Kerry Main Towns


In the village is the “South Pole Inn”, once lived in by Thomas Cream (born 1877) who accompanied Scott on his expedition to the South Pole. Minard Castle, 3 miles (5km) south of Annascaul, is said to have been built by the Knight of Kerry and is said to have been built by the Knight of Kerry and is the largest fortress in the peninsula. Thomas Ashe, one of the patriots of the 1916 Rising, was born in 1885 in the village of Kinard East.

A monastery was founded here by St Brendan ‘The Navigator’ in the 6th century. There are three medieval churches, an ogham stone and a number of early Christian and Medieval grave slabs on the site today. The earliest building is the cathedral which dates from the 12th – 17th centuries. It has a fine Romanesque west doorway, a magnificent 13th century east window and a spectacular row of nine lancets in the south wall. Two effigies of ecclesiastical figures of late 13th – early 14th century date are mounted on either side of the east window. The battlements were added in the 15th century . The pre 12th century block of masonry is clearly visible in the north wall. One of the two smaller churches is a fine example of late Romanesque and the other is a plain 15th century structure with an interesting carving of a wyvern on one of the windows.

Ballinskelligs Bay: its attractions include boating, bathing, fishing and fine coastal scenery. A beach outside the village stretches for 4 miles (6km). A little to the west are the ruins of an ancient castle of the McCarthys, and of an ancient abbey. Only 12kms off shore the island of Skellig Michael is a seventh century monastic settlement and now a popular visitors attraction. See Islands in the Environment and wildlife section in Ballinskellig for more information.

Ballybunion is a popular family resort on the north-west coast of County Kerry, near where the River Shannon meets the sea. The surrounding country is comparatively level, but the coastline at Ballybunion, with its sea caves, rugged cliffs, coves and beaches, forms a very fine district for seaside holidays. Ballybunion has a magnificent golf links (18). A fine sandy beach fronts the town and continues southwards for 2 miles (3 km). Boats for angling or pleasure trips are available. There are dancing, cinema and variety performances during the summer.

Visitors to the Dingle Peninsula who fail to spend time in the area that comprises Ballydavid, Feohanagh and Murreagh are, sadly, missing out on one of its most beautiful spots and an area of uncommercialised local culture. Even throughout the busy summer months, this area remains peaceful. There are outstanding walks, into Coumaloghig or up to Arraglen or along coastal areas, and wonderful evening views out over the last edge of land to the Atlantic.

The Rattoo Heritage Museum and Interpretative Centre lies just north of Ballyduff and it features the archaeology, history and folk traditions of North Kerry. Rattoo Round Tower, the only surviving one in Kerry, is nearby.

Near Ballyferriter is the Riasc Stone and the recently excavated site of the ancient monastery. East of Ballyferriter the road through Emlagh should be followed to reach Kilmalkedar, where the view of the Brandon range to the east is magnificent.

On Ballyheigue Bay the quiet little resort of Ballyheigue has an excellent sandy beach. North of the village is the striking ruin of Ballyheigue Castle, a nineteenth-century mansion. Ballingarry Castle, about 4 miles (6km) north, was a small fortress built by David Crosbie in 1641. Here is fine coastal scenery especially around the promontory of Kerry Head which shelters Ballyheigue Bay on the North.

Birth place of poet, writer, playwright and lecturer Brendan Kennelly. Nearby is the ruin of 15th century Carrigafoyle Castle, built by O’Conor Kerry.

Beal stretching eastwards into the Shannon Estuary, is where the visitor finds superb stretches of golden strand. Here one may have endless fun. Shjp watching is a favourite pastime from the point at the mouth of one of the great European rivers. Please be careful as tidal pulls of ocean and river make bathing hazardous here at certain times.

Always a striking landmark with its windmill, which now houses a visitor centre, the village is near Tralee. A stream train runs on the partially restored Tralee and Dingle Light Rail between Blennerville and Tralee.

Set beneath Mount Brandon on the Dingle Peninsula, this remote and beautifully situated village attracts walkers tackling the western approach to the summit of Mount Brandon.

The R.I.C. Barracks which houses the Cahersiveen Heritage Centre, is the former barracks of the Royal Irish Constabulary in the town. The Catholic church is dedicated to Daniel O’ Connell, the 19th century champion of Catholic Emancipation. Leacanabuaile, an ancient ring fort is situated 5km north-west of this market town on the Ring of Kerry.

The village of Caherdaniel is beyond Westcove, near the shore of Derrynane Bay. In the vicinity is the curious hermitage of St. Crohane, hewn out of solid rock; about a mile (2 km) away is an ancient stone fort, similar in construction though smaller than Staigue. Near by Derrynane House, with its historic park, was once the home of Daniel O’ Connell, the ‘Liberator’ who lived and worked there during his political life. The house, now excellently restored, contains a museum with O’ Connell’s personal possessions and furniture. It is open to the public all year round.

Camp is a small, compact village in a beautiful scenic area near the foot of the Slieve Mish Mountains and close to views of the sea, Brandon mountains, Tralee Bay, and Kerry Head. The Camp area is central to the Dingle Peninsula on either side, with close proximity to a number of good, safe, sandy beaches. Tralee is only 16km to the east and Dingle Town is only 32km to the west.

The village of Castlecove is located on the southern part of the Iveragh peninsula halfway between Kenmare and Caherciveen. It nestles in the foothills of the McGillycuddy Reeks, and the waters of the Kenmare Bay make the southern boundary. The famous Ring of Kerry passes through the village. Staigue Fort, one of the best examples of a Iron Age fort, is a short distance from the village, and there are many other examples of Ring Forts. The Castle and St. Crohans Cave are just two more fascinating historical sites to visit. There are plenty of walks to take, the Kerry Way passes through Castlecove linking Sneem and Waterville, and there are tracks through the hills to explore.

Perhaps it is the urgent call of Dingle or even the Conor Pass – but for whatever reason a great many travellers from Tralee pass the signpost for Castlegregory and never visit the place. That is both good and bad. It is good because it means this admirable village seldom suffers the pressure on accommodaton that at times splits Dingle at the seams. It is bad because so many don’t know what they are missing. Castlegregory sits in the middle of a veritable animal and bird sanctuary; it has as its back garden an incredible wiilderness, including the wonderful coum of Glanteenassig (the valleys of the waterfall); it has more than its share of colourful, even eccentric, hostelries; and it has a history for those curious to inquire both rich and poignant. In terms of size, the little town on the shore of Lough Gill may be only a backwater of its former self – that of course is the story of these parts. At the turn of the century, it rivalled Tralee as a burgeoning metropolis. Now, with the railroad gone and whole generations emigrated, there remain only slimmed down versions of the fishing and vegetable-growing industries and all their subsidiary crafts that once made the place buzz. But Castlegregory retains a legacy from its golden age: a certain confidence and energy disproportionate to its size – and with its increasing orientation toward tourism seems set to prosper again.

Inland, Castleisland was once the impregnable Kerry headquaters of the Earls of Desmond: from here they ruled North Kerry. Today, although only scant ruins survive of what was once a formidable powerbase, strong farming markets and good commercial activity gives Castleisland new life. Nearby Crag Castle is fast becoming the great showcave of Ireland. North are the Glanruddery mountains while the Stacks rise gently to the west. Castleisland is an important road junction in this Vale of Tralee, while Kerry’s county airport at Farranfore is just down the road. From there, daily flights connect Kerry with Britain and the major Irish cities.

Castlemaine is situated on the beautiful Maine River. It was here the Australian outlaw, known as the Wild Colonial Boy was born. He is celebrated in a song of the same name.

The Cloghane/Brandon area is located on the northern tip of the Dingle Peninsula in the parish of Castlegregory. The two villages are set in a semicircle of mountain peaks and overlook beautiful Brandon Bay. There are many rivers, lakes, streams, and waterfalls, and the landscape varies from mountain pass to peak to bog-clad valley floor. This is a Gaeltacht region, where the Irish language is spoken by everyone, an area rich in language, music and dance. The area has an abundance of flora, with arctic alpines growing near the peaks of Mount Brandon, and many seaside flowers growing on the sandy shores of the bay. Cloghane/Brandon has received a Beatha Environmental Quality Award which shows that this area has an excellent environment.

Dingle is the main town on the Dingle Peninsula, the westernmost point in Ireland. It is just big enough to have all the necessary services for tourists, and a steady night time beat for Irish traditional music.Dingle is traditionally Irish, being in theheart of the Chorca Dhuibhne Gealtacht. The main industries here are farming and fishing.The harbour is always busy with fishing boats and yachts, and its few streets are lined with brightly painted shops, pubs and restaurants. In 1970, Dingle was introduced to the world through the film Ryans Daughter, and Dingle fans from all over the world flock to the small town every year. In the 1990’s, the town has gained fame in the world of music, history, gastronomy, scenery and not least it’s friendly dolphin.

If the West Kerry Gaeltacht has a spiritual capital, then Dunquin is that metropolis. The little village has for a century and more been mecca to students of the Irish language and has become in recent times faithful custodian of the Blasket heritage. The Blasket connection has not been without controversy. The huge interpretative centre that opened here in 1993 met initial opposition but was welcomed by the islanders and has since prospered. It celebrates all aspects of the Blaskets, including remarkable and ongoing connection with Springfield, Massachusetts, to which town so many of the islanders emigrated. Among the many spirits that hang about Dunquin are those of Spanish sailors; the ill-starred Armada lost two ships. A monument in the village recalls those who perished.

Kerry’s regional airport is situated here and it connects the county with Dublin each day and with Luton and Manchester in England as well as accommodating a series of charter flights.

About 8 miles (13 km) west of Tralee is a small port on the bay, Fenit. St Brendan, patron saint of Kerry and famous as Brendan the Navigator (484-577), who , it is suggested, may have discovered America, was born in the neighbourhood. Near the village is a glacial erratic, a large boulder of sandstone resting on limestone near the water’s edge. A natural limestone cave at Lissodigue, 3 miles (5 km) to the north-west, can be explored for over 700 feet. Fenit Castle ruin, on Fenit Island 2 miles (3 km) from the village, was built to guard the entrance to Barrow Harbour, which at one time had a considerable trade with Spain and the Low Countries.

Glenbeigh is a popular holiday base nestled at the foot of a well-wooded mountain and close to the head of Dingle Bay. For a closer view of the magnificent amphitheatre of mountains known as the “Glenbeigh Horseshoe”, one should follow the Glen of the River Behy up to the Tarn from which the river takes its origin. On the Killorglin Road prior to reaching Glenbeigh, the Bog Village Visitor attraction is worth a visit.

Glencar High above Caragh Lake is the naturally beautiful district of Glencar. The rugged beauty of this district is greatly enhanced by the delightful forest at Lickeen. The upper Caragh River flowing through Glencar has always attracted the keenest of anglers, and is also a delight for the hill walker, mountain climber and nature lover.

The long white snad bar which is Inch Strand is spectacularly beautiful. Some 1.5km along the beach, at a break in the sand dunes, are signs of early sandhill dwellers.

Kells Kells is a small picturesque seaside area halfway between Glenbeigh and Cahersiveen (off N20). Travelling from mountain stage to Kells Post Office one has a panoramic view of Dingle Bay, the Blasket islands and Kells Bay. You will pass the tunnels at Drung hill and the Gleensk Viaduct, a relic of the Great Southern and Western Railway Line, which ran from Cahersiveen to Farranfore Junction.

Kenmare has a long and varied history dating from the stone circles adjacent to the town which dates from 2200 – 500 B.C. Kenmare, owned by the Lansdowne Family, became a model estate town in the 18th century, built to a distinctive X-pattern street plan, which is still clear today. There are many unique facts about the town including the very distinctive Kenmare lace. In fact the great art of lace making is still demonstrated in the Heritage Centre building, and antique Kenmare lace is on exhibition in the centre.

Kilflynn is a very pretty village, situated 2.5km from the main Tralee-Listowel road and perched on a green hillside facing south. It was known in former times as Stackstown. It contains an RC church, and curate’s residence. Also protestant church nowclosed for some years, the latter is in the old graveyard. There are two public houses and a supermarket. In the corner of the graveyard lies buried a grand old character, a champion Irish step-dancer and world traveller in his day, Patrick, better known as Putch Wynne. He designed his own headstone and the inscription thereon reads “Here lies the Putch Wynne R.I.P.”

Kilgarvin is situated on the Roughty River, near Kenmare and contains Kilgarvan Motor Museum, where there is a display of vintage and classic cars including such eminent models as Rolls Royce, Bentley, Alvis and MG. Just off the Kenmare road is a geological oddity, a mushroom shaped rock, formed by a block of sandstone on a limestone plinth.

Killarney, Heaven’s Reflex, is the tourist capital of Kerry, and the second most popular tourist destination in Ireland. World famous for it’s national park and lakes, Killarney is also rich in historical houses, castles and monuments. Some of these include Muckross House, Ross Castle, Muckross Abbey and Inisfallen Island with it’s monastic ruins. The town itself is a lively hub of activity, with many hotels, restaurants, pubs, discos, along with outlets for renting bikes, cars and the famous jaunting cars. It is an ideal base for touring West Cork, the Ring of Kerry, Dingle and Tralee. Well serviced by transport – bus, train, and the nearby Kerry Airport, Killarney is easily accessible from Ireland and abroad.

Killorglin is a gateway to the beautiful Iveragh Peninsula situated on a hill overlooking the wide and graceful River Laune, a river offering salmon and trout angling. Dominating the landscape to the south are the MacGillycuddys Reeks. This is a good holiday base for touring, and Killorglin is the location of the famous “Puck Fair” festival – Ireland’s largest and the world’s oldest business event.

Derreen Gardens are beautiful woodland gardens on the outskirts of Lauragh, which lies on Kilmakilloge Bay. The walker will enjoy the trek to Glanmore Lake, beautifully set above this scenic Ring of Beara village.

The town features an attractive market square with the remains of Listowel Castle overlooking the river Feale. Adjacent to the Castle is located the Kerry Literary and Cultural Centre. Seanchai, located in the 19th Century Georgian House in the Square, Listowel celebrates the unique literary tradition of the Region through an interactive audio-visual exhibition on the writers of North Kerry – John B Keane, Bryan MacMahon, Brendan Kenneally, Maurice Walsh and George Fitzmaurice. The exhibition also features the annual literary festival, Writer’s Week and describes the history of storytelling through the ‘Seanchai’, and how this evolved into the art of writing. The Centre also hosts an archive room, a book and craft shop and a literary cafe.

The ruined castle of the Earls of Kerry adjoins the village. Lixnaw Agricultural Museum houses a rare collection of farm implements, used by previous generations of Kerry farmers. Ceolann in the village is a centre which incorporates a theatre, music shop and a museum/library.

A small village on the Killarney-Tralee road, situated near Castlemaine Harbour.

A botanically rich area, where the Mediterranean plants and shrubs which thrive here bear witness to the benign effects of the Gulf Stream. George Bernard Shaw drew inspiration from the place and wrote St. Joan while holidaying here. There is a very picturesque golf course by the shore.

A picturesque fishing village at the south west tip of Valentia harbour. It has a fine natural harbour and modern pier. From Portmagee a modern bridge now crosses the channel to connect Valentia Island with the mainland.

A pleasantly situated village on the Cork-Kerry border, Rathmore is the birthplace of Patrick Dineen (1860-1934) who compiled an Irish-English dictionary. To the north of the village lies Sliabh Luachra and to the south the great walking country of The Paps, foothills to the Derrynasaggart Mountains.

Ring Of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry takes in part of South Kerry, and it affords a panoramic journey through some of Kerry’s most outstanding scenery around the Iveragh peninsula. The route travels through Killorglin, by Caragh Lake, and on to Glenbeigh where one gets the first view of the Atlantic at Rossbeigh. The journey then continues along the southern shores of Dingle Bay to Kells, and south to Cahersiveen, where Valentia Island comes into view. The Skellig Experience Centre is located here and Ballinskelligs is not far away. Onwards to Waterville and along the coast via the Coomakista Pass and Derrynane to Sneem. From there, along Kenmare Bay to Kenmare town. The route then goes to Killarney via Moll’s Gap and Ladies View which give superb views of the Lakes.

Sneem is situated on the Ring of Kerry which encircles some of the most glorious scenery in Ireland. The village has two market squares. Each house and shop seems to be painted a different bright colour. There are a selection of sculptures to be foundhere as well as memorials and a lovely church.

Tarbert is situated on a pretty slope overlooking one of the prettiest parts of the Shannon; from here the Shannon car ferry crosses to Killimer, County Clare, every hour on half-hour. The ferry service provides the opportunity for several attractive circular tours. The 20-minute crossing saves 85 miles (137 km) on the same journey via Limerick. Tarbert House, completed about 1730, has a fine collection of Georgian furniture, including the best example of an Irish Chippendale mirror. the house is open to groups by prior arrangement.

While Killarney is the tourism capital of Kerry, Tralee is the true leading town of the county. Famous worldwide for it’s Rose festival in August, Tralee is a large town of around 20,000 inhabitants. It is well serviced by transport – rail, road, air (Farranfore Airport), and is in ideal base for touring the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry. Some of the attractions in Tralee include Blennerville Windmill, Kerry the Kingdom Museum, Siamsa Tire Theatre and the Aqua Dome.

Valentia Island
Valentia is an island of unique scenic beauty, tropical vegetation, breathtaking cliffs and magnificent seascapes. The island is an excellent centre for sea angling and diving in unpolluted waters. The bridge was built at Portmagee in 1970. The island, about 11km long by 3km wide is one of the most westerly points of Europe. The surface is bold and rocky, two prominent features being Geokaun Mountain 268 meters on the north and Bray head 180 metres on the south, both are splendid vantage points for the sightseer. The Skellig Experience is located here. This is where the story of the Skelligs is told. The themes include the monastic settlement, the lighthouse, the bird and underwater life.

Ventry village is situated about 6km west of Dingle town. It has a beautiful crescent shaped beach, which has watersports in the summer. Legend has it that it was at this beach that the armies of the King of the World and Fionn Mac Cumhaill fought a bloody battle for a year and a day, ending in a draw. The beach is a blue flag beach, and is usually safe for bathing and paddling. Ventry has two pubs, a post office and a small church, as well as a pottery shop and cafe.

Waterville, famous as an angling centre, also has much to offer the general tourist. There is a fine sandy beach on the shore of Ballin-skelligs Bay, and a championship golf course(18). Around Waterville The town is on the eastern shore of Ballinskelligs Bay, on a strip of land that separates the sea from Lough Currane, one of the most beautiful lakes in Ireland and a great fishing centre. The little Irish-speaking village of Ballinskelligs is charmingly situated on Ballinskelligs Bay: its attractions include boating, bathing, fishing and fine coastal scenery. A beach outside the village stretches for 4 miles (6km). A little to the west are the ruins of an ancient castle of the McCarthys, and of an ancient abbey.