Wednesday, August 03, 2022

The Ring of Kerry, Plus Horse Farts in Killarney

The Ring of Kerry is to Ireland as the Road to Hana is to Maui. Both are major tourist attractions with breathtaking scenery and narrow roads featuring hairpin turns. Both are traveled by tourists in rented cars unfamiliar with the local landscape and road rules. Both are also populated with tour buses. Chad and I have traveled both the Ring of Kerry and the Road to Hana, because we're fancy. Okay, we're not terribly fancy, but we value shared experiences such as travel above material goods such as new luxury vehicles, an unnecessarily large house, jewelry, or a yacht. (Yes, we accepted an invitation to watch fireworks from a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom luxury yacht last year. We expressed gratitude to our lovely hosts, but that baller lifestyle is not for us. Also, the fancy yacht owners struggled to find a boat slip after being unceremoniously booted from their original dock by a new property owner. Thus proving the old adage: big yacht, big problems.)

Our tour group departed from Tralee early in the morning to set out for the Ring of Kerry. Our first stop, the Kerry Bog Village, modeled dwellings and daily life of eighteenth and nineteenth century rural Ireland. The quaint thatch roof homes and workshops were interesting to see and explore. Some of the structures house life size mannequins depicting the days of yore. The mannequins look a bit uncanny, one might even say creepy, so be forewarned. Chad and I got to meet some ginormous Irish Wolfhounds. Their ancestors hunted wolves, elk, and wild boar. Upon exiting the Kerry Bog Village, we funneled into the adjacent Red Fox Inn for a warming Irish coffee. Irish coffee consists of Irish whiskey, hot coffee, brown sugar, and a whipped cream topper. I enjoyed a few sips, but more than that seems like courting an instant and aggressive hangover, in my opinion. (Disclaimer: I find coffee too bitter for my tastebuds and too stimulating for my anxiety. Naturally Irish coffee would hold the same very limited appeal for me as any other kind of coffee.)

This guy had too much Irish coffee.

voted cutest couple Kerry Bog Village 

Our group got to meet Irish Wolfhounds.

After being chatted up by a friendly local who advised us of other pubs and bars along the road, Chad and I hopped back on the tour coach at the appointed time. Our tour group had a tight schedule to keep! After our stop at the Kerry Bog Village, the scenery got progressively more alluring. The peat bogs and scrub land gave way to rolling verdant hills, moody beaches, and charming towns. The Ring of Kerry is 111 miles/179 kilometers long winding road on the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. Our coach driver, Conor, knew all the best places to stop for panoramic vistas and photo opportunities, miles and miles of Instagram content!

magical vista with ocean, sky, and green hills

hills and sky, sky and hills

charming oceanside towns with row houses

one of many beautiful beaches on the Ring of Kerry

Our coach stopped in the sweet town of Sneem for lunch and general leg stretching. Chad and I had lunch at a little cafĂ©. We walked, and gawped at the cuteness of the place. We found a little food truck called Wholly Dough Doughnuts selling doughnuts and coffee. The truck parks on Church Street, just a few steps from the eponymous big church in town. The very friendly person working the doughnut truck talked with us about how the local church hosts a wedding every Saturday lately, due to all the weddings being postponed during the pandemic. We were there on a Saturday, and can confirm, a wedding was happening. 

Sneem's cute river

Sneem being so cute and colorful

Most every Irish person we encountered in Ireland was friendly. Many would say, "you're most welcome," when we entered their shops, restaurants, hotels, museums, etc. Many would chat with us in a relaxed and friendly fashion, without pretense or posturing. I really loved the vibe in most of the Irish places we experienced on our trip, and especially in the smaller towns and villages. 

Our tour group traveled through the rest of the Ring of Kerry and back to Killarney. Once there, our group split up to board three different jaunting cars for horse drawn wagon rides through a short section of Killarney National Park passing briefly by Ross Castle from some distance. Our fifteen year old  jaunting car driver described local flora and fauna, told a few corny jokes, and safely delivered us to a hotel in Killarney for our group dinner. The horse pulling our jaunting car was quite flatulent, farting in perfect rhythm with her strides. Honestly it was both impressive and amusing. However, I was grateful to be at the end of the jaunting car farthest from the horse's hind end. I wish we could have walked ourselves through some of Killarney National Park. I wish we could have actually explored Ross Castle. But as aforementioned, our tour group kept a tight schedule!

At this point in our trip, I caught up on sleep pretty well and operated on local time pretty well. When we were in Republic of Ireland from June 8 through June 16 of 2022, sunset happened around 10:00 PM on average, and sunrise happened around 5:15 AM on average. That's way too much daylight time! I've never been so very thankful for blackout curtains! 

You're most welcome back to this blog in less than ten days (hopefully?) for more Irish travelogue stuff.