SOUTH WEST HOTELS
SOUTH WEST IRELAND – WHY GO?
County Kerry in South west Ireland has all the visual melodrama you could want: dramatic mountains, brooding cliffs and miles of deserted coastline. The much-sung Ring of Kerry is a 110-mile scenic drive around its finest peaks and the majestic Macgillycuddy Reeks, rising behind the town of Killarney.
Unmissable is the scenic Dingle Peninsula, where the Atlantic bowls into cliffy bays and Funghie, the resident Dingle dolphin, frolics in the bay. Take a boat out from here to the Blasket Islands and listen out for the Irish language – it’s widely spoken around here. There’s fabulous walking to be had around Dingle, and the Atlantic-fresh seafood is second to none.
Further south, a seafari is the best way to see the seal colony in the Kenmare estuary, while thousands of puffins, petrels and kittiwakes greet visitors to the Skelligs – the impossibly steep volcanic islands off the coast of Portmagee. Basking sharks and dolphins can also be spotted around these waters.
County Cork has the Blackwater valley and a string of pretty coastal towns. Mallow (the setting for Longueville House) makes a great base for exploring the region. The old seaport of Cobh – the Titanic’s last stop – is a must-see, while the city of Cork has some interesting craft shops in the old colonial-style Butter Exchange.
Kiss the Blarney stone (with the tourist crowds) at nearby Blarney Castle or join the foodies at Kinsale, Ireland’s gastro capital.