Wednesday, 29 August.
Early morning, a full moon setting, a top floor room overlooking the runway, lots of aircraft movement and a functioning internet - I was in a good place! Being at the airport already made for a relaxed morning. The included breakfast was excellent, especially considering it was a help-yourself speed brekkie, and then a very short stroll over the road to check in for our flight to Kerry. The flight itself was fine and by lunchtime, we were picking up our car in Ireland.
On my sister's recommendation, we headed for Dingle and a trip out to the Blasket Islands, off the SW tip of Ireland. There is only the North Atlantic beyond these islands and rough weather is the order of the day. It certainly seemed as though we were going to experience the same, as the weather was cool and overcast at Kerry airport. However, as we headed down the peninsula, the weather brightened gradually until, by the time we had negotiated the narrow roads beyond Dingle Town and reached Dunquin Harbour, the sun was bright, the seas calm and the Blaskets were looking glorious! For Angela and me, it was great to be back in Ireland anyway and for Marie, it was a terrific welcome.
What with one minor delay or another, often for photo opportunities, we made it to the ferry just in time. By the time we negotiated the steep steps down to the harbour, we only had to wait a few minutes until our ferry was ready. Now these are not huge Sydney Harbour ferries, but little more than converted fishing boats that held around 20 people, so we were pleased the seas were calm. However, when we were out on the ocean swell later, we soon discovered they were sturdy and stable little vessels.
One of the first landmarks pointed out was a small rock in the middle of the bay, which we were informed was called Donkey Rock - because you would have to be an eejit to hit it! We also passed by Dunmore Head, the westernmost point of mainland Ireland and on to Great Blasket. Along the way, we got a brief glimpse of a Minke Whale but, although we hung around for a while, we didn't see it again. Other wildlife that put in an appearance included the shags on a rock (true!), grey seals and some deer, introduced to Inishvickillane Island.
For the first couple of hours or so, the weather stayed beautiful, but this is SW Ireland and on the way back the weather turned. We had rising seas, squalls and a sea mist that masked the mainland for a while. However, our little boat and its crew never missed a beat and, after a short stop at Great Blasket to pick up some walkers, we made it safely back to harbour. Then, having given us our reminder of where we were, the weather returned to gorgeous!
The rest of the evening was spent driving back up the peninsula to Killorglin, where we were to spend the night before tackling the Ring of Kerry on the 'morrow. Along the way, we stopped for fish and chips in Dingle harbour. Sadly, the meal did not match the surroundings, although we did have a free glass of Guinness with our fish; now, a chippie that serve beer - only in Ireland!
So, until next time, "slán abhaile". Marie, Angela and Ray.