For day 2 of the trip, I recommend starting out from Kinsale early in the morning, after a Full Irish Breakfast. There is not as much driving as on Day 1 of the trip (where the first priority was to get out of Dublin and reach Cork). Make your way up to the N71 (easier said than done, it is quite easy to get lost on the roads around Kinsale I find). Follow the N71 through Bandon, Clonakilty (called "Clon" locally) then Skibareen (called "Skib" locally). Any of these towns are worth stopping in for tea/coffee and a wander around the local shops. It is also worth making the slight detour to visit Bandon Pottery for some hand-made pottery.
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Bantry is a good spot to stop for food. Then, make your way up towards Kerry, at which point you notice the landscape change from the rolling green hills of West Cork to the more rugged country of Kerry. Soon, you are in the Caha Mountains. You climb through the Healy Pass, go through a tunnel, and then you see a fantastic view of Kerry laid out in front of you. At this point you are on the Ring of Kerry.
Follow the route to Kenmare. There are many guest houses in the area, and certainly there is a school of thought that Kenmare is a better place to stay than the more touristy Killarney. Nevertheless, this route takes you on to Killarney through the National Park, where you will see Lough Leane:
I recommend staying at the Lake Hotel which is just outside Killarney, on Muckross Lake. It has its own small castle, on a small peninsula jutting out into the lake. You can see the Devil's Punchbowl and other sights of the Killarney National Park. Muckross House is just down the road, and deer roam the grounds. Here is a picture of Muckross Lake from the Lake Hotel:
More Irish road trip recommendations:
At the Clonmel Rowing Club [Flickr]
1 day ago