Saturday, May 3, 2014

Conty Kerry, Ireland

Executive summary by darmansjah.

Perched on the westernmost corner of the country, County Kerry is perhaps the closest you’ll get to the mythical Ireland promised in tourist brochures – the Celtic Kingdom of misty mountains, blustery beaches, craggy cliffs and village pubs that skip nightly to the sound of live music performances.

Despite being one of Ireland’s wettest corners, County Kerry can be visited year round – summer brings in a frenzy of festivals, notably Listowel Writer’s Week from 30 May – 3 June and Killorglin’s Puck Fair – one of Ireland’s oldest traditional fairs – on 10-12 August.

Fly with British Airways from Singapore to London Heatrhow Airport, then transit to Dublin, and hop onto Aer Lingus to Kerry airport. Malaysian visitors can take also Emirates from K.L. and get to Dublin with a stopover at Dubai. From Dublin, fly Aer Lingus to Farranfore.

Best For Drives The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland’s most scenic drives a 111-mile route following dramatic coastline alongside green pastures and picturesque villages. The coast is at its most rugged between Waterville and Caherdaniel. In July and August, bus eireann route 280 services circumnaviaged the ring daily (fares from US$9).

Best for Wildlife Killarney National Park is a place of ancient oak woods, glacial lakes and craggy mountains. It’s also home to ireland’s only wild native red deer, plus white-tailed eagles-recently reintroduced after an absence of 100 years.

Best for Escape Skellig Michael is a spectacular pyramid-like island seven miles west of the mainland, and is home to the eerie remains of a sixth-century monastery. Ballinskelligs Boats offers tours of the island (tours include boat trip from US$52).

Best for History At the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, Sea Head is a promontory of wave-battered cliffs and windy beaches. Nearby you’ll find the biggest concentration of ancient sites in County Kerry, including the Iron Age Dunberg Fort (admission US$4).

Best for Town Dingle fulfils every notion of an irish seaside town, with antique pubs doubling as grocery stores, higgledy piggledy street s and a harbor where seafood catches are unloaded. Dophin-watching tours depart year round (tours from U$20).

A dependable deli in Kenamare, The Truffle Pig stocks fine meats, farmhouse cheeses, homemade jams and other produce from the region. There’s also a small coffee shop (Henry St.; closed Sun; cakes from US$2.50).

A toasty cast-iron wood stove, stone floor and memorabilia on the walls help to make John Benny’s one of dingle’s most enjoyable pubs. Traditional live music takes places most nights, and the seafood chowder is the best in town (Strand St. chowder from US$9).

Bang in the centre of Killorglin, Bianconi is a low-lit inn serving modern Irish food such as pot-braised shank of Kerry lamb and roast Irish chicken with homemade cranberry sauce. Its salads are also recommended ( Lower Bridge St; closed Sun; dishes from US$19).

Set on the Cromane Peninsula, Jack’s Coastguard Restaurant is an 1866-built coastguard staion-turned-restaurant, with windows overlooking the water. Oven-roasted hake with braised baby potatoes is a standout (Cromane Lower; closed Mon-Wed, and Jan; mains from US$24).

All polished wood and cream leather, the elegant dining room at Chapter 40 in Killarney makes for a fitting setting to dive into ambitious mains such as pork Wellington with pea and crab salsa. Wines by the glass show an equally capable hand in the cellar (Lower New St; closed Sun-Mon; mains from US$28).

Bus Eirann operates services between major town in Conty Kerry. If you’re planning to properly explore the county, it’s best to have your own transport. Car hire companies operate at Kerry airport (from US$32 per day).

Crystal Springs is a pleasant b&b the River Flesk in Killarney – you can even cast out a fishing line out from its grounds, and reel in trout and salmon. Rooms come richly furnished with patterned wallpapers and walnut timber furniture (Ballycasheen Cross; from US$88).

Harbour House is a family-run hotel in Castlegregory with 15 guestrooms, some with sea views. The hotel’s seafood restaurant is excellent valued – the family catch your dinner from their boat and vegetables are sourced from their garden (Scraggane Pier Rd; from US$96).

A 19th-century cottage just outside dingle’s town centre, Pax House has cosy interiors decorated with contemporary art, and outstanding vies over the estuary from guestroom balconies. A commanding breakfast might include the likes of porridge, kippers, homemade jam and marmalade (Upper John St; from US$96).
Tralee, Meadowlands Hotel has comfortable rooms decorated in classic autumnal hues. Smart communal spaces have fireplaces and antique clocks, while the hotel restaurant specializes in seafood (Oak Pk; from US$120).

On a hilltop a few miles west of Killarney, The Aghadoe Heights Hotel in Aghadoe is arguably the region’s finest place to stay. The centerpiece is a glass-enclosed swimming pool with views over Lough Leane. Swanky rooms also have lake views, along with giant beds and marble bathrooms (Lake Killarney; from US$224).

Bellar Irlandia Alongside Killarney’s traditional Irish pubs and music sessions lies Robertino’s Italian Restaurant. The experience is authentically Italian, starting with its strikingly Romanesque décor and continuing with a largely Italian staff, bustling atmosphere and excellent wine menu. Highlights included mussels in a shallot and white wine cream sauce, and chicken with a spinach and ricotta stuffing in a wholegrain mustard sauce (High St; dinner only, lunch for groups by arrangement; mains from US$14).

Holy Stones forum users rate soaring ruins of Ardfert Cathedral. Most of this impressive building dates back to the 13th century, but it incorporates elements of an 11th-century church (Ardfert; admission US$4).

This side of the pond Forum users also rate Valentia Island. The first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid from here in 1858. In the west of the island, with views worthy of some lost world, is former pilgrimage site St Brendan’s well. The Skellig Experience, by the bridge from the mainland, has island maps and exhibits about the largest of kerry’s Skelig islands, Skellig Michael (Mar-Nov; exhibition US$6).

Discover Ireland is a good online resource. David Lean’s classic 1970 movie Ryan’s Daughter is set in the county, with some scenes filmed at Slea Head.

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