Cycle series: Try this different ring in Kerry
The Ring of Killarney is a less well-known alternative to the Gap of Dunloe or Moll’s Gap
At the 54km mark, there is a left turn for Aghadoe and the beginning of a gradual ascent.
You begin this cycle along the excellently named Dr Hans Liebherr Road (the N72). After a few hundred metres, take the second exit on the Ballydowney Roundabout, signposted for the town centre and Kenmare. Follow this road, passing St Mary’s Cathedral on your left, considered to be one of the most important Gothic Revival churches in Ireland. Continue onwards, reaching the town centre where the road swings around to the right past the jarvey station and then take a left, signposted for Kenmare and the National Park. This is the beginning of the renowned Muckross Road, the gateway to the fabulous National Park and one of the most popular tourism hotspots in the country.
After 6.5km, follow a signpost for Mangerton to the left, situated just after the Jarvey’s Rest Bar and Restaurant. Almost immediately, this quieter road will begin to ascend gradually, with some small climbing efforts throughout that are generally short and punchy with stunning views of Killarney behind you. There is a T-junction at the 10km mark where our route turns right. From here the road again rises up towards Lough Guitane, which can be viewed to the right as you ascend. Lough Guitane is one of the freshwater supply sources for much of Kerry. Continue onwards until you reach the main Cork-to-Killarney road (N22), turning right towards Cork.
Follow the main road for another 2km until you reach Glenflesk. Here, take a left at the church signposted for Barraduff. A well-surfaced, scenic country road will take you all the way to Barraduff, with a total of 23km now completed. Barraduff might be a good place to stop for a snack or a quick refuel, as there is no shop on the remainder of the route until Killarney.
Continue straight on at the crossroads in Barraduff, following signposts for Scartaglen. From here, the beauty of the route becomes apparent, with quiet rural roads that are for the most part well-surfaced and no major hills to contend with other than the gentle rise and fall of the natural terrain, which is a characteristic of the entire route in general. Follow this road for the next 4km where you will reach another crossroads and again go straight ahead towards Scartaglen.
The following directions will need to be navigated carefully as they are not very well signposted. The next T-junction is at the 30km mark.
Turn right, heading east, but only briefly as the next left turn is just after a small bridge. This leads up to Anablaha school where there is another crossroads. Here, turn left/westwards.
From here, the directions get a little easier as the route follows a straight line via a rolling road past the village of Kilcummin, and on to meet the N22 after 42km at a crossroads. Continue straight through the crossroads, with care, as it is a busy road, and follow the L3004 in the direction of Ballyhar. Here the road is quiet; however, the area seems to have a different feel, leaving behind the earlier shrub grounds for lusher and greener pastures. A section of this road runs adjacent to the Tralee to Killarney railway line for over 2km. At the next crossroads, continue straight on, following the signpost for Milltown and going straight across the Killarney-to-Firies (L2019) crossroads. At the next T-junction, turn left, cycling for just under 1km before merging with the R563. Continue left again, in the direction of Killarney, for the next 5km, on a rolling terrain that is easy on the legs and very welcome, as the route sweeps downhill.
At the 54km mark, there is a left turn for Aghadoe and the beginning of a gradual ascent. At the summit of this climb lies Aghadoe Heights Hotel, where there is a large adjacent viewing area offering a good chance to take a breath and enjoy the scenery. The view is very picturesque and offers a wide panorama of scenic beauty, with the Lakes of Killarney to the fore and the towering peaks of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks in the background.
The rest of the route is downhill with two right turns at subsequent T-junctions returning you to Cleeney Roundabout and the starting point.
Edited extract from Cycling Kerry: Great Road Routes by Donnacha Clifford and David Elton, published by The Collins Press, price €14.99. It is available in bookshops and from collinspress.ie
HIT THE ROAD
The Ring of Killarney
Route Killarney - Lough Guitane - Glenflesk - Barraduff - Anablaha - Kilcummin - Ballyhar - Aghadoe - Killarney
An underrated side of Killarney and its surrounds with beautiful countryside, rolling roads and varied terrain.
Height gain: 607m
Duration: 2 to 2.5 hours
The Cleeney Roundabout is west of Killarney, where the N72 and N22 meet. There should be limited car parking spaces nearby.
This route is a little sibling compared to other more popular routes in Killarney, such as the Gap of Dunloe and Moll’s Gap; however, this is part of its appeal. It has as much scenery and character on roads that are a little quieter and more relaxed. There are several focal points along the route, including the freshwater lake at Lough Guitane and the view of Killarney from Aghadoe, which is unmissable.