As we emerge from winter and head into glorious spring, our minds are turning to our next adventure in the great outdoors. If that thought is currently going through your head, we have but one word for you: Killarney.
Actually, we'll probably need a few more words than that.
Killarney is the jewel in the crown that is Kerry – in this case, the ring that is Kerry. The southwestern county is world-renowned for its spectacular scenery, but right here in its own country it really doesn't get half the credit it's due. Let's rectify that.
What do I love about thee, Killarney? Let me count the ways.
1. Glorious hikes
The landscape is just more dramatic here and it's best absorbed slowly during a long, invigorating hike.
2. Killarney National Park
There's no better place to while away a day. With its sweeping vistas, lakes, and rare plant life, the park is a feast for your eyes.
Teeming with wildlife, photographers will have a field day trying to capture the local majestic deer at just the right moment.
Luckily enough, they're also ridiculously photogenic.
4. World-class hotels and spas
When spending a little time in Killarney, it doesn't hurt that there are plenty of world-class hotels and spas where you can rest your weary heads.
Spend one day exploring the great outdoors and the next being wined, dined and pampered – does that sound like a good time to you?
5. Torc Waterfall
If you're making the trek to this neck of the woods, it's imperative that you come with a scenery to-do list. Top of that list should be Torc Waterfall.
In this particular instance, it's perfectly acceptable to go chasing waterfalls.
While you're here, retreat a little further from the modern world and step a little closer to Ireland's ancient history.
Play historian for the day and visit medieval ruins like the Anglo-Norman Parkavonear Castle in Aghadoe and the 15th-century Ross Castle, perched at the edge of Lough Leane.
7. The Ring Of Kerry
Killarney is at the start and finish of this circular coastal route.
Should you choose to follow it, you'll visit Kenmare, Killorglin, Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen, and Glenbeigh.
There really is no better way to experience all the natural splendour that the county has to offer.
8. Innisfallen Island
A trip to this minuscule island on Lough Leane is one to remember.
With its ruined monastery, roaming deer, and pervasive sense of splendid isolation, this lake isle is the very embodiment of Killarney's enduring charm.