From Galway we headed out towards Dunguaire Castle – which ended up being the first castle we went inside! It sits on a bay, and the mild weather turned foggy on us pretty quick. It was worth the look, and Padre really liked it!
Our next stop was actually not planned (*GASP*). We saw a sign for Caherconnell Stone Fort and Padre said “shall we?” and so we did! Poulnabrone Dolmen was conveniently located on the way, and I’m so glad we stopped – it was really interesting! The limestone formations around the area were beautiful, and the construction of the portal tomb itself (final resting place for at least 21 people) was fascinating!Poulnabrone Dolmen
Just down the road a short ways was Caherconnell Stone (Ring) Fort. They have a lovely parking lot, a very nice cafe and gift shop, sheepdog herding demonstrations, and audio guides of the Fort. We decided to do the tour solo (using the provided pamphlet), and made our way around the archeological site, learning as we went. They are still in the process of excavating different areas, and have found a lot of really interesting stuff here!
Before we move on to the next stop, I have a confession to make. I saw this crazy cute cottage everywhere when I was doing my Ireland research. There were these colorful buildings side by side, one with a thatched roof, and I so badly wanted to take a picture of them myself (google or pinterest “doolin”- you’ll see). Thinking back, it is SO silly. I tell you this so you’ll understand why we found ourselves in Doolin for lunch. It’s a little out of the way, but it’s SUPER cute! Lunch was at McGann’s Pub- DELICIOUS- which was by this cute creek (I loved all the stone work, I couldn’t help myself, I had to take a picture!)
IT WAS INSANELY BUSY DOWN THERE BY THE CUTE BUILDING. So, the picture I got – after dragging my new-ish fancy-ish camera (and Padre and Gene) all the way down to Doolin – was taken by Gene, from his Iphone in the back seat of the moving car. I was honestly, a little disappointed. But how SILLY is that! It taught me a little about Instagram-itis and how I was viewing the world. For the rest of the trip I tried to think less about the photo-ops and more about enjoying the experience! (I also wished I’d gone shopping in that Sweater Shop!)
Onwards! To the Cliffs of Moore! (That was Padre’s joke, since his last name is Moore… … come on guys, it is a Dad joke, after all).
Moving on! In all seriousness, I knew The Cliffs of Moher would be busy, but I honestly wasn’t ready for how crazy it is. The parking lot, walking in with masses and masses of people, trying to navigate the stairs, especially trying to get good photos without other families in it was very challenging. And you’ll see we did get a BEAUTIFUL sun break, but it was wiiiiiiiindy! In fact, the next day it got so bad that they closed the Cliffs to visitors – so we timed it just right!I’m so good at these selfie things – sorry honey!
I’d say you can get a pretty good view with just walking from the parking lot in, but to get the really breathtaking views, there be some stairs to climb! Relative fitness capability recommended. Apparently there is some hiking that can be done also – you best believe when we go back, I am hiking that coastline! SO BREATHTAKING! And not just because people did stupid things at the cliff’s edge and almost died. And not because it was hella windy either – but because of the sheer beauty, of course.
Next up, Nancy had insisted we visit Durty Nellie’s and Bunratty Castle, and then we were going to Adare to explore that castle, and check out an antique store my friend had told me about. Alas! We ran out of time (damn unplanned side excursion)!! Padre enjoyed a pint at Durty Nellie’s, then we headed to Killarney to check in at Applecroft House.
B&B Side note: Applecroft House in Killarney, with Kathy was our very favorite B&B that we stayed in. The home was spacious and in easy walking distance of multiple food choices and downtown, our room was luxurious, the food was amazing- and made to order (side note- she had this really cool gadget that you could put a lemon wedge in and squeeze it without getting it all over your hands- WHY HAVE I NEVER SEEN THIS BEFORE?! You can see me holding it in the picture with the pancake), she was exceedingly kind, and they had a Jack Russell Terrier named Teddy that I got to pet. Win-Win-Win-Win! The only downside was that Google Maps did not direct us very well, but we called and they guided us to their driveway with ease, which ended in a nice gravel lot with plenty of space.
After we got checked in and settled in our room, we discussed the suggestions Kathy had made for dinner. We had a little miscommunication (surprising, right?), which resulted in Padre choosing pizza and beer for dinner (SHOCKER, I know), but it was really great! It felt like being back in Portland (except for the amazing accents).
For the next day, Kathy had set us up on a Ring of Kerry tour with Wild Kerry/O’Connor’s tours. A van came and picked us up to shuttle us to the bus. Our driver, John O’Neill was a riot! I was really really not into the idea of a tour bus – loading on and off, having to be done in a certain amount of time, feeling like a sheep being herded around- but many a person encouraged us to do so, to avoid driving The Ring of Kerry on our own. Having seen it, and having had such a wonderful time with John driving, I wouldn’t change it. However, I don’t think the road was that bad. The road to Hana is WAY more stressful. But, this way, all three of us got to see everything, with minimal stress.
The first stop on the Ring of Kerry tour was The Kerry Bog Village. It was interesting, but not my kind of thing. Saving grace- Irish Coffee!! And since no one was driving – we both got to enjoy!
Another stop on the way was another sheep herding demonstration – this one with a learning segment with all different kinds of sheep! Again, very fun, and the shepherd was informative and kind, plus he taught us how they use two dogs to work together! He also had a slightly different tact for training the dogs, so that was interesting as well.
(One of the stops along the way.)
Lunch was up on a cliff, with beautiful views, but unfortunately the gray started to rollllllllllllll in. Also, I don’t remember what the place was called, but it was set up slightly cafeteria style (for the tour buses) and they had.it.down. SO fast and efficient. And they also had beer and Irish Coffee! Yay!
On a sad note, as we worked our way around the Ring, John pointed out many businesses that had closed, homes that were abandoned, and new buildings that never sold or housed anyone. He explained how the rural areas were struggling, and that the Post was going to close even more branches- which inevitably would lead to more closures and people leaving the area. It made it clear that this area was not the easiest place to live.
In this photo, you can see two dim “bumps” in the water – those are the Skellig islands – most well known for their recent role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Apparently some locals have capitalized on this, and you can do a Star Wars themed boat tour out to the islands!
At this stop (Moll’s Gap), there was an Avoca shop and Cafe, complete with traditional loom weaving demonstration. Excited, we went inside to watch. I promptly got distracted because we were SURROUNDED by beautiful rainbow scarves, socks, throws, and more. You can see why I missed the weaving demo! I’d done so well not buying any crappy trinkets, and then I saw the scarf. And the socks. The rest is history- but I still love all my purchases!
We asked to be let off downtown, so we could explore the grounds of Killarney House, as recommended by John. It was so pretty!!! I love flowerrrrrrrrrrrrssssssssssss!
Dinner was at Kayne’s Bar & Bistro, which was a little fancier than I expected – but so worth it. There was definitely more whiskey obtained (Jameson and Ginger FTW), some AMAZING entrees, and FINALLY some effing Banoffee Pie!!! Granted, it was deconstructed into tiny jars, but I didn’t care- it was delicious! I’d been looking everywhere for it since Nancy made it for us on our research & planning night, and finally found it!
Time for another confession… I was feeling pretttttty daaaang good in this photo. So, what does any well adjusted, intelligent, grown ass woman do now? Drink more whiskeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy of course!! We had bought a Jameson Caskmates Stout edition (small bottle) after our tour and tasting, so I cracked that puppy open and kept on having a good time! If you don’t know me, you don’t know that drinking= selfies (but NOW you do!). And furthermore, more drinks = more selfies. I feel it’s a common predicament people find themselves in, but here is even more photo evidence that this guy I married sure is patient!
Let’s just say we made the next morning a “slow start day”.
Let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns! Thanks for reading! 🙂