Day 7 - Ireland and my last full day
Today is my last day in Ireland. I got up this morning way earlier than any other morning. My body must know it’s my last full day in Ireland so it thought I should be up and ready to go. I have my clothes all folded and sitting on the table along with the few gifts I picked up. They are all ready to be packed.
I drove into town this morning just so I could put gas in the car or petrol as they say in Ireland. By the way, they use diesel here. I am off to locate an old Catholic Church and who knows what else.
It’s 12:30 Irish time and I just sat down to a pint of Smithwick’s.
I located the ruin of a church. It’s called Killowen Church of Kenmare or was when it was around. I have never seen anything so sad.
Not a fan of cemeteries, I was shocked when I walked up to the church and found a graveyard.
Before I knew it, I was standing in the middle of a cemetery. For a woman like me, a woman who went into a cemetery for the first time just this past summer, that is not a good thing.
I wanted to bolt, but instead I braved the feelings of helplessness and sadness and walked along the gravel path that someone built into the cemetery. Thank goodness for that gravel path, otherwise, yours truly would probably still be rooted to that same spot.
I took pictures of headstones, some of which were new and some so old that you could no longer read the names engraved and even more photos of grave sites that were indiscernible. Some of the sites had been so disturbed by nature, time, and who knows what else, it was as if they had been opened and be careful where you step as you may fall in. SHIVER!
I actually walked into the church ruin. It was beautiful and gloomy all at the same time. Made you wonder about the people that had attended church there in the past. Did they travel from the next town over or did they live here in Kenmare? What did they do for a living? Did they manage a farm or work in some other industry?
The parish of Kenmare was combined with neighbouring parishes at an early period in both the established Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic church.
The old parish church at Killowen, on the Kilgarvan road, was replaced by a new structure in 1814. This is now a ruin in the graveyard there. St. Patrick's Church, which replaced Killowen, was consecrated in 1858.
On my way back, I passed a Kenmare golf course that I know my father would love to play on. Gorgeous grounds!
When I hiked back into town, I was surprised by all the hustle and bustle. I learned that people come out and that Kenmare starts to wake up for tourist season the day after St. Patrick’s celebration.
Now I am enjoying lunch for the last time in Ireland. No breakfast so I am starving, but I went to The Coachman’s and ordered a house salad with curry yogurt dressing and brown bread. Brown bread. What can I say about it other than – delicious. Very light and fantastic – Just what I need to keep going.
I have some more walking, weather, and scenery to enjoy before I return to the cottage to pack for my trip home.
I did not leave the pub after lunch and go back to the cottage. As I left Coachman’s and started to walk toward the pier all the sudden there was this honking on the street and someone shouted my name.
Wait a minute! I don’t know anyone in Ireland.
My UK friends, John and Linda were driving down Henry Street and shouting for me. They pulled over and got out. It was as if I ran into longtime friends. They had just been talking about me and wondered if I survived my 38 kilometer walk and made it back alive and then there I was in my blue Gore-Tex and backpack, and funny blonde hair walking down the road. Just like they found me two days before.
I wish I had a picture of John and Linda, but I do have a picture of Moll's Gap.
Moll's Gap is named after Moll Kissane.
Moll's Gap is a pass on the road from Kenmare to Killarney. On the Ring of Kerry route, with views of the Macgillycuddy's Reeks mountains, the area and its shop and retaurant is a panoramic spot where you can see the rocks at Moll's gap are formed of Old Red Sandstone.
They packed me into their SUV and hauled me off to Moll’s Gap for lunch. Since I had just eaten, they ate and I drank a Coke, but all three of us chatted. Afterwards, they returned me to where they found me, we exchanged contact information and they invited me to stay at their vacation cottage the next time I go to Ireland. How cool is that?
OH! Linda had read the first chapter of Never Tempt Danger and liked it so far. She said, “It started off with a bang.”
I went back to the cottage and packed and at half five (that’s 5:30 American speak) I walked back into town to pick up a print of Gleninchaquin from Eoghan. The numbered and signed photograph is my treat to myself for walking that wicked long (38+ kilometer/26 mile) hike two days ago. My legs are still mad at me for it.
My last dinner in Ireland was at Casey’s. A place recommended by my UK friends and the owner of Skyline Gallery. It consisted of a pint of Guinness and unbelievably the best dang vegetable soup and Caesar salad I have ever had. The vegetable soup did not consist of a bunch of vegetables in broth, it was literally pureed vegetable soup and very tasty. I ate the entire bowl!
The Caesar salad was unique because it not only had pan-fried chicken on top, but there was good Irish bacon on top as well. No, I could not eat the entire salad, but not for lack of want.
Now that I have fed myself on Guinness it is time to go back to my cottage, finish packing, and get some sleep before my long flight home tomorrow.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Day 7 - Ireland and my last full day
Day 6 Ireland – St. Patrick’s Day!!
Oh my freaking gosh -- My legs, arse, feet, and bum are KILLING me!
Good thing I did my 38 kilometer walk yesterday as today is not as warm or sunny. But it's still beautiful and it is still nice enough to get out and do a little gift shopping for family and friends. This is the pier outside my cottage on the afternoon of St. Patrick's Day.
I came up with a marvelous idea for my mother’s Irish gift. I bought some Irish linen placemats from a wonderful little shop called The White Room. Now I know a placemat doesn’t sound exciting, but these are just beautiful, plus with her quilting talent, I think she should make a quilt out of them. Don’t you think?!
My father is still a handkerchief man (no Kleenex for him) so from the same store I got him a couple of Irish linen hankies. They should last him at least until I get back to Ireland for my next vacation.
After a little shopping (I finished all my shopping in one day)…OH! Contrary to popular belief, the Irish do celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. . .just not the all day and out of control way that we do.
They close shops, shut down streets, and have parades. I should say some towns do this. Killarnery had a parade, but Kenmare did not. They don’t celebrate it like we do in the states with green painted faces and green beer, but all the pubs open up. Many are closed for the winter months and open on St. Patrick’s Day for their tourist season, which starts the day after St. Patrick’s Day. But there is great music in the pubs that doesn’t start until about 10 PM and of course, great pints of beer.
As I write this, I am sitting in Foley’s pub eating Guinness pie and drinking a pint of Guinness soon to be a pint of Smithwick’s thanks to a gentleman’s suggestion and chatting with a bartender by the name of Kathleen from Australia.
One of the advantages of staying at my Stone Cottage is the close proximity to town. I went to three of the pubs in town and had a pint in each one to toast the holiday and my vacation. It is so much fun to listen to Irish music. Some of the words to the songs are hysterical and you can’t help but laugh as you tap your foot to the upbeat music.
In one bar there was a single man performing funny tunes and keeping everyone laughing, while at the other two pubs I visited there was a trio of musicians. Either way, you couldn't go wrong.
I picked up two CDs of Irish pub music and a couple of music books to learn the songs.
I didn’t get drunk. . .I had just enough to feel the Irish flowing through my veins and to enjoy the dark, chilly walk back to the cottage.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Day 5 Ireland –
It is a wee bit more frosty out this morning. The car was actually covered in frost along with the grass and anything that sat outside all night long. The nip in the air made my ears bright red on my walk into Kenmare, but there’s nothing like the smell of cow dung to clear the sinuses and open your lungs to the fresh air of the Irish countryside.
This morning I could not decide whether to pack up the car and take a drive to Dingle or try to walk part of the Kenmare Way. I decided that since it was looking like a gorgeous sunny day ahead to walk into town, have breakfast, and if I can figure out this Walker’s Guide to the Kenmare Way then I will hike the 15 kilometers to Inchaquin Lakes/Waterfall and then another 6 kilometers through a valley in the Caha Mountains. Part way through this trek is a stone circle and at the end is the waterfall.
But before I go there, I must get food and hydrate.
This morning I had a breakfast bap. “What’s a bap?” you ask.
A bap is a light, floury, soft roll. A breakfast bap has egg or ham or sausage and maybe an egg or cheese if you want. I went with the Irish bacon, egg and cheese bap.
Cross my fingers that my calves and shins survive this hike. Yikes! After yesterday’s long walks, it’s iffy.
On my way to Gleninchaquin I had to cross over Our Lady's Bridge, which was constructed in 1932-1933 to replace the original suspension bridge that went up in 1841.
Near the bridge is some type of park where they probably hold concerts. I believe that based on the stone sculptures standing in this spot as well as the rockwall benches that are spread out.
After crossing over the bridge the rest of the LONG walk is on a narrow road that parallels the river. It's a peaceful walk except for fear of some car coming around the corner and smashing into you.
Actually, the drivers are very used to hikers walking this road. There are even signs telling drivers to be cautious of walkers. As a matter of fact, I have never waved to so many people in my life.
Whenever a car saw me they would move over and then wave as they passed me. Isn't that a nice gesture? Seriously! Every car that drove by yours truly waved.
As part of this walk I actually ended up on the Beara Peninsula. Cool! Check out the sign to the left. The Beara Peninsula is a peninsula on the south-west coast of Ireland, bounded between the Kenmare "river" to the north side and Bantry Bay to the south. It has two mountain ranges running down its center: the Caha Mountains and the Slieve Miskish Mountains.
I was headed toward the valley of the Caha Mountains.
I saw a black sheep for the first time ever on my walk in the Gleninchaquin park. Yes, I took pictures.
The walk was long but pretty.
Gleninchaquin Park has breath-taking landscapes and scenery. You walk around and through beautiful streams, mountain paths, rock passages, along glens and lakes to higher altitude all framed by the Killarney McGillicuddy Reeks along the horizon.
The walk through the park was quiet except for the sheep I ran into and the occasional car that drove through. I would so not want to drive through the park. It was almost worse than Kerry Way.
There are these beautiful blue lakes in the middle of all the brown land and rock.
I ran into another hiker and we chatted for a few minutes before I walked down far enough to see the waterfall. Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a falls due to the fact that they hadn't had a lot of rain. It was more of a trickle.
On my walk to the park, I stopped at a pier to give my legs a break and met a very nice couple whose names are Linda and John from England originally but now live in Ireland.
They were the sweetest couple who thought for certain I was nuts to want to walk that far. They insisted that they drive me to the opening of the park so my 40+ kilometer walk was cut short a couple of kilometers. Linda and John even invited me in for coffee to their place, but since I was working against time and sunlight, I had to take a pass.
They gave me their phone number in case I found myself too tired to return to the cottage by foot. As my way of thanks, I gave the couple a copy of NEVER TEMPT DANGER. I loved their reaction.
“You’re not the Denise Robbins, are you?”
I did survive my 38+ kilometer walk. BARELY!
By the time I walked back into Kenmare, or maybe I should say waddled into town, all I wanted was food and drink and to put my feet up. The bad part is I left my car at the cottage so I still had a ways to go.
I decided very wisely that if I sat down with a pint of Guinness that I would never get up and make it back to the cottage. So I stopped at the only Chinese restaurant in town and ordered Take-away. Take-away means to-go.
I managed to make it back to the cottage before dropping and then I scarfed down the worst chicken with garlic sauce I have ever eaten. By that time though, who the heck cares. I only had breakfast and walked over 26 miles. I needed sustenance.
Day 4 Ireland –
Day 4 in Ireland was a busy exploration day.
I woke to sunshine and frost on the ground. I slipped my bare feet into hiking boots, picked up my camera, and walked out to the back patio and took pictures of the sun shining over the mountains and the crystal sleeping on the grass. Peaceful and beautiful.
This morning I took the long route into Kenmare Town Centre, which is about 2.2 kilometers. It was less scenic, but the sun was shining and I did see a sheep farm up on a hill. I managed to get a few distant shots of sheep roaming or grazing. See the little specks in the background? Those are sheep.
In town, I stopped in at Café Mocha for breakfast. This morning I had a fried egg, bacon, and cheese on a croissant and a coke to drink. I will say that you know how everyone says a Guinness in Ireland tastes better than anywhere in the world…well, a cold Coke tastes better in the states better than any place else. I have had two cokes since I’ve been here and both times it tasted a little funny. I checked and it’s bottled in Ireland. Must be the water. :-)
I have my cameras packed and after breakfast, I am heading out to find some picturesque places Eoghan from the Skyline Gallery recommended to visit.
Well, I found one place that Eoghan recommended called The Pier and The Sound, an inlet off the Kenmare River. On this area of water is an old boat that I took some great pictures of.
This place was so beautiful on a sunny day, I could have stayed there all day just soaking in the rays.
On my walk back into town I found an old church called St. Patrick's Church, Church of Ireland. St. Patrick's Church was dedicated in 1858 and replaced the old ruin church called Killowen Church that was built in 1811.
Look how beautiful this hundred plus year old church looks.I mean look at the detail on the windows and how the roof line matches the design. I'm in awe of such work!
I walked back into town and decided to play tourist by doing a little shopping. Very little. I found a little shop called The White Room that specializes in old world Irish linen and run by a lovely woman named Sheila.
I swear to you the first words she said to me were, “You’re from America then?”
She heard my accent. Then we chatted a little over a few things and she asked if I was of Irish descent. She said, “You look Irish.”
HA! She could have no idea how that made me feel. All warm and fuzzy inside. Especially since I’ve been doing family research ad know that at least two branches come from some part of Ireland.
Sheila and I ended up chatting for quite some time about this and that and then I gave her a copy of one of my books. Of course, then we talked some more.
On my walk back to the cottage, I stopped and bought a small lime green bucket filled with a rose bush from a woman on the street and then walked the short route to the cottage.
After a short rest, I trekked back into town on foot and did some more exploring. This time I found a small bookshop where a bought a book of Irish superstitions and a walking map of The Kerry Way.
Guess what I will be doing tomorrow? That is if my legs survive. Today was a huge walking day for me. I did at least nine or ten miles between the trips from and to the cottage on top of the exploring.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Day 3 Ireland –
Day 3 of my Ireland vacation I decided to play tourist. After cleaning up and blowing up my hair dryer (good hair was just not meant to be on this vacation), I got in my car and drove to Killarney. I walked around the town centre and the first thing that caught my eye was a place called Murphy’s Bar. There was a gentleman out front cleaning the windows and door.
It caught my eye because that is the last name of my new heroine. I passed it by and went my merry way visiting a bunch of shops and then wound my way back to Murphy’s.
At that point, I asked the gentleman if he minded if I took a picture of the pub. He answered, “Make it a good one.”
Then I went inside and learned more about the pub and how it opened in 1955 by a man named John Murphy. After I left Murphy’s I wandered the town some more until I came across a shop that served hot cocoa. I got it to go then got in my car to drive part of The Ring of Kerry and visit the Killarney National Forest Park.
I got some great pictures there! Take a look.
Let me tell you...the scenic route of the Kerry Way is more like a trip into white-knuckle driving. The narrow roads are death-defying.
You're either driving on the inside near the rock wall and any minute may end up smashed against its side or you're driving on the edge and may meet your maker in a tumble down a cliff. Not kidding! Beautiful scenery, but hair-raising drive.
I drove the narrow and windy road of the Ring of Kerry until I got to Moll’s Gap. I paused there for a quick stop into a little shop then was on my windy way again.
Back in Kenmare, I parked the car at the cottage then was back to walking into town where I watched a man cutting stone for a rock wall. I never knew how they did that.
OH! And the top of their rock walls that they build now are different than I have ever seen. They place the stones standing up on the top. I should have asked why they do that, but check out the picture.
On the way into town, I took a side detour, found a way up to Cromwell’s Bridge, and actually walked over it. HA! That was way cool and no simple feat. Very steep getting down and very little space for footing. I wonder how they did that back in the days of people actually using the bridge?
I walked back to Stone Circle this afternoon and yes! It was open. I left my 2 Euros and went in. I don’t know, I guess expected to feel the energy. I’ve visited other places like this and the vibrations or energy you feel or I felt was overwhelming. I walked into the center of the circle and never felt a thing. Kind of bummed.
This Bronze Age Stone Circle is reputed to be one of the largest remaining examples in the South West of Ireland.
The Kenmare Stone Circle is actually an oval (which is unusual, most are round) With 15 Stones in the circle and a boulder dolmen in the centre, which has an impressive capstone weighing about 7 tons. The Circle has been thought to have been orientated toward the setting sun.
Stone Circles were often aligned to specific solar, lunar and celestial events. Archaeologists believe that these events may have been linked to the rituals and ceremonies performed at the circles.
I’m sitting at Davitt’s Restaurant and Pub having an amazing Irish Burger with first a pint of Murphy’s and now a Guinness.
Shhh! Don’t tell the guys I work with but they were right, Guinness is much better over here than I would have ever guessed. Even the waitress said there is a difference in drinking Guinness in Ireland than from tap anywhere else in the world. I believe she may be right.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Day 2 Ireland –
I had hoped Day 2 of Ireland would turn out much better than Day 1, but that was not the case. After spending a good ten minutes trying to figure out the shower, I did manage to get a hot shower. Thank goodness! I should have stayed in it.
When I went to plug in my Euro to US power strip, it didn’t work. The adapters I brought didn’t work. Then when I said, “Screw it, I’ll just use my converter for my laptop”…that was the biggest mistake of all. Plugging in the hair dryer blew the converter!!
I yelled, “Are you kidding me? Do I look like I need this crap?”
Did the heavens above really think I would be happy with this morning’s fiasco?
Talk about bad hair day! All I can say is, “At least I’m clean.”
Well, no UK plug nor the heavens above are going to put a halt to this disastrous start to a trip. I got dressed, packed my backpack, got into my broken car, and promptly got lost. I wish I were kidding.
No tears, just hysterical laughter at this point. I mean, seriously, this could only happen to me.
I managed to get myself unlost then found the center of Kenmare. I parked, got out of the car, and stopped at the first open door, which happened to be a superette. The clerk was friendly and helpful.
“Yes!” They had power adapters. “Bummer!” Only one of them worked. I swear the fates are against me.
Having solved that issue, I walked part way around town until I came to a small breakfast place that was actually open, called Prego.
Inside, I had Prego Toast and Irish bacon. Both were excellent! Thank goodness. The Prego Toast was the restaurant’s version of French Toast made with some kind of special bread and grilled in olive oil. The bacon was a cross between a slice of bacon and a small slice of ham, only you can’t cut it with a knife. Very salty and very good.
In the afternoon, I decided to venture out by foot. I walked the 1.5 kilometers on the tiny road from my cottage into Kenmare Town Center and ventured around the tidy town.
I did manage to see Cromwell’s Bridge. Sounds kind of like a funny attraction and it is. But it’s a rock bridge. Wait until you see the picture. Fascinating!
The bridge had nothing to do with Cromwell. The name originates from the Gaelic word for moustache. It's hard to imagine that a stone arch can survive all that time but it has.
I wonder how they got all those rocks to stay in place while they built the bridge?
I was told that both banks would have been built up with earth and gravel to make it easier to traverse it.
After venturing out for a while, I popped into a little shop where I bought a couple of books on folk songs and ballads popular in Ireland. Guess what I will be learning to sing?
Then I wandered in to the Wander Inn and had a cup of hot cocoa. A quaint little pub owned and operated by a woman who busts her tail waiting on all the drunkards and visitors while rugby or cricket plays on the gigantic televisions all around. If you’re looking for a quiet place to visit…this is not it. It's a place to talk and watch sports, and maybe play a game of pool.
Now that I was warmed up again, I went out for another hike and found another old ruin called Hutchins' Folly. Hutchins' Folly, according to the sign posted nearby, was built by an American to commemorate the battle of Bunker Hill. Are we not funny people or what?
After my picture tour of Hutchins' Folly, I stopped in a gallery called the Skyline Gallery and met the owner and photographer named Eoghan, pronounced Owen. Very nice man with great pictures. I tried to convince him to come down to the stone cottage and take pictures of the river from there. We’ll see if it works. I’d buy one of those.
OH! On my walk back to the stone cottage in a little drizzle, I heard a gunshot. Talk about jump out of my hiking boots. My guess is that someone just shot an Irish cow. There are signs on a local butcher shop in town saying they age their Kenmare beef 21 days. SHIVER!
Monday, March 21, 2011
I told my father before I left for my first real vacation in over ten years, to my first vacation in Ireland that I was going to Ireland and was going to fall in love.
Not with a man, but with the country.
It wasn’t love at first sight, it was gradual. The affair didn’t start out on a great note. In fact, I wanted to turn tail and fly back home the same night I arrived. But I didn’t. I stuck it out and day after day my fondness grew to adoration, to affection and then to love.
I couldn’t get enough of the countryside of Kenmare, Ireland. I wanted to spend every waking minute outside soaking in the feel and I did. As the days passed I found myself waking up earlier and earlier. Unable to sit still and stay inside I would clean up and dress and the minute I put my hiking boots on I was out my green cottage door.
I saw the land in its shades of wheat and green, gray and blue. I walked the narrow roads to wherever my heart felt like going or the land felt like leading. I smelled the cow dung, heard the cock cock-a-doodle-doodling, let the crisp air kiss my cheeks.
From my little piece of Ireland, I saw mountains with snow, rocky hills covered in dry grass, and a tidal river that would be low in the mornings only to return in the afternoons and fill up her inlets with treasures from the sea.
I explored ruins older than any I have ever seen with a history meant to be discovered and shared. I walked narrow roads that abutted rock walls or farms or even cliffs. As I hiked and explored, I questioned who was here before me. What did they do? How had they lived? Did they love the land? Where did they go?
With each day, my heart grew larger, my love grew stronger, and I found myself longing. Longing for a little piece of Ireland, of Kenmare. Longing to stay.
I thought it would be the water, the river that would draw me in, but it was the people. Both now and past. It was the day I discovered the old church ruin that I realized I was in love. The day I accidentally walked into a graveyard and stopped dead in my tracks.
The feelings and emotions that swept through me as I strolled past headstones and stood in the old church tower were overwhelming. The words that passed through my mind were, “You’re home.” And I was. For whatever reason that day, I walked into a place I would not voluntarily walk into and I tumbled head over heels in love.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I recently took a trip to Kenmare, Ireland and thought I would share thr trip with you. I'm going to share the pain, the fun, and the images of where I went and what I did. Stay tuned for more to come!
Day 1 Ireland –
After a very long trip and no sleep, I arrived at the Cork airport a little late with snow coming down. SNOW!
Nothing like New England snow, more like a drizzle of snowflakes. By the time I got into my rental car the weather had turned to a sunny rain. As I drove almost two hours to Kenmare on the left side of the road the first thing I noticed were the Daffodils popping up in giant patches of yellow along the road. These weren’t in someone’s yard. They were on the side of the road. It looked like spring everywhere.
Everything was going along smoothly until I had to drive through some tiny town where the two-lane road really should have been a one-lane road when cars are parked on both sides.
Here is where my passenger-side mirror slammed against a parked car’s mirror. It wasn’t until I had the living crap scared out of me that I noticed that most parked cars turned their mirrors inward. Apparently, for just such incidents. Good to know.
Oh! And just because a road looks only narrow enough to fit one car going one way, don't believe that's how the Irish use their roadways. As I drove down the narrow, one-lane road that led to the stone cottage, I practically ran headlong into another car coming at me. Holy cow! Talk about give a girl a heart attack.
Lucky for me the young man that almost took me out took pity on me and backed his car up until he found someone's drive and pulled in so I could pass. Yes, this is a regular occurrence on many of the roads in Ireland. At least where I have been so far.
Note to self and anyone else every traveling to Ireland...rent the smallest car you can possibly get. Think mini-Cooper or clown car.
Here is a picture of the stone cottage's front door. Notice the green paint color. Almost every door in Ireland is painted a different color than the surrounding neighbors.
I arrived at the cottage at 2 PM Ireland time and waited for the caretaker to show. The caretaker, a very nice gentleman by the name of Raymond, brought some daffodils with him to put in a glass and set them on the dining room table that overlooks the bay.
Raymond gave me instructions on how to turn things on and off. I had to flip a switch to use an outlet or turn the stove or microwave on. Interesting.
The cottage wasn’t as quaint and cozy as what I had hoped, but the view was fantastic. Water, birds, mountains. Breathtaking!
I made it into town, found my first pub called O'Donnabhains and had my first Guinness with Irish Stew. The Guinness wasn’t bad…This coming from a girl who is very fond of IPAs. The stew was excellent and too filling. Unlike our stews where everything is cut up into tiny bites, this place served it with half potatoes in the center, big slices of carrots, and chunks of meat that fell apart at the touch. Yummy!
After my walk and brief tour of Kenmare, I returned to the cottage my first night, curled up under a blanket in the living area with the gas fire in the fireplace going and read until my eyes and my body finally gave out. I am too old to stay awake for 48 hours, but not too old to enjoy doing it.
I hope you'll stop in tomorrow for more pictures and tales of my trip to a beautiful country with friendly people.