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Trip List by Sarnia G

Kinsale to Kenmare, or Killarney : A Day's Journey

14 Feb 2010  by SarniaG : I heart Ireland
4.5 of 5 stars based on 1 vote

Take a leisurely drive from Kinsale to Kenmare (or beyond to Killarney) along the south coast of co. Cork. You will be rewarded with fabulous coastal scenery and pretty towns and villages.

Kinsale - Kenmare: approx. 145km, min. 3.5hrs drive, following the R600, and N71 -plus allow time for stops en-route. Depending on date of your visit, you may not have enough time (daylight hours) to visit all the stops listed below. Some places may not be open during winter months, so I advise you check web-sites for details of opening times.

  • 1. Kinsale

    Kinsale is a pretty harbour town on the south coast of County Cork, approx. 1hrs drive from Cork City.

    It has a reputation as "Gourmet Capital of Ireland" and does indeed have some good restaurants. However, in recent years it certainly has strong competition from the towns of Kenmare and Dingle.

    Allow enough time in your itinerary to spend a couple of hours exploring the narrow winding streets, where you will discover craft shops, souvenir shops, a rather good little book shop, and a wide range of cafes, pubs and restaurants.

    For those of you with slightly more time, there is a lovely walk from Kinsale to Charles Fort, which is one of Ireland's best examples of a "star-shaped" fort, dating from the 17th century. The walk takes you along the coast to Summercove where you can stop at Bulmans pub for refreshments.

    Open all year round, there are guided tours in season. Check with the tourist office in Kinsale for details.

  • 2. Timoleague Franciscan Friary
    Timoleague Franciscan Friary, County Cork

    Head out of Kinsale on the R600 to the little village of Timoleague, where you will see the ruined Franciscan friary on the shore. Worth spending a few minutes exploring the ruins.

  • 3. Clonakilty

    On to Clonakilty (R600), which is a pretty market town 10km west of Timoleague. Visit the model village to see Ireland in the 1940's:


  • 4. Drombeg Stone Circle
    Drombeg Stone Circle, Skibbereen

    From Clonakilty take the N71 to Ross Carbery, then look for a turning on the left to Glandore (R597). Approximately 5km along this country lane, you will find a turning on the left, and signs to Drombeg Stone Circle.

    This is a very fine example of a stone circle, and one of the easiest to locate. Closeby lies the remains of a "fulacht fia" which is believed to have been used by prehistoric man to heat water. Remains of "fulacht fia" can be found all over the country.

    Return to the R597 and drive through Glandore to Leap, where you will rejoin the N71.
    Turn left to Skibbereen.

  • 5. Skibbereen

    Skibbereen is a bustling market town, rather shabby around the edges, but a convenient place to stop for a bite to eat in one of the simple cafes or pubs.

    If you have time, visit the Skibbereen Heritage Centre and the Great Famine Commemoration Exhibition.

    Leave Skibbereen on the N71, direction Bantry.

    Just after you've crossed the bridge leading out of Skibbereen, you will come to Abbeystrowry Church and Graveyard, where you will find a moving memorial to victims of the Great Famine, who are buried in a mass burial pit.

  • 6. Bantry

    It's approximately 33km to Bantry, and should take around 35 minutes from Skibbereen.

    If time permits, stop at Bantry House, and visit the House and Gardens; you should need approx. 1.5hrs (check web-site for opening times).

  • 7. Glengarriff

    Glengarriff: a tiny little village, has a rather quaint old-fashioned air about it.

    If you have a couple of hours spare, you might like to take the short boat ride to Garnish Island, which has a beautiful Italianate garden. You might be fortunate enough to see seals basking on the rocks in the bay.

  • 8. Kenmare

    The last stretch of your journey over the Caha Mountains should take around 35-45 minutes, and has some gorgeous mountain scenery. Think High Hills rather than Alpine scenery - but gorgeous all the same.

    Kenmare is a pretty little town, on the Ring of Kerry. It has an excellent range of accommodation from 5* hotels to welcoming guest houses and b&bs. It also offers an exceedingly good choice of restaurants and pubs.

    Consider spending 2-3 nights in Kenmare and using it as a base from which to explore Beara Peninsula, Ring of Kerry and Killarney.

  • 9. Killarney

    Your travel plans might take you to Killarney rather than the smaller market town of Kenmare.

    If you have time, spend an hour strolling around Kenmare with its pretty craft shops; if you're interested in Irish history and culture, be sure to call into the Kenmare Book shop, which always has a good range of books of Irish interest.

    From Kenmare, take the N71 to Killarney; this is a section of the famous Ring of Kerry and offers some spectacular scenery along some fairly narrow and winding roads. Allow 1 hour for the journey, as you'll surely want to stop several times along the way to admire the views and take some photos.