Our trip to Waterford, Killarney, Dublin
and the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
October 1-12, 2009
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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.
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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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Last Revised: October 20, 2009
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