The excursions below are our favourite local day trips; there is a sketch map to accompany each one. Click here for a larger scale
sketch map of the area around Westcove.
We are lucky to have two of the most popular Kerry visitor attractions 'right on our doorstep'....Derrynane House and Gardens -
the country retreat of Daniel O'Connell known as 'The Liberator', - and Staigue Fort, the largest and one of the most well preserved
pre-Christian ring forts in Ireland. ...also some of the best beaches in Kerry! Sketch map
The Skellig Ring and Valentia Island
Many many possibilities on this fascinating route, but my 'links' will help you plan your day! Sketch map
The Beara Peninsula
Drive East to Kenmare - Wednesday is 'market day' - then head south to Glengarriff and Bantry Bay via spectacular mountain passes!
Head East to Sneem, then inland towards Killarney. This is the most scenic section of the Ring of Kerry, with panoramic views over the
highest mountains in Ireland and the beautiful Lakes of Killarney . I have selected the best links to the visitor attractions on that
route, and also added a paragraph about Dingle.
About 5k West towards Waterville.
Just before Caherdaniel, there is a sharp left turn, signed Eagle Rock Equestrian Centre.
This is well run by Caroline Donnelly,
an excellent horsewoman herself, with safe ponies/horses (suitable for all ages and levels of experience). Try to book at low tide
as the best rides are across the sands of Derrynane Bay. Hard hats provided. Tel: (066) 9475145. Mobile 0872462981
If you drive on past the riding centre, you eventually get to a pretty little natural harbour. You can park there and walk up the
hills or out to an
unspoilt rocky shoreline - especially dramatic in heavy storms! When walking over any local hills, always watch out for slippery
rocks and unexpected boggy patches. and please keep dogs on leads if there are sheep about.
In Caherdaniel itself - stop for a Guinness at Freddy's - a traditional local pub which has been there forever and has a well
stocked 'general store'
just inside the entrance, or go to The Blind Piper - a younger atmosphere
and serving excellent food from 12.30 - last orders about 8pm.
Don't miss their live music sessions at about 9pm on Thursday evenings throughout the year! In summer, there's a very lively market
in the village hall between 10 and 12 on Friday mornings - well worth a visit - lots of local produce, arts and crafts.
2k from Caherdaniel
Turn left towards Waterville and then left again at Caherdaniel … lots of possibilities … If you just want a stroll along the dunes
(dogs paradise with endless rabbit burrows) turn left (under 5'9" barrier) just as you get to a fork in the road … go straight on to
visit Derrynane House
- a fascinating insight into Irish history - the house of Daniel O'Connell, "The Liberator" the house and gardens
are well worth a tour - I've seen the 25 minute video at least 10 times and am still intrigued ...and in summer the tea rooms have an
irresistible selection of home-made cakes.
Continue on towards the coast and at the end you get to a Car Park. On the left is a very good, sheltered beach for swimming/sunbathing (?!).
On the right is an attractive little harbour where Helen Wilson and other qualified instructors at Derrynane Sea Sports
within a fine, sheltered area for windsurfing, waterskiing and sailing - with small 'canoes' for younger children. In low tide well worth a
stroll over to Abbey Island - ruins of a very old abbey and lovely views across the sweep of Derrynane Bay.
On the way back, why not call in at Keatings Bar on the left? Bridie will give you a warm welcome...her crab - and lamb and mint - sandwiches
are as legendary as she is!
1.5k East towards Sneem.
The largest and one of the best preserved examples of a pre-Christian ring fort in Ireland, Staigue Fort is less than 15 minutes drive away.
Turn right towards Castlecove, and it is signed to the left, just before the village. Well worth a visit, especially on a clear day,
when the views out over the Atlantic are breathtaking. On your way back you will see the Staigue Fort Hotel on your right just before
joining the main road. There you will find a small 'Visitor Centre' which makes a thought provoking attempt to explain the origin of
this magnificently built stone circle. More importantly, this is an ideal venue for Sports Fans as they have Sky T.V. in their very welcoming Pub
area. Sheila Galvin, the proprietor will probably make you sandwiches and although West Cove is only a mile away, will
arrange transport back for you - (if necessary?!)
14.5k East of Westcove - 15-20 minutes drive away - is an exceptionally colourful village with a
very pretty river running through it and fun pubs. It has a small supermarket, an excellent butcher, a friendly and helpful chemist, a florist with a selection of Skellig chocolates.....the only 'minus' being being that it is also a very popular stop for the numerous Ring of Kerry tour buses...especially round mid-day in the summer!
Sketch map of Local Area
About a mile north of Sneem on the Killarney road is Blueberry Hill Farm - they offer an amazing variety
of courses and activities for all
ages ... I honestly can't remember 3 hours passing as quickly as they did when I took our 3 grandaughters on one of
their Family Fun Tour a fabulous experience!
3 - 8 hours
Go through Waterville, and when you see the Butler Arms Hotel, take the left fork towards Cahersiveen. This takes you past The Waterville Craft Market
on your right with an exceptionally good selection of woollen goods, pottery, interesting books and lots more. Shortly after crossing the
bridge over the River Inny, turn left signed Ballinskelligs. Just before the village, look out for a round stone building on your left with a
thatched roof. This is The Cill Rialaig Arts Centre, where you can browse through a fascinating collection of paintings, sculpture, ceramics,
textiles, bog wood carvings - mostly the work of Irish artists but also featuring international painters and sculptors, many of whom have stayed
at the inspiring Cill Rialaig Artists Retreat.
In the village of Ballinskelligs, take a right turn signed 'Skellig Ring' and follow this very scenic route towards Port Magee. Six miles on,
look out for the Skellig Chocolate Factory on your right....an essential stop for chocoholics! You can watch their truffles and other irresistible
chocolates being made...(and taste before you buy!)...Although closed in January they are open the rest of the year from 10-5 on weekdays and also
at weekends in July and August from 12-5.
The road then winds its way up to the top of a hill, with magnificent views over The Skelligs, Valentia Island and beyond, before descending to Port
Magee with its colourful array of fishing boats lined up along the quay ...why not stop here for great 'pub grub' at The Bridge Bar or a more formal
meal at The Moorings restaurant next door ?
A visit to The Skellig Experience is an absolute must ! This is an excellent visitor's centre -
on the left just over the bridge linking Port
Magee to Valentia Island. Watching their 25 minute video, shown regularly throughout the day, is the next best thing to actually landing on
Skellig Michael itself and climbing the 700 steps to the monastic settlement -( the location for the final scene of the latest Star Wars !)
They also offer a wonderful2 hour cruise around both islands (again, weather dependant).
At this point, you have 3 options!.
Option 1 :- If you've had enough for one day, the fastest route back to Westcove - about a 40-45 minute drive - is to go back over the bridge, turn left and follow signs to Waterville.....
Option 2 :- A slightly longer but good alternative to the above, even if you don't have the time/energy to explore Valentia to the full,
is to turn left out of the Skellig Experience and follow signs to Knightstown, where you can take the little car ferry to the mainland -
a 10 minute trip which runs continuously between May and September . As you land, you will
see The Point
Seafood Bar (and pub!) where you will be assured of a very warm welcome from Bridie and the rest of the O'Neill family, and be offered the freshest
ever selection of simple seafood dishes...open for lunch April - September... On the left, as you make your way back to the Ring of Kerry road, is the
KerryFish 'factory', well known for its multi-award winning Wild Smoked Salmon, but you can also choose from their large selection of freshly caught
fish and crustaceans straight off their own local trawlers...
Option 3 :- Energy, time - and weather - permitting, you could spend another 2-4 hours exploring Valentia Island itself... I suggest you visit
valentiaisland.ie and click on their 'visitor attraction' link... depending on your interests, the
following are the ones I would recommend:-
Geokaun Mountain: Walk or drive to the summit of Geokaun Mountain on the north east of the Island,
which on a clear day affords spectacular 360
degree views over the surrounding mountains and the Atlantic as far as the eye can see. There is a picnic area and 50 info plaques on the mythology,
history, fauna and geography of the region.
Valentia Slate Quarry: Well worth visiting, not only to catch a glimpse of the skilled work taking
place in the huge grotto - they have
provided slate from the early 19th century for many great European buildings including the Houses of Parliament - but to admire the stunning
views from its location on the coast, 2 miles from Knightstown.
Glanleam Subtropical Gardens -also signed from Knightstown, is a wild garden with walks through exotic specimen trees and hydrangeas,
opening out to vistas of the Lighthouse and the dramatic rocky shoreline of the Atlantic....
The Valentia Heritage Museum, . in Knightstown itself ... exhibits include the fascinating account of how the very first transatlantic cable
station was laid in the mid 19th century between Newfoundland in Canada and Valentia Island- the westernmost point of Europe!
Tetrapod Track :- This Trackway, as the name suggests, comprises the fossilised footprints of a 380 million year old tetrapod - here is the best,
most thought provoking link I can find on this fascinating subject!
Sketch map of the Skelling Ring and Valentia Island
Although you need to set off early and do quite a lot of driving, the following day trip has always been really popular with our guests -
especially those who appreciate beautiful scenery and gardens.
Drive to Kenmare (about 45 minutes from Westcove). This town has so much to offer - especially on a Wednesday when it boasts a lively street
market.You could spend a whole day there, lunching at The Purple Heather and browsing the excellent selection of shops , but if you've set out to
visit the Beara Peninsula, don't linger as you'll run out of time! At the top of the wide one-way street turn right, and then left at the 'T' junction
signed Glengarriff/Bantry . 3 miles before Glengarriff, as you descend the spectacular mountain pass is The Ewe Sculpture Park - a unique, quirky
experience for all ages, open June - August - good descriptions on 5* 'tripadvisor' reviews! Glengarriff has some good pubs, but on a sunny day
between June and October - do take a little 'ferry' to the beautiful 'Italian' Garden on 'Garnish Island' - boats leave regularly from the main
pier at Glengarriff. The walk around the well signed garden trail takes about 1 hour - quite hilly in parts but an absolute 'must' for garden lovers!
There is a good snack bar on the island, just as you disembark from the ferry.
As you continue along the A71coast road towards Bantry you will see the entrance to The Bamboo Park - a huge Japanese style gate on your
left...a must for plant lovers! Bantry House and Gardens are about 20 minutes on from Glengarriff . This is a stunning stately home overlooking
Bantry Bay which has been lovingly restored over the past ten years - wonderful furniture and paintings and very colourful gardens.
Derreen Gardens is another must for garden lovers. This wild coastal garden, situated near Lauragh, 25 minutes from Kenmare along the
south shore of the Kenmare Estuary, is mainly known for its stunning display of huge rhododendrons and azaleas - so really worth visiting
between early April and mid June. If you do go there en route to Glengarriff, aim for Adrigole via the Healy Pass - another amazing mountain
pass, full of hairpin bends, but with panoramic views over Bantry bay.
Of course you may not have the time - (or energy!) - to visit all our suggestions above, especially if this is your only day to visit
Kenmare, but hopefully the above information gives you an idea of what's on offer on the fascinating Beara Peninsula.
Sketch map of The Beara Peninsula
"How can you buy Killarney!?".....This iconic Irish/American ballad was in many ways responsible for my father buying Westcove House. In 1961 our
family were on a fishing holiday in Connemara... not a cloud in the sky, so hopeless for fishing.... "Let's do a tour of the famous 'Ring of Kerry'
and visit Killarney, the town I've been singing about for so many years", said my father. We came across a 'for sale' sign pointing towards Westcove
House - and the rest is history!
The drive via Sneem - or Kenmare - to Killarney is generally considered to be the most scenic section of the Ring of Kerry, with stunning views over
the McGillicuddy Reeks and the legendary Lakes. Sadly Killarney town itself has become the victim of its own popularity... huge hotels, tourist buses and
a warren of souvenir shops... especially in the summer. However, the drive itself is certainly worthwhile - (although small children may need to take
travel sickness pills!) - and I would thoroughly recommend the following 'stops' on the way:-
Avoca - craft shop and restaurant at Molls Gap, about half way between Sneem and Killarney... 'perhaps the most spectacular location for
breaking any journey to enjoy a unique shopping experience and superb country cooking....'
Torc Waterfall - well worth the five minute walk up from the A75, about 7k before Killarney
Muckross House and Gardens - 2.5k on from the falls.. a house full of history with beautiful gardens, traditional farms, weaving,
pottery, excellent restaurant and more!
Muckross Abbey - The well-preserved ruins of a 15th Century Franciscan Friary only 5 minutes walk - or horse and buggy ride - from Muckross
House car park.
If you've visited all the above 'attractions', you'll no doubt be more than ready to head back to Westcove the way you came! However there are 2
more very different options well worth considering in the Killarney area:-
The Killarney Falconry ... 'provides group and private hawk walks for all ages... set off around Killarney's Lakelands to fly a hawk/hawks and experience
the moment when a hawk scoops down to land on your gloved fist' .... The falconry is based 5 minutes north of the town centre, off theTralee road.
See here for more info. Amazing reviews!
The Gap of Dunloe... This famous mountain pass 'was carved out 2 million years ago by slow moving glacial ice'... You'll find signs to the
entrance to the Gap at Beaufort 10k west of Killarney on the N72 Killorglin road.
You can drive, walk or cycle through 'The Gap'... even hire a pony and trap... see here for the best info on all the possibilities!
Sketch map of Killarney
'Dingle' is a household name when considering a visit to South West Ireland...It is a beautiful rocky peninsula with lovely long
stretches of sandy beaches, but its main claim to fame is Fungi - the legendary Dingle dolphin . After 30 years, it seems he continues to
make regular appearances in Dingle bay, and visitors still flock there to take a boat trip, hoping to catch sight of him! However, Dingle town is a good 3 hours drive from Westcove, on winding roads, so you'd have to set off very early in the morning to make this trip, and with
so many other excursions to choose from with much less driving involved, I urge you to think carefully before embarking on this one!
Kerry Experience Tours, run by a charming Dutchman, Gerrit, based locally in Sneem, has been highly recommended by recent tenants as being a very knowledgeable guide, great company and an excellent driver. He can take any number from 2–6 in a car and up to 16 in his minibus. Gerrit has many options for different sightseeing trips in the area including a full day Ring of Kerry tour. Please take a look at his Tours Brochure, and his Brochure for Westcove Visitors. Click here to see the Trip Advisor reviews.
phone: +353 (0)646689679
Jeannette McDonnell is a Fáilte Ireland (Irish Tourist Board) Certified Tour Guide, with many years experience looking after International Visitors in Ireland. Having lived here for many years, she knows and loves every nook and cranny of South West Kerry and is able to offer you, our guests, imaginative itineraries and activities, presented with her warm and enthusiastic personality, and has many suggestions about exploring this fascinating area.
No group - or request - is too big or too small, so we suggest that you visit her beautiful website - www.kerrywildandwonderful.com - and then contact Jeannette directly to discuss the myriad of options, at which point she will of course be able to give you an idea of the likely costs involved.
phone: 00353 87 9791168