot be rivalled by other places around the world. In fact, it’s almost an expectation of those who visit the UK and Ireland that they will, at some point, wander such a place.
If you find yourself along the Ring of Kerry, you should make sure to stop in at Killarney. Conveniently, this is our departure point, so if you do join us on tour, you’ll get to experience this wonderful little place by default. It’s technically a town, but its lovely streets filled with shops and pubs give it that homey vibe we so love. Not to mention it’s right on the doorstep of Killarney National Park and the mesmerising Lakes of Killarney.
For those adventuring around Dingle Peninsula... big surprise, we’re going to suggest Dingle. This is your classic colourful fishing village, brimming with lively pubs filled with welcoming locals. One thing people adore doing in Dingle is trying to spot its resident dolphin, Fungi. If you don’t spot him, you can take a picture with his statue alongside a beautiful sea view.
Even if you’re afraid of heights, you must admit an epic cliff drop with a vast ocean view is something worth seeing, even if it makes your inside squirm. The kind of place that attempts to rip away the clothes from your very back, wild wind coursing around you like a wild animal. Which region has the best cliff? We’ll leave that up to you to decide, but depending on what you’re looking for, here are a couple of suggestions.
First up, for our Ring of Kerry adventurers. Heading over the bridge just out of Portmagee will take you to the island of Valentia, an island with more viewpoints than you have time to see. Being one of Ireland’s most westerly points, you get a killer view of the North Atlantic Ocean. Journey here and you’ll truly be on the edge of Europe, a place where you can disconnect from our world and reconnect with the natural one.
For those exploring the Dingle Peninsula, check out Dunmore Head. Wind-swept sheep roam the cliff edge, munching on the swaying grass, and you wonder... do they appreciate that view? A promontory of such free and uncivilised beauty, it’s hard to look away. It’s one of the most westerly points in Europe, some say it’s a ‘haven of serenity’. But this is also a place of ancient history, abundant with a motley of local fauna including playful dolphins and swooping sea birds.
People don’t often associate beautiful beaches with places like Ireland but that would be a mistake. You should definitely bring your swimming costume, or at least a camera – if that rush of freezing water against bare skin is a little too bold for you this time around.
Taking a trip around the Ring of Kerry? Make sure you stop in at Derrynane Beach. As fine a stretch of sand as you’ll ever find, this crescent of porcelain sand is backed by sand dunes and overlooks the dramatic Abbey Island, where you should even be able to spot the long-abandoned ruins of Derrynane Abbey.
Strangely named Inch Beach, what you’ll instead find is 4 miles of expansive beauty located along the Dingle Peninsula. Water teeming with water-sport enthusiasts, adventurers driving along the sand, people enjoying a leisurely stroll as they take in the views of Dingle Bay and the mountains of Kerry.
No visit to Ireland is complete without visiting an ancient ruin. More than anything, we’re obsessed with the stories these places tell. You won’t believe some of them. Along the Ring of Kerry, you’ll find one of Ireland’s most dramatic ones: Cahergall Stone Fort. This circular defensive structure is a testament to the skilled craftsmanship of the builders. The fact that we can still see so much of it today gives us a glimpse into Ireland’s early medieval architecture and lifestyle.
And then there’s the Gallarus Oratory in the Dingle Peninsula, an iconic example of early Christian Irish architecture, going as far back as the 7th or 8th century. No idea what an oratory is? You’ll admire this small stone chapel’s corbelled roof, a beehive structure and design that has stood the test of time.
Not quite a viewpoint, but we can’t get over the view of Torc Waterfall crashing down from 20 meters above. The way it cascades over the rocks is as pretty as a picture, nature’s own artwork.
Located in Killarney National Park along the Ring of Kerry, an enchanting woodland leads you to this serene waterfall. The waterfall’s name comes from the nearby peak Torc Mountain and the word “torc” is an Irish word meaning boar. Legend has it that the area around the waterfall was once home to a boar that, when killed, would transform into its real form... a man. But that’s not the only legend surrounding Torc, you’ll have to visit to find out the rest.
Many who explore Dingle Peninsula will coast along Slea Head Drive. Why? The views, of course. This scenic route takes you along the rugged cliff coastlines which boasts views of the Blasket Islands and the Atlantic Ocean. And if you end up at Slea Head, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible view. There might also be a little Star Wars connection, so keep that in mind while you explore.
We know it’s hard to choose when both places sound so amazing. The good thing is... no matter which region you choose, you can’t go wrong. Another choice to make is... do you drive yourself or join us on tour? What’s so great about exploring with Rabbie’s is our driver-guides take the time to share the local history and legends with you along the way, like your very own David Attenborough. Just Irish. Very, very Irish.