Sunday, we drove around the infamous Ring of Kerry. The drive was beautiful and because we had our own car and were not privy to the schedules (and road capabilities) of a bus, we were able to see some great things!
The first two of these were Ballycourt Castle and Cahergal Fort. Both ancient sites sit a little north of Cahersiveen and are fun to crawl through… and in, and over, and under. There is something incredibly romantic about being able to climb into a place that archaeologists have not reconstructed like Ballycourt Castle. A place that doesn’t have safety restrictions or guides. Better yet, a place where very few people visit!
Cahergal Fort was, in fact, reconstructed which made it possible for us to climb to the top and experience what it would have been like in the past. Two different experiences in one little mile, and both were very much worth the little detour.
Our second stop was during an extension of the Ring of Kerry and part of the Skellig Ring. It was at a dead slate quarry on the top of a hill at one edge of Valentia Island. This quarry has been turned into a religious memorial site in part to workers who died in the mine and to the community at large. It is hard to explain. You just have to see it for yourself, if you like.
We stopped at one last site on our way around the southern part of the Ring of Kerry: Staigue Fort. Like Cahergal Fort, this was round and aptly situated as a fort should be. This fort has been preserved, but not reconstructed like the latter fort so we were not able to crawl over it.
Overall, the Ring of Kerry is very beautiful and there are a few things to see. However, I am not sure that it is worth all the hype it is given. There are many beautiful places in Ireland and, in terms of geological and archaeological brilliance, the Ring of Kerry is lacking. If you have the time and are in the mood for a “Sunday drive” type day, then by all means take the Ring of Kerry. But it was the least eventful day for us and the road was winding and bumpy.
Personally, I wouldn’t traverse it again. I’ve seen it once and that is enough. There are other places in Ireland that I would definitely go back to, though!