With its sprawling green fields, jagged coastline, mountains, lakes, and farmland, County Kerry on Ireland’s southwest Atlantic coast is an idyllic home base from which to explore the Emerald Isle. But aside from the picturesque landscapes and quaint villages, what’s it really like there?
UnFluencer Mandy Haakenson took the Irish UnTour and shared some unforgettable moments with the world via Instagram. In addition to her incredible photos and videos, we asked if she would tell us in her own words about her experience slow traveling in this rustic corner of the globe.
What was your UnTours apartment like?
I stayed at Padraig, which is a beautiful apartment on the former stable grounds of an active dairy farm. It’s surrounded by rolling green fields, quaint stone walls and the gentle mooing of cows in the distance. Our hosts encouraged exploration of the farm, sharing their knowledge with enthusiasm. Free-ranging chickens pecked around the grounds each day and a sweet border collie often came by in search of human company.
The kitchen was stocked with the essentials and many local delights: milk, bacon, sausage, creamy cheeses, farm-fresh eggs and homemade preserves. Our hosts made freshly baked bread, coffee cake and scones for us during our stay.
The apartment itself is a snug haven, with warm, earthy tones, rustic wooden furniture and a private patio. Each bedroom had its own bathroom, one included a jacuzzi tub and large, comfortable beds. I loved snug evenings next to the wood-burning fireplace, with its flickering candles on the mantle and the soft crackling of logs, creating a warm and enchanting ambiance.
What was your favorite experience when you were there?
We saw so much beauty, but my favorite experience was going to Molly Gallivans cottage for a tour and dinner. The 19th-century farm was purchased by a distant relative of Molly Gallivans, with the plan to preserve some of Ireland’s rich heritage and traditions and share it with future generations, and they do this so well. The farm is set in a beautiful location and the tour was educational as well as entertaining. It was followed by a dinner in a warm lodge full of candlelight and old artifacts. There was music, singing, dancing and storytelling, as well as delicious food, topped off with homemade dessert and an Irish coffee.
Can you share a favorite restaurant you visited and what was special about it?
I had a delightful visit to Helen’s Bar, also known as The Mussel House, on the Beara Peninsula, thanks to our knowledgeable guide, Maggie. The establishment offers stunning vistas of Kilmackillogue Harbour along the Wild Atlantic Way. With its no-fuss atmosphere and friendly staff, it was a pleasant stop. Plus, enjoying fresh mussels against the backdrop of such a rugged coastline was truly unbeatable.
Why should UnTourists consider UnTouring in Ireland?
Ireland is known for its picturesque countryside, but County Kerry in particular has a lot of remote areas to cover, which can sometimes be overwhelming and challenging to plan all on your own. UnTourists can gain valuable insight from UnGuides and hosts familiar with the local terrain, who can offer assistance in reaching some of these lovely but less accessible spots. Being an English-speaking nation, Ireland offers a fantastic opportunity to engage with some of the most amiable locals and delve into the depths of Irish history and culture.
We’d like to thank Mandy for sharing her thoughts and providing such a vivid picture of her time in County Kerry. She brings to life for us the warm hospitality, rich heritage, and culinary delights that define this region. And also underscores the practicality of taking an UnTour where your independent exploration is enhanced by expert guidance and local knowledge that opens doors to hidden wonders and friendly encounters.
*All photos graciously provided by Mandy Haakenson.