Apr 6 900 pm
Two days late, I’m doing a recap of my third day in Killarney, lol. Better late than never I suppose.
I spent my third day in Killarney on a bus doing a day tour of the Ring of Kerry. It was a bit of a dreary day; no rain, but lots of dark clouds and cold, brisk winds. Especially so at the stops we made high up in the mountains.
I got to sleep in because the tour didn’t leave until 1030, and I can’t stress enough how nice it was to stay in bed just that little bit extra. After having my little breakdown the day before, I needed a rest. The tour bus picked myself and a few other people up from the hostel, which was fantastic for my aching knees.
The tour circles the Iveragh peninsula in the county Kerry. We stopped at Aghadoe, at one point an ancient pagan site that later became a monastic settlement. Little remains of the monastery save a graveyard and parts of a round tower, but the view of the mountains in Killarney National Park was fantastic. We passed through a few small towns including Caherciveen, Sneem, and Waterville (among others i can’t remember). There were wonderful views across Dingle Bay to the Dingle Peninsula, as well as glimpses of the Blasket Islands and the Skellig Islands. We followed the water most of the time, up and down the mountains and valleys. The day was windy and thus the waves crashed with fury on the rocky shores and outcroppings, and on the sandy beaches of the peninsula, adding atmosphere to the scenery.
We saw the ruins of the childhood home of Daniel O’Connell, the ‘Liberator’. At one point during English rule, Catholicism was deemed illegal in Ireland as the British crown attempted to force the Irish to convert to the Protestant religion. Seems like someone’s always trying to force someone to convert to something else, doesn’t it? Daniel O’Connell was a key leader in rebelling against the illegality and bringing Catholicism back to life.
The drive was fun, but it definitely would have been much more beautiful if the sun had been shining. As it was, it was a cold, dark beauty. We were teased to only fleeting glimpses of the mountains (when we weren’t climbing them in our tour bus). My joy came from the ocean and the harbors. Being from Kentucky, the Ohio River just doesn’t cut it…there’s nothing quite as raw and earthy, a serene yet dangerous form of Mother Nature, as the ocean.
When I returned to my hostel that evening, I read for a couple of hours and fell asleep early again.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve seen some magnificent countryside on my stay here. I’ve seen a million shades of green, heather on the mountains, farming lands spreading like blankets in the valleys, and the bodies of water reflecting beautiful skies above me…nothing prepared me for Dingle. I have no idea what possesses people to visit the Ring of Kerry–to flock in the hundreds each day to that area during tourist season–when right next door is the Dingle peninsula.
This place is surreal. The bus ride from Tralee (where I connected from Killarney to my Dingle bus) to Dingle had my eyes literally popping from my face. The further into the peninsula we drove, the more the clouds dissipated and the sun shone ever brighter. It sparkled off the valleys and peaks of Dingle like off emerald water. The farmlands spread in perfect squares dotted with little white fluffs of roving sheep, beneath periodic shadows of clouds. My face was pressed to the window for most of the ride, my mind unable to function in the face of such majesty.
The city of Dingle is just as charming. It’s a fishing port nestled with it’s harbor in a valley surrounded on all sides by lovely mountains. Each storefront and home brightly colored, the streets clean, the people friendly–this place, my friends, must be the Irish promised land. Words can not begin to tell what a perfect little wonder Dingle is, and pictures would do it no justice. Everyone should see this area at least once with their very own eyes, because nothing I write here could paint a picture even close to what I see.
I arrived here at noon today because of late bus times (another fallout of the off season). I checked into my hostel, which doesn’t feel like a hostel at all, it’s such a little dear of a place. It’s nothing but a cute house, more like a bed and breakfast.
I bought some groceries and made myself lunch at the hostel (Dingle, while beautiful, is expensive to eat or drink in). I walked along the water under bright sunny skies to the little aquarium. Everyone knows what an extreme passion I have for fish, lol. It wasn’t even half the size of Newport back home, but it was nice and had some well built exhibits. The Dingle aquarium has been successful in many conservation efforts being done in the area, and I spent quite a bit of time reading up on all they’ve managed. All in all, I had a good time.
I wandered the pier a bit, soaking in the mountains and the water. I visited Diseart, a convent in the town center with famed stained glass windows created by Harry Clarke. Though I’ve never heard of him, from the information sheet I was given, he’s done many famous windows in several European countries. I walked the streets and took pictures like a tourist before heading to the hostel to eat dinner and go to bed.