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Killarney is a modern day mecca for tourism. Tours such as the Ring of Kerry just dominate the “Top 5 things to do” lists of every tourist’s itinerary. As soon as we took to the roads, all I wanted was my motorcycle. The curves along the Ring of Kerry are a motorcyclist’s dream come true. Filled with winding corners and epic scenery, it’s definitely a sight to see. Killarney’s quaint shops sell things from postcards and trinkets, to high priced doilies and blankets. Their pubs have a flair and old time feel to them, and the locals are true gems. Take a stroll a few minutes from the city centre and you’ll find yourself at the gate of Killarney National Park. As soon as you pass the gates, it doesn’t even feel as though there is a city around you. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the country’s red deer.
While driving along the Ring of Kerry, it’s no wonder why they call Ireland by its second name, The Green Isle, or The Emerald Isle. I have never seen so much lush, green scenic landscapes. Our tour bus stopped atop a massive hill overlooking a tiny village. The wind picked up and the gusts got stronger and more forceful, almost knocking me over. The fog rolled in faster than anything I’ve seen and a thick cloud consumed the hill, making it hard to see out into the ocean as we did when we first arrived. It felt and looked like I stepped into a fog machine as the sky went white. It was stunning.
As we hopped back into the bus, our guide and driver, Shane was cracking jokes, telling stories and making comments to pedestrians as they passed by, or crossed the road too slowly. He was hilarious! We made a pit-stop for lunch and when we got inside, the lunch line was huge. By the time I grabbed my food and a massive beer, I had about 15 minutes to eat and drink everything. Challenge accepted! I finished my food and guzzled the strong beer, which did end up making me quite tipsy, really quickly. Once we were done eating, Shane corralled us all onto the bus again and we were now headed to the colourful little town of Sneem. As we drove down the twisty roads, the beer started to kick in more. I drunkenly told my friend that I had a crush on Shane and I was going to write him a note with my email address and stick a tip inside the note at the end of the day. I’m all class, folks! So as we weaved along the roads, I sloppily jotted down a cute little note and tucked it away for the end of the tour.
Our next stop on the tour was at Ladies View lookout. This beautiful spot is located between Kenmare and Killarney on the Ring of Kerry and in the heart of Killarney National Park. It is one of Ireland’s best known scenic vistas. Ladies View gets its name from the pleasure and joy that was expressed by Queen Victoria’s Ladies-in-Waiting on their visit to the lookout in 1861.
Our final stop on the tour was to Killarney National Park to see Torc Waterfall. From the parking area, it’s a slight uphill walk through a very lush, green forested area. If you arrive early enough, you can opt for a longer, leisurely hike up and around Torc Mountain. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me at this point, but here is a photo of what the waterfall looks like.
Once we arrived back at the pick-up spot in Killarney’s city centre, we all said our goodbyes to Shane and I bashfully handed him the note and tip I had penned earlier, thanked him and jumped off the bus. I never did hear from him though. *sigh* Oh well!
After a long day in the bus, we went to The Laurels, which is a fairly popular pub in Killarney to grab a pint and a bite to eat. After we finished eating, we went outside and watched a hilarious and very entertaining street performer crack jokes and sing songs. He sang some of his original songs that were on his CD, which he was selling on the street, as well as some well known tunes, such as Heart of Gold by Canadian music legend, Neil Young. You can view that video on my YouTube channel (link at the end of this post). After a few laughs with the street performer, we felt the need to work off some of the calories we just consumed and took a short walk over to the gates of Killarney National Park. Once inside, you can’t even hear a single car, just the chirping of birds and the wind gently blowing. There are cows roaming freely as you walk the paths, and I even saw a massive red deer lurking in the bush.
Killarney is beautiful and the local people are some of the nicest I’ve met long my travels. I highly recommend doing the Ring of Kerry tour to experience some of the magical Green Isle nature.
We did the Ring of Kerry day tour with Paddywagon Tours out of the Killarney office. You can learn more about the tour and itinerary here.
For more info about Killarney or the Ring of Kerry, visit the links below.