IT probably attracts more tourists to its shores than any other western seaboard county, and if you’ve been there in recent times, there’s always a fair few Donegal registered cars on the roads.
But there is a good reason Kerry does that – it really is The Kingdom.It’s wonderful towns, mountain scenery and its people make Kerry the perfect place to unwind this winter.
But for those who want to unwind and have a bit of fun too Kerry is home to perhaps the island’s best adventure centre where adults and children can really enjoy a superb break – in all weathers.
The Eclipse Equestrian and Activity Centre provides the perfect family break on the Ring of Kerry, 15km from Kenmare.
The children can go pony trekking (and so can the adults if you fancy it) or you can go fishing for brown trout, fire some arrows on the archery range or just go for a hike in the grounds.
They also do kayaking, raft-building, laser combat, mud-surfing, mountain biking and something called laughter yoga!
It’s run by Ireland’s only Greek farmer Athos Tsiopani and his wife Anita.
Athos has spent the past 15 years building and lanscaping the Swan House Estate, adding the new equestrian centre in 2008.
He has poured everything into making Eclipse a successful experience for everyone involved; ensuring that each visitor to the centre goes away feeling fulfilled and with a feeling of achievement. He has an innate understanding of people’s needs. He’s great with kids. Whether you want to challenge your inner being or relax your battered soul, Athos will always do his best to help guide you along the way.
And he knows how to cook – he is a former chef and owner of the Cattleman Steakhouse restaurant in Bristol.
So his famous BBQs attract people from far and wide.
“I want everyone who comes here to enjoy themselves, no matter what they wish to do,” he says.
“Otherwise there is no point in them being here – and no point in us being here to make their holiday whether that’s for a day or a week.”
His enthusiasm is intoxicating. You just have to read the reviews on tripadvisor to see what tourists think of the place.
The centre is also home to a number of luxury cottages which are big, beautiful and good value for money. You don’t have to go far for adventure when you are staying on site…the 11 magnificent stables are a few feet away, beside the all-weather arena. After a day trekking, fishing or kayaking, you can finish off the evening in the centre’s own spa!
Or a short 1km away is the local bar and post office – on the same premises of course.
If you do want to go further afield for a morning then there is a highly recommended is 2-hour boat trip around Kenmare bay. The craic was good and getting up close to the native seal colony was spectacular. Go to www.seafariireland.com for sailing times.
Sneem, in the other direction to the west, attracts coaches loaded with tourists to its quaint surroundings. Every July the village hosts the famous World Wife Carrying Championships!
The Ring of Kerry is dotted with superb beaches which you can have to yourself at this time of the year if you fancy a bracing walk. We spent a morning at Baileskellig beach followed by servings of fresh wild Atlantic salmon in the excellent Smugglers Cove restaurant in the beautiful village of Waterville.
There are many ways to see this see the Kingdom, but none more pleasant that from your own Castle. And Eclipse has that castle.
For more log on to www.eclipseireland.com