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Ring of Kerry

 

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 ring of kerry

15 duben (apr)
It was 1:30 am by the time we went to bed, after a Thursday night flight to Dublin that was delayed two hours. Boarding the bus into town, the bus driver said “All right now, girls, in you go!” We stumbled around in the darkened shared hostel room, slept a few hours, then got up early, still in darkness, for a quick walking tour in a light rain, crossing the River Liffey to the stately and inviting Trinity College campus (alas, the library housing the Book of Kells would not be open till later in the day) and the shopping streets of the trendy Temple Bar neighborhood. By mid-morning we had picked up our rental car at the airport and were out on the road in the countryside of fair Ireland.

The Irish drive on the left side of the road, like the British. My Australian companion was used to driving left but didn’t like driving fast. I, on the other hand, could drive along on the highway just fine, but was nervous about staying in my lane on the narrow, curvy country roads. I think I got the better end of the deal although I actually drove more hours; I could relax and enjoy the scenery just when things got interesting. It took about six hours to drive from Dublin to Killarney, in the southwest corner of the country. I listened to U2 on the N7 (highway), and made up bad limericks as we approached the city with the same name.

We stopped for a full Irish breakfast including black and white pudding (the white, made with oatmeal, was tasty; but the black bitter, made with sheep’s blood), and coffee and a stroll in the charming town of Abbeyfeale, with its thatched roof houses. We had a private room in a pretty and peaceful hostel in Killarney. The locals were friendly and talkative. Our gregarious host chattered away in his musical Irish brogue, peppered with witticisms. He told the other boarders that we were retired lap dancers and needed our quiet.

On Saturday we reached our destination – the picturesque route called the Ring of Kerry, a passage around the Iveragh peninsula in County Kerry. It was a long day filled with beautiful stops as we tooled along roads over intensely green rolling hillsides separated into squares by low stone walls, through villages of colorfully painted houses, and often looking down on rugged coastlines. A ferry brought us across to Valentia Island in a little side trip. After completing the ring by driving over a mountain range topped with snow, we reached the Dingle peninsula, where signs are in Gaelic only, and rounded it before nightfall.

The rain was merciful, coming down in 20 minute showers, then giving way to sunshine; we spotted three rainbows the showers left behind but no pots o’ gold. The ruins of stone forts and castles, some dating to 500 B.C., were scattered throughout the hills. One could envision a little community living in the attached beehive huts, built of stacked stones with no mortar. I investigated the tight inner ring of the well restored ring fort at Cahergall, also built of bare stones, and climbed the stairway along its walls.

My first attempts at photographing grazing sheep resulted in rear end shots, but in one place the sheep came running over, hoping to be fed, no doubt; and later we found a man sitting by the road with lambs available for petting (perhaps for sale – I couldn’t understand his accent). Cars pulled right onto the sand at the wide beach at Inch, so we did too. I dipped my feet in the Atlantic Ocean and reveled in the feel of waves.

We tried a few pubs until we found Aoife (pronounced eefa) Granville, a young woman playing traditional Irish music on the fiddle, flute and pennywhistle. The place was packed with locals. She told us she was working on her PhD in music, but still came back to her hometown of Dingle most weekends for the atmosphere of this pub. We stayed until the music stopped, had another brief but acceptable hostel stay, then drove back to Dublin Sunday.

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