We are a nation of food lovers, from farmers, to artisan food producers, from chefs to food festival organisers. And no where is this more apparent than in Ireland’s South West region. County Kerry is one of the largest counties in Ireland, famous world over for the Lakes of Killarney, The Rose of Tralee, Dingle and perhaps the best known attraction, the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry begins and ends in Killarney. While you can take it anywhich way you please, it is recommended to start here.Killarney and Killorglin
Killarney has a huge variety of options between restaurants, cafés, tea rooms and hotel dining. For a vintage vibe with retro chic décor, try a cup of tea or leisurely coffee and a scone at Miss Courtney’s Tea Rooms on College Street. If you fancy fine dining then both The Dunloe and The Europe Hotel & Resort, both 5 star hotels, offer excellent cuisine just outside Killarney. Outside Killorglin just off the Ring of Kerry Route is Ard na Sidhe Country House, resting on the quiet shores of Caragh Lake. Here, Afternoon Tea is a speciality. Killorglin town hosts the Flavour of Killorglin Food Festival each September and is worth the stopover if you are travelling at that time of year, as is Sol y Sombra, a tapas and wine bar uniquely located in a refurbished old church.
Moving through the picturesque village of Glenbeigh, Rumours is the restaurant where all the locals flock to. Further along the Ring of Kerry is the sleepy hamlet of Kells. Go off route and down a narrow and winding road to seek out Kells Bay Gardens and Café, a hidden gem for a spot of lunch or a quick latte to revive the weary traveller.
If you are a seafood lover then the award winning QC’s Seafood Restaurant and Townhouse in Caherciveen will not disappoint. Having previously won the Bord Iascaigh Mhara Best Seafood Restaurant in Ireland, fish here is fresh from the Atlantic Ocean.
Many people who travel the Ring of Kerry route do not venture to what is widely acknowledged as the most scenic part of the area which is off route towards the fishing village of Portmagee, the small community of Valentia Island, and the remote but beautiful Ballinskelligs area. The Moorings restaurant on the waterfront in Portmagee village serves bar food and has a restaurant attached for evening meals. Taking a trip over onto Valentia Island is particularly worth the trip during the King Scallop Festival in July and in the Summer months the Valentia Island Farmhouse Dairy serves locally made ice cream.
Beyond Portmagee and Valentia Island lies the area of Ballinskelligs and the hidden gem in this area rests in St.Finian’s Bay, where the visitor will be delighted at the opportunity to visit the Skelligs Chocolate Factory and have a cup of their rich and creamy hot chocolate.
The Sugarshack Cakery, a whimisical vintage style café which also offers baking classes, lies in the Caherdaniel area and no trip to the area would be complete without a trip to the Ahamore Tea Rooms in Derrynane House. For those who are making a stop in nearby Castlecove, O’Carroll’s Cove Beach Bar and Restaurant is the perfect place for a quite drink overlooking the wild Atlantic ocean.Sneem and Kenmare
Just outside the village of Sneem on the road to Kenmare is Dromquinna Manor, which has been lovingly refurbished with gardens stretching down onto Kenmare Bay. At the private pier sits the Boathouse, a stylish wine bar and bistro which also features an extensive selection of gins from around the world. Further on in Kenmare, the weary traveller will be spoilt for choice with the range of award winning restaurants, cafés and bars on offer, in addition to a Farmers Market on Wednesdays showcasing the best that local food producers have to offer.
When you visit County Kerry, and in particular the Ring of Kerry, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to artisan, gourmet and indigenous Irish food and beverages.
The indigenous Irish food industry is a massive industry in the Irish marketplace. 230,000 jobs are linked to the agri-food sector in Ireland with an estimated turnover of €24 billon according to the FDII ( Food and Drink Industry Ireland). The total payroll in the sector is more than any other manufacturing sector at €1.7 billion euro. The indigenous food industry supplies the largest amount of produce to the nations €14 billion euro domestic food service and grocery sector.
The quality of Irish food is so high that just under €10 billion euro worth of goods were exported to 120 countries in 2013 alone and 2 in every 3 were from indigenous Irish companies. 42% of our food exports are destined for the UK market. 32% are destined for the rest of Europe. Ireland is the biggest net exporter of beef, lamb and dairy ingredients in Europe. In fact, 80% of Ireland’s dairy and beef production is for the export market. In excess of 70 retail chains across Europe stock Irish beef. More than 50% of pigmeat that Ireland produces is exported to over 60 countries worldwide. The UK’s biggest importer of food and drinks is Ireland. Ireland dominates the powdered infant formula market in Europe as the largest exporter.go back