For a flavour of Co Kerry, here’s a glossy edit of what to see and where to stay, sip and dine in the kingdom …
Main Image; Co, Kerry, Discover Ireland.
Celebrate an Irish summer with our Fly The Flag Destination Guides featuring travel tips, restaurant recommendations, luxurious hotel stays and a focus on Irish shops and produce. If you are planning an Irish getaway – scroll and save for your next trip …
WHERE TO STAY
The Lansdowne Kenmare
The vibe: Slick, contemporary design and service. Planning to visit Kenmare? As a base for exploring the town and region, The Lansdowne Kenmare could not be more central. It has an impressive pedigree – having been acquired in 2020 by hoteliers John and Francis Brennan. They renovated the property which dates back to 1790. It opened in 2021 and quickly achieved four star status as well as inclusion into the exclusive Small Luxury Hotels of the World portfolio. Guests will find 28 charming bedrooms, as well as a trio of dining options: The LK Café, The Dining Bar Terrace and a Piano Lounge. We love the strong design aesthetic, from the denim and navy jacket uniforms of the staff to the Walker Roberts Bluetooth speakers in the rooms and top-notch artworks, it’s all been carefully curated. Make the most of its location beside (big) sister property The Park Kenmare and pop over for a drink or a treatment in the idyllic Samas Spa. Do check out events at the town’s Butter Market venue if staying in Kenmare; there are some great concerts and exhibitions on the summer programme. An overnight stay at The Lansdowne costs from €155; www.lansdownekenmare.com.
Carrig Country House, Killorglin
The vibe: Lush lakeside hideaway with activities. Midway between the town of Killorglin to the east and the village of Glenbeigh and Rossbeigh Beach to the west, Carrig House is situated on the Ring of Kerry. It overlooks Caragh Lake and is surrounded by the Reeks District mountains, so for those who like activity holidays angling, mountaineering, orienteering and kayaking and lots more are on the doorstep. For the less active, the Victorian manor house is surrounded by lush gardens to wander, while dinner the Lakeside Restaurant is one gourmet treat not to be missed. If visiting in August, do check out the Puck Fair in Killorglin, held on August 10-12. This quirky event is apparently the oldest festival in Ireland, when a wild mountain goat is crowned king of the town by the Queen of Puck, who is traditionally a young local schoolgirl. It’s unusual but it always creates a real buzz. An overnight stay with breakfast at Carrig Country House costs from €150; www.carrighouse.com.
Pax House, Dingle
The vibe: Breathtaking views in a convenient location. Situated just outside Dingle, Pax House is the perfect base for a visit to the town. While it’s only a short walk into Dingle itself, you’ll need a car to make the most of the surrounding areas to take day trips and for drives along the Slea Head. Known for its welcoming service and cosy, peaceful atmosphere, we challenge you to feel anything but relaxed as you look out at the breathtaking views from your room on arrival. Seaview rooms from €195; www.pax-house.com.
WHERE TO SHOP
Paula Flynn of TheShopkeepers.com and THE GLOSS collated a fabulously diverse and exciting list of independent retailers around Ireland for The Best Shops Ireland and we couldn’t resist featuring some of them in our Irish Destination Guides for the summer. Look no further, here is where to shop in Co Kerry.
Dingle Bookshop, 2 Green Street, Dingle
While away an hour or two in The Dingle Bookshop, which includes more than 6,000 books, with a strong emphasis on Kerry, of course. www.dinglebookshop.com
Crinkle Stores, Green Street, Dingle
A former draper’s shop in Dingle, Co Kerry is representative of owner Sarah Dolan’s passion for nature, crafts and contemporary design. Collaborating with smaller Irish artists and designers it offers bespoke pieces by local ceramic artist David Holden, scents by The Home Moment, rare breed undyed Irish sheepskins as well as European brands like HK Living. @crinklestores
The Little Shop Dingle, Grey’s Lane, Dingle
Mark Murphy believes that Ireland is home to some of the best cheeses and cheesemakers in the world. So, he features a great selection of Irish goat, sheep, and cow cheeses The Little Cheese Shop, which he took over in 2018. Mark also carries a selection of tasty accompaniments to complement his cheese – olives, crackers, chutney, and wine. Photography by Fiona Morgan. www.thelittlecheeseshop.ie
WHERE TO EAT
Top tips and hidden gems as recommended by our Food Editor Ciara McQuillan …
The Brasserie at The Europe Hotel, Killarney
With a view and location that is second to none, dining on the terrace at The Brasserie in The Europe Hotel is a treat for all the senses. Located on the shore of Lough Léin and only five minutes’ drive from Killarney town, the backdrop of the stunning Kerry landscape is enough to take your breath away. The seafood platter with grilled fish, smoked salmon, oyster, prawns, langoustine, seared scallop and crab claws is a steal at €30; www.theeurope.com.
O’Donoghues Public House, Killarney
This is a lovingly restored bar in the centre of the town serving seasonal contemporary classics in traditional surroundings. Homemade sausage rolls, chorizo Scotch egg and smoked salmon tartare are just some of the dishes you will find on the menu. Traditionalists will enjoy the Kerry mixed grill that could easily feed two and the old fashioned trifle for dessert is a nice touch; www.odonoghuekillarney.com.
Doyle’s Seafood Restaurant, Dingle
A stalwart of the Dingle dining scene, Doyle’s is a safe bet for quality seafood prepared with passion and skill. Expect modern classics such as black sole on the bone, seafood linguine and Spanish style Dingle Bay seafood stew with chilli and fennel. The dining room is inviting and cosy too; www.doylesrestaurantdingle.ie.
Out of the Blue, Dingle
Out of the Blue (or OOTB as it’s known affectionately) serves the very best seafood, straight from Dingle harbour. Menus change daily and depend on the day’s catch – no fresh fish means the restaurant doesn’t open its doors. You won’t find chips or anything deep fried on the menu but when you are chowing down on pan-roasted scallop’s flambéed with Calvados does it really matter?; www.outoftheblue.ie.
The Fish Box, Dingle
A family owned and run business in the heart of Dingle, The Fish Box also own their own trawler, the Cú Na Mara, so you know the fish will be fresh. There are tempura prawns, fish tacos, a fish spice box or Dingle Bay fish and chips made with local Maharees potatoes. The Fish Box is eat in or take away but as with so many on this list, be prepared to wait; www.thefishboxdingle.com.
Mulcahy’s Bar and Restaurant, Kenmare
Cosy and atmospheric, the dining room in Mulcahy’s is an inviting space with dim lighting, dark walls and wooden furniture. It’s a somewhat moody room, and when it’s busy, it’s filled with an intoxicating energy. The menu at Mulcahy’s is filled with the kind of food people love to eat. Kick things off with a Valentia Island Vermouth before moving on to scallops with buttered cabbage and celeriac broth or a lobster and crab croquette followed by fish pie, beef wellington or the very reasonably priced halibut with leek and grape beurre blanc. Don’t skip dessert. Mulcahy’s is exceedingly popular with locals and visitors alike so plan ahead and book a table, especially in the busier months; www.mulcahyskenmare.ie.
The Boathouse Bistro, Dromquinna Manor, Kenmare
Located on the waterfront in a boathouse dating from the 1800s, The Boathouse Bistro at Dromquinna Manor is as idyllic a spot as you can find in Ireland on a sunny day. The menu is unsurprisingly seafood heavy with dishes such as prawns pil pil, calamari and fish cakes. The gin and tonic menu is equally tempting, and with a view like this, you’d be crazy not to get there early for a pre-dinner drink; www.dromquinnamanor.com.
Maison Gourmet Kenmare and Le Bar a Vin
A traditional French bakery, Maison Gourmet bake and sell a range of delicious homemade breads, desserts and pastries, both sweet and savoury. You will also find organic coffees, teas, jams and a variety of other French treats. From Thursday – Sunday evenings the patisserie morphs into Le Bar a Vin serving French small plates and a range of beverages, biodynamic and organic wines; www.maisongourmetkenmare.com.
Dingle In A Nutshell: Digital editor (and regular visitor) Síomha Connolly’s recommendations:
Eat: The Fish Box for its unforgettable spice box with fried fish goujons, prawns, calamari and chips. The seafood curries and crispy chilli monkfish are seriously good too. Be prepared to queue but it’s worth the wait!
Drink: There is no shortage of great pubs in Dingle. A few must-visits are Dick Mack’s on Green Street, a Dingle institution (try the Cáis toasties from the food truck in the back yard) and Curran’s – where you can pick up traditional knits and hats in the shop at the front as you order your Guinness. My favourite is Kennedy’s on Main Street, converted from a private home, it’s a tiny bar with cosy nooks and a surprisingly good cocktail list.
Visit: On a sunny day plan a trip out to Ballydavid, a tiny village about 15 minutes’ drive from Dingle. Take the cliff walk or spend the afternoon on the beach, where you’ll see local kids and visitors jumping off the pier. In the evening enjoy fish and chips at Tigh TP before nabbing a picnic table outside Begley’s for drinks with a view as the sun goes down. If you’re lucky enough to see the sun on your trip to Dingle, plan a beach day on Coumeenoole (pictured above) along the Slea Head Drive where you’ll often spot hopeful surfers out in the waves.
Coffee: My Boy Blue or Bean in Dingle, both great spots for coffee and cakes. Speaking of cakes, if you’re in town early in the morning, stop-off at Bacús bakery for sourdough bread and baked goods though be warned, they sell out early.
Shop: Fiadh Woven Design for gorgeous handwoven knits and scarves. Also visit Lisbeth Mulcahy in the centre of town for beautiful wall hangings and tapestries, Louis Mulcahy (Lisbeth’s potter husband) also stocks his pieces here. The space doubles as Lisbeth’s studio so you can pop upstairs to see the impressive weaving looms in situ too.
WHERE TO VISIT
The Killarney Urban Farm Tour and Taste Experience
For sustainable inspiration: The Killarney Urban Farm Tour and Taste experience is a joint venture between The Tan Yard Restaurant and Killarney Urban Farm which includes a guided tour of the hydroponic indoor farm, where you will learn all about the technology that drives this clever project over canapés local cocktails, before being escorted to The Tan Yard for an exclusive three course meal which utilises all the delicious produce grown in the hydroponic towers. To find out more visit; www.thetanyardkillarney.ie.
Cahernane House Hotel
For racing fans: Those who love racing will know Killarney Racecourse is widely considered to be one of the most picturesque racecourses in the world. It hosts a total of 13 race days each year – three summer meetings and one autumn meeting. If you stay in Cahernane House Hotel you’ll be right beside the track too. If booking the hotel, we recommend the luxurious rooms in its Coach House, adjacent to the main Manor House; www.cahernane.com.
For tablescapers: The perfect memento of a Kerrycation is some Fermoyle Pottery made by the husband-and-wife team of Stephen O’Connell and Alexis Bowman who are based in Ballinskelligs. Their ceramic tableware is found in some of the best restaurants in Ireland and is instantly recognisable because of their distinctive glazes. These are made from local materials including ashes collected from wood fires as well as the powdered slate dust collected from quarries on Valentia Island; www.fermoylepottery.ie.
For chocoholics: Chocolate from Lorge Chocolatier, Henry Street, Kenmare. Owned by Benoit Lorge, he not only creates gorgeous chocolates but also makes chocolate spreads, jams, chutneys and nougat. Should you be holidaying in Kenmare in September, he is running some of his popular one- and two-day chocolate courses on September 17 and 23-24; www.lorge.ie.
Skelling Michael and Innisfallen
For island hoppers: If Innisfree, conjuring “bee-loud glades”, is one of the most widely known of Irish islets, the other is Skellig Michael, with its six stone beehive huts, dating back to the 6th century, when a monastery was founded by a handful of monks; their only company colonies of plump Atlantic puffins and gannets. Now a UNESCO heritage site, these striking stone huts can be accessed via 670 steps – now slightly more worn thanks to aspiring Jedis after their inclusion in Star Wars films, specifically Episode VII “The Force Awakens” and Episode VIII “The Last Jedi”. Director JJ Abrams chose Skellig Michael as Luke Skywalker’s island sanctuary explaining, “It’s sort of a miracle, this place.” Pick a sunny day for one of the multiple boat tours to the islands, which depart from Portmagee. The tour is just over two hours and there are various options, ranging from an eco-tour to an island visit. Fares start from €45; www.skelligislands.com.
Steeped in history and heritage with breathtaking scenery, Innisfallen Island is a must-see for those looking to veer off the beaten track. To facilitate a visit, The Killarney Avenue Hotel has a “Discover Innisfallen Experience”. The highlight of this two-night stay is a boat trip from Reen Pier across Lough Neane to Innisfallen Island. Guests have a guided tour taking in the ruins of a 12th-century Augustinian Priory and Romanesque Church while also learning about the island’s wildlife. There’s a picnic on the island before returning to the hotel for dinner. This offer costs from €244 per person sharing; www.killarneyavenue.com.
If you love historic houses: There is plenty of visual inspiration to be had at a trio of houses in the county. For those interested in Irish history Derrynane House is the former home of Daniel O’Connell and is a majestic mansion with a surprisingly international garden and cafe. Bring a picnic and then have a ramble or swim from Derrynane Beach, just outside Caherdaniel village; www.derrynanehouse.ie.
Located within Killarney National Park, Muckross House is a 19th-century mansion, one of whose most famous visitors was Queen Victoria in 1861! Book a one-hour tour of the house which takes in 14 rooms including a pretty children’s wing, dressing room and elegant dining room. Outside the gardens are equally impressive with many exotic trees and shrubs. The landscaping includes a Rock Garden, extensive Water Garden and Sunken Garden. After exploring, a must visit is to the Walled Garden Centre and as well as its restaurant and café which overlooks the Torc waterfall and Mangerton Mountains. The estate also contains a working farm. A short distance away is the roofless Muckross Abbey, dating back to 1448. There’s an oak tree embedded in its cloisters which are said to be haunted. Other key sites near Muckross include Ross Castle and the Torc waterfall. Visit the Park by bicycle if you can; www.muckross-house.ie.
Kell’s Bay House and Garden
For gardenistas: Kells Bay House & Gardens is worth the drive from Caherdaniel. This sub-tropical garden is home to a variety of exotic plants, waterfalls and walking trails. On site, visitors will also find a Thai restaurant and tea rooms as well as a pretty guesthouse, which overlooks Dingle Bay and has direct access to the beach, from where there are boat trips available to Valentia Island; www.kellsgardens.ie.
If you visit any of these spots on your next trip to Co Kerry, be sure to let us know! Tag us on Instagram using #FlyTheFlag and @theglossmag. Or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org, we would love to hear from you …