Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ireland Day Two: Dingle

For some reason, I am awake early. We enjoy the hotel's breakfast buffet, but soon I am ready to leave.

Just down the road is Adare's Augustinian Abbey, which dates back to the 13th century but is now the parish Anglican church. The deacon is there, and tells us that, this spring, storms struck the area. There was a bad day: trees fell down, the Abbey's roof was damaged. He has opened the church and we visit briefly, pay our respects, and move on.

We have decided to avoid Tralee. The Rose of Tralee Festival is underway, and even though it would be fun to attend, we are more interested in visiting Dingle.

When we were preparing to visit Ireland, we spoke to many people. Person after person told us to visit Dingle. After a while, I lost count; still, it was a nearly universal suggestion. Because of our itinerary, this is our only chance to see Dingle, so today it must be, and today it will be.

We drive out of County Clare and into County Kerry, stopping briefly at the overlook above Castleisland to take in the marvelous view.

We strike west, out on to the peninsula, and stop for a walk on Inch Beach. The wind is howling; dogs are barking; children are playing, surfers are riding the waves. It is a special place.

On we go, and finally we arrive in Dingle, which is just as delightful as everyone promised it would be. A beautiful harbor, fun shops, and a great ice cream store with locally-made ice cream: "carmelized brown bread" is the flavor we choose.

We buy a bit of this and that. Today is the annual Dingle Regatta; youths are racing boats on the harbor.

Time is passing; we leave Dingle around 2:30 PM and drive to Killarney by way of Killorglin and the Ring of Kerry. Killorglin, of course, is the home of the famous Puck Fair, but we are one week too late.

Along the road, we have been noticing a large gray bird with black wings and a black head. Once we get some Internet service, we do a bit of research; it turns out that these are Hooded Crows, common to this area but completely new to us.

Somewhere between Killorglin and Killarney we pass Fossa and Aghadoe, but I am unaware and we just zoom on by. I'm not sure why my guide books didn't alert me more to Aghadoe, as I think I would have really enjoyed stopping there.

By 3:15 or so we are in Killarney. It is time to get out of the car, so we park in the lot at St Mary's Cathedral, which is truly a magnificent church, and we spend some time there. We walk into downtown Killarney and tour the shops; it is a fun place to while away the hours.

I stop into the local pub for a moment, my attention attracted by the game on TV. It is Gaelic Football, a most unique game, played only here in Southwest Ireland. It turns out that we drove right past the GAA field in Fossa just before we entered Killarney; I noticed that there were players on the field, but otherwise had no idea. The match on TV is Tipperary vs Cork, an important and hotly-contested battle, and we watch for a while.

The drive from Killarney to Sneem is extremely dramatic, past lakes and mountains, winding along the cliffside, often only a single lane road, with massive tour buses racing along in the opposite direction. Eventually, we reach Sneem, and Parknasilla Resort, site of our anniversary celebratin, and an oasis of calm and beauty and a destination well worth the trip.

As you can tell by the view from our room!

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