Day 4: Kerry, DIngle, Doolin….
Starting from Waterville, we began our travels around the Ring of Kerry bright and early today. We loved driving along in the cloud-heavy sky; it added to the atmosphere—kind of a Mists of Avalon experience.
Passing over the highest point on the Ring, Coomakista, we saw the stunning view of Ballinskelligs Bay and then traveled through the tiny villages of Caherdaniel and Castlecove.
Next, we passed the turquoise waters and golden beach of Derrynane and made our way towards Sneem. The town was once home to the famous “Casey Brothers,” world wrestling champions. The statue in the center of their town is of Steve “The crusher” Casey.
The picturesque villages of Parknasilla and Templenoe were next. Cole became a little tired of me saying as was we drove through each village, “Oh, look at all the painted houses! I love the colors.” But I did! Purple, electric blue, burgundy-colored houses dot the street in each Irish village. Very cool!
We stopped in Kenmare to walk around and shop. The town was full of charm and good coffee and scones!
On the last leg of the Ring we did not think it was possible to be wowed any more than we already had, but we were wrong. We pulled over to view the MacGillycuddy Reeks and the glaciated Black Valley.
And then, farther up, we stopped to admire the three Killarney Lakes, which are called the “Ladies’ View” in honor of Queen Victoria’s visit to Killarney in 1861.
The roads along the Kerry Ring were up and down and went around steep curves—the two-lane roads were so narrow that I insisted we hold our breath when we passed other cars; I felt very fortunate that traffic was unusually light. We only passed one tourist bus—they are huge and I swear it was so close Cole could have jumped onboard, gone to the bathroom and been back in our car before we completely inched past each other. The only other peril along the road was this naughty little sheep that was meandering along the highway without a care in the world, acting out the old saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” I could not resist yelling, “EWE go home right now!”
The ring ended at Killarney, and although it was miles out of our way decided we had to visit Dingle. I mean, really, who can resist visiting a place called Dingle? We were glad we took the side trip, the Dingle Peninsula is beautiful, with a plethora of green landscapes, rocky hills, long sandy beaches and staggering cliff edges.
We enjoyed a late lunch in the village of Dingle. It is a lovely little village with brightly painted houses and very hilly streets facing a harbor. Dingle is known for good food. The seafood lunch we had was good enough but very expensive. We decided to finish the rest of the peninsula and end up in Tralee. At least I think that is what we did. Beautiful, magical, and wonderful were all beginning to run together.
Remember, I turned map reading over to Cole on Day 1. Map reading—we do not have a GPS. I never looked at the map and never questioned Cole’s directions. We always got where we were going and you can bet we always traveled the scenic route. From time to time I did wonder why we were not following the big signs pointing us towards our destination, but Cole always assured me he had mapped out a better way and (of course) a shorter way. We may have missed an attraction or two or wasted some time traveling this way, but my main attraction was sitting on the passenger side of the car, proudly penning our route through Ireland.
Back in Tralee we took the scenic route towards Limerick. Please note it was still Friday around 5 p.m. and we had been viewing and driving wonderful, magical and beautiful since 7:30 a.m. Cole had routed us towards Limerick using his faster and more efficient route. I pointed at the highway signs towards Limerick, but he promised me his way would be much faster. I drove and Cole directed so I went his way. I did mention that I thought it was very mean to post large highway signs that directed travelers to take such a long and inefficient route, and Cole agreed with me. Just like any boy-man, Cole reassured me every long kilometer that we drove that really his was much shorter; when we backtracked through two towns his way was still shorter. (Someday he will have a kid and remember back…)
Limerick at last….
Our goal for a final destination was to stay as close to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare as we could; we planned to see the Cliffs first thing Sunday morning before we headed for Galway and then back to Dublin.
Cole told me we would be stopping for the evening in Ennis, a quaint but not magical little town built on the River Fergus. It was about 50 kilometers from Limerick traveling the straight and narrow. I was ready to stop for the night but figured I could handle 50 more kilometers…except when we reached Ennis, Cole said he really meant we were going to Ennistymon, which was about 20 more kilometers away. But the good news is, we were moving closer to the Cliffs. I told Cole to pull out the tour book and find us a place to stay in Ennistymon because that was where we were staying. My navigator learned to call a hotel and ask the right questions: Availability? Internet? Price? and then book a hotel room. We arrived in Ennistymon and I said, “Take me to our hotel.” Cole looked at his map and said, “Mom…The hotel is in Doolin, just a bit farther up the road. Maybe five kilometers.” I said, “You are kidding me” and he said, “No Doolin. But we will be closer to the Cliffs in the morning.” I started to laugh manically and let him live as I drove five more kilometers and pulled into our hotel for the night.
Today was a beautiful, magical, and wonderful day. Thanks for sharing our travel adventures as I muse around Ireland.