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19 Fantastic Things to do in Kenmare Ireland (Plus best pubs, restaurants and hotels)

Heading to Kenmare, Ireland? Check out our list of some of the best things to do in Kenmare town, including our favorite outdoor activities, day trips, restaurants, pubs, and places to stay.

Kenmare is home to one of the largest Bronze-Age ‘stone circles’ in South-West Ireland while it is also said to have been raided by Vikings in the past. The town is said to have had the first-ever suspension bridge built in Ireland while it has also seen conflict during the Irish Civil War. Rich in history as it is in activities, dining, drinking and hotels, Kenmare is certainly worth a visit!

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View of Kenmare, Ireland in summer

Kenmare was the fifth town I visited with my son on a wonderful two-week Ireland road trip. We began our adventure in Dublin and after a few days of exploring the capital and largest city of Ireland, we drove to Westport. We then visited Clifden for a few days before heading to Galway and then Kenmare.

Kenmare road sign
Kenmare Ireland Map

The quaint town of Kenmare is located in south County Kerry along the Wild Atlantic Way. The small, seaside town is where the River Roughty flows into the sea between the Iveragh and Beara Peninsulas. The town was designed by the scientist William Petty in the late 1600s (though the town has much older origins that precede any English presence in the area).

Great Things to do in Kenmare, Ireland

Kenmare Street Signs

There are so many fun things to do in Kenmare for couples or families. Biking, golfing, parks, shopping, eating, live music, and, of course, great day trips!

Kenmare has a bit of a posh feel, with its quaint B&B’s, charming main street, and truly gorgeous views of the bay and unspoiled countryside.

1. Reenagross Woodland Park

Reenagross Woodland Park
Photo Credit: Monira Akter

A visit to Reenagross Woodland Park is one of the best things to do for visitors to Kenmare. Located only minutes away from the middle of town, you can enjoy the wonders of nature along the many paths of this peaceful park. Originally designed as a private park by the first Marquis of Lansdowne (1739-1803), Reenagross is thankfully open to the public now.

Visitors can enjoy its almost 2 miles of walking trails in beautiful surroundings that include a pier, boathouse, and many archaeological interests. If you are playing a round at the adjacent Kenmare Golf club, this is a great afternoon excursion.

2. Play Golf

Kenmare Golf Club
Photo Credit: Kenmare Golf Club

Kenmare Golf Club is regarded as one of the most beautiful courses in the county. The 18-hole course was established in 1903 and offers views across Kenmare Bay and Kerry’s mountains. The club is open to members and day visitors alike and hosts several amateur tournaments.

After a round, golf enthusiasts can enjoy food and drinks in its Pavillion restaurant before taking a short walk back into town. Kenmare Golf Club is a stunning parkland golf course. Located in Kenmare on the Ring of Kerry it is one of the most beautiful places to golf in Kerry.

Another option is the Ring of Kerry Golf Club. It is considered the crowning achievement of a lifetime’s work by visionary course architects Eddie Hackett and Ron Kirby, there are few golfing experiences in Europe to

3. Visit The Kenmare Stone Circle

Kenmare Stone Circle

This is one of the largest stone circles in Southwest Ireland. It measures 56 x 49 feet and unlike any other ring in Muster, this one is egg-shaped.

Kenmare Stone Circle plaque

It’s fascinating to think that these Stone Circles were built during the bronze age (2,200 – 500 B.C.) and are believed to be for ritual and ceremonial purposes. The stone circle consists of 15 stones arranged in a circular form with a center stone. This is the only circle to have been found in Kenmare. It is also the only monument of its kind to be situated so close to a town in Ireland.

Kenmare Stone Circle

The rocks used to make the circle are greenstone and brownstone. It’s actually unclear the meaning of the monument, but it is thought that they may be been used for rituals by druid priests. This makes sense since the local name for this monument is “The Druids Circle”.

Other ideas for the use of the circle are that it was a primitive calendar or a burial site. While the exact use is uncertain, what is believed is that the circle holds magic and mystery for all who see it in person.

The Stone Circle is an easy walk from the town center.

Kenmare Stone Circle

4. Shop at Quills Woollen Market

Quills Woollen Market

Shop at Quills for all things local. Tweed Caps, wool scarfs, knits, cashmere,

Caps at Quills Woollen Market

5. Stroll Down Emmet’s Place

Emmet Place, Market Street, KENMARE, Kenmare, KERRY

Emmet’s Place (also known as Market Street) is a group of seven terraced three-bay single-story houses with half-dormer attics, built c. 1880. They are some of the oldest houses in town and some of the most beautiful. It feels like you’ve wandered into a fairy tale as you stroll down the street.

Emmet's Place on Market Square in Kenmare

6. Explore the Town of Kenmare

Kenmare town

Kenmare is a small town and easy to explore on foot. There are three main streets that form a triangle in the center of the town; Main Street, Henry Street, and Shelbourne Street.

Street in Kenmare

The streets are lined with award-winning restaurants, cozy bars, and shops. There is plenty of outdoor seating in the warmer months to stop at one of the pubs to enjoy a pint of Guinness and people-watch.

Foods to Try & Best Places to Eat in Kenmare

Kenmare is a foodie town and known for its restaurants. One of the top things to do is savor the flavors and visit as many restaurants and pubs as possible!

Kenmare ice cream cow

7. Brown Bread

traditional irish brown bread

There are several bakeries in town where you can buy traditional Irish brown bread. It is also served in many of the restaurants in town.

Traditional Irish brown bread is a simple combination of whole wheat and white flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk; and some recipes also include sugar and butter (or oil).

8. Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s pie is a savory minced lamb or beef base that is cooked with onion and topped with a layer of mashed potatoes.

9. Maison Gourmet Cafe

Maison Gourmet is a café and bakery located on Henry Street in Kenmare. This small café provides traditionally baked French goods and top-class Java coffee to patrons. It’s the perfect place to start your day with some fresh pastries which you can consume at the premises or take away if you just can’t wait to explore. Lunch options are also provided to customers who can dine inside or outside at this authentic French bakery.

10. Foley’s of Kenmare

Fish & Chips

Foley’s of Kenmare is a traditional Irish Inn that boasts some of the best dining in Kenmare. Located close to the town center on Henry Street, Paddy Foley’s Bar & Restaurant offers the perfect base for any meal before you head out on the town and explore.

In business for over 50 years, the restaurant offers fine dining sourced locally, from chowder and fish & chips to chicken wings, gourmet burgers and traditional Shepherd’s pie. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

11. Mulcahy’s Bar and Restaurant

Mulcahy’s Bar and Restaurant is another must-visit dining experience available in Kenmare. The highly acclaimed restaurant, located on Main Street Kenmare, offers patrons wild, free-range menu options prepared to a high standard. The premises, which has done business since 1995, is definitely one of our favorite places to eat in Kenmare.

Best Pubs & Live Music

paddy foleys pub

12. Crowley’s Bar

Crowley’s Bar on Henry Street in Kenmare offers visitors the chance to experience a real traditional Irish pub. The pub offers what are perhaps the best points of Guinness in town and provides what any Irish venue worth its salt does: ‘craic agus ceol.’ Visitors will be charmed by this rustic pub’s cozy atmosphere and its regular traditional Irish and other music concerts.

13. P.F McCarthy’s

On Main Street, P.F McCarthy’s is another great drinking hole for locals and tourists alike. One of the town’s oldest establishments, P.F’s offers food and drinks in a welcoming atmosphere. The bar has become well known as one of Kenmare’s best music venues, hosting some of the best bands and artists specializing in traditional Irish and a variety of other musical genres from the locality and beyond.

14. O’Connor’s Bar

O’Connor’s Bar is another excellent establishment in Kenmare. The traditional Irish tavern is located just off the town square, directly opposite the small yet picturesque Fair Green public park. Visitors to this venue will be able to avail of all the staples of a genuine Irish pub, including the all-important pints of Guinness and Murphy’s as well as Bulmers cider for those with a sweet tooth. Of course, regular live traditional music is provided at O’Connor’s too!

Day Trips from Kenmare

Kenmare is a great location to see both the Ring of Kerry and the Ring of Beara. Both are fun excursions and the Ring of Beara is especially easy to do in a day.

15. Ring of Beara

Ring of Beara

For those that like a great day trip, Kenmare offers you the best possible base to go and explore two of Ireland’s most scenic routes. Visitors can head into West Cork and follow the Ring of Beara 140 km scenic drive along the Atlantic coast with ocean views and stops at quaint picturesque villages like Castletownbere and Glengariff.

Ring of Beara

The scenic driving route loops around the Beara Peninsula and you won’t find large tourist buses on this untouched part of Ireland.

The day of our drive was quite misty, especially in the morning.

Ring of Beara

And yes, there are lots and lots of sheep!

Ring of Beara

The Ring of Beara driving route is around 80 miles and definitely easy to do in a day. Without any stops, it would take you around 3 hours, but you’re going to want to stop- trust me!

16. Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry

On another day, you might like to take in more stunning views on the famous Ring of Kerry route. This drive takes you up the Molls Gap mountain pass, past the Lakes of Killarney and through Killarney National Park, then around the Iveragh Peninsula back to Kenmare.

The Ring of Kerry route is around 111 miles and takes around 3.5 hours to drive around without stopping. In my opinion and experience, The Ring of Kerry has more traffic as well as tour buses which can add more time to the drive.

17. Molly Gallivan’s Cottage & Traditional Farm

Druid across from Molly Gallivan's Cottage & Traditional farm

Molly Gallivan’s is a great place to stop if you are driving the Ring of Beara. It is located on the Caha Pass between Glengarriff and Kenmare.

There is a cottage, farm, tea house, and gift shop.

Molly Gallivan's cottage

Molly Gallivan’s 200-year-old Cottage & Traditional farm includes 14 places to visit showcasing how it functioned as a working farm over 200 years ago.

Molly Gallivan's Traditional farm

On the farm, you can also visit the ruins of a family dwelling from the era of the Great Famine and a Neolithic Stone Row that forms part of an ancient sun calendar.

Molly Gallivan's farm house ruins
Molly Gallivan's farm ruins
Molly Gallivan's Cottage

The attraction brings to life 5000 years of history on a walk just a bit more than .25 of a mile.

The story of Molly is that she was widowed with seven small children in the mid 1840’s. She supplemented her meager income from her small mountain farm by opening a “Sibheen” (illegal pub) where she sold homemade “Poitín” (whiskey) locally known as “Molly’s Mountain Dew”.

Molly Gallivan's Poitin

She would sell whiskey, tea, baked goods as well as knitted items to people traveling between West Cork and South Kerry.

Today, the cottage and farm are owned by Stephen and Frances O’Sullivan. The family has preserved and restored the cottage and farm with love and deep care for the history, mythology, and spirituality of the land and Molly’s memory.

18. Uragh Stone Circle

Uragh Stone Circle in Ireland

Another fun day trip is visiting Uragh Stone Circle (Ciorcal Cloch Uragh).

There is a small admission fee to explore the grounds that is found near the parking area and starting point to the walk to the circle.

Uragh Stone Circle road sign

It’s about 10 miles from Kenmare and the drive is about 25 minutes. You must navigate a very narrow road with pull-offs if you meet an oncoming car for about 3 miles of the journey.

The Uragh Stone Circle is an axial five-stone circle located near Gleninchaquin Park, in County Kerry. The Bronze Age site includes a multiple stone circle and some boulder burials.

This circle is set in an incredible valley between two lakes, with Gleninchaquin waterfall as a dramatic backdrop in the distance.  There are also sheep grazing the green hills near the over 4,000-year-old stone circle.

Uragh Stone Circle in Ireland

It’s a truly magical place. The views from the stone circle are stunning and it is a place that tends to draw many back again and again.

As you walk to and from the Stone Circle there are plenty of paths, little bridges and boulders to explore.

Meadow near Uragh Stone Circle
Uragh Stone Circle path in Ireland

It was so peaceful and you could go to the monument stones without fences and respect the age and the meaning of the circle. Certainly, an experience to always remember.

19. Famine House

Famine House ruins

Also, nearby the Urach Stone Circle are a Famine House, Boulder Burial, Fulacht Fiadh, and picnic area.

Besides the main circle, there is also an upper circle, some distance beyond the famine cottage and farm and up a bit of a climb, but again well worth the effort.

Best Kenmare Ireland Hotels

Foley’s of Kenmare

Foleys guest house in Kenmare, Ireland

Foley’s of Kenmare offers exceptional accommodation options to the many visitors to the town.

Foleys Guest House in Kenmare guest room

Not only is the whole town of Kenmare and its surrounding areas right on the doorstep of the centrally located Henry Street premises, but guests can take advantage of several accommodation options, from family rooms to twin rooms and self-catering options all consisting of luxurious décor. Residents will also always have the top-class food, drink, and cracking atmosphere of Foley’s directly on hand.

Check reviews of Foleys on TripAdvisor and find the best prices at Hotels.com.

Brook Lane Hotel

Brook Lane Hotel in Kenmare hotel room
Photo Credit: Brook Lane Hotel

Brook Lane Hotel is located on the outskirts of Kenmare, about a five-minute walk into town, but it’s well worth a stay. This boutique family-run hotel boasts comfortable and stylishly decorated rooms and helpful staff. The small hotel serves great drinks and food in the attached Casey’s Bar, which sees locals and visitors to Kenmare mingle in a warm atmosphere. Guests can attend the hotel’s regular Irish Dancing show to gobble up some culture during their stay too.

Brook Lane Hotel is Kenmare’s only four-star luxury Boutique Hotel.

Check reviews of Brook Lane Hotel on TripAdvisor and find best prices at Hotels.com.

Park Hotel Kenmare

Park Hotel Kenmare
Photo Credit: Park Hotel Kenmare

The Park Hotel Kenmare is one of the most famous and luxurious hotels in Ireland. Established in 1897, the Park hotel is the high-class choice for visitors to the Kenmare. The hotel has a swimming pool, spa, and fitness classes as well as luxury rooms with views across Kenmare Bay. The Victorian premise is known for its top service and its famous hotelier owner, Francis Higgins. This traditional establishment embraces the benefits of modernity to offer residents a great stay.

Check reviews of Park Hotel Kenmare on TripAdvisor and find the best prices at Hotels.com.

House Rentals in Kenmare

If you’re looking for a house rental a great option is The Little Nest. Spacious house in the heart of town. The rental has 3 bedrooms, super fast Wi-Fi, and free parking. It’s also within walking distance of a wide choice of cozy pubs, award-winning restaurants, and bars.

Learn more about this rental on VRBO.

7 Fun Facts About Kenmare

Oysters and Guinness sign

1.     Kenmare claims to have had Ireland’s first-ever suspension bridge, opened in 1841 before a concrete bridge replaced it in 1932.

2.     The town of Kenmare has one of Ireland’s largest ‘stone-circle’ sites created millennia ago.

3.     Kenmare won Ireland’s Tidy Towns competition in 2000 and more recently in 2013.

4.     Kenmare was home to the famous composer Ernest John Moeran for several years up to his death.

5.     Kenmare has a famous market fair on the 15th of August every year.

6. Kenmare is located at the head of Kenmare Bay sometimes called the Kenmare River (An Ribhéar) where the Roughty River (An Ruachtach) flows to the Atlantic Ocean.

7. Kenmare in Irish is An Neidín and translates into English as ‘The Little Nest’.

The Best time to Visit Kenmare, Ireland

pond at Molly Gallivans

When is the best time to go to Kenmare? On average, the warmest months are June, July, August, and September

The coldest months are January, February and March. The rainiest months are January, February, November and December

The temperatures are highest on average in July with an average high temperature of about 64.6°F. In February, the average temperature is 41.2 °F (the lowest average temperature of the entire year).

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