Avid readers may recall (probably not) that on last year’s visit to the Ring of Kerry we had some of the worst weather of our entire program. Although Ireland can be atmospheric on a gloomy day, the Ring loses a lot when you can’t see the scenic vistas and beautiful landscapes that are its main attractions. The Ring is a 176km/111-mile circular tourist route in County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland. It takes you through medieval towns, historic landmarks, and some of the most beautiful scenery in this generally beautiful country. And this time around we could actually see it all, thanks to blue skies and so much sunshine that several of us got sunburned.
Our home base was the Castlerosse Hotel, where we arrived Thursday afternoon/evening for dinner and some time to relax before setting off Friday morning. I love the Castlerosse. The rooms are comfy, the food is good, and the view can’t be beat:
Driving the Ring of Kerry makes me laugh a little because it’s exactly the kind of thing I’d have hated as a kid. I’m a little sorry my parents will never get to see it. They were always interested in a “scenic drive.” Our first stop was the Kerry Bog Village, a recreation of an 19th-century village of turf-cutters:
We went on to visit and revel in all the most gorgeous places on the Ring. Along the way we got to meet some extremely cute animals. Enterprising locals have figured out that the only thing better than a scenic view is a scenic view where you can pet a goat or hold a baby lamb. Our students took every opportunity. [Even I held a puppy for a minute–but only because it was about to run out into a parking lot.]
This is Waterville, where Charlie Chaplin once lived and the Chaplin family still owns property:
This is the place I only know as the “Viewing Point.” On a day like yesterday you could see to the Skelligs and look for Luke Skywalker on Skellig Michael:
Our next stop was Darrynane, where Daniel O’Connell was born. O’Connell is a major figure in Irish history: he was a campaigner for Catholic emancipation and Irish independence. One of the main streets in Dublin is now named after him. He also lived next to a gorgeous beach. You only have to look at this country to understand why the Irish wanted to govern it independently.
Our last stop of the day was the Ladies’ View, so called because Queen Victoria and her ladies-in-waiting decided that it was the highlight of the Ring of Kerry. I do not feel prepared to differ with Her Majesty.
When I write it out this all seems a little abbreviated or rushed. The Ring of Kerry is definitely something to see for yourself. There’s more than is possible to photograph and it’s even a little hard to describe. Being immersed in it is the best way to go.
Today (Saturday) we made our way back to Waterford via Blarney Castle. I am a fan of the outside of Blarney Castle. I’ve never been inside and never kissed the Blarney Stone. It just photographs so well:
We are now back in Waterford to catch our breath, wash our clothes, and go to our classes for a couple of days before we head out again. We’ll leave for Dublin on Tuesday afternoon.