To join your exciting Ring of Kerry Rail and Road Tour, you should make your way to Heuston Station, Dublin by 0640h (6:40am). The tour operator’s representatives (wearing yellow jackets) will be waiting for you beside the customer service desk. They will check you in and show you to your reserved seats on the train. A dedicated host will be available on the train to assist you and may also act as a guide on sightseeing tours.
Your departure station, Dublin Heuston, was opened in 1844 as the headquarters of the Great Southern & Western Railway and is now the official principal station of Iarnród Éireann – Ireland’s national railway company. As your train departs, you will travel in a south westerly direction, passing some of Dublin’s western suburbs – and will soon be travelling through the lush fertile countryside of County Kildare. The train goes through the town of Newbridge, which marks the northern boundary of the Curragh of Kildare.
The Curragh (pronounced ‘curra’) is famous for its racecourse, home of the Irish Derby, and there are many stud farms in the vicinity. At this time of the morning, you are likely to see some of Ireland's finest bloodstock being exercised. The Curragh is also the headquarters of the Irish army and their buildings can be seen in the distance (on the left-hand side facing the direction of travel – the 'down' side). At the southern edge of the Curragh is the county town of Kildare.
The train now rushes through Monasterevan, an old transport convergence, where the River Barrow, the Grand Canal, the main road to the south and the railway all meet. You then enter Laois (or Queen’s County as it was known before Independence), and pass through the small town of Portarlington, where the (present) main line to the west diverges.
As we approach Portlaoise (Pronounced Port-Leesh-eh), the train's first stop since leaving Dublin, the sharp-eye will see Ireland’s only maximum security prison on the ‘down side’. On the opposite side are the Slieve Bloom Mountains. You will sweep on through the midlands before reaching the border of County Tipperary and the towns of Templemore - home of the Garda Síochána training college - and Thurles - home of the Gaelic Athletic Association.
You will pause briefly at Limerick Junction, an Irish railway crossroads, which is of course near Limerick, but is very close to Tipperary town and is home to a famous racecourse.
The train now passes through the Golden Vale, with the Galtee Mountains rising on the down side. This area is home to the Irish dairy industry and, as you glide by, the best of dairy herds can be seen. We pass through the creamery towns of Knocklong, Charleville and Buttevant, before reaching Mallow at 0918h (9:18am) – the junction station for the Kerry line.
On arrival at Mallow you will change trains for your onward journey to Killarney at 0920h (9:20am) arriving at 1029h (10:29am) for your tour of the Ring of Kerry.
Leaving Mallow, the route takes you along the valley of the River Blackwater, in the shadow of the Boggeragh Mountains. You pass through the north Cork villages of Banteer and Millstreet, the latter having its moment of fame in 1993 when it was the venue for the Eurovision Song Contest. County Kerry (the Kingdom) is entered near the village of Rathmore. The lush and dramatic Kerry scenery is now coming into view and on the down side are twin peaks known as 'The Paps' - the reasoning behind this should be apparent!
On arrival at Killarney, please make your way promptly to the exit/entrance of the station, where the Killarney representative of the tour company will be waiting for you. Be sure to hold your yellow travel pack so that he or she can identify you easily.
There are plenty of stops along the Ring of Kerry for morning tea, lunch and photographs. Ireland’s highest mountains are located in Kerry and Carrauntouhil – which can be seen en route –is the highest, standing at 1041 metres.
The Ring of Kerry tour circles the magnificent MacGillycuddy Reeks and runs through its many passes and valleys along the shores of Dingle Bay and Kenmare Bay.
You will pass quaint villages such as Glenbeigh, Waterville and Sneem and return via Lady’s View, the famous Lakes of Killarney and Killarney's National Park. At the end of the coach tour you will be brought to the railway station at Killarney.
The return train from Killarney to Dublin is at 1750h (5:50pm) and you should be at the station 10 minutes beforehand. On arrival at Mallow, you will change to the Intercity service to Dublin, which departs from the adjacent platform.
This is a guaranteed connection, so don't worry if your train from Killarney is a little late arriving in Mallow.
The train arrives back in Dublin at 2115h (9:15pm) and your tour ends at Heuston Station where the trip began.