RING OF KERRY

RING OF KERRY

The Southwest’s most celebrated peninsula offers picturesque villages, fabled ancient forts, and rugged mountains. Although tour buses often hog the roads, rewards await those who take the time to explore the landscape on foot or by bike.

TRANSPORTATION

The term Ring of Kerry usually describes the entire Iveragh Peninsula, though it technically refers to the ring of roads circumnavigating it. Hop on the circuit run by Bus Eireann, based in Killamey and stopping at the major towns on the Ring (mid-June to Aug. 2 per day), including Cahersiveen (from Killarney 2V4hr. ‚11.50) and Caherdaniel (from Cahersiveen lhr. ‚4.30).

CAHERSIVEEN. Although best known as the birthplace of patriot Daniel O’Connell, Cahersiveen (CAR-sah-veen) serves as an excellent base for jaunts to Valentia Island, the Skelligs, and local archeological sites. The ruins of Bally- carbery Castle, once held by O’Connell’s ancestors, are past the barracks on Bridge St. and over the bridge, off the main road to the left. About 200m past the castle tum-off stands a pair of Ireland’s best-preserved stone forts, Caher- gall Fort and Leacanabuaile Fort. The tourist office is directly across from the bus stop, next to the post office. (947 2589. Open June to mid-Sept. M-F 9:30am-

THE EMERALD ISLE’S GOLDEN EGG

Many of Ireland’s most touristed sights its national parks, museums, monuments and gar- dens-are owned and operated by the Irish Department of Arts and Heritage, While this government- run department keeps the price of admission to these sights quite low. the accumulated cost of visiting each can grow too high for the ordinary budget traveler to afford.

Recently, the Department of Heritage has started to offer discount cards to those wishing to visit multiple sights. Their Duchas Heritage Discount Card may just be Ireland’s greatest hidden deal. Not only does the ticket give you access to all of the sights owned and operated by the Department of Heritage, it also gives you one full year of access so that you can return again at your leisure.

There are ten sights in Dublin alone, including the Casino, Kilmainham Gaol, St. Audeon’s Church, and the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Other sights around Ireland include a slew of castles and ruins. The average price to visit one sight is between ‚2.50- 5, so the card-at ‚19 is a steal.

The Irish Heritage Discount Card. ‚19.05, students and children ‚7.62, seniors ‚12.70, families ‚45.72. For more info call s01 647 2461; or within Ireland s 1850 600 601; www.heritageir eland. ieenHeritageCard.

lpm and 2-5:30pm.) The welcoming Sive Hostel (IHH) O is at 15 East End, Main St. (947 2717. Laundry ‚5.10. Dorms ‚10.50; doubles ‚25-32. Camping ‚5 per person.) O’Shea’s B&B ‚, next to the post office on Main St. boasts comfortable rooms, some with impressive views. (947 2402. Singles ‚25-30; doubles ‚50.) Main Street has several pubs that harken back to the early 20th century, when establishments served as both watering holes and as the proprietor’s main business, be it general store, blacksmithy, or leather shop.

Quiet EiValentia Island is a fantastic daytrip. The little roads of this unspoiled gem are perfect for biking or light hiking. Bridges on either end of the island connect it to the mainland; alternatively, a ferry runs during the summer (3min.; Apr.-Sept. 8:15am-10pm, Su 9am-10pm; ‚1.50, with bike ‚2.50) from Reenard Point, 5km west of Caher-siveen. A taxi to the ferry dock from Cahersiveen is about ‚7. Another recommended daytrip is to the Skellig Rocks, about 13km off the shore of the Iveragh Peninsula. From the boat, Little Skellig may appear snow-capped; it’s actually covered with 24,000 pairs of crooning birds. Climb 630 steps to reach a monastery built by 6th-century Christian monks, whose beehive-like dwellings are still intact. The hostel and campground in Cahersiveen can arrange the ferry ride (about lhr.) for ‚32-35, including a ride to the dock.

CAHERDANIEL. There’s little in the village of Caherdaniel to attract the Ring’s droves of buses. But nearby Derrynane National Park, 2.5km along the shore from the village, holds 3km of gorgeous beach ringed by picture-perfect dunes. Follow the signs for Derrynane House, once the residence of Daniel O’Connell. (Open May-Sept. M-Sa 9am-6pm, Su llam-7pm; Apr. and Oct. Su and Tu-Sa l-5pm; Nov.-Mar. Sa-Su l-5pm. ‚3, students ‚1.50.) Guests are made to feel at home at The Travellers’ Rest Hostel O. (947 5175. Breakfast ‚4. Dorms ‚12.50; singles ‚16.)

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