We got up at 8:00 this morning and had a good hot Irish breakfast of bacon (ham), sausage, toast, eggs, and tea before leaving Killarney to traverse the Ring of Kerry, which is an 8 hour tour of a peninsula with plenty of marvelous views.
Our first stop on the Ring was Bog Village. Bog Village is a replication of a traditional Irish village with houses made from peat. Of course, there were also two massive dogs, two little ponies who were smaller than the dogs (the ponies really only came up to about my knee), and a lovely statue of a smiling puck.
After walking around the village, we stopped by the Red Fox Inn for some Irish coffee payed for by Matt, the Dean of Students. I guess it's a little more acceptable, considering that in England we can all legally drink, being college sophomores and juniors. I didn't mind the taste too much, except it would have been better if mine hadn't had quite so much whiskey.
Next we continued on for a view of Dingle Bay. Supposedly a dolphin named Fungi live here, but we didn't get the pleasure of seeing him. The Bay, however, was absolutely beautiful. I would have loved to have taken a panoramic shot, but, unfortunately, my camera doesn't have that function, so I took a video instead. Which turned out very choppy because my camera isn't meant to take videos
From Dingle Bay we headed in to Waterford for a closer look at the Atlantic and Charlie Chaplin. Apparently he frequented the town. The shore was rocky, but not as bad as the shore at Miura (Japan) which consists of volcanic rock. These rocks were nice and smooth, and therefore a lot easier to walk out on into the ocean since the tide was low. We also met the acquaintance of an English setter who loved the attention that a gaggle of ten of us girls gave him.
After lunch we continued our trek to the Madonna statue and then to Sneem, which apparently has good ice cream, but I wouldn't know because every place that might have sold ice cream, was closed. But the town of Sneem was really cute, and the river that cut through the middle was, albeit treacherously rocky, beautiful. It was here that I bought my new Claddaghring, which is more intricate that my old one and has a stone in the center of an emerald green hue. Well, a rhinestone, in any case
Our second to last stop was definitely one of the most spectacular stops along this whole drive. This was Ladies' View, so called because Queen Victoria and her ladies stopped here to enjoy the view. Of course, seeing as how it's the middle of winter and even in the Emerald Isle grass (in particular peat) does turn brown, the view is sure to be even more beautiful in the spring and summer. After pausing at this breath-taking view we headed over to the Kerry National Park and took pictures of a waterfall because we weren't allowed enough time to do any sort of hiking up the trail. Sad day. That's the one thing I would do differently if I were to do the ring on my own--allow for time to explore at least some of the areas we stopped at more than to just click a button on my camera a few times. Views of nature are not meant to be hurried.
And then we went back to Killarney for dinner and an early bedtime because the next morning we had to get up early to head for Dublin.
So far, though, I really love Ireland. It's been the best trip I've been on thus far, and I honestly wouldn't mind living in Ireland. It's so gorgeous! And the people are pleasant and have pretty nice accents too (I almost like them more than the English accent). Maybe I can come back at the end of next semester... There are these tours, Paddywagon tours, that are fairly cheap (besides the airfare to get to Dublin, which is where the tours start from) and can range anywhere from one to ten days. I kind of want to do the ten day all Ireland tour. It would be pretty much amazing.
At 2:00 in the morning we boarded the ferry bound for Rosslare, Ireland. We arrived in Rosslare at 6:30 for breakfast at a hotel right by the port. Right as we were finishing up out breakfast, the sun began to rise and so, naturally, everyone went out to the bluffs to take pictures of the coastal sunrise.
Of course, the sunrise was much more beautiful than my photograph (or even my camera) could ever capture.
Next, we boarded the coach again and headed for the town of Blarney to see Blarney Castle and be tourists. It was about a 2.5 hour drive and we arrived in Blarney at noon and ate lunch on the castle grounds. The lunch was, of course, the infamous sack lunches provided by the most excellent chefs at Harlaxton Manor of PB and J. We had fun feeding a little feathered friend our crackers that had fruit in them. After our lunch, we walked to the castle and prepared for the ascent to the Blarney Stone. Or, rather, Veronica and I prepared for the ascent. I soon discovered that the "stairs" were extremely narrow and tight-winding spiral that was accompanied by a rope to help pull yourself up. Brilliant, right? It was worse once we got up there to kiss the darn stone, though. A fear of heights isn't very helpful when you're leaning over a wall backwards to kiss a stone that's some 100 m above the ground. Plus, I had to pay 13 US dollars for a picture of me puckering up. Of course, once I was back on the ground looking up at where I had been, I was awfully proud of myself.
After seeing the castle, we headed back into the town of Blarney for a bit of souvenir shopping. We went into the Blarney Mills place, but everything there was so expensive that if I had bought something I would have had maybe 20 of the 80 euro I'd taken out left for the rest of the trip. So, instead, I bought a couple of little souvenirs for the family at a cheaper place and also got myself a St. Patrick rosary. The one that I really wanted had shamrocks on the beads, but it was closer to 20 euro, so I settled for one with just simple green beads. I like it a lot, though, and now I have a rosary at school.
Along about 4:00 we re-boarded the bus and headed for Killarney, which is a fairly charming large-sized town, although it was a bit expensive. Plus, all of the shops (besides restaurants, etc) closed at 6:00 for the night. We had dinner at a cheap pizzeria-type place, which wasn't too bad and we certainly got enough food for our money. I paid 6 euro for an entire cod with my fish and chips. Afterwards, we went down the street to McSweeny's Bar and Restaurant for dessert and a few drinks. I didn't actually drink anything; but I did have plenty of the Death by Chocolate (a.k.a the best chocolate cake I've had since I got here) that I split with Carly. If you go to Killarney, I highly recommend McSweeny's. Then, we headed back to our hotel rooms. Apparently those of us staying at Murphy's B&B got the better end of the stick, even though we only got 5 channels on the TV and there were hole in the ceiling and scorch marks around the smoke detector.
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