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Overview

The landscape of Cork and Kerry, the counties that make up the southwest, provide the quintessential image of Ireland: green rolling fields backed by mountains and fronted by rugged coastline. Cork City nestles on an island between two channels of the River Lee and is a compact city easy to tour on foot. Its many stone buildings attest to its importance as a port from the 18th century on. Pub life is active year round but especially vibrant in summer, with traditional live music playing well into the night. The nearby port of Cobh (Queenstown during the English days) has a heart-rending museum on Irish emigration that is worth a visit for ...

The landscape of Cork and Kerry, the counties that make up the southwest, provide the quintessential image of Ireland: green rolling fields backed by mountains and fronted by rugged coastline. Cork City nestles on an island between two channels of the River Lee and is a compact city easy to tour on foot. Its many stone buildings attest to its importance as a port from the 18th century on. Pub life is active year round but especially vibrant in summer, with traditional live music playing well into the night. The nearby port of Cobh (Queenstown during the English days) has a heart-rending museum on Irish emigration that is worth a visit for anyone wanting to understand Irish history. The Ring of Kerry, a drive that circles the dramatically-beautiful Iveragh Peninsula, is Ireland's most popular attraction, and something that all visitors to Ireland's southwest should see. For active individuals there's another option: the Kerry Way hiking route covers the same territory but far from roads and traffic, tramping across the countryside from village to village with easy accommodations in B&Bs. The conical Skellig Islands poke through the Atlantic and are visible for miles around, rocky outposts that suggest world's end. An early-Christian monastery site is the main attraction on Skellig Michael, the largest of the islands, and the beehive huts of the monks define asceticism.

Larry Habegger
About the Expert

Larry Habegger is Triporati's editor-in-chief and executive editor of Travelers' Tales, where he has edited or coedited dozens of books including Travelers' Tales Australia and Ireland.

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Larry Habegger for Triporati

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Now Happening in Southwest Ireland

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Ireland’s southwest region offers the counties of Cork, Kerry & Clare. This area lays claim to some of the most varied and spectacular scenery in the country.
  • Language: English, Irish Gaelic
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Province of Munster | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer, early fall, late spring, Christmas/New Year's holiday season