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The 2024 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

The 2024 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

Day 10 (Cork and Kerry) – Crazy roads and a big aul chunk of the Ring of Kerry

We’re moving out of Cork faster than I’d like, but we’ve got a whole load more exploring to do.

Day 10 sees us tackle more of the Rebel County before taking on a chunk of the Ring of Kerry drive.

1 – The bendy road at Healy Pass

// Bantry to the Healy Pass – 45-minute drive (leave at 8, arrive for 8:45) //

healy pass cork

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Healy Pass is hands down one of the craziest roads that I’ve ever driven on in Ireland.

The road, which was constructed in 1847 during the years of the famine, looks like a giant snake from above, slithering its way through the two highest summits in the Caha mountain range.

Healy Pass is a corner of Ireland that looks like time passed it by and forgot all about it, leaving it untouched and unspoiled.

Drive the road and pull in (where possible) at the top for a view of Healy Pass on one side, and then Kerry on the other (the photo below shows the Kerry side).

healy pass kerry side

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

As much as it kills me, this is as far into the Beara Peninsula as we’ll be going on this Ireland road trip. If you’d like to explore more of it, check out the Cork section of our 18-day coastal drive of Ireland.

2 – Molls Gap via Kenmare (yep, we’ve arrived in Kerry)

// Healy Pass to Molls Gap – 45-minute drive (we’ll add 20 minutes for a stop in Kenmare – arrive for 09:50) //

Moll’s Gap is a bendy pass that offers unrivalled views out over the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and the surrounding countryside.

It earned its name from a hardy woman named Moll Kissane.

Moll ran a Sibin, which is an unlicensed pub, in the area during the construction of the original Kenmare road way back in the 1820s.

Her homemade poitin and whiskey, which she sold to the men working on the road, made her a well liked local. It may have also influenced the naming of the gap.

Chill here for a bit and admire the view.

3 – The lovely Ladies View

// Molls Gap to Ladies View – 10-minute drive (arrive for 10:40) //

ladies view killarney

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

The view you’ll be treated to when you arrive at Ladies View is just out of this world.

If it’s a fine day, I’m going to recommend that you head into the little cafe next to Ladies View, grab a coffee, and head to the upstairs seating area.

4 – Ballaghbeama Gap (a very hidden gem)

// Ladies View to Ballaghbeama Gap – 35-minute drive (arrive for 11:45) //

This is hands down one of my favourite drives that we’ll be taking on this Ireland road trip.

Ballaghbeama Pass cuts across the mountains in the centre of the Iveragh Peninsula.

It treats drivers, walkers and cyclists to an isolated but almost otherworldly driving route where you’ll meet little traffic, plenty of sheep and endless mountain views.

I did this drive with my Mam recently and it was absolutely fantastic. Here’s a little of what you can expect.

Ballaghbeama pass

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Ballaghbeama pass kenmare

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

5 – Taking the scenic route to Waterville

// Ballaghbeama Gap to Waterville – 1-hour drive (arrive for around 13:30) //

We’re going to take a very lovely, very isolated, and very off the beaten track route to get to Ballinskelligs.

The drive takes us along the magnificent Ballaghisheen Pass. A spin that you won’t forget any time soon.

Here’s a taste of what you can expect to see.

 Ballaghisheen Pass county kerry 

6 – Lunch in Waterville

// Arrive for 13:30 //

We’re going to nip into An Corcan for lunch (the steak sandwich is cracking).

An Corcan is a tiny little cafe/restaurant that I’ve been to several times over the years.

The food is lovely and the people serving are friendly.

When you’ve had a feed, head for a little ramble around the village.

7 – The Skellig Ring drive

// Kick it off from Ballinskelligs at 14:30 //

If you’re visiting Kerry, you need to add a spin along the Skellig Ring to your itinerary. it. Is. Ammmmmmmazing! Here’s a taste of what you can expect.

This route takes you down narrow lanes, through tiny villages and up steep and narrow cliff roads.

For those of you that add this on to your Ireland road trip, expect a gorgeous, unspoiled peninsula with bendy roads, gorgeous towns and a backdrop of mountains and islands that’ll make you want to stop the car (or bike) at every turn.

8 – The Kerry Cliffs (part of the Skellig drive)

// Arrive to the Kerry Cliffs for 15:20 //

When you hear the words ‘Ireland’ and ‘Cliffs’ mentioned in the same sentence, it’s likely that your mind will shoot to the Cliffs of Moher.

However, there are several other great cliffs to visit across Ireland. One of which are the Kerry Cliffs.

Expect raw, wild, magnificent scenery, with the jagged outline of Skellig Michael on the horizon rarely far from view.

the kerry cliffs

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

This is one of those places that makes you really aware of how powerful mother nature is.

9 – Valentia Island

// Kerry Cliffs to Valentia – 15-minute drive (arrive for 14:20) //

Valentia Island is connected to the little town of Portmagee by the Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge

When you get to the island, point your car in the direction of the Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs (€5 entry fee), and start the steep ascent towards the top.

You’ll be treated to incredible views out to your right as you edge closer to the summit.

The scenery here is immensely special.

For those of you that fancy stretching the legs, you can do the Bray Head Loop Walk which offers brilliant views out towards the Skellig Islands.

10 – Cahersiveen for the night

// Valentia Island to Cahersiveen – 25-minute drive (arrive for 17:00) //

We’re going to spend night 10 at the foot of the Beentee Mountain in the town of Cahersiveen.

If you’ve some more exploring left in the tank, take the spin out to Ballycarbery Castle.

Ballycarbery Castle was once home to the McCarthy Clan and is thought to have been built sometime in the 15th century.

It’s arguably one of the the largest and most impressive castles built on the Iveragh peninsula.

I’m going to recommend that you stay in the Skellig Star Hotel, as it’s central and the reviews are great.

When you’ve checked in and relaxed for a bit, head down to the Fertha Bar and Restaurant for food and, if you like, a drink.

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Leeann Nolan

Wednesday 15th of November 2023

Hi Keith Thank you so much for all the work you have done on The Irish Road Trip. I have used much of it to plan my 7 week trip to Ireland in 2024. It has been invaluable :)

Mick Bourke

Sunday 24th of September 2023

G’day Keith-thanks for your trip. My wife and I will be over there in late April and most of May (about a month in total before heading to Scotland for a couple of weeks). I think I’ll be using your trip (which is great (as also is the additional info at the bottom)) as the basis for ours, however, I would like to do abit more of the inland (like a figure eight of the island). Do you have any suggestions?

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 27th of September 2023

Hey Mick,

Is there anywhere in particular you have in mind with the inland section?

Cheers,

Keith

MIchael Katekar

Tuesday 11th of July 2023

A big thank you for all of the time and hard work you have put into this blog. Great information. I don't think we can keep up with your pace but will certainly take up many of your suggestions.

Isabella Dennison

Sunday 26th of March 2023

Good day Keith,

Wow, what an amazing work you've done! I'm forever grateful!!! Please can you email this to me. We are planning to explore Ireland for the first time this year 2023, all the way from South Africa.

Thank you

Keith O'Hara

Monday 27th of March 2023

Thanks Isabell!

Sorry it's taken me so long to reply!

I've tried to get this converted to PDF on a number of occasions, but the result is very messy due to the volume of photos in it.

If there's any specific questions that I can help with, please fire them on and I'll do my best to answer them.

Keith

Jodie Wilson

Sunday 26th of March 2023

First retirement trip. Ireland for a month! Go big or go home. So excited to start this new chapter in our lives - and to hit the roads of Ireland. This guide is perfect - but I’d love a more readable copy if you could email it to me.

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