The Kingdom of Kerry
COUNTY KERRY often referred to as "The Kingdom", offers a multitude of contrasts, from viewing the astounding scenery, climbing the highest mountain in Ireland (Carrantuohill- 3,414 feet), to enjoying the beauty of the Lakes of Killarney. The climate in Kerry is more unique than other places in Ireland. The warm waters from the Gulf Stream bathe the coastline. The water is generally warm enough to swim in all year. Very beautiful flora flourishes here. The oak woods at Derrycunnihy and Tomies are the last of Ireland's primeval forests.
Dingle Peninsula stretches from Tralee (Tra Li) and the village of Castlemaine (Caislean na Mainge) to the tip of Slea Head (Ceann Slebhe) to the Blasket Islands (Na Blascaodi). The Dingle Peninsula is one of three hilly promontories of County Kerry, with mountains, coastlines, and beaches. There are many small villages that are still Gaelic speaking, and have developed their own character. An area is shrouded in myth and legends, history and literature, and has extensive prehistoric Celtic ruins with ring forts, beehive huts and stone crosses.
One of the most unique sites is the Gallarus Oratory, between Ballyferriter (Biale an Fheirtearaigh) and Dunquin (Dun Chaoin). Built in the 8th century. It is a prime example of 'corbelling', a mortar less construction with larger stones at the bottom, reducing in size to the top. The church is still water tight. This is the same construction used at Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth in County Meath, in traveling to the Dingle Peninsula the quickest way is through Anascaul, however, a more scenic drive would be through Conor Pass, with the panoramic views of the Magharee Islands and Bandon Bay.
Dingle Town (An Daingean) is a fishing village that offers a wonderful selection of shops, restaurants and pubs with marvelous traditional music. This natural harbour is the area that Fungi the Dolphin comes to play, many times being the main attraction.
Killarney (Cill Airne, meaning church of the Sloes), dating back to 1604, is an area that now caters to the tourist. There are a multitude of places to shop, stay and enjoy a drink. Killarney is famed for its natural beauty in the mountains, lakes, and landscape.
Killarney National Park encompasses 25,000 acres of land with an oceanic climate of high humidity and mild winters, some of the finest examples of natural plant life thrive here. This is the oldest national park in Ireland and was established in 1932 when Muckross Estate was donated to the public. The estate consists of Muckross House and Gardens, Muckross Traditional Farms, and Muckross Abbey. The house is a splendid Victorian mansion built in 1843, with luxuriously furnished rooms that portray the lifestyle of the gentry. The basement portrays the working conditions of the servants. There were a variety of crafters and artisans making their wares in the basement as well. Muckross serves as the center of the park and the Visitor Center is now located in the house.
The Lakes of Killarney comprise almost a quarter of the park's area; they are the Upper, Middle (Muckross), and Lower Lakes. The lakes meet at what is known as 'The Meeting of the Waters'. Many of the original animals are extinct in Ireland today, including the Irish elk. The Japanese Sika Deer were introduced in the early 1800's. Now there are about 1,000 in the herd. This could possibly be the last pure herd in the world. The Kerry Cattle is said to be the oldest breed of cattle in Europe. The all black cattle can be seen in the park as well.
The Ring of Kerry is located on the Peninsula of Iveragh (Uibh Rathach). It lies between Dingle Bay and The Kenmare River. It is 110 miles of gorgeous coastal and mountain scenery, enveloping the towns of Killorglin, Glenbeigh, Caherciveen, Waterville, Sneem, Kenmare, and Killarney. Each town has its own personality. You can drive the Ring or take one of the coach tours. It can be a treacherous drive. This is one of the most spectacular sites in all of Ireland.
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