Horseback Riding in County Kerry, Ireland

August 19, 2016

Is horseback riding in Ireland on your bucket list? Read on about this unforgettable two-day trek on the renowned Ring of Kerry.

by Jocelyn Pierce

The O’Sullivan family has been expertly guiding equestrian treks in County Kerry, Ireland for decades. Located adjacent to Killarney National Park, Killarney Riding Stables is in a prime location for one and two hour rides into the park. In addition, the O’Sullivans also offer a two-day, three-night trek and a five-day, six-night trek for those looking for more time in the saddle.

My mom and I have always dreamed of riding in Ireland, a popular bucket list item among many riders. We opted for the two-day ride that leaves from the Killarney area and delves into the Iveragh Peninsula’s landscape and surroundings in the Ring of Kerry.

Ring of Kerry Horseback Riding

The Ring of Kerry in south-western Ireland is known for its beautiful scenery and views of mountains, lakes and beaches.

Our first night in Ireland, we stayed in a quaint hotel in bustling Killarney, where we explored the shops, restaurants and pubs. In the morning, we met our riding companions over a traditional Irish breakfast and then were shuttled to the base of Seefinn Mountain. Here we met up with Donie O’Sullivan, our wonderful guides, and our horses for the ride. The horses were carefully selected for us based on ability, experience, and our personal preferences.

Donie mischievously pulled out a bottle of whiskey and encouraged us all to take a swig before mounting. How could we say no?

Horseback riding McGillicuddy Reeks Ireland

Riding Ireland's tallest mountain range, McGillicuddy Reeks.

The ride set off through McGillicuddy Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery at every turn of the trail, we never quite knew what to expect beyond the next turn, including a surprise stampede from a herd of sheep with their shepherd and dog plunging towards us down the trail.

We climbed up and over the Windy Gap, with startling vantage points of patchwork countryside and lakes. Our wonderful and informative guides, Lucia and Lauren, pointed far off landmarks, and clued us into interesting details about the area throughout our ride.

Ring of Kerry Scenery Windy Gap

Stunning views from the Windy Gap.

After a restful and filling lunch, we were back in the saddle, circling Horseshoe Mountain and eventually rode through a bog where we could see farmers had harvested peat, used as a common heating source in Ireland.

We ambled on down country lanes to the O’Sullivan’s other stable outside of Glenbeigh, a small and charming village where we stayed for the next two nights.

Day two had us back in the saddle early, our ride dictated by the tide, as we would be spending the day on Rossbeigh beach. Riding out from the stables (after a swig of whiskey or course) our first glimpse of the Atlantic and the long stretch of beach was from a high vantage point. We could even see the Dingle Peninsula off in the distance. We rode along the cliff, looking over the steep edge at the bright blue water and down to the smooth sand at Rossbeigh.

Horseback Riding Rossbeigh Beach

Heading to four-mile long Rossbeigh Beach on day two of the ride. 

Donie’s daughter, Aoife accompanied our group, and I enjoyed listening to her talk about their family business, their horses, and growing up and riding in Ireland.

Once on the beach, we picked up the pace a bit, and were able to do some long gallops back and forth through the water and down the nearly deserted beach. It was exhilarating to splash through the water, and by the end of the ride my horse and I were covered in salt water and sand, and I couldn’t stop grinning.

Horses Rossbeigh Beach Ireland

A peaceful break on the beach.

Lunch of sandwiches, cakes, tea, and coffee was served on the beach. We sat on the dunes and the horses rested too, all tied together in a circle.

After lunch and a few more beach gallops, we rode along the water and took the Cliff Road back to the stables.

Horses and Riders Rossbeigh Beach Ireland

It’s hard to choose which day was more perfect. All told, we spent about five hours in the saddle each day. I felt moved by the beauty of the countryside, and felt grateful for all that we were able to see from the back of a horse.

Learn more about riding with the O’Sullivans and how you can go.

 

About the Author: Jocelyn Pierce is an avid equestrian and lover of travel and photography. Her passion for adventure has led her on numerous excursions throughout North America and Europe. When she’s not riding and competing her homebred mare, she enjoys hiking, camping, and snapping photographs.

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