The Whiddy Island ferry leaving Bantry

The Whiddy Island ferry leaving Bantry

Wed 8 Apr - Cork to Tralee

A big drive today, roughly 250 km, exacerbated by my decision to use minor roads for the first half of the day, from Cork to Bantry, and then my mistake in taking the wrong road out of Kenmare in the afternoon, which meant that I totally missed the Killarney National Park, and had to back-track through congested roadworks to rectify my error, at least in part.

But it was well worth it, really spectacular, beautiful scenery, and again fabulous weather. Just a pity about the hoards of people.

The map here shows the originally planned route.

I left Cork westwards on the R618, travelling on the northern side of the River Lee, which for much of its length is dammed to become the Taiscumar reservoir. The R618 then rejoins the N22, which is the main road from Cork to Killarney.

The first significant town is Macroom, which boasts this formidable frontage to the town square, but there's hardly anything left of the castle. Behind the edifice is a hotel. Wikipedia has an extensive entry about the town.  Click here.

Leaving Macroom, I continued on the N22 for about 10 kms before turning left at Lissacresig, heading in a south-westerly direction on the R584, through the village of Ballingeary, where the road crosses the River Sullane; then over the Pass of Keimaneigh, near Gougane Barra, a lough where St Finbarr founded a monastry in the 6th century, although the present Oratory seems to date from around 1700, when Roman Catholics would have been withdrawing into remote areas to avoid the Penal Laws.

Next came the small town of Kealkill, featuring Carriganass Castle, ancestral home since 1602 of the O'Sullivan Beare clan, and then on to the coast, and the lovely fishing port of Bantry.

  • Macroom Castle

  • Bantry port

  • Ballingeary

  • Saint Finbarr? at Carriganass Castle, Kealkill

  • Carriganass Castle and the Ouvane River at Kealkill

  • A precarious St Brendan in Bantry

From Bantry, it's about an hour's drive northwards over the Pass to Kenmare, going through the touristy town of Glengarriff and crossing the border from Co. Cork into Co. Kerry in the process.

Kenmare has some similarity to Bantry, in that they are both situated at the top of large bays or inlets on either side of the Beara Peninsula, but Kenmare seems much less developed, with more emphasis on its Heritage Town status. Which doesn't prevent the narrow streets in the town centre clogging up with traffic! I think that's what caused me to go off in the wrong direction out of the town. If I hadn't been so fascinated by the wind turbines I would have noticed that I was on the R569 rather than the N71. Silly me!

  • Kenmare traffic jam

  • Clearly R569, but the penny didn't drop.

So instead of going through Kenmare and north towards Molls Gap, and then through the middle of the National Park, I arrived in Killarney town from the south-east, and had to turn back southwards to get to the National Park.

The first main attraction one reaches is Muckross House, which is hugely commercialised and was absolutely swarming with people, cars and coaches. I would have given it a miss altogether if I hadn't needed to use the "facilities". 

Driving a few miles further into the Park, it wasn't hard to see why people rave about its beauty. But it is very busy, and even here they have their inconsiderate hoons on motorbikes making as much noise as they can.

Having wasted so much time, it was by now after 5.00pm, so I turned back to Killarney town, and drove through and picked up the N22 again for the half-hour journey to Tralee, and the Ballygarry House Hotel, my home for the night, which is conveniently situated right beside the southern ring-road.

You'll have noticed from the photos that I had another heavenly day weather-wise.


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