Home » County Clare and County Kerry, Ireland

County Clare and County Kerry, Ireland

by Debra C. Argen
Edward driving through Ireland
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

County Clare & County Kerry, Ireland - Thatched CottageThe South West of the Ireland is a magical place filled with castles, natural beauty, and where you can almost believe it is possible to see leprechauns.


After nearly 100 years since my grandmother and great-grandmother left Ireland, this lass with Irish bloodlines returned to Ireland in September 2007 for a most enchanting, emotional, and very passionate journey to discover Ireland as well as connect with my Irish heritage. It was truly a trip of the heart as I soaked up the culture, the history, and had the opportunity to practice my Irish/Gaelic reading the highway and street signs and on those poor unfortunate souls who had to try to decipher what I was saying, although by the end of my trip I was speaking like a native … well, almost anyways.

To have a true Irish experience from start to finish, Edward F. Nesta and I flew Aer Lingus for a 5-hour and 15-minute flight from JFK Airport in New York to Shannon Airport in Ireland.

We arrived at the airport and our first task of the day was to pick up our rental car from Europcar, since we wanted to experience as much as Ireland as possible beginning in County Clare. With keys and map in hand, it was up to Edward to come up to speed quickly driving with the steering wheel on the right side of the car and driving on the left side of the road. Fortunately, he had some practice driving on the left on a trip to the Maltese islands earlier in the year. However, the car that we rented this time was an automatic, and since Edward normally drives a manual sports car, this was a bit interesting, as he initially kept trying to "shift" going into the many roundabouts for which Ireland is famous. Be sure to read about Edward’s experiences driving the highways, byways, and the winding country lanes of Ireland in the Adventures section, as it will definitely keep you chuckling as he takes you through the many challenges as well as the rewards of driving in Ireland.

Dromoland Castle Hoel & Country Estate, IrelandFor our first night, we decided that we should have a castle experience to inaugurate us to Ireland. Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate was absolutely dream-like as we entered the drive and the blue limestone castle majestically came into view. Dating back to 1543, Dromoland Castle, which has a royal pedigree of the O’Brien clan, is where guests can truly have a luxury experience on this stunning 410-acre estate.

Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate's The Earl of Thomond Restaurant - TerrineDuring our stay, we had a relaxing lunch at the Green Room Bar at the Dromoland Golf & Country Club, practiced our putting on the putting green, and had a sensational dinner at The Earl of Thomond Restaurant. Dinner at the castle was an elegant affair with Executive Chef de Cuisine David McCann’s cuisine taking center stage. A few of the tempting courses we sampled included Seared Sea Scallops, Saffron & Quince Puree, Madras Garnish; Terrine of Foie Gras Paysanne, Baby Figs & Beetroot; Gin & Lime Sorbet; Crispy Pave of Organic Irish Salmon, Potato Rosti, Organic Leaves, Cucumber & Tarragon Sauce; and Local Loin & Cutlet of Lamb with Tomato & Herbs, Buttered Greens, Aubergine Caviar, and Tarragon Sauce.

Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate's - The Spa at Dromoland, IrelandWe also made time to experience their beautiful new spa, The Spa at Dromoland, which opened in July 2007. Talk about having all the bells and whistles, Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate truly has it all.

Read about Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate in the Hotels and Resorts section,

The Spa at Dromoland in the Spas section, The Earl of Thomond Restaurant in the Restaurants section and Chefs’ Recipes where Executive Chef de Cuisine David McCann shares a taste of Ireland with four of his delicious recipes.

Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate, Ireland
Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate
County Clare, Ireland  
Telephone:      +353-61-36-8144  
Toll Free:        +1-800-346-7007 (United States and Canada)  
Fax:                 +353-61-36-3355  

Thatched Cottage in Adare, IrelandAfter a wonderful experience at Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate it was time for us to experience County Kerry. On our way to Kenmare, we made a short stop in the charming town of Adare (Áth Dara) where thatched roof cottages from 1828 with their pretty gardens caught our eye.

Washing Pools - Adare, IrelandWe strolled through the Adare Town Park, with its interesting Washing Pool, which was once the traditional place where the women of Adare would come to wash their clothes and water their animals. Adare Town Park is open daily from 8:00 am – 10:00 pm during the summer, and the rest of the year from 8:00 am – "until lighting up time."

Other interesting stops included the Augustine Friary known as Saint Nicholas’ Church of Ireland, and Holy Trinity Abbey Church founded in 1232, located across from the Adare Town Park.

St. Nicholas Churh, Adare, Ireland   Holy Trinity Abbey Church, Adara, Ireland
St. Nicholas’s Church of Ireland        Holy Trinity Abbey Church

Horse being shoed - view from IrelandPassing through the many small towns along the way, I was enchanted with the charming vignettes as I looked out the car window, which included seeing a horse being shoed by a blacksmith on the side of the road.

I had expected Ireland, known affectionately as the Emerald Isle, to be green, however, what I did not expect to see was palm trees and wild fuchsia hedges, although my friend, Annette Atkinson, Sheen Falls Lodge, Kenmare, County Kerry, Irelandwho had grown up in Ireland, did forewarn me. I was amazed to see the varying foliage as we drove to the 300-acre Sheen Falls Lodge, once the summer residence of the Marquis of Lansdowne, and began our experience by having tea on the terrace overlooking Sheen falls while listening to the soothing "music" of the water flowing over the rocks, and watching the herons in the river.

Sheen Falls Lodge, Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland - SalmonWe had a wonderful dinner at La Cascade where a few of the courses we sampled on Executive Chef Philip Brazil’s creative menu included Risotto of Castletownbere Crab with Roast Prawns; Sheen Falls Assiette Gourmande of Smoked Salmon and Sevruga Caviar; Fillet of Irish Beef on Garlic Creamed Potato, Caramelized Baby Onions, Baked Mushroom and Oxtail Pithivier, Sauce Béarnaise with Merlot Essence; and Ginger and Lemongrass Parfait with Rhubarb Compote and Rhubarb Coulis.

Read about Sheen Falls Lodge in the Hotels and Resorts section, about La Cascade in the Restaurants section, and Chefs’ Recipes where Executive Chef Philip Brazil shares his recipes for Roast Loin of Iberico Pork with Comfit of Irish Pork Belly, Caramelized Apple and Sweet Potato, Apple and Mooli Salad, Peanut Froth and Five Spice Essence.

Sheen Falls Lodge, Kenmare, County Kerry, IrelandSheen Falls Lodge  
County Kerry, Ireland  
Telephone:      +353-64-41-600  
Fax:                 +353-64-41386   

Sheen Falls Lodge provided us with the perfect base to explore the town of Kenmare, (Ceann Mara) which is an interesting town with much to offer visitors. Founded in 1670, Kenmare is County Kerry’s first Heritage Town. We enjoyed strolling the streets and browsing in the many shops, where we discovered that there is more to Irish Sweaters than just warmth and fashion. Read about the fascinating story of Irish Sweaters in the Fashion section.

There are many pubs in Kenmare with signs proclaiming "Guinness is good for you," and on the recommendation of our friend, David Butt, we stopped at Florry-Batt’s for Edward to indulge in a pint of Guinness as we soaked in the local flavor with Gaelic flowing around us in this quaint, small pub.

 Edward F. Nesta enjoying a Guinness at Florry-Batt's, Kenmare, Ireland     Florry-Batt's Kenmare, Ireland
Edward Enjoying a Beer at Florry-Batt’s

Holy Cross Church, Kenmare, IrelandWe visited Holy Cross Church consecrated in 1864, where a few of the many interesting details include the ornate chancel, organ, ten carved wooden angels on each side of the carved wood ceiling, and the Star of David mosaics.

Holy Cross Church
Telephone:   +353-64-41-352  
Email:           presbyterykenmare@eircom.net

Kenmare Stone Circle, IrelandIreland has many mysteries, and one of them is the Kenmare Stone Circle, which is the largest stone circle in the south west of Ireland. Although there are around 100 of the stone circles in the area, this fifteen stone circle has a rare Boulder Dolmen, a type of burial monument in the center of the circle. The stone circles were built during the Bronze Age (2,000 – 500 BC) for ritual and ceremonial purposes, and it is believed that the Kenmare Stone Circle may be orientated on the setting sun, and possibly has a connection to Stonehenge. Standing by the ring was a powerful experience as I soaked in the history and the possible meaning of the stone circle. Admission is charged.

Cromwells Bridge, Kenmare, IrelandThe architecture in Kenmare is worth noticing, especially Cromwell’s Bridge, an arching stone pedestrian bridge built over 300 years ago without mortar. Another interesting spot on the Kenmare Heritage Trail is Our Lady’s Well dedicated to the Virgin Mary, reached by walking over a stone pedestrian bridge and climbing up a stepped pathway, which is a Holy Well believed to have curative powers. Such wells originated during the period of 1691-1829 when Catholic worship was prohibited.

The next day we decided to venture a little further and explore other areas of County Kerry. We left Sheen Falls Lodge with sunny skies, but the time that we reached Moll’s Gap the mist was beginning to rise over the road, and within minutes, we were enveloped in a thick mist, as we slowly made our way through the surreal twisting turns of the narrow road with the sound of sheep bleating nearby, which made for a few uncomfortable minutes of driving not knowing if the sheep would suddenly dart in front of the car. Although the driving was a bit disturbing, the mist leant itself to the overall charm, and provided us with a unique Irish experience.

Heavy Mist along Moll's Gap  Heavy Mist along Moll's Gap
The Mist of Ireland along Moll’s Gap

Killarney National Park view along the wayBy the time that we had reached Killarney National Park, the sun was shining brightly and we had excellent views of the Lakes of Killarney, and stopped at Ladies’ View, which was directly across from a castle in ruins.

Killarney National Park BeachesSince it was a gorgeous day, we stopped at the lake where there were No Swimming signs posted due to dangerous deep water, which was a perfect place to relax for a few minutes and sun ourselves on the rocks.

The Lakes of KillarneyThere are 10,000 hectares to explore in Killarney National Park, pedestrian access to the Park is open daily year round, and there is free admission. The Visitors Centre is open daily from April – September, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm, and daily from October – March, on request.  

Killarney National Park  
Muckross, Killarney
County Kerry, Ireland
Telephone:      +353-64-31-440
Fax:                 +353-64-70-116

Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula, IrelandAlthough many people drive the renowned 175 km (110 mile) Ring of Kerry (Ring of Beara), we decided to take a less traveled route and visit the Dingle Peninsula, passing the towns of Killarney (Cill Airne) and Milltown before we reached Inch (Inse) and the breathtaking beauty of the long stretch of Inch Beach. Although it was September, it was a warm, sunny Friday, and it was no surprise to see people swimming, surfing, walking, and flying kites on the beach.

Edward at Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula, IrelandAfter a long walk on the beach and playing in the waves, we sat at an outdoor table soaking up the sun and enjoying an ice cream in view of a sign that read "Dear Inch, must I leave you, I have promises to keep and many miles to travel before my final sleep."

Dingle Peninsula Cheese ArtisanDriving onwards, we stopped in Dingle (An Daingean), where we visited the Open Market where vendors were selling Dingle Peninsula Artisan Cheese, fresh and smoked fish, other food items, and crafts. The market is open Fridays from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.

Patchwork views from Kerry, IrelandWe continued driving through Conor Pass, Ireland’s highest mountain pass, which is an impressive stretch of road that captivates the senses with its stunning beauty and zigzag patchwork quilt of green hills.

We passed Cloghane (An Clochan) before finally reaching Slieveglas, our ultimate destination, Slieveglass, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland which means green hill in Gaelic, and drove to the top of the hill overlooking the sea where the scenery and emotion momentarily rendered me speechless as I took in the area that was once the home of my grandmother and great-grandmother; this Irish lass had finally come home.

Michael Curran with Windmill, Blennerville, Tralee, IrelandOn the way back to Sheen Falls Lodge, we stopped in Blennerville and toured the Blennerville Windmill climbing to the top of the 21.3 meters (69.8 feet) windmill with Michael Curran who provided us with the interesting history of the windmill, built in 1780 by an English landlord, is one of only four working windmills in Ireland, and is the tallest working windmill in Great Britain and Ireland.

Blennerville has a rich history, as it served as the main port of emigration from County Kerry during the Great Famine (1845-1848), and there is an interesting display depicting this important historical time and information on the famous famine ship, the Jeanie Johnston, which sailed from Blennerville between 1847-1856. Situated on Tralee Bay, bird watchers will be interested in the opportunity to observe the Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Bartailed Godwit, Golden Plover and Curlew.

Blennerville Windmill, Blennerville, Tralee, IrelandLocated one mile west of Tralee on the main road to Dingle (N86), Blennerville Windmill is open April, May, September, and October from 9:30 am – 5:30 pm, and June, July and August from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm. Admission is charged.

Blennerville Windmill
Windmill Street
Blennerville, Tralee
County Kerry, Ireland
Telephone:      +353-66-712-1064

Sheen Falls Lodge's Queen's Walk The following morning, we took a hike along the Queen’s Walk, planted for Queen Victoria in 1861 at Sheen Falls Lodge, where the dappled light played through the trees on the giant fern trees, rhododendrons, tropical plants, and greenery on the twisting path as we walked through the cool and shaded woods.

Kenmare Old Burial Grounds, Sheen Falls Lodge, Kenmare, IrelandWe also visited the Kenmare (Old) Burial Grounds located just beyond the hedge of Sheen Falls Lodge where row after row of Celtic crosses mark the graves like soldiers standing at attention.

After a delightful few days of driving and exploring County Clare and County Kerry, it was time for us to continue our discovery of Ireland by driving to our next destination: County Cork.

Traveling through Ireland

Continue our journey with us as we travel throughout Ireland in the Destination articles: Destination – County Cork and County Wexford, and Destination – County Wicklow and Dublin.

Important information for Ireland:

The currency for the Republic of Ireland is the Euro. As of September 2007, the exchange rate was 1 US Dollar (USD) to 0.70 Euro. The Euro is divided into 100 cents. Euro coins are available in the following denominations: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and 1 and 2 Euro. Banknotes are available in the following denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Euro (€).

The electric current in the Republic of Ireland is 230 volts, and uses European 3-pin flat and 2-pin round sockets, so it is advisable to bring your own adapters. Time in Ireland is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), 5+ hours Eastern Standard Time in the United States.

As of September 2007, guests traveling to the United States from Ireland must complete an immigration form and pass through United States Customs at the airport in Ireland. For our 10:30 am flight from Dublin International Airport, our Boarding Card noted that the United States Customs Gate would close at 9:00 am. Be sure to arrive at the airport early so that you will have time to process your VAT Tax Refund paperwork as well as make any purchases from Duty Free, because once you pass through the United States Customs area there is no shopping. VAT Tax Refund is located at the Dublin International Airport after you pass through Security.

The official languages of the Republic of Ireland are English and Irish/Gaelic. Signs are written in both languages. To provide you a feel of Ireland, I have included some basic vocabulary in Irish/Gaelic or Gaelige, pronounced gale-geh, and since many people travel to Ireland to trace their heritage, I have also included genealogy terms.








General Words








air fort














maitha (dea)

mah ah

Good day

lá maith

law mah

Good night

oíche mhaith

ee-ha vah

Good bye



How are you?

Conas taio?

co-nus tee?





más é do thoil é

maws eh duh hull eh




Post Office

Oifig an Phoist




taw-er nay


gura maith agat

gurrah mah a-gut


































































Lamb (roast)

uan (uaineoil)












































































Genealogy Terms












Birth Certificate

teastas (beireatais)









clan (family)











Grandchild (female)



Grandchild (male)





















Please read other articles on Ireland in the Destination, Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs’ Recipes, Spas, Liquor Cabinet: Celtic Crossing Liqueur, Boru Vodka, Knappoque Irish Whiskey, Fashion, and Adventures sections.

Discover IrelandFor information on Ireland, please visit the website: Discover Ireland, www.DiscoverIreland.com or call them at +1-800-223-6470. For driving directions in Ireland, visit www.aaireland.com.

For information on Aer Lingus, please visit the website: Aer Lingus, www.AerLingus.com.   

© October 2007. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com All rights reserved.

Related Articles