Tag Archives: Killarney

Day 8 – Killarney and Fog

Day 8 started with the traditional breakfast followed by a 30 minute horse and buggy ride through the National Park.  The National Park is thousands of acres of countryside that is untouched.  It was beautiful with some old ruins, lakes, deer, and an island along our route.  We finished our ride at the outside St. Mary’s Cathedral which was also the starting line to some sort of marathon so it was crowded with TV cameras, runners, and sponsor tables.  We hopped on the bus toward our next destination.

We arrived at a museum for a place called Skellig.  On two small islands on the edge of the Atlantic, monks had settled and built places to live out of piled stones.  They also built massive staircases on the mountainous islands our of stone.  The structures were built out of piled rocks with no mortar and they’ve held up for over a thousand years.  When we arrived at the visitor center, it was extremely foggy, windy, and rain had started to fall.  We went inside to tour the visitor center and watch a movie about the islands.  They also served us lunch.  I had the lasagna while Mom had the beef stew.  For dessert I had a warm apple pie (with ice cream, of course!) and Mom had a chocolate cake.  It wasn’t part of our itinerary, but on a sunny day you could take a boat out to the islands and walk the staircases and view the ancient buildings.

We got back on the bus and headed for the Ring of Kerry, which is a peninsula on the southwest of Ireland.  We made a quick stop at a shop that gave us some Irish coffee.  Mom and I had the non-alcoholic version.  Outside the little shop was a nice stone bridge and stream so we used that as a quick photo opportunity.  The Ring of Kerry is said to have spectacular views.  We wouldn’t know because the fog descended and rain picked up even more.  We stayed in the bus the rest of the day except for one quick stop at a bay side that had a nice view despite the fog.  The weather got worse and we just rode around until we arrived back at the hotel.  There was a road rally race going on in the area with suped-up import cars and those were constantly driving by us on the road on the way out of town to their next race destination.

When we got to the hotel, it was about 5 pm.  We got our stuff to our room and met some of the other people from our trip.  We headed to a restaurant called the Porterhouse that was a quaint little restaurant with very good food.  After eating and talking for a while, we went to finish up our shopping and then back to the room for shut eye.  Tomorrow we’re off to Shannon, Ireland for the last day of our tour.

Photos of today’s activities (limited by the fog) are at
 http://www.flickr.com/photos/94310362@N03/sets/72157644102725399/

Day 7 – Sheep Dogs and Tea, the Blarney Stone, and Killarney

Day 7 kicked off with the usual Irish breakfast in our hotel.  It was cold and a slight rain was coming down while we boarded our bus and drove through the beautiful Irish countryside.  We stopped along the way for a quick photo of the countryside and an old castle in ruins.  As we drove through the rural areas, it was amazing just how green everything was.  We turned down a small driveway and drove up to an old farmhouse.  Our group was led into the farmhouse and into a room with a fireplace, seats, and tables with fine china set out for tea.  We sat and enjoyed tea, coffee, and homemade scones.  Our hosts also provided homemade whipped butter cream, raspberry jam, and some sort of jam made from a black berry without any seeds.  It was amazing. Everyone had their cup of tea and a scone.  Of course, I had 2 cups of tea and 6 scones.  I didn’t want any of it to go to waste!

After we had warmed our bodies and filled our tummies we went back outside.  The farmer then gave us a demonstration of how his collies would herd and drive the sheep wherever he commanded.  When we first went out, the sheep were 300-400 yards away in another field.  They all stood in a group grazing.  As the farmer walked out to the field, his two dogs that had previously been wandering around on their own checking us out were pinned to the farmers heels.  He told the dogs to go get the sheep and the immediately bolted toward the other field.  Initially, it looked like they were running right past the sheep but they looped around and as they got close to the herd, the sheep began to run toward the opening between the two fields.  Anytime a couple sheep started to break away from the pack, one of the dogs would just come around to that side and the sheep would get back in line.  It was amazing how quickly and easily the entire herd of sheep came up to the near field and gathered in the corner of the fence.  This experience was one of the favorites and most memorable from the trip.

The group boarded the bus again and off we went toward Blarney Castle.  If you’re not familiar with the famous Blarney Stone, you can look it up on Wikipedia to read the details.  However, the important thing to know is that it’s a tradition for everyone who visits Ireland to go kiss the Blarney Stone.  Legend says that if you kiss the stone, you’re given the gift of eloquent speech or the gift to gab.  I know, everyone is praying that Mom and I did not kiss the stone!  Before I get to that, what you need to understand is where the stone is and how you go about kissing it.  The stone is built into the top of the Blarney Castle.  It’s over 4 stories tall.  To reach the top, you have to climb an ultra-narrow spiral staircase made of stone.  The staircase is about 3 feet wide and the treads of the steps start at 0 inches on the inside and are only about 10-12 inches on the outside.  It was cold and rainy so the steps were slick also.  We climbed the stairs because Mom was determined to get to kiss the stone.  When we got to the top we had a beautiful view of the surrounding area.  As we walked around the top ledge, we came to where the stone is mounted.  There is a large opening in the stone floor where it meets the surrounding stone.  If it weren’t for 2 steel bars, it would be possible for you to fall through and plummet the height of the tower to the ground.  The Blarney Stone is mounted as the bottom stone under the surrounding edge.  In order to kiss it, you have to lay on the floor on your back and lean your head back off the edge.  At this point, you’re looking down over 4 stories while holding onto a couple of vertical bars.  A man who works there helps hold onto you as you shimmy back so that your lips can reach the stone.  All the while you feel as if your balance is going to shift and you’re going to slip right through the two horizontal bars beneath you.  Mom did not like the setup at all but she bravely laid down and kissed the Blarney Stone!  There are a couple of pictures in today’s gallery but she also purchased the one that they took of her that shows her kissing it much better.  I followed and kissed the stone myself.  You all better watch out because if Mom and I couldn’t talk before, we sure can now!

After the Blarney Castle, we drove on toward Killarney until we arrived at the Killarney Plaza Hotel and Spa.  It’s a beautiful hotel and we got a huge room with a full bed and a twin.  Mom let me have the full.  We got settled for a few minutes and then headed down for dinner.  As an appetizer, we both had Shrimp Scampi.  For our main course we roast beef and vegetables.  I quickly polished off my 2 pieces of beef and Mom only at her one.  Again, not wanting anything to be wasted, I ate her other piece.  Another lady at the table had a half that she did not eat, so I obliged and took care of that as well.  For dessert, they had an amazing dessert buffet with 5 options.  Two options were different forms of chocolate cake with a variety of sauces to drizzle on them.  Next was a passion fruit mango dessert that was shaped like a jello mold but was light and delicious.  There was also a berry cheesecake and a strawberry and whipped cream dessert.  Mom had the chocolate cake and I had…umm…all 5!

Following dessert we went for a quick walk through the town to get acquainted with the area since we’ll have free time in Killarney tomorrow night and we’re on our own for dinner then.  There is some kind of rally race in town and apparently they have groupies that are teenage/twenty-something boys with modified import cars.  As you can probably guess, they were cruising the strip all night speeding along trying to show off their rides.  It was very annoying.  Plus, gas costs around $8 per gallon here so I can’t imagine letting that car run for a second more than it absolutely needed to!  After our walk, we were tired so headed to the room to get some shut eye before tomorrow.

Pictures from today are at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/94310362@N03/sets/72157644487377061/