Things To Do In Tarbert

The beautiful town of Tarbert in County Kerry, Ireland, is the perfect place to retreat, have a relaxing holiday, and reconnect with nature and yourself. And an added plus it is on the Wild Atlantic Way.

With plenty of historical buildings to explore, exciting woodland walks and the stunning coast to visit, there is something for everyone. Below, I have included the very best things to do in Tarbert.

Explore The Tarbert Bridewell Courthouse And Jail

Take a step back in time and discover Tarbert’s infamous courthouse and jail.

People getting evicted in Tarbert Bridewell Courthouse & Jail Museum Tour

Built in 1831 in the town centre, this historic brick building is a standing symbol of the harsh conditions suffered by inmates in the 1800s, as Ireland’s justice system during this time was known for being unnecessarily cruel.

Tarbert Bridewell Courtroom

By visiting Bridewell Courthouse and Jail, you will be able to experience how suspects were trialed and (if found guilty) the living conditions they suffered throughout their time in a 19th-century jail.

Throughout your time at this popular historical attraction, you will get to witness live reenactments and audio-visual experiences, that will provide you with all of the information you may be seeking on the history of Tarbert. From the courthouse to the jail cells, you will experience it all.

A Guard in Tarbert Bridewell Courtroom

But, the history of Bridewell Courthouse and Jail is not the only thing that you will learn about during your visit here. They also have a variety of different exhibitions, with the intention to educate the centres visitors on the rich past of the town.

Information on the key moments of Irish history that affected the local area, the history of the Famine as well as a dedicated exhibition to Thomas MacGreevy who was the director of the National Gallery in Ireland, as well as a poetic and literary critic in his own right. The MacGreevy exhibition is particularly interesting, as he was born in Tarbert.

Journey Down The Leslie Woodland Walk

The Leslie Woodland Walk, also known as the John F Leslie Woodland Walk, is one of the most popular walks in the surrounding area of Tarbert. As you explore the scenic route, you will take in the spectacular views of Tarbert Bay and the River Shannon.

John F Leslie Woodland Walk

You will also be able to spot the neighbouring counties of Clare and Limerick during your walk. The walk itself is considered to be relatively easy. It is approximately 6km long and will take the average walker around an hour and a half to complete.

If you prefer to walk with others, then be sure to take your trip to Tarbert during the May bank holiday weekend. This is because the town organizes a walking festival throughout the long weekend.

John F Leslie Woodland Walk
John F Leslie Woodland Walk

Whilst you are exploring the walk, be sure to look out for Tarbert House and Bridewell, which were built in the 1600s. For the nature and tree lovers amongst you, there are a number of ancient trees that line the walk including Holly, Elm, Cherry, and Ash trees.

Discover The Quirky Fairy Trail

One of the Tarbert Fairy Houses

The Leslie Woods is also home to another popular Tarbert attraction, the adorable Fairy Trail.

Perfect for anyone with younger children, or a love for something a little bit different, you can discover the numerous fairy doors that are decorated along this stunning walking trail.

Tarbert Fairy Trail Sign

This year (2021), the Fairy Trail went under a move to a different part of the wood. Not only have the favourite pieces previously included in the trail been allowed to stay, but many incredible additions have also been added.

So, be sure to take your little ones to find the new beautiful fairy doors, visit The Courage Tree and take in the picturesque views of this stunning trail.

Visit The Historical Tarbert House

Originally built in the 1600s, this stunning home was designed with beautiful Queen Anne-style architecture in mind and is actually home to the Leslie family to this day.

If you are hoping to visit this piece of history, please be mindful that it is only open to the public for a select few months during the summer.

But, with previous visitors, including Winston Churchill, Daniel O’Connell, Charlotte Bronte, and Benjamin Franklin, I would personally make it a priority on my itinerary.

With the house still retaining many of its beautiful original features and still being furnished in the style of its original era, you get to truly step back in time whilst you are visiting.

So, take your time to explore the gardens and the gorgeous house, and take in the breathtaking views of the Shannon Estuary.

Why Not Have A Picnic On The Pierside?

During your stay in Tarbert, why not head down to a local shop or bakery, and pick up some fresh and locally sourced ingredients for the perfect Irish picnic?

Picnic tables beside Tarbert pier

Once you have got your food and drink, then you absolutely must head down to the Pierside Picnic Area. Here you can find your perfect place and enjoy the relaxing and uninterrupted view of Tarbert Bay.

This specific area in Tarbert, also known locally as The Island, has a very important place in the history and development of the Tarbert that you can learn all about.

So, why not have a picnic whilst waiting for your ferry and discover more about this stunning location?

Don’t Forget To Spot The Sea Birds

Whilst you are visiting the picturesque Tarbert Bay, why not try your hand at some bird watching? Make sure to visit the bay whilst the tide is out, and see if you can spot some of the incredible species of bird that call this part of Ireland home.

You can either view the birds from your picnicking spot on the coast road, or you can go down to the dedicated Bird Hide viewing area at the bay. It is not surprising that this beautiful location is often frequented by some of Ireland’s most popular sea birds.

From the large hook-billed Cormorants to the bright red-legged Redshanks, and the popular Grey Herons and Oyster Catchers, do not forget to bring your camera during your visit to Tarbert.

Visit the memorials

During World War I and II, the people of Tarbert paid an incredible price as many of their men bravely went off to fight and died in service of their country.

Tarbert plaque remembering people that fought and died in the 2 World Wars

To honor these heroic individuals, three monuments have been erected in Tarbert. These 3 monuments all serve to commemorate the sacrifice of the local people and become living reminders of the consequences of war.

Does Tarbert have a lighthouse?

Tarbert lighthouse information

The Tarbert Lighthouse is located in the estuary of the River Shannon, visible from ferry crossings and other areas along the river. Though it’s not accessible for visiting, the beacon still serves as a vital guide for navigation in local waters 

How to get to Tarbert Woodland Walk?

When heading from Tarbert jailhouse (road N67) to the ferry crossing, you will encounter it on your left-hand side after about 800m.

Where to park for the Tarbert Fairy Trail?

Just before the Bridewell Courthouse and Jail near the river, there is parking for 5 cars.

That concludes my guide to the things to do in Tarbert. From its picturesque woodland areas to its wild Atlantic coast, you would not regret visiting this hidden gem in the southwest of Ireland.

Check out my web pages on the Ring of Kerry Drive, The Skellig Ring and Slea Head Drive.