The Southwest

TRAVEL GUIDE

Loading...

Ever since Killarney was first "discovered" by William Thackeray and Sir Walter Scott, visitors have been searching for superlatives to describe the deep blue lakes, dark green forests, and purple mountainsides of this romantic region. While modern-day tour-bus traffic and increased visitor numbers have slightly diminished the experience, the appeal of sweeping lakes and mountains, the ever-changing light, and the unusual flora and fauna persists—along with the lingering aroma of turf smoke—and the old tales resurrected by the tour guides continue to cast a mesmerizing spell.

To be in a hurry in the Southwest is to be ill-mannered. To truly enjoy the amazing array of scenic delights found here, remember that the locals of the Southwest—the region stretches from the Ring of Kerry i... Read More

Ever since Killarney was first "discovered" by William Thackeray and Sir Walter Scott, visitors have been searching for superlatives to describe the deep blue lakes, dark green forests, and purple mountainsides of this romantic region. While modern-day tour-bus traffic and increased visitor numbers have slightly diminished the experience, the appeal of sweeping lakes and mountains, the ever-changing light, and the unusual flora and fauna persists—along with the lingering aroma of turf smoke—and the old tales resurrected by the tour guides continue to cast a mesmerizing spell.

To be in a hurry in the Southwest is to be ill-mannered. To truly enjoy the amazing array of scenic delights found here, remember that the locals of the Southwest—the region stretches from the Ring of Kerry in the south, the Dingle Peninsula in the west, through Killarney and north to Adare, and Limerick City—are unusually laid-back, even by Irish standards. They still remember what attracted tourists in the first place: uncrowded roads, unpolluted beaches and rivers, easy access to golf, wild scenery, and, above all, time to stop and talk. So take your cue from them and venture onto the back roads. Meander along at your own pace, sampling wayside delights. Before you know it, you'll be far from Killarney town's crowds and in the middle of the region's tranquil and incredibly stunning landscapes.

If Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, there is always the bounty of historic and man-made attractions. Moving northward, scenery becomes less dramatic but much cozier, with Adare's thatched cottages giving the village the reputation as one of Ireland's prettiest. Head up to Limerick and a busy four-lane highway hurls you back into the 21st century. Metropolitan hub of southwestern Ireland (and the republic's third-largest city), Limerick bears the scars of history, most notably from the Siege of Limerick, a face-off with the English that took place in 1691. The other "scars" of its history—described so memorably in Frank McCourt's best seller Angela's Ashes—lure travelers who discover that this is a compact, vibrant city.

The Ring of Kerry. One of Europe's great scenic drives, a highlight of the Wild Atlantic Way, the route runs around the edge of this rocky peninsula, passing from the subtropical splendor of Sneem, on the sheltered Kenmare River, past Waterville, where the twin-peaked Skellig rocks hover on the horizon, to the starker views of Dingle Bay to the north. Stunning mountain and coastal views are around almost every turn. The only drawback: on a sunny day, it seems like half the nation's visitors are traveling along this two-lane road, packed into buses, riding bikes, or backpacking. The route is narrow and curvy, and the local sheep think nothing of using it for a nap: take it slowly.

The gorgeously scenic Dingle Peninsula stretches for some 48 km (30 miles) between Tralee (pronounced "tra-lee") in the east and Ceann Sléibhe (Slea Head) in the west. Often referred to by its Irish name, Corca Dhuibhne (pronounced "cor-kah-guy-nay"), the peninsula is made up of rugged mountains, seaside cliffs, and softly molded glacial valleys and lakes. Long, sandy beaches and Atlantic-pounded cliffs unravel along the coast. Drystone walls enclose small, irregular fields, and exceptional prehistoric and early Christian remains dot the countryside. As you drive over its mountain passes, looking out past prehistoric remains to the wild Atlantic sea, the raw scenery casts a peaceful lost-in-time spell. Unfortunately, the peninsula is notorious for its heavy rainfall and impenetrable sea mists, which can strike at any time of year. If they do, sit them out in An Daingean (Dingle Town) and enjoy the friendly bars, cafés, and crafts shops. West of Annascaul, the peninsula is Irish-speaking: English is considered a second language. A good Irish-English map can prove handy.

Until several decades ago, Shannon meant little more to most people than the name of the longest river in Ireland and Great Britain, running from County Cavan to Limerick City in County Clare. But mention Shannon nowadays and people think immediately of the international airport, which has become western Ireland's principal gateway. In turn, what also comes to mind are many of the glorious sights of North Kerry and Shannonside: Adare, sometimes called "Ireland's Prettiest Village" with its charming thatched cottages (and the neighboring Adare Manor, a grand country-house hotel); and Limerick City, which attracts visitors tracing the memories so movingly captured in Frank McCourt's international best seller, Angela's Ashes. Limerick City, a Viking settlement, bears the scars of history from the 1691 Siege of Limerick—a confrontation with the English.

Recommended Fodor’s Video

Find the perfect tours and activities in The Southwest.

Powered by GetYourGuide

See All Filters

Quickly find The Southwest hotels and compare prices.

Powered by Clicktripz

Find the best food tours and activities in The Southwest.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Language

English and Irish

Nearby Airports

KIR

Electrical Outlets

230v/50 cycles; electrical plugs have three prongs

Currency

Euro

Language

English and Irish

Electrical Outlets

230v/50 cycles; electrical plugs have three prongs

Currency

Euro

Nearby Airports

KIR

The best times to visit the Ring of Kerry, Killarney, and Dingle are mid-March to June, and September and October. In July and August it's the...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in The Southwest with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

The best times to visit the Ring of Kerry, Killarney, and Dingle are mid-March to June, and September and October. In July and August it's the...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in The Southwest with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

The best times to visit the Ring of Kerry, Killarney, and Dingle are mid-March to June, and September and October. In July and August it's the...Read More

Discover the best neighborhoods in The Southwest with curated recommendations from our editors.

Explore All

Our worldwide travel correspondents bring you the best and most up-to-date coverage of over 7,500 global destinations.

Shop Now

Fodor's Essential Ireland 2020
Ready to experience Ireland? The experts at Fodor's are here to help. Fodor's Essential...

View Details

Fodor's Essential Ireland 2021: with Belfast and Northern Ireland
Whether you want to explore Ireland's iconic coastal scenery, visit the Cliffs of Moher or...

View Details

Around the Web