Wanderlust Ireland travel photo story, Kenmare and Killarney

For the past five years I've gone on an annual adventure to a European destination fatefully decided by the TBEX future of travel media conference.

I first attended TBEX in Dublin, and when it was announced the 2017 location would once again be hosted by Fáilte Ireland, I booked my ticket straight away.

Kenmare pier

#TBEXIreland 2017 has been hosted in the sublime little city of Killarney.

As with every TBEX (a conference that focuses on digital media, strategy and online success in travel content), I had the chance to sign-up for local experiences to be held before the workshops are scheduled.

Killarney House and formal gardens

Picturesque Killarney

Killarney House sits right in the middle of town, and is the gateway to the beautiful national park and lakes. It's the perfect place to start your walking tour of the area.

The site of Killarney House was actually chosen by Queen Victoria on her visit to Ireland in 1861. The property underwent an extensive restoration and re-opened in 2016.

Killarney house

Even in the rain, it's something very beautiful.

The house hosts events and art exhibitions, and in fact here we met local pro-photographer Norman McCloskey, author of a stunning coffee-table photo book, Parklight. He shared landscape photography tips with us and showed us around his exhibition.

Anyone is free to walk, run or take the dog for a stroll through these grand grounds.

Explore Killarney national park for romantic rivers, lakes and Ross Castle
Killarney national park
Lough Leane

Killarney is accessible from Kerry Airport where I flew into from London.

Many travellers base themselves here to explore the famous Ring of Kerry, a picturesque route around the southwest of Ireland’s County Kerry. A circular trek of 179 kilometres, explorers across the ages have relished in the region's pretty villages and rugged coastal landscapes.

Natural beauty in Kenmare

The Tuesday morning that we set off shone bright with sunshine (a welcome surprise after a lot of rain).

I was most looking forward to boarding the Seafari eco-nature cruise in Kenmare, with a promise of spotting seals.

hoping for sunshine

Seafari travels to one of the largest seal colonies in Ireland where over 300 of these cute creatures live in harmony.

Sarah Blinco, rugged-up on board Seafari
I highly recommend this experience, full of storytelling courtesy Seafari's captain, sprawling landscapes, birds, goats, otters, seals, interesting land forms shaped by the ice age, and no end of creative inspiration.
Seals on the rocks

A lovely morning tea was included too. The addition of a nip of 'special medicine', as the captain calls it, is optional (whatever it was did warm me up).

Goats on the shoreline

Exquisite accommodation

Seafari delivered us safely back to shore, and we were shuttled to a breathtaking hotel set amidst green lands, waterfalls and vast rivers.

sheen falls
View from a sheen falls cottage

Sheen Falls Lodge is a luxury resort boasting water views from all its rooms, a spa with Elemis skincare treatments, extraordinary candlelit wine cellar, glamorous dining spaces and its own gorgeous 1930s classic Buick which we went for a drive in.

classic car
We all fell a little in love with this place.

Our fun group of creatives were all very grateful for the high tea and bubbles that kept us going for the rest of the day.

Travel through time

An absolute delight to cap off the afternoon was a trip back into Irish history at Molly Gallivan's cottage which is over 200 years old.

The farm is lovingly managed by Stephen and Frances O'Sullivan.

sprawling irish landscapes

Widowed with seven small children, Molly Gallivan had to call on her resourcefulness to keep her family going.

She supplemented a meagre income by opening a 'Sibheen' (illegal pub) where she sold her own home-made 'Poitin' (whiskey).

irish charm

It was the early 1840s and a new road linking West Cork and South Kerry had been developed, bringing many tourists past the farm.

Molly also sold hand spun woollens and local craft to enthusiastic visitors.

pets with character
Ireland is always charming and surprising, and nowhere is this more apparent than Molly Gallivan's.

The genuine passion for the place is in the energy of the owners and staff. Pets with personality, ruins on the land, druid mythology and ancient stones make this experience a winner.

Absolutely not to be missed.

I can't cook, but am now certified in other things.
dinner time for donkeys

Are you into travel? Please say hello on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or Instagram.

I've published a vlog on my adventures below, and keep an eye on Instagram and Twitter for tips and more images. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know if you love Ireland as much as I do.

love from killarney

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Created By
Sarah Blinco


Content © Sarah Blinco, travellivelearn.com. With thanks to TBEXcon.com, Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, Seafari Kenmare, Sheen Falls Lodge and Molly Gallivan's cottage and farm.

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