This week we returned to Killarney and one of the excursions on our bucket list was driving the Ring of Kerry from Killarney to Kenmare. As the driver for our party of three, I confess to being nervous as we set out.
I spent a lot of time the previous day reading the pros and cons of the N71 versus the alternative route through Kilgarvan and stressing over whether it was better to drive the Ring of Kerry clockwise or anti-clockwise. I don’t like narrow roads at the best of times and the thoughts of passengers oohing and ahhing at magnificent scenery while I keep my eyes glued to the white line on the centre of the road had me worried.
But, the day dawned fair and as the sun was shining it seemed a pity not to go. We set off around 10.00 am from our base at The Lake Hotel on the Muckross Road.
N71 route from Killarney to Kenmare
I opted to drive from Killarney to Kenmare on the N71 — a route that passes through Killarney National Park and takes in Ladies’ View and Moll’s Gap. So, GPS at the ready, I turned right as we exited the Lake Hotel and proceeded along passing Muckross House and Torc Waterfall along the way.
We took our time driving along the N71 and paused at some of the lay-by viewing points along the route to take photographs and allow the traffic building up behind us to pass by. There are plenty of places where you can easily pull in for a few minutes and, from the driver’s perspective, I was glad of the opportunity to let faster cars pass me by.
At Ladies’ View we parked up for a few minutes to look around the tourist shop (not bad value considering the location) and then enjoyed a coffee outdoors admiring the magnificent scenery directly across the road. Then it was back into the car to continue along the N71 towards Kenmore.
While the road is narrow, the surface is good and the drive was not nearly as bad as I had feared. Perhaps we were lucky to have chosen a good time to be on the road — it was reasonably quiet given that July is the height of the tourist season. And, thankfully, the only tour buses we encountered were parked up and easy to overtake.
Tea and scones in Kenmare
We arrived into Kenmore around noon and opted for tea and scones (pricey) at the Park Hotel made famous by Ireland’s best-known hoteliers and TV stars, Francis and John Brennan.
Then, feeling more confident after the morning’s excursion, I opted to drive back the same way. This time, our only stop was at Muckross where we took a stroll around the gardens before returning to our hotel to enjoy the afternoon sunshine looking out across the lake and enjoying the magnificent mountain scenery.