A Place For Tranquility in County Kerry, Ireland

Rhode Island’s Irish population has bought us stories of Irish pastoral tranquility. We think of green hills dotted by white sheep, of quiet Irish villages perched on rocky shorelines, and of a people who live at an unhurried pace. That put a tranquil, relaxing visit to Ireland high on our list when Linda and I planned our honeymoon trip.

Thousands upon thousands of tourists to Ireland visit the Ring of Kerry. Relatively few stay longer than it takes to shop for souvenirs in colorful Irish villages or pose for pictures at the spectacular overlooks in Lady’s View and along the Atlantic coastline. They tend to start and stop a one-day excursion from Killarney, zipping along the road that rings County Kerry as fast as a tour bus can travel.

But the Ireland we know from movies and from the melancholy recollections of our elders can’t be found from the window of a tour bus.

Along the Ring of Kerry, where the Kenmare River widens into a bay and empties into the Atlantic, my new bride and I found the Derrynane Hotel and the tranquility we were searching for.

DerrynaneThe Derrynane isn’t a quaint country inn. It’s a full service hotel with seventy rooms, a restaurant, bar, pool, gymnasium, steam room, tennis courts, and children’s play room. The amenities of the hotel encourage visitors to stay – not just sleep overnight, but to take the time to unwind and relax. But it is perhaps the scenery above all that makes the Derrynane a place to find serenity.

Linda and I could sit for hours on the benches placed here and there on the hillsides above the water, watching the waves breaking on the rocks thirty feet below. A score of sailboats had been pulled up on land, farther along the curve of the shoreline near the village of Caherdaniel, but not a single ship sailed between us and the horizon. We could only imagine the ocean extending southeast and wonder what ships might be plying the Atlantic between us and Brazil.

A small climb down lead us to a cove that seemed to invite swimming. The beach was covered with palm-sized flat stones, which gave us a chance to skip rocks across the water and be children for a few minutes.

DerrynaneWe went back inside at dinnertime to enjoy a fantastic meal. For a hotel dedicated to providing a family friendly atmosphere, the food was remarkably good. Dinner followed the upscale fixed prix four-course style we’ve found in so many of the nicer hotels in the British Isles — starters, soup, entrées, and dessert. Linda had fish, and my steak in particular was worth noting – tender, juicy, and seasoned – and a great lead-up to the dessert of crème’ brule’. Our window seat gave us a wonderful view of the ocean at sunset, and the waitstaff were attentive and courteous.

Our host, Mary O’Connor had brought in staff, both local and from “the continent” dedicated to being warm, friendly, and welcoming. Some of the staff members have been with the hotel for over a decade, returning year after year and building up a familiarity with the area’s attractions and to O’Connor’s philosophy of friendly service. The hotel recently underwent a $1.5 million renovation as part of the process of leaving behind a mid-level chain branding and moving toward a hotel that can make a mark of its own.

We retired to our large comfortable room and slept with our windows open, falling asleep to the sounds of the waves washing over the rocks outside. We slept late, skipping breakfast for a chance to spend a little more time in a comfortable bed before we hit the road again.

DerrynaneWe didn’t stay long enough to enjoy the steam room or their “seaweed therapy bath”. Sadly, we were still tourists on a honeymoon trip, intent not on unwinding, but on experiencing life. We hurried off to see colorful Irish costal villages, collect souvenirs, and take pictures at the scenic overlooks. But we did promise ourselves to make it back for a longer stay and to rediscover the serenity of the Derrynane Hotel.

You can visit the Derrynane Hotel’s website at or call them at +353 66 947 5136. They’re closed in the winter, and busiest in the summer, so be sure to make your reservations early to ensure your own piece of paradise on the Ring of Kerry.

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