Category Archives: attraction

Co. Kerry::Inch Beach and environs — Day 6

Dean and Andrew on Inch Beach

Dean and Andrew on Inch Beach

Today we did go back to the Dingle Peninsula. We stopped at Inch Beach first because the sun was showing. Even so, it was chilly and windy. The beach is huge — long and wide. It may have been low tide. We walked along the beach for a bit, then Dean wanted to head to the dunes.

Dean on a Dune at Inch Beach

Dean on a Dune at Inch Beach

These dunes, which are the largest I’ve ever seen, had no signs warning of environmental impact if trod upon — so Dean and the kids climbed to the top of the nearest dune. I hesitated, then followed them. I passed bya  couple of people sheltering from the wind. The dunes were so large that I didn’t see the people until I was nearly on top of them.

Colorful snails lined the path — clinging to reeds or just sitting in the sand. I picked up one from the sand  and saw that it was alive.

I met up with Clare at the top of a dune and saw that behind that dune, dozens more spread towards the road.

Dean and Andrew were resting in the bottom of a dune and claimed it was warm.

After climbing for a while I walked back to the beach, but Dean and the kids continued their exploration of the dunes at Inch Beach.

I later read that Ryan’s Daughter was filmed there.

Andrew inside the South Pole Inn

Andrew inside the South Pole Inn

Andrew outside the South Pole Inn

Andrew outside the South Pole Inn

We then drove towards Dingle Town and stopped for a late lunch at a bar called the South Pole Inn that was once owned by Tom Crean, one of Shackleton’s crew mates on his Antarctic adventure. Andrew is reading a book about the voyage for school so we snapped a few photos of the inside and outside.

Scary driving in Ireland

Scary driving in Ireland

After lunch we tried to find Minard Castle, but the road there was blocked.

After the Dingle drive we stopped at home for a couple of hours then took the kids to a pub in town that advertised live music. It must have been too early, because no one was playing anything. (Later we discovered that “Trad” didn’t start until 10 pm or later — too late for us).

Back home we had a simple pasta meal and retired early to be able to areise for our Skellig Michael trip the next day.

More Day 6 photos on Flickr.

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Co. Kerry::Part of the Ring of Kerry — Day 5

Torc Waterfall

Torc Waterfall

Today was quite mild, temperature wise. We drove to Kenmare, via Killarney and stopped off at Torc Waterfall for an hour hike through the park. It was lush, green and mossy.

The Lakes of Killarney as seen from Ladies View

The Lakes of Killarney as seen from Ladies View

The drive to Kenmare was beautiful. There was less traffic than I’d expected along this stretch of the Ring of Kerry. Spectacular views, the occasional ruin and plenty of sheep.

Kenmare is a busy little town. Yesterday seemed to be market day as a number of tents were set up with folks selling goods. The woman at the tourist information center was from the States though. We’ll have to let that one go.

Kenmare Stone Circle

Kenmare Stone Circle

We ate a much needed late lunch of sandwiches, soup and chocolate cake at a small cafe in town, then toured the town’s stone circle — the largest in the Southwest Ireland.  Then we walked to a secondhand bookstore and browsed for a while. It was drizzly by this time and I got to try out my new green raincoat.

Back at the car we drove onto Sneem, then drove back a different, much more spectacular way through the mountains.

Monkey Puzzle Tree

Monkey Puzzle Tree

We stopped in Killarney for more food and supplies and where I photographed a fine specimen of a Monkey Puzzle Tree that stands in the front garden of a house on the N71.

Back home we had leftover coq au vin over rice. Pretty good for a quick meal.

Birds (and other wildlife) seen today:

  • blackbird
  • wren
  • swallow
  • song thrush
  • robin
  • 3 Irish hares

Tomorrow we plan on maybe heading back to Dingle to see Inch Beach. There is a pub there that was built by someone in a book Andrew is reading for English.

More Day 5 photographs on Flickr.

Co. Kerry::Killarney National Forest — Day 4

View from Muckross House - Muckross Lake (?)

View from Muckross House - Muckross Lake (?)

We awoke late again this morning. We ate a late breakfast of eggs, potatoes, beans and toast. Then drove to Killarney National Park. I wanted to see the yew forest. I’d asked about the yew forest earlier in the week, but the woman at the tourist office desk was vague about its location, but suggested that if we went to Muckross House we’d be fairly close. I also mentioned it to Áine, and she didn’t offer suggestions on its location, probably because she didn’t know exactly where it was either.

Muckross House Through the Roses

Muckross House Through the Roses

We drove to the park and toured Muckross House, a huge mansion built in the Tudor style and decorated in the Victorian style because the queen herself once stayed there. The folks who owned Muckross when Victoria and Albert and some of their children visited did so, in part, because they hoped they would be given more land or a title after the visit. Unfortunately, however, a few months after the visit Albert died and Victoria went into mourning. She forgot about her visit to Muckross House and the owners, who had sunk a small fortune into the preparations for the visit, ended up in poor financial state.

Muckross Traditional Farms -- farm house

Muckross Traditional Farms -- farm house

We also toured the tradional farm, which is like a small Williamsburg, near Muckross House, then headed along the Muckross Peninsula to the Yew Forest.

I’d seen photographs Reenadinna Yew Wood online and really wanted to experience it for myself. I felt a little guilty, because tourism is actually killing this magical place, and it is one of only three existing yew woods in Europe. I kept on reminding Dean and the kids to be careful and not step on the fragile roots of the trees.

Yew Wood

Yew Wood

As we walked along the Muckross Peninsula I saw what looked like the photos I’d seen, and every so often I’d exclaim, “I think this is it!” Then we’d walk on some more and I’d proclaim we’d found it again. Finally we saw a grove of evergreen trees upon a mossy hill and I knew we’d found the yews. Someone noticed a cave within the grove of trees, and despite my warnings about killing the trees by stepping the roots, Dean, Clare and Andrew all headed towards the cave. After some cajolling, they enticed me to the mouth of the cave, but I refused to go in. Soon my family disappeared into the cave and I fancied the fairyfolk might take them away to fairyland to be slaves.

No such luck.

Mouth of Cave in Yew Wood

Mouth of Cave in Yew Wood

Soon I heard excited voices on the other side of the hill and was distressed to see them STANDING ON THE ROOTS OF THE YEWS in this ancient yew grove. Their excitement got to me, so I tried to go through the cave once again, but before I could get into complete darkness, my claustrophobia forced me to run back out the way I came in.

After a few more times in and out of the cave, my reckless family stomped on even more yew roots and wandered deep into the yew forest while I wrung my hands and apologized to fairy folk under my breath.

Eventually they returned and we continued our walk along the peninsula. Farther down the yew wood was even denser and mossier, and thankfully fenced off so the roots were protected from wandering American feet.

The cliffs

The cliffs

On the walk back to the car we found a detour with steps leading into the forest. I was tired, but the kids ran on and came back with tales of water, more steps and cliffs overlooking the lake.

We drove home and thought we’d eat dinner at a pub — but the pub in town didn’t serve food and even though the publican told us how to find a place that served food, we chose to go home and cook a chicken we had in the fridge. We made coq au vin.

Dean and I drove to the pub while the chicken was cooking and spoke to a local who old us the weather might improve tomorrow and that the houses in town were all owned by folks who couldn’t afford them and never went to the pub because they couldn’t afford the cost of a pint.

Back home we had dinner — not bad — and then played cards.

More Day 4 photos on Flickr.

Co. Kerry::Dingle Peninsula — Day 3

On Monday, July 7, we drove to the Dingle Peninsula. First, however, we drove to Tralee — the town made famous by the song, The Rose of Tralee. Don’t worry if you’d never heard of the song — neither had I. Here’s a version of it.

In August women from all over the world compete for the title of The Rose of Tralee.

Anyway, we got some cash in Tralee and a few groceries at a Dunnes store. I also bought some slippers. Dunnes has groceries and clothes. I guess it’s kind of like a Super Target or Super Walmart.

After Tralee we headed out to the road to Dingle. We first passed some mud flats with shorebirds. I would have liked to stop to see the birds, but roads in Ireland are not conducive to just stopping. Clare was asleep at this point. I think the jet lag was catching up on her.

As we drove further out to the end of the Dingle Peninsula we saw mountains in the distance and the shore was to our right — one beach hosted huge waves and a number of surfers.

View from the Conor Pass -- Dingle Peninsula

View from the Conor Pass -- Dingle Peninsula

Clare woke up when we got to the Conor Pass which, according to the Dingle Peninsula website, is the highest mountain pass in Ireland.  It was pretty amazing, and a little scary as Dean navigated the curves in the road.

Sheep on the road -- Conor Pass -- Dingle Peninusla

Sheep on the road -- Conor Pass -- Dingle Peninusla

At one point we saw some sheep on the road, so we stopped and admired the scenery and Clare chased the sheep.

After that, Clare, Dean and Andrew walked — despite the gale force winds — to the top of a hill. I was too tired, or cold or apprehensive of the height to accompany them.

After our brief break we drove onto Dingle and had a lunch of cheese, bread and fruit. Irish cheese is delicious — creamy and filling. We looked around at the shops in Dingle, but everything seemed too touristy.

Doorway to Dunbeg Circle fort

Doorway to Dunbeg Circle fort

After Dingle, we drove to Dunbeg Promontory Fort, not too far out of Dingle, towards the end of the peninsula. We watched an embarrassingly amateur video about the fort in the visitor’s center and toured the fort. Had I known the fairy folk may have built it, I may have had more interest in it.

Afterward we drove to some “beehive” huts — more “fairy folk” homes.

Gallarus Oratory -- Dingle Peninusla

Gallarus Oratory -- Dingle Peninusla

We drove on for a while, stopping to look at the Blasket Islands. These islands were evacuated in the 1950’s and hosted many poets and writers. We missed the Blasket Island Info Center, but did go to the Gallarus Oratory which was an early Christian church.

We then drove home, through Dingle and stopped briefly at Inch Beach where Dean and Andrew checked out the beach and Clare and I examined slugs.

For dinner we cooked pork chops braised in Druids Celtic Cider with an apple and brown bread dressing. Clare made killer mashed potatoes.

Dean retired early and Clare, Andrew and I stayed up to listen to Prince Caspian and watch the news. The weather man seemed so sad that his prediction was nothing but rain, rain and more rain.

More Day 3 Photos on Flickr

Co. Kerry::Killarney National Park — Day 2

A Cathedral in Killarney

A Cathedral in Killarney

Dean and I got up at 10:00 am this morning — although I was awake from 2:30 – 4 am. Andrew was awake from 3 – 5. Clare and Andrew got up at 11.

We decided to visit Killarney today. It is only a 15 minute drive away and we figured we needed an easy day and drive.

We had to first visit Liam and Áine’s house because we were having trouble with the keys in the doors. The front door was impossible to turn (we didn’t want to break the key) and the back door lock was sticking too. We didn’t want to lock up and then not be able to get in when we returned.

Ross Castle, Killarney

Ross Castle, Killarney

They followed us to the house and after a few minutes and a few sprays of WD-40, fixed the locks. Then they lead us to Killarney where they’d planned to visit that day as well. We met the rest of their children — the twins, Evelyn and Ruth, and their toddler, Maeve.

Ferns in Killarney

Ferns in Killarney

In Killarney we toured St. Mark’s Cathedral, then walked to Ross Castle and took the tour there. Ross Castle was one of 3000 castles built during the 1500’s. It was restored in the 1970’s, thanks in part, to an Irish American from Philadelphia.

We walked back to Killarney by way of the River Walk. Along the river are primitive looking plants — horsetails and ferns.

Clare and Andrew playing Connect 4

Clare and Andrew playing Connect 4 in the lounge

Back in Killarney we stopped in a cafe for a mediocre meal, then we shopped for food at a Tesco and walked back to the car. We’d not realized that it costs money to use a cart in a grocery store nor the 22 cent (50 cent — usd) surchage they put on plastic grocery bags in Ireland.

Back home we played cards, then had a quiet evening in the lounge after the kids had turns at driving a stick shift and steering wheel on the right along the gravel driveway.

New birds I saw today were:

pie-billed wagtail
Goldfinch
Jackdaw
hooded crow

More Day 2 photos on Flickr.