On the edge of Lough Leane in Co. Kerry, about twenty miles south of Tralee, is the ancestral home of the O'Donoghues; Castle Ross. An impressive fifteenth century tower and keep that was the last to surrender to Oliver Cromwell during the Irish Confederate Wars. It features a spiral staircase designed with every step at a different height in order to make attacking while climbing it even more of a struggle. Set in some ideal lake and forest surroundings, the castle and grounds are open to the public, thanks to the Office for Public Works.
The Skellig Experience:
On the island of Valentia, just off the Iveragh Peninsula, is the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre. Velentia is reached from the mainland by the bridge at Portmagee and by car ferry to Reenard Point. The Skellig Experience is a custom-designed, stone-built and grass-roofed eco-building that presents the lives and stories of the settlers and monks that used to survive on the small and inhospitable Skellig islands for more than six hundred years, almost a one-and-a-half millennia ago. The history of the Skellig lighthouses and a representation of the islands' underwater life are also there.
Kerry County Museum:
The Kerry County Museum, on Denny street in Tralee, exhibits displays that detail life in Co. Kerry through various Irish historical events, including The Medieval Experience that fully re-creates the year 1450 in Tralee, smells and all. Visitors are invited to stroll the authentic medieval streets, accompanied by an informative audio commentary. There is also an exhibit devoted to Tom Crean, an adventurer, who went with both Scott and Shackleton on various antarctic explorations.
Kenmare Heritage Centre:
Relive the town of Kenmare's exciting history, from its founding as An neidin – the little nest – to its evolving into Ceann Mara – the head of the sea. The settlement was gifted to the dashing Sir William Petty by Oliver Cromwell, who immediately set about modernising the town's design. The centre also tells the story of the Poor Clare Convent, where the world famous Kenmare Lace was born. The Kenmare Lace and Design Centre exhibits some of this work. Kenmare Lace is is still made in Kenmare today after a local woman asked the nuns to teach her the art in 1989. The woman, Nora Flannegan, now teaches classes to other locals to ensure that the tradition stays alive.
The intricate dry-stone work of the Gallarus Oratory is extremely impressive, with hundreds of Old Red Sandstone rocks cut precisely to fit together with little or no mortar, in the sixth century. Built as an early Christian church, the oratory can be found just outside Ard na Caithne on the Dingle Peninsula, forty miles west of Tralee. Also, nearby is one of the last castles to remain on the Dingle Peninsula, Gallarus Castle. The formidable looking tower house was built by the FitzGeralds in the fifteenth century.