2011 UK and Ireland travel blog

The highest cliffs on the Ring of Kerry

The Skelligs in the far distance

Dingle Bay

A typical stone fence

Well faith and begorrah, tis grand indeed that I'm sitting here with a pint of Guinness in lovely downtown Killarney. So civilized these Irish..."can I take a pint up to our room?" "Of course ye can darlin'" Mythical Killarney I can't help humming that old Bing Crosby chestnut 'Christmas In Killarney' one of my favourite Yuletide tunes. We are in County Kerry the loveliest of Eire's counties so far. So many shades of green with an ever changing landscape. From Cork this morning it was but an hour to Killarney and then off westward to the jutting Kerry peninsula and the drive known as the Ring Of Kerry, the circumnavigation of the peninsula. This is truly stunning and beautiful land, the wild Ireland we have fantasized. Along the southern coast of Dingle Bay as it sweeps out into the endless Atlantic Ocean the views are incredible. To our left are real mountains known as the Macgillycuddy's Reeks some over 3000 feet high. Devoid of trees but dotted with endless outcropping of rocks and cliffs and all covered with green grass and low scrub. Fenced and terraced in rows that climb up mountainsides in straight line, the rows made of stone at the base and then heaped high with chopped peat. They defy belief the sheer workmanship involved, a labour that must have taken generations. Grazing pastures for sheep and cattle, every inch of land claimed and put to use. Nearing the end of the peninsula is another smallish pimple-like peninsula and it's road is known as the Ring Of Skelligs. The Skelligs are two small distant rock pinnacles in the Atlantic a mile or so off the coast, an ancient monastery for Abyssian monks so very long ago. Although it can be visited by foot ferry, the rough swells of the ocean dissuaded us but the film we watched about it was astonishing. How they ever managed to build what they did a way back when is amazing. As a side bar, the word film in Ireland is pronounced fillum. There are Irish names like Colm that are pronounced Cull-um so it seems that the "lm" cuplet has a "u" in the middle. Well so far everyone in Ireland has said fillum! Joan & I hiked up the long walk to the Cliffs Of Skelligs. As the hike was too far for Mother we sat her in a delightful little cafe with a pot of hot tea and the freedom to chat up all who ventured her way. The cliffs are as they say "a t'ousand (there is no "th" sound is Ireland) feet 'igh". The sheer granite and slate cliffs drop straight down into the crashing waves of the wild Atlantic. All the while howling in from the ocean is a wind and a mist that bores into the bones. For a long moment the majesty of Ireland is captured, the sheer beauty and ancient untamed aura roots into your soul. This is surely where myths and legends are born and fantasies enriched. It was then down along the north coast of the broad mouth of the Kenmare River for so many miles following a road than for a large part was no more than a paved lane. If anyone has travelled the Hana Highway in Maui the comparison is very apt. Only this road is much narrower, much twistier: from high mountainside ledges down to the rocky beaches and back up again all the while with oncoming traffic. We were advising to do this trip in counter-clockwise route and the reason was obvious. This is the way the tour buses go and there are places, many places where you are in awe that bus drivers can manage this so-called highway. And curses, it seems that once again the Germans have found us. At every stop of interest bus loads of them spill out loudly and obnoxiously pushing for the best viewing points with guttural expectancy and authority. Kerry County and the Ring Of Kerry have exceeded all that we have heard. Killarney is a lovely town such a slower calmer pace than the Ireland we have seen to now. The young ladies are so pretty and that Irish lilt melts my very being. A fine broth of a lad would indeed have a time here. No need to search Irish fare in Killarney. Stepping out of our hotel on The Common, Killarney's city centre, was Style's Pub, a true Irish pub in everyway. Joan had a heap of just-caught-this-morning Kerry mussels, Mother a vegetable lasagna thick with Irish cheeses with a baked potato and meself as any bandy-legged Irish sot would a beef and Guinness stew with an ice cold pint of Guinness stout. Then after a long wonderful day back for a couple of drinks in the hotel's private luxury bar and now we retire. Tomorrow is Dingle and Limerick and until then this is Steve & Joan & Patricia saying goodnight.

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