Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Celtic Trip (Day 1) - Killarney, Ireland

Last year Mike and I travelled to Greece for our vacation. We chose that destination because he has some Greek in him and the prices looked really good for the off-peak time of year we were looking at.
Similarly, I have Irish in my background and for the end of Feb, beginning of March, the prices were fantastic.
We were a little worried about the time of year, because even during the best months it can rain every day or be very overcast. The luck of the Irish must have been with us, because we didn’t experience any rain! (ok, maybe a sprinkle but nothing I would count as rain)
Here’s how our trip went…..

On Feb 26th, a Saturday, we left Minneapolis to land in Dublin (via Atlanta). The flight went fine, albeit I had a kid directly behind me who kicked my seat a lot and I didn’t get any sleep. We landed in Dublin on Sunday morning, local time 6am. The plan was to rent a car and drive 3 hrs south/west to Killarney where we would be staying for 3 days.

I was a little worried about driving on the left hand side of the road…. and I heard sheep were a big problem. The teeny tiny rental car we got was stuffed with our suitcases and we started the drive. I made the first right hand turn fine and navigated the roundabouts (Europe’s way of controlling traffic instead of stop lights) The motorway down was fine. We really didn’t see too many sheep and were beginning to think we had just been fooled. Then our GPS system took us on a stop to Cashel.

“I see an Old Thing!” we cried as we rounded a smaller road and saw the abbey in the distance.

The Rock of Cashel is a castle converted to a chapel in the south of Tipperary Co. It was a very good introduction to the history in Ireland. There were lots of carvings and the high seat on top of the hill gave you a beautiful view of the town (pretty windy and loads of crows though!)

We stopped for brunch at a restaurant called Ryan’s Daughter. They had a wonderful Irish Breakfast, with sausage, beans, eggs, ham, toast, and black and white puddings! Wow, are those puddings good! If you ever have the chance to have them, do. Don’t ask what’s in it. If you don’t like it, then it doesn’t matter what’s it’s made of and if you do like it, then it doesn’t either :)

On the remainder of the trip to Killarney the roads started getting smaller. Only two lanes and on either side there was a rock wall right to the side of the two foot shoulder. I was getting pretty jet lagged at this point, so I honestly don’t remember much except that we were going fast, Mike was a little scared and I didn’t hit anything.

The town of Killarney is much bigger than I had pictured. Lots of tall squished looking buildings. We had originally booked at the Arbutus Hotel, but due to a death in the family, we were re-booked to the Killarney Royal Hotel. It was very nice, the staff helpful and a great location.

Driving in we saw a big rain cloud passing our destination. We parked the car with a light drizzle drifting down. By the time we checked the parking the clouds had past and bright sun came out. In the car park we got stuck a bit because some angry local couldn’t get the parking meter to work. He started pounding on it and yelling to get his change back out. One of the funniest things ever.

The town sits next to Killarney National Park, which is 26,000 acres of land and water. So after we got settled in the hotel we put on some walking shoes and checked it out.

There are tons of beautiful streams, fields, lakes, and trails in the area. All accessible from the down town area.

We walked out towards Ross Castle and passed some deer which were looking a little haggard from the winter. I seriously thought this one guy (with the single horn) was going to charge me.

We made it out of the woods just fine and saw the castle. Very pretty with the setting sun.

Walking back, the green mossy woods were still and silent. Later that night we got some pub food and of course, beers. Pictures to follow later…. Still getting through the 400ish photos on the 3 cameras we had :)

Edit: some extra photos from the meal of Fish Pie and Steak Stew:

Out in downtown Killarney

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