Aerial photograph of Kenmare town
(Source: Liam Blake,

The beautiful town of Kenmare is a small country town, famous for its gourmet food and superb accommodation. It is set amidst breath-taking scenery in one of the most unspoilt, natural environments in Europe.

Kenmare is located at the head of beautiful Kenmare Bay which stretches 50 kilometres from Kenmare out to the Atlantic Ocean. The name is an anglicised version of Ceann Mara which translates into ‘head of the sea’ in English. The original Irish name for the town is ‘Neidin’ meaning ‘ little nest ‘. Kenmare truly ‘nestles’ amongst the surrounding mountains which are such a striking feature of the landscape.

Its protected position and proximity to the Gulf Stream mean that the climate which Kenmare enjoys is mild. Of course, since we’re talking ‘Ireland’ here, it is also damp. It’s unusual to experience extremely low winter temperatures – ice and snow etc., but spring and summer temperatures can be comparatively high.

The town itself has a population of 2,376 (Census 2016). Kenmare retains the ‘village’ feel that it’s had since it was established as Ireland’s first ‘planned’ town back in 1670. The historical, cultural and environmental significance of the place was officially recognised by Bord Failte [the then tourist board of Ireland] in the early 1990s when Kenmare was designated a ‘Heritage Town’.

Kenmare town has a unique identity of vibrant coloured, characterful buildings. Its inhabitants’ pride and concern for the immediate environment has resulted in Kenmare winning the national ‘Tidy Towns’ competition on several occasions. The ‘Tidy Towns’ awards are accolades of which the locals are justifiably proud.

The town of Kenmare is ideally situated on two famous tourist trails – The Ring of Kerry and The Ring of Beara. The Ring of Kerry is known all over the world and follows the spectacular coastline of the Iveragh Peninsula. It’s one of the most dramatic scenic drives in Ireland and makes a most enjoyable day tour.

Just south of Kenmare is the unspoilt and less commercialised Ring of Beara. This is less well-known than The Ring of Kerry but no less impressive. Its rugged beauty is beyond compare, traffic is minimal and there’s a wealth of archaeological sites and spectacular views waiting to be discovered.

To the north of Kenmare is the Killarney National Park – 10,000 hectares of woodland, magical mountain scenery and of course the infamous Lakes of Killarney. These you’ll encounter from above as you travel the Kenmare/Killarney Road and the staggering beauty of it all will take your breath away.

Not only is Kenmare a unique and popular tourist destination in its own right with its rural beauty, style and service. It’s also a perfectly-positioned base from which to experience everything that the south west of Ireland has to offer.