Cradled by the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea, the Emerald Isle is cloaked with mist, legends, and myths. The western coast, particularly, is a mystical place. Albeit sometimes mucky, slippery, and stony underfoot, the (215km/135 mile) Kerry Way in County Kerry offers a wonderful opportunity to view this part of Ireland year round. Founded in 1978 by Sean O'Sullivan, this Waymarked Walking Route winds along gorgeous oak-conifer forests, whispering wildflower meadows, and bountiful sheep farms. Friendly residents stop their work to chat on this unspoiled, uncrowded path.
Traveling by rocky valleys, lakelands, and seascapes is like stepping back to pre-Christian times. The Way uses middle-ages coaching roads, droving paths, and Mass Paths where believers assembled secretly to practice their faiths. Irish whiskey drinkers met in clandestine rock sheebins to sneak a nip. And, what better way to end today's walk than to enjoy a Guinness and steamed mussles at a local pub while listening to lively Irish musicians?
Shooting up from the ocean are the UNESCO-designated Skelligs Rocks. After ascending 600 steps, the hiker is rewarded with sweeping vistas at the apex of Skellig Michael. Beehive-shaped cells remind viewers of the monks who lived in this remote haven from the 6th or 7th centuries until the 13th. A pebble's toss away is Little Skellig, home to flourishing colonies of seabirds. Seals and dolphins are frequently spotted in the vicinity.
Highlights of Dublin are intermingled with the Kerry and Skelligs batch. Whether you are Irish or just wish you were, I hope that my images stir your senses and desire to go there.