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A Guide to Kenmare

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

It's 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 ' because the town '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 and of course, since we're talking 'Ireland' here..damp. It's unusual to experience extremely low winter temperatures - ice and snow etc., but spring and summer temperatures can be high.

The town itself has a population of around 1,800 (in 2009) and 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 it was designated a 'Heritage Town'.

Kenmare town has a unique identity of vibrant coloured, characterful buildings and its inhabitants' pride and concern for the immediate environment has twice resulted in Kenmare winning the 'Tidy Towns' competition - in 2000 and 2008. This is an annual, national event and Kenmare was also a runner-up in 2003. 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. Along the 175 kilometre route are picturesque towns and villages, like Sneem, Caherdaniel and Cahirciveen, an abundance of historical landmarks, sandy coves and beautiful beaches.

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 desirable tourist destination in its own right with its rural beauty, style and service, but it's a perfectly-positioned base from which to experience everything that the south west of Ireland has to offer. Whether it's walking, cruising on the bay, fishing, golfing, touring or just 'chilling' that interests you, come and do all those things and more here in Kenmare. You won't be disappointed.

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