The Ring of Kerry in Ireland’s south west is the most scenic drive I know.
It takes you through 111 miles of the County Kerry countryside. Along her peninsulas, calm bays, sandy beaches and wild roaring Atlantic shores.
Starting at the base of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks (which contain Ireland’s highest mountain) in Killarney, your route brings you around the Iveragh Penninsula, through two of Ireland’s prettiest towns—Kenmare and Sneem—and to the long sandy beaches and wild Atlantic at Waterville.
There are attractions and jaw-dropping lookout points along the way. You could take a boat to the Skellig Islands and hike to the ancient beehive monastic settlement. The environment is so hostile that monks stayed there for centuries, safe from attack.
Or take in lunch—oysters and Guinness—in a gourmet stop like Kenmare. Spend an afternoon pottering around the home of Daniel O’Connell (Irish patriot known as the liberator or emancipator) after a long walk on the beaches and rocky headlands of Derrynane.
Far west on Kerry’s peninsulas, you can stroll on the first tee at 7.00 p.m. and play a full round of golf. By 10.45 p.m. it’s dark and time for the pub. Warm summer evenings feel endless.
This is a great place for walking and biking. You can walk the Kerry Way, which follows a route less constrained by man-made roads. Or the signposted Ring of Kerry cycling path with takes in quieter roads.
The more I travel, the more special this part of the world is to me. This would be a great part of the world to have a home. Five years ago prices were through the roof. A budget of $500,000 didn’t get you far.
Today the market in Ireland is distressed. The vacation and second home market is particularly distressed. Makes sense, right? If you are under financial pressure, the first thing to go will be your second home. And there are no buyers as locals put their cottages on the market.
Right along the Ring of Kerry a budget of $100,000 now puts you in the game. For a country cottage…renovated or dilapidated…a modern new-build home in a little town of flower baskets and brightly painted cottages…or a building plot with views to the Atlantic or tranquil bays.
Sneem and Kenamare are two of my favorite towns along this route. Protected bays mean the water here is calm. This is a great area for boating and fishing. Close to Sneem, and in the townland of Tahilla, I found 45 acres of coastal land. Access is by boat. Two ruins of cottages sit above the bay. These are important.
You won’t get permits to build on land like this unless there is, or was, an existing structure. That’s why outbuildings can be valuable. I’m guessing this has at least half a mile of coastal frontage. Maybe more. You could meander up the bay from here to Kenmare at your leisure. The seller is asking $98,000.
Killarney sits on the shores of her lakes. It’s one of Ireland’s biggest tourist attractions, the largest town on the Ring. Here, $85,000 buys you a modern, newly built 1,400-square-foot, four-bedroom home. The finish is what’s called “builder’s finish.” You’ll need to pick out and install your own counter tops and floors. So, you’ll have some additional expense. But it will be to your personal taste.
Fifteen minutes outside Killarney, toward the hills, $53,000 buys you a substantial traditional farmhouse in need of an overhaul. This is a project. But if your budget is $100,000, you’ll have the change from your purchase to take it on.
I never imagined that I would suggest scouting undervalued real estate along the Ring of Kerry. But because of the distressed prices on offer right now, that’s where you’ll find incredible opportunity.
Editor’s note: Ronan is a director of Pathfinder, IL’s preferred real estate advertiser. He will review the crisis opportunities in European property at the International Real Estate Investment Forum, June 7-9. For a full list of what’s on the itinerary, see here.