May 27, 28, 29, 30
Friday morning we left Murrisk and headed towards Liscannor in County Clare. First we went through the Doo Lough Pass where famine victims walked to get help from their landlord. They were turned away and many of them died along this road. There is a memorial to them where we stopped to take photos. It is in the middle of nowhere.
We continued to Leenaun and then down between the 12 Pins of the Connemara National Park and the Maumturk Mountains. After Oughterard, we managed to get through Galway without a problem, going around the Galway Bay and through Kinvarra. When we got to Ballyvaughan, we stopped for lunch at a small cafe and ate soup in their conservatory. It was called the Tea Garden Rooms. €16.75
As we continued to drive, we spotted an old castle tower ruin that was partly collapsed at the sea shore. We stopped to take photos of it. We didn't know what it was, so I looked it up on the internet later and found that it was called Shanmuckinish Castle (meaning "Old Pig Island" in Gaelic.) It is a 5 storey tower surrounded by a rectangular bawn, 2 1/2 miles northeast of Ballyvaughan. It is identified as an old O'Loughlin tower which passed to the Blakes in 1922, twenty years after the north half of the castle collapsed. We thought it had been destroyed by Cromwell like everything else!
Continuing on our way, we took the road through the Burren. It was very strange land! We stopped at the Poulabrone Dolmen. It was interesting, although we preferred the one in Donegal.
On we went to our B&B just past Liscannor. We were staying at Altantic View B&B. It was pretty foggy by this time and rainy. Our hostess was not home when we arrived, but I was able to reach her on her mobile phone. She said she would send her husband to let us in. He came about 5 minutes later and made us welcome. He made us a pot of tea with some biscuits. It was a beautiful house. Our hostess arrived shortly after. They were extremely friendly and helpful.
I had hoped that, since our B&B was only a mile from the Cliffs of Moher, we would be able to go over and get a sunset photo. But no, not only did we not get a sunset photo, we didn't even get to see the cliffs because it was totally fogged in and raining. We took a drive up to Doolin, right to the pier, but it was pretty wet and windy. Turning around we decided to stop at The Stonecutter's for supper. We were served from the lunch menu at 5:30 and the waiter turned the blackboard to the supper menu when we were half done eating. Oh well, lunch was expensive enough €29.80 and I don't really remember what we had, but we did have dessert which we usually didn't. Mike wanted to try bread pudding and I had sticky toffee pudding.
You can see how fogged in it was.
We went back to the B&B. When we awoke in the morning some of the fog had cleared and our hostess said we should be able to see the cliffs now. I had a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon plus some cereal. Mike had a full Irish. We ate at 7:30 and then went to the Cliffs. The other guests were not awake yet. In most of the places we stayed, the other guests were usually German couples, sometimes British.
When we arrived at the Cliffs, we were able to get into the parking lot. Because it was before the Information Centre opened, the parking lot was free (as long as we left before it opened). We were the only ones there. We got some photos. The sky was still threatening looking but not raining. The photos actually turned out better than I expected considering the weather. We were on our way by 8:45. It would have cost us €12 if we left after 9:00.
We were driving down to Dingle this day (Saturday). We drove along right to the Tarbert Ferry and got there 5 minutes before they left, so we just drove right on board. That really saved us time, not having to wait. The ferry ended up being full. It was actually a warm crossing.
I wanted to see the Ardfert Cathedral on our way to Dingle. We found it without any trouble. The weather had cleared up and we had some blue skies while touring it. It is a ruin as well and a bit different than others. It was actually a very bare cathedral; no alcoves, statues indents. Just four walls. But it was interesting nonetheless.
The lady at the desk told us that there was also a friary just down the street. Being interested in friarys, we decided to check it out. We had to park in a carpark and walk down a lane to get to it. We had it all to ourselves and it was cool. It was quite big.
We ended up spending over two hours exploring the cathedral and the friary, so I thought I better call our Dingle hostess and let her know where we were. I had called her when we first arrived in Ardfert, but hadn't expected we would be there so long. She said it would take 1 1/2 hours to get to her place and it did. We stopped at a petrol station to fill the car and get some things for a picnic lunch which we ate before continuing on.
We found the B&B easy enough. It is called Emlagh Lodge and is situated looking over Dingle Harbour. We loved the views from our bedroom window. We had a big room with a double bed and a single bed. The bathroom was large.
It was just starting to rain as we got closer to Dingle so we didn't try the Connor Pass but took the easier road. When we checked in, our hostess, Maggie, gave us lots of information about Dingle.
Mike decided to have a rest and I wanted to go find a bank and the tourist office before it closed. When I found a bank, I got some cash from the ATM machine. I got some pamphlets from the tourist office and then headed back to the B&B. We walked back into town to look for a place for supper. Maggie had recommended a few places. Most of the places were pretty expensive and didn't have anything on their menus that we really wanted. So we ended up going to a take away fish and chip shop and taking it back to our room. It was pretty good and only cost about €12.
It was Saturday night, and happened to be my mother's birthday. She had just died unexpectantly last summer of a brain tumour. So I wanted to go to Mass to remember her. We went to St. Mary Catholic Church. It is all stone inside, beautiful and very different.
Sunday we did the Slea Head Drive, or at least some of it. I think we ended up turning wrong and missed the top part. The sun refused to come out of the clouds, but it did not rain. We stopped at some nice scenery lookouts.
We visited Dunbeg Fort and then some Beehive huts. We weren't sure about the Fort, but then decided to pay and go down to it. From the road it doesn't look like much, but once you walk down there, it is much bigger than you think. So it was worth it.
We only stopped at the first set of Beehive huts. We thought about the 2nd set but thought we heard that the first was better. I think it might have been the other way around, but too late now.
We stopped at the beach where they shot Ryan's Daughter and then stopped later at a mountainous promontory.
Continuing on, we went to the Gallarus Oratory which was quite interesting. We paid at the centre to get in. There was a short video and then we went to the Oratory. We had it to ourselves at first. When we were finished I saw another path and wanted to know why it was paved. I found out that it was the way to the free entrance to the Oratory. You could just park on the little road and walk up the path and not have to pay to see it. We didn't get our money's worth if all we were paying for was a 10 minute video. Oh well, live and learn.
For lunch we stopped at a pub in Ballyferriter called Ceann sibeal Hotel. We had seafood chowder and then Mike had rubarb crumble and I had chocolate cake with chocolate sauce. €25.50.
We were then looking for Kilmalkedar Church because I read it had a ogham stone, an alphabet stone and a sundial.
We went down one road, didn't find it; went down another, still no luck. We took a chance on another road and found a tour bus. This must be it! yep. Very interesting. I'm glad we found it.
After this we turned the wrong way and were heading back to town instead of continuing on the drive but by the time we realized it, we were pretty much back at Dingle.
There was one place I wanted to see that had 7 ogham stones in front of a yellow house but I didn't know where it was. It took me an hour searching on the internet to find out they were in front of Lord Ventry's house. He had moved them there as lawn decorations! His place is about 2-3 kms outside Dingle on the way to Ventry. It is now a girl's school. We could see his mansion from our B&B across the harbour, but didn't know that we were looking at the back. We found the stones. You have to go down a road that mentions the school and then turn down a private drive. Mostly people see them if they take a tour from town. Otherwise most tourist probably don't find them.
For supper, we walked all around town looking for a place to eat. We ended up at Harrington's Fish Restaurant. The fish was okay, but the fries were bad. It was kind of a strange place. We walked around town taking photos.
Monday, August 30 - Killarney
It looked sunnier this morning. We were the only guests overnight.
We drove straight to Killarney along the road past Inch Beach. We could see a few people out on the beach. We located our hotel, "Lake Hotel" without a problem. It was too early to check-in (only 10:00) but we walked around the grounds a bit and took photos of some birds and the old castle ruin in front of the the lake. Lake Hotel faces out onto Lough Leane and the mountains. It is very pretty!
We drove down to Ladies' View lookout. Wow! Lots of photos taken here!
We then found the Torc waterfall. I practiced my slow shutter speed technique on it.
Then farther up the road, we parked where the jaunty cars were and walked to Muckross Abbey. We love old abbeys. This one has an ancient yew tree growing out of it. They are doing a lot of renovating at this abbey. The sun was shining all this time and was a very nice day. We decided to continue our walk to Muckross House. The path we took followed the lake, but was longer than we thought. It was a 2.4 km walk and when we arrived, we found that you can only see the house by tour and we had just missed it. The next tour wasn't starting for another hour. We didn't want to wait around that long, so we took a different path back to the abbey where our car was. It wasn't much shorter but was a flat pathway. The other way was through the forest.
By now it was 3:00 pm and we hadn't checked into our hotel yet. So after retrieving the car, we drove back to the hotel and checked in. I had reserved a room with a lake view and it was very nice. We had a rest before heading down to the bar for supper. We decided to splurge and ordered the steak. So glad we did because it was delicious!
After supper, we drove out to Ross Castle. The castle was closed, but you could still walk around the outside. We got some lovely photos of it with the setting sun shining on it. It was actually a popular spot for people to go for a stroll in the evening.