Archives for December 2012

Leprechauns and Landscapes! Part II

Welcome back…hope you enjoyed Part I…now we are getting to the good stuff!

Day two…

We woke early to a wonderful breakfast of eggs, bacon and more.  Let me digress a minute and tell you about the bacon.  The Irish apparently love their bacon because this wasn’t your typical slice of bacon.  It was more like a slab of pork…you’ll have to take my word for it…or just go taste for yourself.  Patrick, the wonderful owner of the B & B, helped firm up our game plan for the day: we would travel the famed Ring of Kerry.  The route covers the 111 miles (N70, N71, and R562), starting from Killarney, heading around the Iveragh Peninsula and passing through Kenmare, Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen and Killorglin.

Guide books will tell you to travel the opposite direction (clockwise from Killarney) around the ring to avoid getting stuck behind all the tour buses, but since we were here during the “slow” season, we decided to travel the normal direction (counter-clockwise).  The slow season does have its perks – not much traffic and very few tour buses allowed us to stop frequently – when and where we wanted.

Ballycarberry Castle

We left around 9am with our first planned stop near Caherciveen, Ballycarberry Castle.  This was by far our favorite spot of the day.  The castle was inhabited in the 13th Century but the present construction was built in the 16th Century.   In 1652 it was attacked by cannon-fire from parliament forces. In the 18th century a house was built on the site using the barn wall and it was inhabited by the Lauder family. This house was demolished in the early 20th century which is how it remains to this day.

As directed by Patrick, our next planned stop was Valentia Island near Portmagee.  The Island was very scenic as expected; however, the skies opened once again and we were forced enjoy most of the island from the car.  There was a small break in the rain and the closest attraction on the Ipad map was St. Brandons Well.  We ended up heading down a dirt road that quickly came to an end.  We zipped up our rain jackets and went by foot.  Upon arrival, the Well…was well…rather boring, but my wife hadn’t flown across the Atlantic for nothing…she was determined to see it all. In the distance she could hear huge crashing waves, so off she went!  Begrudgingly, I followed.  Unfortunately, I had only packed one pair of shoes, and they weren’t great about keeping lots of water out (yes, I admit, not the best planning).  Thirty minutes later, we were back in the car with our shoes near the heater on the floor and our socks on the dash “defrosting.”

By now its around 2pm and we hadn’t even made it half way around the ring.  The next 30 miles or so can be summed up by one word…panorama!  You’ll see some of these in the slideshow below.  Near a town called Castlecove we noticed a point of interest on the map called Staigue Fort.  As a kid, I built forts with anything I could get my hands, so why not take a look at how they did it “back then”.   Staigue Fort is a circular ring fort of dry-stone, meaning it was created and held together without what is known today as mortar.  The road to Staigue Fort was one of the more interesting/hairy roads we had been on – a skinny roadway bordered with hedgerows of hawthorn, bog iris, willow and fuchsia.  The walls of the fort are 10-18 feet in height and 13 feet thick at the base. The diameter of the whole structure is 90 feet. Impressive to say the least.

As you can see by the rain on my lens…it was raining.

Daylight was running out as we approached Sneem, but we decided to stick with N70 to Kenmare instead of taking the shortcut (R568).  We were not disappointed!  With the sun setting we reached Kenmare.  The final leg of our day would be in the dark but just as “interesting”. I think my arm still has a bruise from my wife grabbing it, hanging on, and gasping as we came upon hairpin turns, tight quarters and passing traffic.  Nightfall was masking some amazing scenery, but we would focus our final day in this area, Killarney National Park and the Gap of Dunloe.  Some amazing photos still to come! Click on the image below for the Part II gallery.

  As always comments are welcomed!  Thanks for reading.