In September I went on my last solo travel adventure: Ireland and Northern Ireland. I did not imagine their tradition and culture could be so different since they live on the same island and share some of the same history.
I am going to talk about Ireland from a practical and organizational point of view so that you can learn about Killarney and County Kerry, the places where I volunteered for two weeks. I tried to make the most out of my time, between shifts in the hostel and my job as a web designer, in order to visit the area.
Solo traveling in ireland: Killarney and County Kerry
How to get from Dublin to Killarney: I took the Dublin Coach bus. The ticket costs 20€, you can book it online or buy it on board. The journey takes about 5 hours, depending on the traffic jam in Limerick, one of the biggest cities in the South.
Accommodation in Killarney: you are literally spoilt for choice here as Killarney is one of the most visited cities in Ireland. You can choose from hotels, B&B, apartments for rent, camping, and, of course, hostels. There are several of the latter but I feel like recommending the Black Sheep Hostel, the one I have worked for. I would like to recommend it not only because I am attached to it but also because, honestly, it is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.
What to do in Killarney: whether you are a party-lover or a calm and quiet person, there is actually an endless list of things to do here, as long as you like the rain!
You can take a walk around the city, enter pubs at any time of the day for a beer or a coffee, go into gift shops or shops selling Irish woollen clothing, visit the basilica, and talk with people to learn about Irish culture. Due to lack of time and means, I did only some of the things I would have liked to do and I did not get too far from the city. As a result, the following are activities I did on my own or along with my hostel colleague, Alessia.
Killarney National Park
I have been to this National Park several times. You can go around either by foot or by bike.
To get to know the area, I suggest to visit the Ross Castle, a pretty castle on the banks of the Lough Lane, the largest lake of the region. It takes 2 km to get to the park entrance. It is a quiet and relaxing walk or riding during which you could encounter different animals: deer, fawns, storks, squirrels, and, indeed, lots of cows.
A longer but much more beautiful path is the one to the Torc Waterfall.
You enter the park via route N71, which at some point split the main road into a pedestrian one. Once inside, you can choose whether keep going on the cycle route or pick another road for a more sporting walk. Before getting to the waterfall, it is mandatory to stop by the Muckross Abbey, an ancient abbey with a cemetery. It is one the most beautiful and disturbing things I have ever seen. There are secret passages leading to hidden rooms and very steep spiral staircases leading to the roof. Stopping by the abbey, the one-way path to the waterfall takes about 3 hours.
I went on my last trip by bike. The path I took was partly the same as the one for the Torc Waterfall but following the signpost “Meeting of the waters”, you could do the whole tour of Muckross Lake, also called the Middle Lake. This path goes over the bridge where the waters of the two lakes converge.
Dingle is a little country located an hour from Killarney. To get there, I caught a bus along with my friend and colleague Alessia. The return ticket costs 15 euros – the bus takes you there in the morning and comes picking you up at night. Since we had great expectations, it was a bit of a disappointment for us.It is a nice country, full of clubs and bars and an awesome view over the green Irish fields, but it is just a small part of the “Dingle Peninsula”. It still deserves a short visit though, especially for its nice handicraft shops, its Irish grocery stores, and its always-open church.
The ring of kerry coach tour
If you have only a few days to visit and you do not have a car, this tour is a good choice.
The Ring of Kerry connects several cities of the county with the same name. You can do it by foot (it takes 9 days), by car (3 or 4 days are enough) or, as I did, by bus (it is about 7 hours). The travel agency where you can book the tour is located in the centre of Killarney and the bus leaves from the same area. While traveling you stop six or seven times in the most interesting areas for a different amount of time.
When you are on the bus, you listen to the driver’s story about what you can see outside the window.
You can do lots of other things in the area: trekking in the Gap of Dunloe, get to the Cliffs of Moher, visit Limerick, go on a tasting tour of Irish Whisky, but this proposal is perfect to have a sneak peek at the area.
I miss a lot Killarney and the Black Sheep hostel. This experience will be one of my best memories forever.