Our trip to Waterford, Killarney, Dublin
The sunset over the Blasket Islands:
and the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
October 1-12, 2009
This travelogue is long and some people are not able to view the whole thing so I have broken it up into 10 pages. Here are links to the shorter pages for those who need them (they are repeated at the end of each page as well).
Press here to return to personal picture menu.
This was our third trip to Dingle in as many years,
we were travelling with
my in-laws, Elke and Herb,
who also happen to be
two of our best friends.
so I will focus on those things which were different.
Press here for 2008 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2007 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
I apologize for the minutia that most people will find irrelevant; but, because we use these logs to plan our future trips, I record everything that might come in handy later. We came home with over 800 pictures of which 336 were contenders and from which 246 were finally chosen (the 2007 log has only 122 and the 2008 log has 196). Herb’s (excellent) photos are interspersed with ours.
I’m SURE there are grammatical and spelling errors all over the place! I will correct them as I find them. If YOU find any, please let me know!
I have received many notes from strangers who have read our logs and used them to plan their own trips. If you are one of these people, please know that we really love hearing from you and are gratified that you enjoy these as much as we do. Thank you! Please keep your comments and suggestions coming!
Prep and Travel
Thursday, October 1
Yes, I know, we were originally going to go in April, as we have for the past two years; but when our neighbors invited us to join them at their time share in Kauai in April, we postponed our Dingle trip until October. We didn’t want to go during the summer and the weather in October promised to be similar to what we loved so much about April. My mother-in-law, Elke, had always wanted to visit Ireland and since the large cottage we’d stayed in last year was available we invited them to come along.
From right to left: Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Killarney, and Dingle:
Once again, we bought coach class tickets and used KC’s VIP upgrades to bump up to business class. Although we booked the trip almost a year in advance, we still had trouble getting award seats and could not fly on the dates we wanted (the cottage is rented from Saturday to Saturday) so we decided to come in one day early and spend Friday night in the Waterford Castle and then spend two days in Dublin at the end of the trip. We used KC’s Hilton Award points for a room at the Conrad Hilton in Dublin and his Marriott points to rent the car from Hertz.
The Marriott certificate entitled us to a mid-sized car but we upgraded to a Volvo S80 to give ourselves a bit more room. Nevertheless, we limited ourselves to one checked bag and one carry on apiece in spite of the fact that we’d be travelling for 2 extra days and would need ‘smart’ clothes for our nights in Waterford and Dublin. The Waterford Castle has a 2-star restaurant so I made a reservation for dinner at 7pm and afternoon tea in the ‘Great Hall’ for 1:30..
The day we left it started raining at around noon, traffic was gummed up, and the driver of the car we’d hired to take us to the airport was so infuriatingly slow that we were afraid we’d miss our flight. At a minimum, we knew we would have to hurry and would not enjoy the leisurely check-in we had last year..
When we finally got to O’Hare, 45 minutes later than we’d planned to, there were only 3 couples ahead of us in the Executive Platinum line but every one of them had overweight bags, forcing us to cool our heels while they rearranged their packing! Once we passed that hurdle, we breezed through security and paid the Flagship Lounge a brief visit before boarding. Herb and Elke had got in long before we did and were comfortable in the Admiral’s Club so we met them on the plane.
Our seats were the two in the middle. Herb and Elke had the two seats directly behind us. KC and I watched Ice Age, we both had the Chicken Masala for dinner, which was delicious, and then tried to sleep. He dropped off immediately and slept for 4 hours but I tossed and turned, slept fitfully, and woke up an hour later with a raging migraine. I had a (weak) cup of coffee and took a Zomig which mitigated the pain slightly but the trip appeared to be starting out badly. Herb and Elke slept 2-3 hours each.
Passing the time on the plane on the way over:
Because the weather had caused several connecting flights to be late, we departed an hour late and were on the ground at 9:00am the following morning, 30 minutes behind schedule. We walked the mile to baggage claim, retrieved our bags, got some cash from the ATM, and went to collect the car.
Huh? Rental cars are no longer conveniently located just across the street from the terminal! A new terminal is being built and the area where the cars USED to be was all torn up so we had to take a shuttle bus to their new location at a remote lot. There was a shuttle waiting and we sat at the back not realizing that we would then be last off, and last in line, when we got there. Not a huge problem except that I was worried we’d miss our 1:30 tea time at the castle…. .
The car we rented, a Volvo S80, which was classified as “Premium Sport” vehicle.
It had a 4.4 liter, V8, 311-horsepower engine and a 6-speed manual transmission.
KC said it was fun to drive but occasionally it was barely able to manage passing:
One difference between this year’s car and last year’s was that the windshield on this car was plastered with signage reminding the driver to “DRIVE ON THE LEFT!” There wasn’t just one sign, there were four, in three different languages, and KC had me in stitches making fun of them: “Achtung! Links fahren! Die dummkopf!”
We managed to get all our bags into the boot with not an inch to spare and were on the road at 10:30. Herb and Elke had the back (I get carsick if I don’t sit in the front) and Herb got the navigator’s job using the “best map ever” from
last year’s trip and some maps I’d printed from the Waterford Castle website and Google.
We used the M50 out of Dublin again this year but we didn’t miss the turnoff immediately after the tollbooth because there was no toll booth! They have a new barrier-free tolling system in place now, similar to our iPass, called eFlow , where instead of paying at a toll booth, your license is recorded via overhead cameras and you have until 8pm the following day to pay, either via the Internet or at a Payzone Outlet in selected stores. The rental office assured us there would be one in Dingle.
We did have some difficulty following the maps further on, but saw some gorgeous scenery as a result, and we got to the ferry at around 1pm.
The route from Dublin to Waterford:
Two shots from the car of the road and the gorgeous weather.
Everything seems to be much greener at this time of year:
Friday, October 2
is situated on its own island in an estuary of the River Suir just one mile down river from Waterford City. The island operates a private ferry service providing a constant 24/7 service to and from Waterford, with a journey time of three minutes. The ferry was on the island side when we pulled up so we watched it cross the river and let it’s cargo off. Fortunately, there was a car in front of us so we followed its lead when it was our turn to board.
Drive onto the ferry and turn the car off:
Drive off the ferry and on to the castle grounds….:
….where deer wait to greet you on the tree-lined road:
Press here to go to the Waterford Castle Hotel website (a new window will open).
Gazing up at the beautiful ivy-covered building:
I really had to use the washroom so we left the men to unload the car while we visited the facilities on the castle’s main floor. Wow! What an unusual room! The toilets had raised tanks with a pull-chain, like the ones we had 40-some years ago, and every bit of porcelain in the place was painted with delicate flowers that matched the wallpaper – including the INSIDE OF THE TOILET BOWL!
Painted toilets at the Waterford Castle Hotel:
Herb and Elke’s room was the “GLIN” at the very top of the spiral staircase. I didn’t get pictures (will add them if Herb did) but it was a VERY nice room with windows that looked out on an amazing, huge, gnarled and mossy tree.
Our room was an eye-opener, for lack of a better term. I had reserved the “Presidential Suite” since, as KC put it, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was ENORMOUS! Halfway up the aforementioned spiral staircase, the door opened onto a small foyer. From there you passed into a bathroom that was larger than many hotel rooms, with a claw-foot tub, two pedestal sinks, and another one of those unique toilets.
Foyer of the Presidential Suite:
Bathroom of the Presidential Suite:
From the bathroom you went into the bedroom which was large enough to accommodate a king size bed with two nightstands, a makeup table and chair, a desk and chair, an armoire, a chest of drawers, TWO full sized sofas, 2 easy chairs, a coffee table and a bar! It had windows on two sides one of which looked over the river and the other onto that gorgeous tree. It also had a fireplace.
Bedroom of the Presidential Suite:
The unusual windows:
As if that wasn’t enough space, from the bedroom you passed into the sitting room which had a large round dining table with 4 chairs, a sofa with two easy chairs and a coffee table, a large bookcase, and one occasional chair! I think it also had a fireplace although I don’t have a photo of it. This was obviously a suite for someone who expected to entertain, or hold a meeting, and it was embarrassingly large for the two of us.
This room led back into the foyer where, I noticed, the handles on the doors were really low – about 2 feet off the ground. I asked one of the employes about this and he said it was the first time he’d ever noticed! He also said he had no idea why they were that low. Something else I need to research….
Sitting room of the Presidential Suite:
Handle height of all the doors:
There were a total of 14 chairs in the suite and KC was determined to sit in every one of them before we left the following day. The rooms were clean and there were complimentary robes and slippers in the armoire. The furniture was worn but not overly so and added to the ambiance of the room as you might believe that it was original. The bed was very comfortable.
Here is KC on the funny little occasional chair in the sitting room:
We had arrived at the hotel shortly after 1:30 and we were all starving so we came right back down for our afternoon tea which, we had been told, would be served whenever we were ready. We chose the seating area to the right of the entry way, under a large window in the great hall. It would have been nice to take tea in front of the fireplace but it was not lit and seemed too dark and depressing. We ordered the full tea with cakes and sandwiches. Herb, who is not a tea drinker, asked for coffee.
Staircase to the ground floor:
The Great Hall:
The tea and coffee arrived almost immediately along with butter, clotted cream, and 2 preserves (strawberry and orange marmalade), and both the tea and the coffee were very good, but we waited so long for the food to be served that Elke finally got up to ask whether they’d forgotten it. Just as she did, of course, it arrived: two large tiered servers each of which held 2 ham sandwiches, 2 egg salad sandwiches, 2 vegetable salad sandwiches, 2 smoked salmon on brown bread, 2 scones and a selection of cakes and cookies. Everything was very good, and we were very hungry, so it disappeared quickly.
Afternoon tea in the Great Hall:
It was hard to leave this idyllic setting but we’d been sitting all day, knew we had a dinner reservation at 7pm, and needed to do something to avoid succumbing to jet lag, so we decided to explore the castle grounds. We started out on the Scenic Walk, which led to the river bank, and finished up on the tree-lined road we’d come in on. Parts of the walk were very wet, and others were very brambly, but it was all beautiful.
The gorgeous tree outside our windows (this tree is as tall as the castle!):
The start of the Scenic Walk:
The sign stashed to the left of the arch:
The trail to the riverbank (a mosquito got me in here):
Blackberries and brambles on the trail:
The back of the castle:
Following the (awe-inspiring) trail back to the road:
Cloven tree on main road – I can’t believe it survived:
Closeup of where I believe the tree was hit by lightening many many years ago:
The walk was invigorating, but now we were all ready for a pint! We made our way to the Fitzgerald Room, where the bar was located, and Elke had her first real Guinness. She had tasted KC’s Guinness at the Celtic Fest in Chicago shortly before we left, so that she’d have something to compare it to, and agreed that the Guinness in Ireland was much better! A full pint was too much for her, though, and for Herb as well, so from now on they ordered it in half-pints.
I’m not a Guinness fan so I ordered a half-pint of cider. Hard cider.
Herb pulled out his travel cribbage board and we started a tournament that would last the duration of the trip – Herb and Barb against KC and Elke. The losers would cook the winners a meal. I was ‘relearning’ the game and having a streak of beginners luck but I suspected it would be short lived. The score at the end of round one was HB=1 EK=0 with one skunk.
At 6:30 we put away the cribbage board and dressed for dinner. We were all tired and would really have preferred a light meal but, as KC said, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (and, he wanted to wear the sport coat he’d schlepped along solely for this evening) so we trudged down to the Munster Room for a 4 course meal.
Dinner in the Munster Room:
We started with an amuse bouche (I can’t remember what it was – fennel soup???). Then, for starters, KC had the whipped goat cheese salad, Herb had the ham and foie gras terrine, Elke had the quail with polenta, and I had an herb risotto. For dinner, KC had the “haunch of venison”, Herb had the beef filet, Elke had the cod and I had the organic vegetarian lentil cake. I didn’t want to create too much of a disturbance so I only have pictures of my meal.
KC and Herb also had the soup intermezzo while Elke and I had the sorbet. The meal was very good; however, the room was overly warm and we were going to call it a night without sampling the dessert but when they brought the menu, and reminded us that it was included in the 65-euro price, we order the chocolate fondant and the fig tart and shared them.
We rolled ourselves back to our room where I made a bee-line for the bed and was asleep before my head hit the pillow. KC turned on the (very modern) flat-screen TV on the wall opposite the bed and watched a little TV while he continued his I’m-going-to-sit-in-every-chair routine and then came to bed about half an hour later.
The windows didn’t have screens so we couldn’t open them until all the lights were off, and they didn’t open wide in any case, so when the heat came on I woke up with a hot flash, slept fitfully from then on, and my migraine returned so I took another Zomig. Around 7am I heard a noise outside the window and got up to investigate. To my amazement, there were a deer and stag grazing below and what I had heard was the stag roaring! Because of his position, it was hard to get a picture – the one I got was through on of the closed windows and very fuzzy.
The morning light:
Stag outside the window
By now, with me scurrying around the room trying to get a shot of the stag, KC was awake, so we showered and dressed for breakfast. The water pressure was nice and strong but the shower arrangement was a bit claustrophobic and the dash across that large room for a towel was daunting. Even though the towels were nicely warmed by the heated rack, the tile floor was cold! Since we didn’t need to meet Herb and Elke until 9:30 we packed up our bags so that we could leave right after breakfast.
The room where they serve breakfast was bathed in light from three sides AND the ceiling! KC and Herb had the full Irish breakfast, Herb also had kippers, Elke had the buffet and I had scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. We all had tea which was, again, very good.
Breakfast in the atrium:
Herb and Elke were also packed and ready to go, so we met in our sitting room to decide which route we would take. The dining table was the perfect place to lay out the maps and KC got a chance to sit in the rest of the chairs! KC then got the car and loaded the bags while Herb and I checked out (I STILL don’t understand why rooms in Ireland are rented out at a per-person rate…does it really cost THAT much to wash one extra set of towels and serve one extra breakfast? I don’t think so!)
On the way to the car park KC came upon a deer which allowed him to approach within 6-feet! It continued to munch on the ivy at its feet but kept an eye on him the entire time.
Deer by the car park:
Early morning sun as we were loading the car:
Saturday, October 3
The route from Waterford (A) to the cottage in Graigue (E)
via Middleton (B), Blarney (C) and Killarney and Dingle (D):
At 11am we were on the road to Blarney Castle. From there, we would drive on to Dingle and then Graigue. We had decided not to stop at
Jameson’s Old Midleton Distillery .
The route we took did not follow the map above because KC and Herb wanted to take a scenic route down to the coast, so we drove to Tramore and followed the coastline to Dungannon before picking up the motorway; and they were right, it was gorgeous along the coast! Again, we made a few wrong turns and saw some gorgeous vistas as a result – I think the entire country is one big photo op – but it was hard to get good pictures through the car window so the only ones I have are from the place where we pulled over and got out of the car.
Cliffs and clouds along the copper coast
Doctor’s cars are clearly marked
Blarney Castle was gorgeous at this time of year and it was also a bit warmer than last year so I made do with my windbreaker rather than schlepping my heavy Barbour. Elke decided not to climb to the top of the castle so I stayed at the bottom with her while Herb and KC checked out the Blarney Stone. I kept looking up at it, waiting for Herb to plant a kiss, but he decided against it. I don’t blame him, I didn’t do it myself last year because of germ issues which, this year, should be an even greater concern given the prevalence of H1N1.
Behind us is the entry to the dungeon (and you can see how big the castle is):
Herb (with KC behind him) retreating from the entry to the dungeon
On the ramparts of the castle with the village in the background
The Rock Close was also stunning this year:
HUGE (6-foot high)
Gunnera in the Rock Close:
The Witch’s Kitchen – my favorite tree in the entire world:
A gorgeous waterfall, one of several:
Herb and KC with the waterfall in the background:
KC standing behind the waterfall seen in the previous shots:
The view of the castle, taken on our way out:
Still another view:
The Three Stooges (every time one of us stopped short to look at something that caught our
eye, the others would pile on, like a routine from the three stooges. It was driving KC nuts!):
If you’d like to compare these photos to the ones we took in April
Press here for our 2008 visit to Blarney Castle.
We had a quick bite to eat at Muskerry Arms, where they ushered us upstairs rather than let us eat in the much-more-gemuetlich bar area. The waitress was efficient, if a bit terse, and the food was good so I didn’t complain too loudly. Well, actually, I did, but with no good reason. KC and I had cod fish and chips, Herb had stew, and Elke had roast pork.
Muskerry Arms on the Green in Blarney
The upstairs room
We left Blarney and drove through Killarney nonstop to Garvey’s Market in Dingle. Killarney is truly beautiful and we’re all looking forward to spending the day there. We lost our way again and wound up on a small but very interesting street in Killarney which Elke said she wanted to return to.
KC was concerned that we’d be getting to the cottage after dark and would have trouble finding it so he was hurrying us along but that didn’t stop him for lending a hand in the parking lot when two women asked him to help them jump a car.
Showing two women how to attach jumper cables in Garvey’s parking lot:
While the three of us went into Garvey’s, KC ducked into Spar (another grocery) to pay our toll for using the M50 . The gas station we stopped at on our way in told KC that Sheehy’s Spar was the PayZone Outlet in Dingle.
Inside Garvey’s we bought the minimum – water, coffee, cream, sugar, milk, eggs, bread, butter, bacon and toilet paper… -- and planned for a simple dinner of bread, cheese and wine. Herb didn’t think that would be sufficient so he picked up a pizza as well. I was please to see that there were a few organic products – milk and butter, for instance – which we bought because I want to encourage that practice.
Garvey’s Market advertizes that they support Irish products and, I suspect, that most of the things grown locally are organic whether they’re labeled as such or not although I could not find any data on the subject. Isn’t
rBGH banned in the EU? Although we didn’t buy them, I was amazed to see a frozen package of “Mushy Peas”!
When we drove through Ballyferriter it was almost dark and there were cars lining both sides of the street. We figured people were attending a Saturday night service so they could sleep in the next day.
our home base for the next 7 days
Close-up of Dingle Peninsula:
When we got to the cottage, just after dark, all the lights were on and there was a bowl of freshly baked scones on the counter, 4 eggs, some butter, and a quart of milk in the fridge – Philomena’s hospitality was constantly surprising me! The eggs, we found out later, were from her own chickens.
In all other respects it was exactly as I remembered it.
. Although it had been over a year since our last visit, it was still as clean and neat as it was 18 months ago! The only difference I could see was that the stairs were now carpeted, a welcome change as the upstairs residents can go up and down without impacting whoever is in the downstairs bedroom.
Because it was now dark, we have no shots of the cottage as it looked when we arrived, nor were we able to see the awesome view, so I am reposting some pictures from last year. This cottage is, without a doubt, the best one in the area not only for the physical amenities it offers, but for the efforts that the owners, Phil and Alec Ó Conchúir (O’Connor), make to insure that your vacation is truly special.
The exterior (taken at 5:30 p.m. LAST YEAR) was all stone, a requirement for us:
Press here for more pictures of the cottage (a new window will open).
Press here for link to the cottage website (a new window will open).
The foyer (these stairs are now carpeted):
On the right was the living room (the furniture was very comfortable):
The dining room with seating for 8:
The fireplace, visible from both the living and dining rooms:
Another view of the living-dining with view of the fireplace and entry to kitchen:
The kitchen was huge:
The master bedroom, upstairs:
Press here for more pictures of the cottage (a new window will open).
Press here for link to the cottage website (a new window will open).
As we did last year, KC and I took the large bedroom upstairs. Herb and Elke took the one on the ground floor.
I heated a scone in the microwave and inhaled it while we prepared dinner. We had a quick dinner and everyone (but me) tried the pizza which was quite different than what we get here in the US – it had sweet notes to it which Elke thought might be sugar in the tomato sauce.
Right after we’d finished dinner, Phil stopped by! She had been at the service in Ballyferriter, a SPECIAL IRISH MUSIC service, and had stopped by earlier to tell me about it (remember what I said about Phil and Alec going out of their way to make your vacation special) but because we got in so late, we weren’t there and I missed it! Rats!
She reminded us that the Dingle Food and Wine Festival was still on and that we could catch the tail end of it the next day, which we decided to do. She said she thought the ferries WERE still running as the summer had been very wet and they needed the income. Apparently, it had been SO wet that some house’s yards had turned into bogs. Given the weather we’d had so far, the deluge appeared to be over.
Another tidbit Phil shared with us was that the two sons who had been managing Kruger’s last year had moved on. They now had their own restaurant in the center of town, An Canteen, and that we should stop by as the food was all ‘home made” and really good. I was looking forward to it.
When Phil left, we played another round of cribbage, which Herb and I won again, bringing the score to HB=2 EK=0 with 1 skunk. KC did the dishes. I had told him before we left that since I did them every single day when we were at home, I was not willing to do dishes on vacation and he would be responsible for doing my share. Amazingly, he did!
Herb and Elke went to bed around 11pm but I stayed up to write in my journal and KC read his book. We went to bed at 12:30 and slept soundly for over 8 hours!
The following morning:
Herb and Elke were up before we were the next morning (and every morning after that as well) and Elke told us that although she had known about the view from last year’s blog, when she entered the living area that morning the vista took her breath away. This is what she saw:
The SPECTACULAR view from the living dining area:
Location of the cottage with respect to the shore:
A GORGEOUS shot of our cottage, taken the following morning:
The road north to Ballyferitter:
The road south to Clogher Head:
The fields behind the cottage where sheep are normally grazing:
The back of the cottage (you can see the railing around the patio)
and the door to the room where the laundry, bikes, etc… are located:
Sheepherding and Food and Wine Festival
Sunday, October 4
I woke up at 9:30 and KC was still asleep! He woke up a few minutes later and we debated whether we should leave that warm, comfy bed….Adventure trumped sleep so we roused ourselves and went down for breakfast. I had another migraine – this was 3 days in a row now – and figured I was weaning myself off caffeine as I hadn’t had much since we’d left. I contemplated finishing the job until KC told me it would take another week.
Herb and Elke had been up for a while and coffee was already made so I sucked down 2 cups (Herb makes the BEST coffee!) and the migraine disappeared! Thank goodness. I hadn’t brought enough medication to take a whole pill every single day.
Herb and Elke had already eaten (scones, as they did almost every morning) and we all wanted to get on the road so they went to get dressed and I ducked in the shower. Just after I’d pulled on my jeans, KC called up that if I hurried, I’d see some sheep herding, so I grabbed the nearest shirt and ran outside in my bare feet holding the shirt to my chest, expecting to see the same type of show we’d seen last year.. This time, though, all the sheep were already at the top of the hill, by the road, and the dogs were all the way at the bottom. What was going on?
There was a guy at the bottom of the hill walking towards us with the dogs and it was clear that I would have time to finish dressing before he made it so I ran in, put on a shirt and shoes and came back out. Just as he got to the top of the hill a second guy drove up with an SUV pulling a trailer. He told us that, yes, he would be putting some of the sheep into the trailer. I assumed the dogs would be herding them in and got all excited. Where was he taking them, we asked. “To another pasture” he said, “but only the cute ones.” Hmmmm….it sure sounded like they were going to the butcher…. I wondered if we’d be able to cadge some meat….
The dogs coming up from the furthest pasture
Huddled together by the gate to the road:
The two men talked amongst themselves in Gaelic and the only word I could pick out was “shed”. They then proceeded to herd the sheep into the small shed next to the cottage, using the dogs when necessary. Boy, those dogs were vicious, barking and nipping at the sheep’s legs, but they got the sheep into the shed in no time. The men then barred the door – and did those dogs ever want to get into that shed – but they stayed outside.
Herding the sheep into the shed:
Shutting the dogs out
The dogs, desperately trying to get into the shed:
The dogs were let inside the shed periodically and eventually this one ram got out with his nose all bloody. I felt sorry for him at first but, in retrospect, he was one of the lucky ones. A short while later, the men came out of the shed dragging two young rams and put them into the trailer. They did this twice more until there were 6 sheep in the trailer. The dogs were tossed, literally, into the back of the SUV, the rest of the sheep were let out of the shed, and the two men drove off. As they were pulling out of the drive I asked which butcher they were going to as we were planning to make a lamb stew later that week.
At this point they admitted that the sheep WERE going to “a better pasture” and that, yes, we might get some chops if we’d be around till the end of the week. The driver of the van told us that he was Phil’s son and would give the meat to her if he could get us any.
The (lucky) ram that got away:
The ones that weren’t so lucky:
Huddled in the trailer,
did they know where they were going?
By now it was late, and we knew we’d missed the cheese-making demo we’d hoped to catch at 1:00pm, so we hurriedly got ready and were in Dingle Town at 1:45 determined to catch the tail end of the festival. We parked by the harbor and paid for 3 hours.
Dingle street map
Since KC and I hadn’t had breakfast and it had been 4 hours since Herb and Elke had eaten, I didn’t have any trouble convincing everyone to stop at Murphy’s Pub for lunch. KC had roast pork, Herb had shepherd’s pie (with 3 additional scoops of mashed potatoes!), Elke had fish and chips, and I had “the ham special without the ham, please” or, in other words, a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. I wanted to make sure I would have room for dessert – the best sticky toffee pudding in town.
From Murphy’s we headed up Green Street towards Dingle Crystal but stopped at Lisbeth Mulcahey where Elke and I tried on every sweater in the shop while KC and Herb bought tickets to the festival, entered the lottery, and had a couple glasses of wine. I bought a scarf and some cards and KC bought a pair of socks.
We continued on to Dingle Crystal and were pleased to see both Liz and Sean were there. Liz had been ill, but was on the mend, and she looked fabulous.
We really wanted to stay and chat but the store was packed and we felt like we were preventing them from doing their job so we promised to stop by later in the week and moved on.
We walked up to Main Street and over to Michael’s store, Siopa Ceoil an Daingin, but it was closed (although the “open” sign was still in the window). We figured they were enjoying the festival, too, and hoped we’d run into them.
On our way to Siopa Ceoil an Daingin, Herb wanted to stop in a bookstore so we all went in and I bought a few small things, throwing the newest Kerry Guide onto my pile at the last minute (remember that). We also stopped in a gift shop where KC saw some wall sconces he wanted for our bedroom but he decided that I should buy them later so I took the woman’s card and promised I’d be back.
There was a farmer’s market type of area just past Siopa Ceoil an Daingin where we bought some fresh French bread, several unusual locally made cheeses, and some fresh sausage, merguez and salmon, for dinner that night. We stuffed the food into Herb’s backpack and the bread into mine.
The festival was winding down by now but KC and Herb still had some coupons left and wanted another glass of wine so we walked over to Dykegate Lane, and then down to An Canteen (the restaurant owned by Phil’s sons) on Dykegate Lane, next to the Hideout Hostel. They weren’t serving wine, though, they were serving food, so we used our coupons on one of each of their offerings and bought 2 glasses of wine to go with them. It was a beautiful day so we ate on the patio behind the restaurant.
Making fun of my constant picture taking on the patio at An Canteen:
Wow! The food was amazing! KC and I split the fish and chips that were so good we asked for seconds but were told they were all out. Herb had the seafood stew and Elke had a glass of wine. The restaurant has been written up by Rick Steves and various other reviewing sites, and every single review was glowingly positive. Here are links to a few of them:
Trip Advisor reviews for An Canteen
Writeup in SlainteCork for An Canteen
Brian, Phil’s son who takes care of the front of the house, came back to chat with us and, when we told him we’d met his brother, he explained that the reason he’d been so evasive about the fate of the sheep is that a previous tenant had burst into tears when she learned the truth. While I wasn’t exactly happy about where the sheep were going, if you eat lamb, as we do, you have to be realistic. Brian brought us a piece of bread, studded with seeds, that was so good we tried to buy a loaf but they were all out.
KC and Herb asked Brian about the cottage we were staying in. He told them that his father was a contractor and that they had built it by hand – father and sons – painstakingly, over a period of three years whenever business was slow. No wonder it’s perfect, it was a labor of love!
By now, some dark clouds were rolling in so we walked back to the car and noticed that a ship was just pulling into the harbor. We walked down to the end of the pier to watch it unload and ended up talking to a local fisherman who explained that all the fishing boats in the harbor were made in France but operated by Spain under the terms of their agreement with the EU. The fish on that boat – mostly cod and mackerel – would be loaded on one of the trucks waiting on the pier and driven back to Santander where they would be sold. Unfortunately, we don’t have a single picture of this, unless Herb took some….
This is probably my favorite photo from this trip,
a very funny shot of KC and I in front of one of the ships moored in the harbor:
Herb’s pics of the fishing boat unloading its cargo:
It was getting dark now so we excused ourselves and drove home. KC suggested we walk up to Clogher Head, as he used to do with Rick, to watch the sun set. We all agreed but KC didn’t take into account that we’re not as hale and hearty as he and Rick and that it was way too late for us to make it to the top before the sun went down. We didn’t realize how long a climb it was (it wasn’t steep but it was pretty far) and, since none of us had a flashlight, we turned around about half way up as we were afraid we wouldn’t make it down before dark. KC went ahead to see whether it would be worth the risk and when he saw that the peak was obscuring the sun, we decided to stop. In fact, as we started back, the moon was just coming up.
Our destination, the top of Clogher Head:
Negotiating wet spots on the way up:
As far as we got:
The full moon coming up:
Dinner was the spoils from the festival. KC fried up some of the merguez (boy, did that make a mess!) and it was delicious – hot but not searingly so, Elke made a tossed salad, and I laid out the bread and cheese. We had a hard cheese flavored with fenugreek, an herb-flavored cheese, and a very good cream cheese with garlic and herbs. We finished the wine we’d opened the day before and then Herb brewed a pot of that delicious coffee which we drank while be played another round of cribbage.
We used a new deck of cards this time and, to my surprise, they must have been for the sight-impaired because the numbers were huge! They ruined our luck though, because KC and Elke beat us. The score was now HB=2 EK=1 with one skunk. We then played scrabble on the new supposedly-phenomenal travel board I’d bought from England which was NOT as good as the reviews said it would be. Elke won and I think I came in last. (BTW, both rood and orc ARE words!)
Dinner: the spoils from the festival:
While we were discussing what we would like to do, I pulled out the guidebook on Kerry that I’d picked up at the bookstore and was surprised to see that, this year, there were no ads. I showed it to KC and he pointed out that it was not the FREE version, which he’d picked up elsewhere; this one had no ads because it was 9 Euros! Ack! I didn’t think I’d paid for it! I got out the receipt, added up the other things I’d bought, and realized that I’d walked out with it! If you remember, I’d added it to my pile as the woman was ringing me up and, I guess, she didn’t see me do it. I felt really bad and resolved to make restitution as soon as possible.
Herb and Elke went to bed at midnight, I stayed up till 1:30 with my journal (I had another scone, heated in the oven this time, which was much better than the one in the microwave) and KC read until 2am.
Ponies and Blasket Ecotour
Monday, October 5
We slept until 9am this morning and I did not have a migraine when I woke up! While I was having my coffee, KC saw a man outside the cottage with 3 horses! I stepped into KC’s shoes and ran outside. It was Alec, Phil’s husband, with Leah and her two foals, but by the time I came out the two foals had run away and he was walking the mare in circles trying to get them to come back. It wasn’t working so he went off to find them. When he came back, he had Phil with him, and their border collie, Sadie!
This is what I mean about Phil’s and Alec’s efforts to create the most picturesque vacation setting. They could easily leave the horses in the pasture by their house but they go out of their way to bring them down to the cottage for the enjoyment of their guests. Amazing.
Once they got the horses into the pasture surrounding the house, they came to the door to say hello. We invited them in for coffee and they accepted! We learned that Sadie had been hit by a car and had almost been put down but that she had rallied at the last minute and eventually pulled through. She’s an outside dog and wasn’t allowed in so she stood in the doorway and relished the attention I lavished on her.
Leah’s second foal, born this spring, has the same father as the first and is just as adorable. His name is Timmy and the first foal is named Sasha. At one point Timmy was ON TOP of the wall grazing and KC saw him getting a bit of milk from Leah. He did that several times but we were never able to get a photo of it. Phil told us that the ponies love apples and carrots... we need to get some the next time we go to the store..
Leah, the mare:
All three ponies:
Timmy, the youngest, born this spring:
Sasha, born last spring:
We asked Phil about her son (his name is Déaglán - pronounced Deklann - she said) and his sheep and she told us that he butchers about 6 every year so we were lucky to be here the week he decided to do it. She also said that he’ll give two to his fiancée’s family (he’s getting married, in Dublin, in 3 weeks) and that Phil will be lucky if she gets one. I guess we shouldn’t be holding our breath for a few chops….
When we asked about the cottage, she told us that her husband had inherited it from her uncle, who had married the woman whose family owned the land. They had no children so he left the house to Alec. The original house had two large rooms and one bathroom on the ground floor, and two bedrooms upstairs. They had torn it down and rebuilt it in 2001.
Alec told us that it had not been as difficult to build as his sons make it out to be but he did confirm that the new walls were 22” thick! Nine inches of stone, 4 inches of insulation, and 9 inches of concrete block. So, it’s as sturdy as it looks! This was the first time we’d met Alec and were impressed by how personable he was. I wish I’d gotten a picture of him and Phil – the quintessential Irish couple!
When Phil and Alec left, I called the Blasket Ferry to ask if it was still running. Sue told me that it was not but I left my number in case anything changed. She called back 10 minutes later to say they had 6 people interested and would sail if they got 10. She would call back at 1pm and let me know either way. We decided to spend the morning in Dingle doing errands – bank, music, etc… -- and go to Inch Beach if the ecotour fell through.
We dressed for wet weather and drove into town around 11:30. Before we left, I called Michael to let him know we were in town but no one answered so I left a message. We parked right in front of his store and I went in, while Herb went to the bank next door, and was relieved to see Caitriona! I had sent her a wish-list of CDs before we left, and she had pulled most of them, so I bought a few to play in the CD player in the cottage. KC found a CD by the Saw Doctors, which we bought, and a humorous Guinness poster, but Caitriona didn’t know the price, so we left that for later.
Michael will be at An Droichead Beag tomorrow; Pauline and Elis, who have been signed by Sony, will be at John Benny Moriarty on Thursday. Caitriona was off to Scotland on Wednesday but agreed to meet us at An Droichead Beag on Tuesday, to catch u, since we’d be gone when she got back.
From Michael’s we went into the antique store across the street, then up to Green street so that I could nip into Brian de Staic so that I could talk to Jerry about my custom order but he was at the workshop so I took his number. When we passed the bookstore we’d been in yesterday, I nipped in to pay for that book on Kerry – the one I thought was the free version but discovered, after I had cracked the spine, that it was 9 Euros and that it has not been included in my bill!
By now we were close to An Canteen so we decided to go there for lunch. On our way in, Sue called to tell us that the ferry would be running. We were starving now so they agreed to give us an hour to eat.
KC, Herb and I had fish and chips – the best fish and chips we’d ever eaten served with pea puree and homemade tartar sauce – and Elke had a soup and the ham hock terrine appetizer which came with the best salad she’d ever eaten. The food was so good we decided to celebrate Elke’s birthday here on Friday. We asked Brian about the friend of his who had done the drawing of the cottage in the dining room and he gave us her website, www.carolcronin.com
, but told us that she was quite well known now and that a commission would probably be expensive. I’ll contact her when we get back.
Drawing of stone cottage we’d like a copy of:
The best fish and chips in Dingle
Soup, ham hock terrine and salad with buttermilk dressing:
The best brown bread we’d ever had:
They had given us another slice of that delicious bread, and gave us three more when we checked out, which we wrapped up for later. Then the three of us went to the pier while KC ran back to the car to get our gear – hats, scarves, coats, and backpacks. We found the ferry office with no problem (long white building, first office at the end) and Herb paid for our tickets (40 Euro each!) while we waited for KC. The ferry left just after he joined us, at around 2:30.
The Blasket Islands in relation to Dingle Harbor
The Blasket Islands Irish names
Waiting to leave the harbor:
Looking back on Dingle harbor:
Our guide, Sue, who lives on Greater Blasket during the summer:
Stone “arm” pointing to the mouth of the harbor:
The folly, a useless make-work project built after the war:
Another boat in the harbor which was our bait for Fungi, the local dolphin;
apparently, he likes to swim in a boat’s wake and we DID see him cavorting:
The wake of our boat, which was larger and more powerful than the ones from previous years:
Our ferry also had plastic panels on all sides which could be lowered
to protect its passengers from the spray along the side of the boat. KC
positioned himself so that he was gently misted. He said his rain jacket
kept him dry while he enjoyed the feel and taste of the salt water on his face.
KC, loves to be on the water:
The rest of us were glad the panels were there because, at times, the spray was so
intense we would all have been drenched if they weren’t there. In fact, two other
passengers DID get drenched when they were on the wrong side of the panel:
One of the passengers who got drenched by the spray:
The wreck of the Ranga,
a 1586 ton container ship wrecked at Dunmore Head on March 11, 1982
The ship was a total loss, creating oil pollution as she broke into two parts.
The stern was removed for the filming of Far and Away in 1991 but the bow
and other scattered pieces of wreckage are still visible.
A newborn (one day old) seal tests the water for the first time on the beach at Great Blasket
while its mother hunts for food nearby. The mothers give birth away from the rest of the herd
because they are ready for mating again immediately after giving birth and a bull could crush
the pup if not kept away:
The rest of the herd:
Two seals postulating in the water:
The village on Great Blasket, just above the beach where the seals were:
The weather was overcast but calm:
Interesting rocks (What is the difference between a rock and an island?
A rock, also called an islet, has no or minimal vegetation and is uninhabited):
The awe-inspiring Cathedral Rocks of Inis na Bró:
Cathedral Rocks, the other side:
Cathedral Rocks, from afar:
Two more new-born seal pups on Inisvickalaun:
Seal pups at base of Inisvickalaun, what a secluded beach nursery!
Inisvickalaun , the home and the island, owned by the
family of former Irish Prime minister Charles Haughey .
Along the top ridge, you can see some of the herd of Red
Deer, introduced by Haughey some years ago:
Amazing bird – is this an eagle?
On the way home, which was a looooong straight shot, at top speed, powered by the boat’s two large engines, I nearly fell asleep. As I was about to keel over, KC, who was watching from behind, gently pushed me upright. I laughed about that visual for days afterwards.
I had on six layers (2 tanks, cotton cardigan, windbreaker, and my Barbour jacket with its zip-in lining) plus a fleece balaclava, my new alpaca scarf, and the hood of the Barbour and I had been comfortable for most of the trip; but, towards the end, it was pretty cold and I gladly accepted one of the blankets they passed out. I was wearing my new hiking boots, by Asolo, and they were not very effective on the slippery floor which was treacherous because the ride was very bumpy in spite of the fact that today was, supposedly, an uncharacteristically calm day. Next year, bring boat shoes!
My new hiking boots:
Lord Ventry’s Estate – he was responsible for importing the palm,
trees, hydrangea and fuchsia that are seen all over the island now:
According to Rick Steves: “Lord Ventry, whose family came to Dingle as post-Cromwellian War landlords in 1666, built this mansion in about 1750. Today it houses an all-Irish-language boarding school for 140 high-school girls. The Gulf Stream is the source of the mild climate (it never snows), which supports subtropical plants. Consequently, fuchsias – imported from Chile and spreading like weeds – line the roads all over the peninsula and redden the countryside from June through September. More than 100 inches of rain a year gives this area its “40 shades of green.”
Gorgeous shot of Dingle Harbor as we pulled into it:
After the tour, before starting for home, we ducked into Murphy’s Pub for a quick pint. Elke
ordered an Irish coffee, the first of many on this trip. It was soo good I also had it on several
occasions. This one, though, was the only one which was served with a cinnamon shamrock.
Next to it are the remains of my last sticky toffee pudding as this was our last visit to Murphy’s.
The ecotour had lasted about 3 hours and we were back on land at about 5:30. On our way back to the car, after our pit stop in Murphy’s, we ran into Sean and Liz who were just leaving their shop. They agreed to meet us at An Droichead Beag the next night. On our way home, we saw the most amazing sunset, over the islands we’d just visited!
The sunset over the Blasket Islands (Herb’s camera):
The sunset over the Blasket Islands (KC’s camera):
For dinner, Herb boiled the Kerry red potatoes we’d bought on our way in and, although they were very soft, they were delicious. KC fried up the salmon sausages we’d bought at the festival but they were awful! The texture was more like bread pudding than sausage and they didn’t have much flavor. Cheese and bread completed the meal.
Dinner is served, with a peat fire blazing.
After dinner we played another round of cribbage, which Herb and I won 2-0 with no skunks, bringing the score to HB=3 EK=1. Elke’s luck held and KC’s improved. Herb and Elke went off to bed at 11pm. KC read until midnight and I updated my journal. I made a pot of tea and water heated up instantly in that electric kettle – need to look into getting something like that for us – and had another scone. When I went up to bed at 1pm KC was already in it.
Museum, Inch Beach, An Droichead Beag
Tuesday, October 6
The “view” from the cottage in the rain:
When we woke up, early today at 7:45, the skies were dark and it was raining heavily! We had been planning to visit Killarney today but, because of the weather, we decided to go to Inch Beach instead, with a stop on the way at the small Celtic and Prehistoric Museum
we’d passed repeatedly on the Slea Head Route through Kilvicadownig, Ventry . After breakfast, I dressed for extreme cold, and we all piled in the car.
Graigue, Ventry, and Inch Beach:
Our expectations regarding the museum were not high so I was blown away when I entered the first room of the exhibit and came face to face with a HUGE woolly mammoth skull; complete, with its tusks intact! Mounted at eye level, it was beyond impressive! The second photo below give an idea of its size.
Woolly mammoth skull:
Woolly mammoth skull:
Woolly mammoth skull from the side:
The museum had a small store, with some unique and humorous items, where I bought a small dragon and some books. We didn’t linger, though, as KC was anxious to get to the beach. In the car once again, Herb suggested we drive around the other side of Dingle Harbor, so we turned down a ½ lane road called Burnam. The houses in this area were gorgeous but I was too busy looking at them and didn’t get any pictures!. We drove to the stable at end of the road where two dogs greeted us with a chorus of loud barking. As soon as KC and Herb got out of the car, though, their bravery disappeared and they left us alone.
Dingle Harbor and location of Holden Leathergoods Factory:
On our way back to R559 we stopped at the Holden Leather Goods factory which we’d seen on the way in. We can now testify that they truly are handmade! Elke bought a gorgeous, huge, tote in rust colored leather embossed with a basketweave. It was the last one or I would have bought one, too.
The road we were on:
The cottage for sale next to the factory:
The beach next to the cottage:
From there we drove down to Inch Beach where we had a quick lunch in Sammy’s to fortify ourselves for our walk in this inclement weather. Herb and Elke decided to wait for us in Sammy’s. I bundled up (similar to my getup for the Ecotour) and met KC on the beach.
The walk out was deceivingly easy because the wind was at our backs, although I WAS fighting not to be blown into the sea. We didn’t make it all the way to the end of the beach, which kept getting farther away the closer we got to it, but we decided to turn back after an hour because KC was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to walk against the wind which would now be in our faces.
Barb, bundled and ready for our walk along the beach:
KC after chasing down his hat:
The walk back was much harder but it seemed to be shorter because we could see where we were headed. We used ‘landmarks’ along the way as goals and were dismayed when a large rock turned out to be a dead seal, it’s head stripped of flesh and a large chunk taken out of its body. Yuck!
When we got back to Sammy’s, Herb and Elke were patiently waiting for us, having visited the small bookstore (where Elke found a paperback version of the book she’d been enjoying in the cottage, Hungry for Home , about the Blasket islanders. We treated ourselves to dessert (black forest cake for KC, homemade apple tarte for Herb and Elke, and homemade cheesecake for me), while Herb regaled us with some very funny stories about how he got into, and through, law school, and then we returned to the cottage. There would be music at An Droichead Beag tonight and we needed to be there by 8pm to get a seat close to the musicians….
Rainy weather on the way home from Inch Beach:
One of the few times we spent relaxing in the cottage:
At 6:30 Elke mixed up the beef we’d bought for a meatloaf and put it in the freezer for later. I scrambled the eggs Phil had left for us (she had brought over 6 more that morning) and we had a quick dinner at 7pm. We were on the road at 7:42 and in the bar at exactly 8pm! We played cribbage until the music started, at around 9:30. Elke and KC’s luck had changed and the score was now HB=3 EK=2 with one skunk apiece.
Dinner is served, cold cuts and fresh free-range eggs:
Tonight there was John Brown on the guitar, of course, Michael on the accordion (?), a whistle player and a bodhran player. The music was phenomenal – they played so many lively catchy tunes and did both of my requests – Galway Girl and I’ll Tell Me Ma. I didn’t take any pictures because I have so many on my other blogs.
Herb’s surreal shot of the musicians:
Barb, in heaven:
When the music ended, Herb gave John a small token of his appreciation, a gesture that I’m ashamed to admit we should have been doing all along and will certainly do from now on. Afterwards, we hung out with Michael, his terrific girlfriend, Olivia, Sean, Tony, and the bodhran player who happened to be from Chicago!
When we got home I tried to update my journal but I was too tired. We hit the hay at 1am.
Brandon Mountain and John Benny Moriarty
Wednesday, October 7
Gallarus Oratory, Connor Pass, and Brandon Mountain:
We woke up late today, after 10:00am, and although we could have slept longer, we grabbed a quick cup of Herb’s delicious coffee, threw on some clothes, and were on the road to Brandon Mountain at 11:30. The weather was flawless today.
Herb asked if we could stop at Gallarus Oratory so we pulled off there on our way and watched a short film which had not been playing the last time we visited. We were surprised to see how many archaeological sites there are so close to our cottage and hoped we’d be able to visit a few of them. We didn’t take many pictures as we were there on our trip in 2007.
Barb at the oratory:
Our only shot of the oratory, me peering through the small window:
After the oratory we stopped at an old church, mentioned in the film, and saw our first Ogham stones.
Small stone church:
Ogham (pronounced oh-um) stone outside church:
Ogham stone inside church :
Ram – look at those horns!
Farmer herding cows:
Dogs herding cows on our way to Brandon Mountain:
Dogs herding cows on our way to Brandon Mountain:
Fuchsia lining the road:
We got to the base of Brandon Mountain’s 3,127-foot (952 meter) peak at around 2:00pm, ate the sandwiches Herb had made for us that morning (mine was delicious!), and then started up the western (the easier side) of the peak. I was out of breath within minutes and decided that, if I was going to enjoy this trek, I would have to take it at my own pace so I lagged behind the others most of the way.
The Three Sisters from the base of Brandon:
Our goal, the top of Mount Brandon:
The motley crew starts out:
KC hamming it up:
I almost turned back when we reached a ravine but we managed to find a way across it and forged ahead
Traversing the ravine:
Climbing Brandon Mountain (Barb always brings up the rear):
Climbing Brandon Mountain:
Climbing Brandon Mountain:
Climbing Brandon Mountain:
Climbing Brandon Mountain – the white sticks mark the path:
We took a short break at a stone cross which, I found out later, was one of 12 – the Stations of the Cross – which are positioned on the way up. Elke and I turned back just past the second one while the guys went on.
One of the 12 stations of the cross:
View from Brandon Mountain:
The point at which Elke and I turned around:
The guys made it about half-way to the peak and were back at the bottom at around 3:30pm. Next year, if we attempt this again, we’ll start earlier and not plan anything else for that day.
Since it was relatively early, we decided to go through Connor Pass on our way home and KC had a great time whipping around the curves until he came face to face with an oncoming car! The road is so narrow that one of us had to back up to the closest spot where 2 cars could pass. The first time we backed up, the second, the other car did.
When we stopped at the overlook I was surprised that it looked SO different that it had last year.
Connor Pass – how different it looks this year:
Connor Pass last year – it looks almost surreal:
Oncoming car on Connor Pass:
By now we were all ‘thirsty’ so we drove into Dingle and stopped at John Benny Moriarty for a pint. I ordered my first-of-many Irish coffees and the others had Guinness and Jameson’s (in two separate glasses, not combined!) I asked about the music and was told that Elis and Tommy Sullivan would be there that night and a trio (I didn’t catch their names) the following.
When I mentioned to KC that I might be interested in both nights he flew into high gear, trying to accomplish all the other things we needed to do that night, like laundry, so that I would be able to. I eventually realized that it was an unrealistic expectation and gave it up, although that meant we would have to go the following day and we were planning to spend it in Killarney….
We made a pit stop at Garvey’s for bread and some veggies for dinner, but forgot the apples for the ponies, so we gave them some oatmeal when we got back to the cottage. They actually ate it!
Feeding oatmeal to the ponies:
Feeding oatmeal to the ponies:
Feeding oatmeal to the ponies:
There was a fresh batch of scones waiting for us when we got home (thank you Phil!) so I had one with a bottle of cider while Elke put the meatloaf in the oven and tossed a salad. She and I ate our salad right away and I updated my journal while the guys did the laundry and the meatloaf finished cooking. KC and Elke read, Herb took a nap, and the foal suckled but I wasn’t able to get a picture.
When the meatloaf was ready, Elke fried the left over potatoes, heated 2 cans of corn, and dinner was served at 8:30. It was delicious, and not because we were starving! We had bought bread to make sandwiches from the leftovers but there were none! I’m pretty sure we played cribbage tonight, and that Elke and KC won, again, but I don’t have a record of the score… I think it is now HB=3 EK=3.
Herb and KC did the dishes and we were all in bed by 11:30 – tomorrow would be a long day!
Thursday, October 8
Driving route from Graigue to Killarney National Park:
We woke up early today, at 8:30, and Herb cooked some sausages while I made oatmeal. We took a quick shower and were on the road to Killarney National Park at 10:00am. As usual, we had a bit of trouble finding it (next year, I’m bringing my GPS) but eventually made our way to Muckross House (pronounced MOO-cruss).
Map of Killarney National Park:
Killarney is as beautiful as its reputation:
Muckross House (pronounced moo’-cruss):
We used the loo and then walked to Muckross Abbey, one kilometer away, through Reenadinna Wood , a gorgeous yew forest. I wonder if yew trees will grow in Illinois…
The path to Muckross Abbey:
Trees along the path to the Abbey:
Lake along the path to the Abbey:
Muckress Abbey, built by the Franciscans in the 15th century and plundered by Cromwellian forces in 1652, is in a remarkable state of preservation with the walls of the Cloister and its associated buildings in their original and complete state. There is a large graveyard beside it, of course, and we found a Healy buried there! Elke said she enjoyed the abbey more than Blarney. .
I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t had to use the ladies room, again . My need was urgent, though, so we took the shorter, less scenic, route back to Muckross House, and then had a quick lunch in the cafeteria, where I had a delicious beet root salad and an egg salad sandwich. KC had a BLT and Elke had a vegetarian lentil pie which she shared with Herb. We ate in the atrium where we could see part of the sculpted gardens yet avoid the huge crows that plagued the people who dined on the patio. I wish we’d gotten a picture – those birds were enormous!
Ancient yew in the courtyard of Muckross Abbey:
KC inside Muckross Abbey:
Trees along the path back from the Abbey:
The delicious beetroot salad I had in the Muckross House cafeteria:
Close-up showing the places we visited (stars)
and the Gap of Dunloe (arrow) which we wanted to visit:
We debated whether we had time to do the Gap of Dunloe , a 7-mile mountain pass, given that Elke wanted to return to that picturesque street in Killarney that we’d driven through on our way in and, we suspected, the shops there would close at 6pm since this was not the high season for tourism. We also wanted to see Lady’s View, which had been recommended by both Michael and Sean, and Ross Castle, which was supposedly the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” (the Irish spelling of O’Donoghue is “Ó Donnchadha”).
After much debate, KC decided that we would skip the Gap, go straight to Lady’s View, and then on to the Castle, which was close to the village, since the street in Killarney had been Elke’s first request this trip and KC didn’t want to deny it. The drive to Lady’s View, and the view itself, were very picturesque, and we regretted not waiting to have our lunch in the café at the overlook. I asked how long it would take to drive through the gap and was told 1.5 hours. Since it was now after 3:00 we decided we didn’t have the time to risk it and left it for a subsequent trip.
In retrospect, that was a wise decision as I just found a review on Trip Advisor which states “there is a notice at Kate Kearney’s Cottage that cars are not allowed in the pass.” To do the gap in a jaunting car (a horse-drawn carriage) takes several hours.
Leprechaun Crossing at Lady’s View:
Speeding around the curves at 100/KPH:
We retraced our steps and went on to Ross Castle , the original home of the O’Donoghue Ross Chieftains in the 15th century, and believed to be the last significant fortress to fall to Cromwell’s armies in Ireland. On the shore of Lough Leane, on Ross Island, its human habitation goes back some 9000 years. Legend has it that Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, was educated here by the monks in the 9th century.
The castle has been restored and is open to visitors from April to October, but the ONLY way to see the inside is via guided tour. Although we were very interested in the castle’s history, we didn’t have time for a tour, so we went through the small museum on the ground floor and added it to our list of things to do next year. What surprised me most was that the castle had been ‘converted into a tourist attraction’ in the 1800’s!
Ross Castle, looming in the distance:
Waterfowl by the bridge at Ross Castle:
Ross Castle- that’s me in the foreground for a size comparison:
Looking up at Ross Castle:
Ross Castle, rear view:
We left the castle and drove into Killarney, parked the car in a lot, and found that street we’d passed on our way in. What a disappointment! It was mostly pubs and restaurants, not the interesting high street it appeared to be from the car. Actually, it WAS pleasant to walk along but the merchandise in the shops didn’t interest us at all. We walked around for about 20 minutes, ducked into a pub for a pint, were back on the road just before 5:00pm and were home shortly before 7:00pm.
Picturesque street in downtown Killarney:
If you look closely at the photo above you will see that there are streamers hanging above the street with small yellow and green flags on them. We saw them everywhere, and some larger flags as well, so we finally asked what was going on and were told that they were the colors of the local county Kerry football (soccer) team, The Kingdom . KC decided he wanted one of these flags as this year’s souvenir….
Trees starting to turn on the road on the way home:
When we walked into the kitchen, there on the counter were 5 LAMB CHOPS, a bottle of wine, and a loaf of that delicious brown bread! What a treat! I called Phil to thank her and she happened to be 2 minutes away so she stopped by for a moment and told us that Alex had made the trip to the cottage FIVE TIMES, trying to deliver the lamb, since they hadn’t known we would be out all day.
Elke and I had some of the bread right away, while Herb quickly fried four of the chops with some of the seasonings we’d found in the pantry. We uncorked the wine and dug into a delicious meal! Herb, a lamb fiend, had the fifth chop for breakfast. .
The best brown bread ever:
Five lamb chops from the sheep in the field by the house:
Herb frying four lamb chops for dinner (he had the fifth one for breakfast):
We left the cottage again at 7:45 and were at John Benny Moriarty just after 8:00pm, at a table right in front of where the musicians would be playing. We ordered some appetizers to tide us over (oysters for Herb, ham and cabbage for Elke, fish and chips for KC, and mushrooms on toast for me) and then played cribbage until the music started at 9:45. We were back to the old cards again, hoping that our (Herb’s and my) luck would return, but Elke and KC forged ahead. It was now HB=3 EK=4 with two skunks apiece and I didn’t know when we’d have a chance to play again….
Donogh Hennessy, formerly of LúNASA, on the guitar, Jeremy on the fiddle, and the owner, John Benny Moriarty, on the accordion and vocals. He had a very nice voice but my favorite piece that evening was a hornpipe, Golden Eagle. I loved the way the guitar complimented the fiddle and hope I’m able to find a similar version on CD. Jeremy says he learned the piece from the CD Frankie Goes to Town , by Frankie Gavin.
Music at John Benny Moriarty’s:
We were back at the cottage at midnight. Herb and Elke went right to bed, I wrote in my journal (had another scone- they’ve become my preferred midnight snack because I cannot eat chocolate) while KC snored on the sofa. We went up as well at 12:30.
Dingle, Car, and Birthday
Friday, October 9
Yes! Another rainy day! That may sound odd, but Elke and I both love being inside, reading, when the weather outside is ‘frightful’ and we had not had an opportunity to do that yet. Unfortunately, today was the last day I would have to shop in Dingle so I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the weather, but she was looking forward to it. It was the perfect way for her to spend her birthday!
Another rainy day!
KC and I were up shortly after 8:30. I reheated some leftover oatmeal while KC fried some sausages. It was raining heavily, the water was coming down sideways in great sheets, and I was NOT looking forward to shopping in it. Herb and KC had hoped to go sailing with Michael and it looked like that plan was shelved as well.
Around 9:45 the wind stopped blowing and the rain let up a bit so I jumped in the shower and KC drove me into Dingle. We stopped at Brian de Staic’s workshop where I finalized my custom order with Jerry and then KC dropped me off at Siopa Ceoil an Daingin with instructions to call when I was ready to be picked up. Right.
I had a WONDERFUL day – I ripped around the entire town 3 times, looking at everything, and then went back and bought the things I coveted the most: a hand-thrown mug, a ring from Lisbeth Mulcahey , a blouse from La Boheme, earrings from John Weldon Jewelrs , and a Kerry flag for KC. I had a piece of bread-and-butter pudding and a cappuccino in Dingle Crystal and caught up with Liz (Sean was in Waterford City) and then made my way back to Michael’s for my pick-up.
I had tried to call KC several times but never got through so I assumed he was digging in some ruin with Herb. I checked my messages and there was one from him, telling me that the car had gone in a ditch and that he was waiting for a tow, but I had no idea how long ago he had left the message, nor how long I would be waiting to be picked up.
I stumbled into Siopa Ceoil an Daingin and told Michael what had happened. I think Michael loves a damsel-in-distress because he fired up his computer and called KC using Skype. He tried several times before he got through but he did get through. We discovered that KC was not far from town and looking for a place to have a flat tire fixed. Michael directed him to Moran’s, the place where we bought our gas. Twenty minutes later, while I was paying for the rest of my CDs, KC burst through the door.
Rahanane Castle, Ventry, and Tralee:
Apparently, they had just finished exploring Rahanane castle and were looking for another fort when they realized the road they were on was not passable. KC backed up slowly and, without realizing that there was a CREEK along the side of the road, NOT BUSHES, he got too close to the edge of the pavement, the weight of the car dislodged the gravel, and the entire right side slid into the ditch!
Wisely, he stopped right there and called Hertz for instructions. They sent a tow, but he came all the way from TRALEE and KC had to cool his heels for over an hour! So, KC and Herb walked down to Ventry to guide him to the car. The man was good: he backed his rig to the wreck and winched the car out of the ditch without doing any damage to it! The front tire was flat, but there was a spare, which KC easily installed, and they drove back to Dingle.
Where the car went off the road
(Mapquest does not show a road there but the sureveyor’s map they were using does):
Michael calling KC using Skype:
KC, collecting me (and his Guinness poster) at Michael’s and explaining what happened to the car:
There were no pictures of the mishap with the car – NONE – much to my dismay. But here are the pictures he took of Rahanane Castle. In the Parish of Ventry, it is one of several castles built in the area between 1440 and 1600. Primarily a fortress, it was also the ordinary residence of the Knight of Kerry who belonged to the Geraldine family (the royal family of England).
The castle was built on the site of an old ringfort. The ringfort was built up and a second added with walls of 6 meters (20 ft.), giving the appearance that there may have been a moat, although there never was one. The Knight of Kerry lived there until Cromwellian times (1628-1659). During the crushing blow to end the revolt, the castle was severely damaged but it still has its very tiny, narrow, stone stairs, from the first to second floors, which can be "carefully" climbed.
Rahinnane castle (pronounced RAH-heh-naan) Castle:
The moat? No, there never was a moat…
KC and Herb had dropped the tire at Moran’s just before 6:00pm and had to leave it there overnight as the garage was closing. This would prevent an early departure the next day but we had no choice. When they then came to Michael’s to get me, Michael invited us to join him at a small bar down the road called Curran’s. Herb was anxious to get back to Elke, who had been alone all day, but I called to see how she was doing and she was happily reading so we nipped into Curran’s for a pint.
The ‘room’ where marriages used to be arranged:
Michael and Olivia:
We didn’t stay long because Elke was waiting at the cottage and we wanted to have dinner at An Canteen. I should have used the loo before we left, but we were in a hurry, and by the time we got to the cottage I was about to burst! Elke, serene as usual, said she had had a wonderful stress-free day.
KC showered and we left shortly thereafter for our dinner at An Canteen. Elke and KC both had the 16-hour beef. Herb had the calamari and all three of them had the hamhock terrine as an appetizer. I had a beetroot soup followed by the Cajun chicken with garlic sauce and a rocket salad.
My Cajun chicken (I had already eaten most of the salad):
KC and Elke’s 16 hour beef cheeks:
Lemon tart with berry sauce for dessert:
Once again, the food was superb, and we were amazed at how low the prices were, compared to the other food we’d had in the area. I don’t know how he can do it, given that everything is made in the restaurant. After dinner Niall stopped by to say hello and regaled us with stories of how the dishes are prepared. The only one I can remember is that the 16-hour beef was made with beef cheek, not the brisket we’re used to cooking that way at home.
Phil’s daughter Sharon was working tables that night so we chatted with her for a while. She told us they have 3 other cottages , just up the road from the one we’re in. I have no idea how they are able to make us feel so special if they have three other tenants to tend to. What an amazing family.
Chef Niall (pronounced Neil):
We were stuffed to the gills when we left but Herb wanted to show Elke the bar we’d been in earlier. We called Michael, who said he’d meet us there in 5 minutes, but when he didn’t show (we were really tired) we left. We ran into him on our way to the car and nipped into another pub so we could have one last pint together. Olivia did most of the talking this time and what an interesting woman she is! I hope she’s still there the next time we visit.
The bar closed about 20 minutes after we got there so we said our goodbyes and came straight home. As usual, Herb and Elke went right to bed, KC read, and I updated my journal. We hit the hay at 1:00pm.
Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11
We were up at 9:00 am this morning and KC called Moran’s right away to find out what was up with the flat tire. They told him it had been slashed and was not reparable, but that they could replace it, for less than he’d pay to have Hertz do it, so he and Herb drove the car down to have it installed.
While they were gone, I packed, took a quick shower, and was just finishing up when they got back. Phil had stopped by to settle up and we’d spent 20 minutes with her, filling her in on yesterday’s excitement, and getting her take on Curran’s. She told us that it was the most popular place to arrange marriages because the then-proprietor was very good at getting the parties to come to an agreement on the dowry.
Right before KC got back from the garage, I snapped this shot of the artwork I was coveting on the wall in the master bedroom.
Etching in the master bedroom that is simply amazing
La Chute (the fall) by Guillaume Azoulay.
Dingle to Dublin Airport, 4 hours 33 minutes:
When KC got back from Moran’s, he was in a hurry. He was worried about what the accident would cost, he didn’t want to pay for an extra day’s rental on the car, and we were already late leaving, so we rushed all the way to Dublin with only one stop to grab a soda and use the facilities.
A Sulky, slowing us down:
Bread for sale in a gas station along the way:
Street signs showing distance to exit (each slash is 100 meters):
Street sign showing next roundabout:
Street sign at each street in roundabout:
As we got closer to Dublin, we discussed whether to take the car directly to the airport or to drop us off at the hotel first and then have KC and Herb take the car to the airport.
KC wasn’t thrilled about driving around Dublin at rush hour but Herb and I really wanted to drop the bags at the hotel so I called the hotel and got what seemed to be very simple directions. Right. Our maps did not cover one critical part of the journey and we ended up downtown where there are no street signs for cross streets! KC was very calm the entire time and we did, eventually, find the hotel but with great difficulty as all the streets were one way going in the OTHER direction!
Herb accompanied KC back to the airport where they got off relatively easy. The cost for the tow was only 220 Euros.
Our room at the Conrad Hilton:
When Herb and KC were, finally, on their way back to the hotel, but stuck in traffic because there was big football (soccer) game being played in town that night, I called KC and was told to find a place for us to eat. He didn’t care what but it had to be close because we were all hungry. None of us wanted to eat in the hotel so Elke suggested I call the concierge. He came through in spades, with a reservation at Foley’s, two 2 blocks away. Not only was the food good, it was reasonably priced. The only down side was the heat – why are all these restaurants so warm?
KC had vegetable soup and beef-and-ale pot pie, Elke had liver pate and salmon with bacon and a mushroom cream sauce, Herb had oysters and rack of lamb, and I had smoked salmon and grilled black sole. My sole was delicious – some of the best fish I’ve ever had.
Black Sole at Foley’s:
For dessert, we ordered two ice creams – toffee crunch and Bailey’s. I had a cappuccino and Elke had an Irish coffee which came with some delicious macaroons. They also brought 4 glasses of baileys with the dessert, in brandy snifters filled with crushed ice, which looked and tasted delicious.
We discussed our plans for the next day and decided to split up. Herb and Elke wanted to sightsee, but I wasn’t that interested in spending the day on a tour bus, I really wanted to check out the shops that Olivia had recommended on Grafton Street. KC was torn, but decided to come with me.
I was in bed by 11:30 but KC stayed up to watch Terminator IV.
Sunday, October 11
I woke up early but I had a migraine. We had coffee sent up to the room but it didn’t help so I took a Zomig and went back to bed. KC read his book. The stores opened at 9:00 am but we didn’t leave the hotel until noon. We walked through St Steven’s Green to Grafton Street.
St. Steven’s Green:
St. Steven’s Green:
Grafton Street is a pedestrian area and, although it was Sunday, it was mobbed. There were musicians, mimes, and ‘artists’ like the Mr. Bojangles pictured below who looked like a bronze statue until he moved!
Mr. Bojangles on Grafton Street:
I really hate crowds so I rushed from one store to the next until I’d found the boots I was looking for. I actually found three pair and couldn’t decide between them so I bought them all knowing I’d have trouble packing that night. We had a late lunch in a pub – fish and chips for me, sausage and chips for KC – and then called Herb and Elke to make plans for dinner.
They were wrapping up their day as well so we agreed to meet in the lobby bar in an hour. On our way back to the hotel KC saw Zara, one of my favorite stores, so we nipped in there and I bought an adorable skirt.
Back at the hotel I changed into my new duds and we went down to meet Herb and Elke. They said they had a wonderful day! They took a bus tour in the morning which allowed them to get on and off at will – a nice option, and one that would have tempted us to go along, if we’d been willing to get up that early – they had seen The Book of Kells and had also spent some time in the Grafton Street area but had not bought anything. They had lunch at a bar Oscar Wilde used to frequent, now renovated, but I don’t remember what they ate.
One page from the amazing Book of Kells :
The entry fee for the Trinity College Library , where the Book of Kells is housed, was 9 Euros which they felt was a fair price given that there were many other things to see there , but we joked that they had only seen two pages of the Book of Kells because it’s stored under glass, obviously, being over 2000 years old, and only two pages are displayed at any one time. The guard told them that they turn the page every month so, given that there are 340 pages, it would take you 14 years to see the whole thing!
Detail from another page in the Book of Kells :
I have to admit that, in researching the links for this log, and looking at some of the photos, if I had known how detailed the artwork was I would have been tempted to see it myself but, I also think I would have been disappointed if I’d only seen two pages and they hadn’t lived up to my expectations.
Herb really wanted to visit the Temple Bar district, so we decided to have dinner there. We went upstairs to freshen up and then took a cab to Oliver St. John Gogarty’s . We walked around the area a bit – it was crowded, more so than the last time we were there, probably with people who had come in for the game the night before – and then returned to Gogarty’s for dinner.
Dinner in Oliver St. John Gogarty’s :
We had the same table this time as we’d had the first time we were there but were surprised to see that the wait staff was obviously not Irish, which did detract from the ambiance somewhat. KC had cream of chicken soup and coddle, Herb had seafood chowder and coddle, Elke had lamb stew, and I had breaded cheese with currant sauce and Guinness (beef) stew. The soups were very good as was my breaded cheese, and the stews were good as well, but the coddle came with these anemic looking sausages and neither KC nor Herb finished theirs.
The portions were huge so we skipped dessert and went back to the hotel bar for a nightcap. I had an Irish coffee, the best one yet, and everyone else had a shot of Jameson’s. We agreed to meet at 7:30 for the cab ride to the airport (our flight left at 10:35) and went up to pack. KC played games on his Blackberry while I managed to get all our stuff into our two cases without expanding them or going over the 50 pounds per bag weight limit. It took me over 2 hours. After sorting out the VAT forms, I went to bed, just after midnight.
Monday, October 12
I slept fitfully but did NOT have a migraine when I woke up, thank goodness. We showered, dressed, and were downstairs at 7:25. We had called ahead and the concierge had a large cab waiting for us which whisked us to the airport where we breezed through check-in, security, and the VAT process. One company, though, did not have an office at the airport so I will have to mail those forms in.
(NOTE TO SELF: All the forms I filled out specified “no customs stamp, no refund” and I had seen no place in which to get a customs stamp so I wrote to their Chamber of Commerce and was directed to this WEBSITE (www.revenue.ie) where I discovered that (1) only those goods worth over 2000 Euros needed a customs stamp, (2) there are drop boxes inside the terminal where you can place those envelops to avoid having to send them in and (3) you can have your receipts notarized in the US if you are unable to get a custom’s stamp. All of this was good news; however, one month later, I am still waiting for a refund from all three companies so, if you MUST have the refund to justify the purchase, DON’T BUY IT. )
We found the Aer Lingus lounge and had a cup of coffee and then Herb walked around the stores. He came back raving about a cape he thought Elke should buy, which she did on our way to the gate, and it was indeed gorgeous.
At this point it was obvious that our cribbage match was over and that Elke and KC had prevailed. The final score was HB=3 EK=4 so Herb and I will be serving them dinner. The menu, at the moment, will include both sushi and mushrooms, two of their “favorite” foods.
Airport lounge in Dublin:
The flight home, for me, was absolutely fantastic because one of the movies they were showing was the latest STAR TREK film which I managed to watch 2.5 times! We had warm nuts and a salad, I had the chicken and pasta dinner, and we both had a small cheese pizza, all of which were good, but the highlight of the trip was the movie.
I had intended to listen to my MP3 player, and had gotten it out, but after my 10th trip to the toilet (that’s what happens the day after I take a Zomig), I couldn’t find it, so I asked the flight attendant for a flashlight. When I told her why, she came back and practically disassembled my seat. I thought it was gone for good until KC got involved and saw it perched on a ledge underneath (I have NO idea how it got there because I NEVER listened to it) and saved the day.
The flight landed on time and we had no problems with security even though we’d been around farm animals. They didn’t clean our shoes, like they did last year, because there was no longer any hoof-and-mouth disease, but they did send our bags through a special scanner. I have no idea what for.
There was very little traffic and we were home around 1pm. On the kitchen table, was a huge pile of mail.
Mail waiting for us when we got home:
That, however, was nothing compared to the 750 pieces of EMAIL we each had to slog through. I was really tired so that’s all I did that day – delete spam. We ordered a pizza at 4pm, I went to bed at 8pm, and I slept until 6:00 the following morning. I unpacked and started working on this web page. Actually, I first broke up last year’s page into smaller pieces, because Phil said she didn’t have broadband and wasn’t able to see the whole thing, and THEN I started working on this page, sometime in the evening.
It took me 4 days to get the page to the point where it could be proofread. Then while Herb, Elke, and Em were looking for errors, I started adding the maps and other links. The page was ready to be published on Tuesday at which time I broke it into smaller bits. So, all in all, it took me a whole week to get this page up! In retrospect, while I enjoyed the greenery at this time of year, and I’m glad I saw it, I prefer the weather in April.
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Note to self: bring the following next time: boat shoes, knife sharpener, speakers for MP3 player, adaptor plug.
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permission from Barbara Healy. Copyright © 2004 OOAKFolk, Inc.
Last Revised: November 08, 2009
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