Eye-catching County Kerry

Trip Start Oct 12, 2010
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Trip End Mar 24, 2011


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Where I stayed
International Best Western, Killarney, Ireland

Flag of Ireland  , County Kerry,
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Warning - pictures from today's tour could cause eye-strain - the beautiful Ring of Kerry drive in Western Ireland took us through the Macgillycuddy Reeks mountains on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.  There was a lot of ooh-ing and aah-ing all day with good reason.  The scenery was quite breathtaking as we started at the bottom of the mountain range near the first lake in the area and later that day stood at the top of the mountain range to look down at the same lake and mountains from the top.  This scenic drive reminded me in some ways of the Cabot Trail but with a bit more rugged beauty.

http://www.ringofkerrytourism.com/

We stopped at the Gap of Dunloe as well as a Bog Village to view some thatched cottages and to see how peat is harvested and used in this area.  Boy, do those peat fires smoke!  They had a peat fire going in one cottage and your eyes water just stepping in the door due to the heavy smoke.  How did people actually stay indoors with this type of fuel burning?  It must have caused respiratory and vision problems!

As we drove along, eyes glued to the windows, our charming and personable driver and guide, Dermott, regaled us with stories of leprechauns, fairies and goat festivals - boy, these Irish are gifted story tellers :)

We drove along the Dingle Bay around lunchtime and stopped at a nice hotel for lunch (fish and chips of course) before driving through the picturesque and colorful fishing village at Portmagee to go over to Valencia Island.

One of the highlights of the day was learning more about the Skellig Islands - remote, rocky outcrops that lay about 8 miles off the western coast of Ireland on which monks built a primitive and almost completely inaccessible monastery in the 6th century.  The conditions under which they lived and the hardships they endured to live there are unimaginable, from building hundreds of steps up the rocks to the top of the islands to subsisting on seabirds and shellfish.  These islands are dramatic and remote and you cannot help but to be touched by the lives and intentions of those that felt compelled to live there and to suffer in harsh conditions in order to atone for not only their perceived sins and transgressions, but those of others.  We went to an interpretive centre near these islands to learn about them but couldn't actually get to the islands as they can only be reached by boat and they are a protected UNESCO site.

http://brenslemmons.com/images/skelligs.jpg

We completed the ring drive early in the evening back where we started in the hopping little town of Killarney and back at our fabulous and luxurious hotel for a great dinner sitting near the fireplace in the stately dining room.  This is the life!
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