I spent so much time plotting out the Scotland leg of our trip that I must confess I completely neglected Ireland. The nice that is that, hotels aside, both countries are places that can be tackled without a lot of preparation in advance. Driving The Ring of Kerry, the Emerald Isle’s most famous route, was our most scenic portion of our trip to Ireland, and if you’re looking to recreate this leg, here’s how you can do just that.
Give yourself a whole day to drive the loop. Sure, it looks like a short amount of distance on the map, but I assure you it will take you the entire afternoon.
Stay in Killarney. I’m sure there are other nice towns along the route, but Killarney, which is at the starting point of the ring, is one of my favorite places in Ireland. I didn’t see another town along the ring that could compare (though Kenmare is also worth a gander).
Don’t wait for the rain to subside. We had a ridiculously, uncharacteristically beautiful day—still, there were patches of rain here and there—but I hear this is the exception to the norm. Like at the Cliffs of Moher, weather can change in seconds, so don’t delay your trip hoping for a break in the clouds because it might never happen.
Drive the route clockwise. This way, you’ll be driving opposite the buses—of which there are many on the very narrow road—and won’t get stuck behind one as it idles along.
… however, if you’re the slightest bit afraid of heights, go with the flow and drive it counter-clockwise. Because driving opposite the buses means they’ll be driving at you head on and—if you’re American like me—on the opposite side of the road at that. This thought didn’t scare me, but my acrophobic mom was having none of it. Scared, too? Drive in the same direction as the buses, we did. Seeing as it was a weekday at the tail end of the shoulder season, we actually didn’t run into much traffic at all. (I assume this wouldn’t be the case in the height of summer.)
Pull over for photo stops frequently. Particularly when a dog sitting on a donkey is involved. You’ll have to pay to pet the goat, but something tells me you won’t mind.