Posted by: Marcie Miller | May 15, 2010

We drove the Gap of Dunloe and didn’t even get a T-shirt

Chris at "Lady's View," overlooking the lakes of Killarney.

It’s been a few days since our last post because the day before there wasn’t much to say and yesterday we were too busy. But now we are sitting in a cafe while our laundry is being done. We spent some time this morning looking around Killarney for a U.S.-style laundromat, but none were to be found. Things are more labor intensive here, which is good because they need the jobs. We gave our laundry to a man in a launderette with the promise that it will be done in an hour and a half.

After a gloriously sunny day for the trip to Skellig Michael, we awoke the next day to steady rain and very low visibility. We drove around the Ring of Kerry anyway, since we had to get to Killarney. Besides, we already had the best view you could hope for the day before.

After a brief stop in Kenmare for lunch we got to Killarney around 4, and hit a crush of traffic squeezing through the eye of the needle into town. The traffic patterns here are ridiculous. With so many old buildings they can’t widen the roads that were built for pony carts – not huge tour buses! AND they still have the pony carts – a popular tourist attraction.

We chose Killarney because I wanted to show Chris beautiful Killarney National Park, and do a little hiking. But with my knee still wobbly, that plan was off the table. Instead we drove a narrow, winding road that funnels through a valley, or “gap,” called “The Gap of Dunloe,” visited a restored estate house and a restored castle.

We started the day with our first “full Irish breakfast” featuring black pudding (this is code for blood sausage).  Chris showed real courage here.  If  you are curious, it is not as bad as you might think.

Chris eating black pudding - aka blood sausage - gearing up for haggis.

We started the Gap road from the top, winding down into the valley, passing walkers, pony carts, cyclists and a few cars. Tour buses are not allowed, for good reason – the road is barely wide enough for one car, with very few turnouts.  Chris took a few videos of the road while I was driving, which we might post on facebook.

Gap of Dunloe - scary but worth it.

We stopped by Lord Brandon’s Cottage to take in the sights.  Again, Marcie was locked out and unable to reach the tower.  Actually, the manicured “gardens” were a stark contrast to the wild gap of Dunloe.

ANOTHER feckin' locked castle.

We stopped at a cafe known as “Kate Kearney’s Cottage” where we noticed an evening event benefiting the local girls stepdancing troupe.  We bought tickets to return in the evening, more about that later.

On the way back into town we stopped at two of the biggest tourist attractions in town, Muckross House and Ross Castle. Muckross was restored at probably an astronomical price, but was a good look into a house that was used up to the 1930s. The original owners spent six years preparing for a two day visit by Queen Victoria in 1862, which ended up bankrupting them and they had to sell the house.  The antiques were incredible, many of them made by craftsman in the local area, as well as imported from afar.

Ross Castle was the other end of the spectrum, built in the late 14oos, and restored after falling into ruin. It’s not as big as Blarney, but a good look inside a “real” castle, and much easier on the legs. The rebuilt timbered roof was an amazing feat of workmanship, with hand-hewn and pegged oak timbers.

Ross castle, one of the major tourist attractions in Killarney. And it was open!

They might be giants...or not.

For dinner we chose to go Indian again – Irish food just isn’t that exciting. After dinner we headed back to Kate Kearney’s Cottage, where the crowd was gathering for the stepdancing fundraiser. There was only one other group of tourists there, very low key.  The musician played “real” Irish music – a keyboard with full sound effects playing ultra-smarmy music. It was painful. But finally the girls came out, and they were gorgeous.

Before the dance they had been teetering around the bar on high heels, looking very grown up – or trying to. In their dance costumes they all looked about 12. Sorry, no pics. 😦

LATER TODAY

Had to go get our laundry, then headed to Bunratty, our final stop of the “tour.” Bunratty Castle is a major tourist trap, but when Mom and I stopped here last time we were surprised to find it was actually pretty cool. The castle tour takes you inside a restored medieval castle, which you certainly don’t see in America! They even let you go up in the crenalated towers to the roof. What a view!

Tomorrow we fly out – 😦  on RyanAir to Edinburgh. Having major problems trying to stick to the massive RyanAir restrictions though: no luggage over 14.35 Kilos, unless it’s Tuesday, or if they feel like it. It actually says over weight charges can vary randomly. WTF!

Here’s some pics. Hope there are more than three of you reading this – it’s a lot of work! A comment or two would be nice….(except Nancy – she’s awesome at that).

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Responses

  1. Well, since none of my fingers is broken, I had best show my appreciation for your hard work. The pictures are glorious and I am sure nothing like what your eyes are getting. I am loving the running narrative and it makes me appreciate my elevator, the wide roads and especially my comfy bed. ;-D

    I am looking forward to Scotland. I am also hoping that your knee gets better and someone elses back isn’t in danger of an urge to toss logs in the air.

    Enjoy!
    Gillian

  2. My comment is just to say that I am in awe of all you are able to see and do in the limited time you have. Talk about a whirlwind tour. I guess that’s why they invented cameras. You need a record to remember all the great stuff. Hope you were able to get some shots inside the castles. Can’t wait to see next week’s installment! Love—Mom

  3. Ahh, such memories yet again. We saw some (all?) of those castles. As for the black “pudding,” I’m a vegetarian and I ate some, just to be as Irish as possible. But I didn’t like it. At all.

    Looking forward to your Scottish posts. Never been there!

  4. Sounds like you’re having fun! Too bad about the volcano but sounds like you are faring well regardless! Sammy says hi! I think he misses you guys because I’ll see him sitting at your bedroom door staring randomly. 🙂 I can’t believe how friendly he is though! He seems like he is always purring. I look forward to hearing how seeing “Chris'” castle goes! Your adventures are making my feet itch!


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