kerry fiddles Natural Skelligs sunset - image by Lee Tiller

 

Stuff to do in the afternoon


Kenmare Bay - © Lee Tiller

 

Kerry has 14 of the 21 highest mountains in Ireland, the largest collection of Neolithic rock art in Europe and an embarrassing number of stone circles. You can take a boat trip around Kenmare Bay, a jaunting car through the Gap of Dunloe, climb Mcgillicuddys Reeks and walk miles of white strand. A new water sports centre has recently opened just outside Kenmare, there are loads of pony trekking centres, world class golf courses and apparently more café’s per square kilometre than anywhere else in Ireland!


Here’s a bit more about some of the things you can do in the afternoons. All are within easy driving distance of Kenmare:

 

•  Kenmare Town. For a virtual tour of the town go to www.kenmare.com. The Gaelic name for Kenmare is Neidin - meaning ‘Little Nest’, so called because it’s cradled between the mountains of the Iveragh and Beara Peninsulas.

 

 

 

•  Derrynane beach and Daniel O'Connell's house. Daniel O’Connell is known as ‘The Liberator’ because he forced the Emancipation Bill through Parliament in 1829 giving Catholics, in Ireland and England, the vote for the first time. You can tour his house and fantastic gardens and there’s a great tearoom with homemade cakes. Just back from the beach is a classic old bar where you’ll get the best Irish Coffee in Kerry.

•  The Old Kenmare Road. A fabulous walk through stunning scenery. It’s an ancient road, so no worries about traffic! If you do the full walk it’ll take you down to the 60ft high Torc waterfall.

 

Carantouhil  © Lee TillerMcGillicuddy's Reeks - a walk along the flatter bits of the mountain range, with views over to Irelands highest peak, Carantouhil. This is serious walking country and if you want to get to the top we'd recommend a guide unless you are very experienced indeed.  Make sure you have the proper clothing and equipment.



Italian gardens Garnish Island © Paula Tiller•  Garnish Island, Glengariff and The Healey Pass - a spectacular drive over the Cork and Kerry mountains, to Glengariff, where you can take a boat across Bantry Bay to Garnish Island with it’s famous Italianate gardens. Come back to Kenmare over the Healey Pass, I think it’s the best view in the area, looking north over Kenmare Bay to the Iveragh Peninsula.

 

  

                                      The top of The Healey Pass looking down on Glanmore Lake

 

•  ' Seafari' - Eco-Nature and seal-watching cruises on Kenmare Bay . ‘Situated between the Iveragh and Beara Peninsular, the bay with it's unpolluted water mirrors the majesty of the Mcgillicuddys Reeks and the Caha mountain ranges’. This is an absolute must on a sunny afternoon. The trip can take anything from two to three hours and is great fun. You’ll get given sweeties, rum and binoculars and there’s almost always live music on board. Though you may have to stomach a few terrible jokes, there won’t be anything you don’t know about seals by the time you get back and he’ll probably have you signing up to some protection league. He’s passionate about the bay and it’s inhabitants … and it’s infectious. Regular visitors to Kenmare bay include: Sea otters, Grey Seals, Minke Whales, Killer Whales, Herons, Oyster Catchers and Kingfishers.

  

Seafari Eco-cruises © Seafari

 

•  Killarney National Park, the Lakes and Muckross House. The gardens, park and arboretum are definitely worth a visit. You can walk for miles round the lakes, take a jaunting car, go on horseback or hire a bike. In early summer it’s purple with rhododendron and it’s breathtaking in autumn. Boat trips from Muckross House take you to Lord Brandon’s cottage in the Black Valley, a famous beauty spot, where you can get a cup of tea, a cake and have ‘a nice sit down’!

•  Killarney Town. Though the town is quite busy with tourists in the summer, it’s a good place to spend a wet afternoon getting wetter - it’s got one of the best swimming pools I know, with a sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, so pack your swimming stuff. There’s also a well-equipped gym for anyone mad enough!

Kilmacillogue Bay from Derreen Gardens at sunset

•  Derreen Woodland and Kilmacillogue. Derreen Woodland was planted by The Marquis of Lansdowne and his descendants. There are miles of walks through huge stands of bamboos and 200-year-old tree ferns, in spring the hundreds of varieties of Rhododendron, Camellia and Azalea are stunning. The gardens lead down to the sea and views across Kilmacillogue Bay. Five minutes down the road is Kilmacillogue itself. There’s a pub by the harbour wall, which does gorgeous smoked salmon sandwiches and provides another chance at an Irish coffee. The Captain of the ‘Seafari’ calls this the prettiest harbour in Western Europe.

•  Local walks. The Beara Way and Ring of Kerry Way are on our doorstep, Kenmare hosts a walking festival each May (www.kenmare.com/walking) If you’d prefer a gentle amble after your lesson and prior to your afternoon nap, you can step out of our front door and you’re at the mid-point of a walk around a well-known local beauty spot. Our front porch overlooks Irelands highest peak, Carantouhil and there are spectacular views down the length of Kenmare Bay just 5 minutes walk up our road … (or up the ‘long acre’ - so called because the grass growing in the middle of the road used to be grazed. It still is, come to think of it!)

            

                        Killarney National Park

•  Gleninchiquin Park and Waterfall. When you’re driving down Gleninchiquin you can see the waterfall at the head of the valley but it’s not till you get up close that you appreciate how high it is. There are a variety of walks but the best one is up to a bridge that crosses the waterfall at the top. On the way down, the path follows a mountain river that has cut spectacular shapes and pools in the rock that it flows over, fantastic for swimming on a hot day. More home made cakes and tea at the end. There’s a six-euro entry fee.

Star Sailing - Established in 2004, the StarSailing and Adventure Centre was created with a single purpose; to provide the best in outdoor activities at prices that represent real value for money. Since our relatively short birth we have now emerged as one of Ireland’s premiere outdoor activity resorts. The centre itself is a modern, purpose built outdoor activity centre with adjoining high quality restaurant located just five minutes drive from Kenmare, a town that is fast gaining the reputation as one of Ireland’s premiere tourist destinations. Con’s Bar & Special Sea Food Restaurant located on the first floor of the Centre serves an extensive array of breakfast, Lunch & Dinner options specialising in freshly caught Sea Food. StarSailing proves itself to be an ideal venue for that special day out as part of a family, group or simply on your own

 

Stuff to do in the evenings

There are more than 30 places to eat in Kenmare! 3 takeaways, numerous quality restaurants and 2 Five Star hotels, which are open to non-residents. Local produce and seafood from Kenmare Bay feature. There are also loads of bars that do good pub-grub and many of them provide music in the evenings,

Crowley’s Bar on Henry Street is the most famous pub for trad - for decades its seats have been warmed by many of the finest players in Ireland. (This is where we’ll meet up on the Sunday evening prior to your course). Crowley’s is owned and run by Peter Crowley a connoisseur of traditional music, son of Joan Crowley, herself a fine fiddle player now in her 80’s – a direct link back to the Sliabh Luachra fiddlers: Julia Clifford, Denis Murphy and Padraig O’Keefe. Sessions are usually held on Monday and Tuesday evenings, with ‘impromptunes’ liable throughout the week.

Joan Crowley and Gerry Harrington

The Lake House Bar, 9 miles out of Kenmare on the Castletownbere road has music on Wednesday evenings which feature assorted members of Kenmare’s excellent trad band ‘Amergin’. We usually play there on a Sunday night.

The Brook Lane Hotel a new, smart and very comfortable hotel on the edge of town, is fast becoming known as a music venue, recently booking artists such as Frankie Gavin from De Danann, Luka Bloom and Mary Coughlan. There is usually music in the restaurant on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings in the season. For further details for future gigs and accommodation details click here – www.brooklanehotel.com

The Ballyvourney Cultural Centre, which regularly puts on top class traditional music bands, is just down the road and Altan and Lunasa have both played Kenmare this summer. (2005).

 

Kerry Fiddles logo