Experience the beauty and culture of Kerry Heritage. Be it ancient relics, archaeological structures, or quaint villages that offer a glimpse of life here, Kerry is the perfect place to experience Irish Heritage – Ringforts, Castles, and Lighthouses to name but a few.
While Ireland is full of postcard-worthy scenery, Skellig Michael is the best of the best when it comes to unique natural beauty. Eight miles off the coast of Kerry lie the twin rugged rocky peaks known as Skellig Michael in the raging Atlantic waters.
The remote island, which was once home to monks, has been deserted for many years, with choppy waters and rocky structures making accessibility a challenge.
Recent years have seen the attraction gain a lot of attention, mostly due to the Star Wars shoot that took place here.
If you’re keen on visiting, you can get a boat from Portmagee to drop you off, but be warned, the waters are rough. Still, if you can manage the ride, the beauty from the rocky hills is otherworldly. Its 618 steps lead you up to an ancient monastery.
Kerry Bog Village
Thatched cottages, authentic artifacts, and exhibits with adorable Irish wolfhounds and Kerry Bog Ponies make this a fabulous stop to soak up some true Irish history and culture. While you are here, don’t forget to grab a cup of delicious Irish coffee or a bite to eat from the Red Fox Inn.
A small detour from the Ring of Kerry will take you to the 2,500-year-old engineering marvel that is Staigue Fort. It is constructed entirely with undressed stones, all without any mortar. The structure is about 27 meters in diameter (outer), with 5.5 meter high walls that are almost 4 meters thick at the bottom.
Staigue Stone Fort sits amid a green meadow with a backdrop of the countryside and the sea, which makes it a surreal sight for not just history enthusiasts but everyone.
You can climb the walls to take in the beautiful 360-degree panorama or check out the two oval chambers within. Most people find it an easy climb, but you had better be cautious since it’s steep and there are no guard rails.
Another quick detour from the Ring of Kerry will bring you to Derrynane House, which was once home to the Irish politician and statesman Daniel O’Connell.
The house is a national monument that’s situated on a 320-acre national historic park. The original building was erected in 1702 by Daniel O’Connell’s grandfather, and it was opened to the public in 1967.
Not only is the structure, along with the national park, gorgeous, but it also contains several relics. Visitors can avail themselves of 40-minute long guided tours with an informative presentation.
Apart from the building itself, visitors usually enjoy spending time exploring the surrounding grounds, walking down to Derrynane beach, and grabbing a cuppa in the nice little café nearby.
Kerry County Museum
Located in the heart of Tralee, Kerry County Museum is part of an initiative to preserve and share County Kerry’s culture. It showcases over 4,000 artifacts that reflect the region’s heritage.
Spread over 1,750 m, the museum offers something for everyone. While the Main Gallery exhibits archaeological artifacts and life-sized recreations, the Special Exhibition Gallery and other temporary exhibitions capture specific stories with artifacts, illustrations, and much more.
The ‘Medieval Experience’, which showcases a recreated medieval town is truly an experience. A walk here will bring you back in time to Tralee of 1450 AD complete with the everyday sights, sounds, and the authentic odour effects of that period in time.
About 2 km outside Tralee, you can visit Ireland’s largest working windmill. The windmill’s history dates back to 1780 when it was built by Rowland Blennerhassett.
It was restored in 1984, and the five-story structure with a white stone exterior and wooden blades is such a sight to behold. Blennerville Windmill offers more to visitors than just a grand structure.
You have four exhibitions – The workings of the Windmill; The Jeanie Johnston Exhibition; Tralee to Dingle Railway Exhibition; and Other Historical Artifacts used in the 19th century. Overall, the beautiful structure, scenic background, and engaging exhibits make a trip here well worthwhile.
Along the Ring of Kerry, one can see the Old Cahersiveen Barracks, a local history museum. The barracks have a long history dating back to the 18th century, but what you see today is a restored version that opened to the public in 1996.
The museum exhibits several local artefacts, including those related to the unsung hero Daniel O’Connell. Visitors can even learn of the role Cahersiveen Barracks played in the 1867 uprising.
While the structure is grand from the outside, the museum is small; still, it has a lot of character and history. There’s a great coffee shop too if you want to grab a bite to eat or something to drink.
Cahersiveen Ring Forts
About 3 km from Cahersiveen, one can visit Cahersiveen Ring Forts Leacanabuaile and Cahergal. While Ireland is home to quite a few ring forts, these two 7th century structures are among the best. Historic structures, green meadows, and a backdrop of the Atlantic make this a great stop along the Ring of Kerry.
Among the two forts, Leacanabuaile is the most impressive one. Made of dry stone, the structure is estimated to have encapsulated about three or four dwellings. Cahergal, on the other hand, is mostly a ring structure with nothing inside it. Perhaps it was made to provide shelter to livestock?
About 3 km from Cahersiveen, one can visit Ballycarbery Castle, an impressive 16th-century structure on a grassy hill. The castle’s sheer size and picturesque location make it a sight to behold, but the structure itself is mostly a ruin.
The high wall that once surrounded the castle has all but disappeared. Inside the castle, you can see three rooms on the ground floor and two on the first floor.
The castle’s dilapidated condition is mostly due to the cannonball attack from Oliver Cromwell in 1652. Unfortunately, no work was done to restore the castle, and years of exposure to the Irish weather have taken its toll. Still, you can’t miss its unique beauty, even from afar.
Valentia Island Lighthouse
Along the coast of Kerry, just off Portmagee, lies Valentia Island, home to one of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland, Valentia Island Lighthouse. Built in 1841, the lighthouse is still functional, and it entertains many tourists, especially during the busy months.
The top of the lighthouse offers fantastic 360-degree views, and exhibits and information boards inside make the trip informative as well as entertaining. A trip to Valentia Island Lighthouse is well worth it because of the beauty of the structure and its surroundings.