Weekender: South Kerry
The Healy-Rae signs in Kilgarvan always tell me I've arrived in south Kerry. West Cork was the holiday destination of my childhood and teens, but somehow south Kerry has laid claim to my adulthood.
The accommodation at Quinlan & Cooke Boutique Townhouse is chic and a good base for Valentia Island, Ballinskelligs, and on to Waterville or Derrynane. Try for a room with the bath in the bedroom, which feels decadent and very un-Irish. A continental breakfast is included, and the rooms have Nespresso machines.
Petit Delice is the place for an unapologetically buttery French breakfast of mini beignets and almond croissants. The coffee is also very good. Filled baguettes make perfect picnic food if you are heading to the beach. Go to Ballinskelligs for the chocolate factory, and then down the road to Finian's Bay for the bouncy waves.
As a destination, Derrynane is worth the drive, and the drive is a joy in itself. The coastal clifftop road between Waterville and Caherdaniel offers breathtaking views out to the Skelligs and reminds you why the foreigners flock. Take a walk or swim if it's safe on Derrynane beach. If it's unsafe, drive on to the harbour at the beach's end, stopping for a lamb sandwich in Bridie's pub. There is surfboard hire at the harbour, as well as calm-water swimming. Locals head to Cuas Crom pier, near Cahersiveen, for a quality swim.
Perfect pizza is to be had back in The Oratory in Cahersiveen, to be eaten with that tight-faced, been-to-the-beach feeling.