I left Larkinley Lodge this morning, and it was a little bit hard. Toni and Danny have treated me so well both times I’ve stayed there, that I kind of hated to leave. I mean, they even gave me an extra piece of bacon at breakfast this morning1!
Seriously, folks, if you go to Killarney, stay at Larkinley Lodge. Tell them I sent you. You will not regret it.
Anyway, I walked down to the train station, several hours before the train left. There was no one at the ticket counter, yet, but I found someone there who let me check my backpack, then I went wandering around town.
That’s the only picture I took today. The rest of the day, I was on the trains. It was a bit of a challenge to get on the train – the ticket office didn’t open until half an hour before the train left, and I was getting a little panicked, because the automatic ticket machine didn’t have an option for Killarney to Galway, and the option for Portarlington2 was about 30% more than the online price for the whole trip.
But, as I said, a ticket agent showed up, I got the ticket3. The first leg of the trip was the train to Heuston Station in Dublin, and so it was really crowded, and it took some doing to find someplace to sit.
And then a hen party got on the train about half an hour into the trip. And they were already pretty drunk4, and very loud. It made the majority of the trip less than restful.
I managed to change trains successfully at Portarlington, and this leg of the journey was much less crowded. And, of course, it was raining when I got to Galway. I found my way to the AirBnB place I’d booked, and met the owner, and got settled, then went out in the rain to get some groceries. Not entirely successful, as it’s a rainy Sunday evening. But I managed to get a sandwich for dinner, and I can do some proper shopping tomorrow.
Tomorrow, it’s supposed to be rainy again, but then it’s supposed to clear up for a few days. So, guess what day I have the walking tour booked.
Today was a free day for me, with nothing scheduled. So, I decided to go and do some of the stuff from Thursday that I didn’t find time to do. Specifically, I wanted to see the insides of Ross Castle and Muckross House.
And that’s what I did.
I got the shuttle bus again in the morning to Ross Castle, and looked around a bit before finding the entry to the castle itself. They were just starting a guided tour, so I was really happy to get in on that. I was less happy that they had a no photography policy, but that’s the way it goes.
Ross Castle was built in the 15th century, a tower house and keep for the local Celtic chieftain. It was pretty unassailable, as long as food stores were reliable1. There was even a Macbeth-like prophecy:
Ross may all assault disdain
Till on Lough Lein strange ship shall sail.
Lough Lein2 didn’t have any ships on it – there were boats, but the waterways in the area just didn’t support actual ships that could be useful in attacking from the water. So, of course, those mad bastards under Oliver Cromwell built ships in Kinsale, sailed them to Kilorglin3, and carted them by oxen to Lough Lein to unnerve the inhabitants of the castle and hasten their surrender4.
Well, after being used as a garrison by the British for many years, the castle was abandoned, and fell into disrepair. Notably, the stone roof collapsed, water got into the stone floor of the top level, and that eventually collapsed down through all the lower floors5, leaving the castle an empty, ruined shell. It was only around 19706 that restoration work began.
And they restored the castle beautifully. On the tour, you can go right up to the great hall on the top floor, and each level has period furniture. The guide was really good at explaining what it was actually like to live in a 15th-century castle7, and really entertaining to listen to.
We even got to see the garderobe.
After that, I got back on the bus to Muckross House and took the tour there, where – guess what – they didn’t allow photographs8.
Muckross House is a Victorian country house, never really fell into ruin, and has been beautifully restored. It’s HUGE. Like, 25 bedrooms huge. 16000 square feet huge. Large enough to support a staff of 22 looking after the place.
I didn’t find the history of the house nearly as amusing as Ross Castle, but there were a couple of things that I found interesting:
So very many hunting trophies on the walls – various deer, birds, goats, fish, and another rack of giant Irish elk antlers, even bigger than the ones I saw in Kilkenny.
The heads of the red deer were almost as big as horse heads. Not quite, but pretty big.
Before taxidermy was really a thing, the deer heads would be stripped to the bone and the initials of the hunter, the size of the deer, and the date would be etched into the bare skull, and that mounted on the wall. They look like props for a horror film.
Queen Victoria stayed here for two days in August of 1861. They papered the billiard room9 with lovely hand-painted silk wall coverings in deep blue with birds and flowers. She used it as a private breakfast room, and they never changed the wall coverings back to something more masculine.
Queen Victoria was apparently very afraid of fire, so insisted on sleeping on the ground floor. They even built a cast-iron, four-foot tall fire escape to make it easy for her to exit her room in an emergency.
Then it was back to Killarney. This evening, I went out for some dinner and looked for some entertainment. Most of the interesting stuff was starting much later, so I decided to go see a movie, which was fun. And walking back to Larkinley Lodge, I again was awash in traditional music coming out of pretty much every pub10.
Tomorrow, I’m off to Galway. Another day of train travel.
Today was much less walking, as I took a bus tour around the Ring of Kerry. Now, I had done this before – on my first trip to Ireland – but I kinda wanted to do it again. I went with a different company1, this time, and the tour had a slightly more relaxed pace, as we were going and coming from Killarney, and not Cork.
Ray, our driver and guide, reminded me again of one of my favourite things out of Ireland: King Puck. He did a masterful job reeling us all in on how Killorglin every year catches a wild goat, crowns it king for three days, “marrys” it to a young lady who wins the honour by writing an essay, keeps the bars open extended hours, parades King Puck and his queen through the village, and then gives the queen a sword to cut open the king’s throat.
Everyone listened intently, and oohed and aahed. Then Ray says, “That’s not what we do at all! We’re not savages! After the party, we return the king to the mountains, and give him a special mark so that he’s never captured to be king again.” And everyone laughed2 sheepishly.
We drove past the statue of King Puck, and I managed to snap a picture, but it’s a phone picture from the wrong side of a moving tour bus through tinted glass, so never mind.
From there, we entered the rugged terrain of the Iveragh Peninsula.
One of the nice things about this tour was that, because we weren’t so rushed, we got to stop a little more frequently for photo opportunities. Only got a couple more that are different from my last trip, but here they are:
We made it back into Killarney around 5:30, so I walked around and found the Laurels, where I had a good meal last time in Killarney. It was pretty crowded, but I sat at the bar and had a glass of cider, and a nice chat with some people I met on yesterday’s ramblings. Then I found a restaurant for dinner, and came back for the blogging.
Tomorrow is an unscheduled day. I think I’ll head back to Ross Castle and Muckross House and actually see the insides of them.
I almost forgot. One of the things we did that was really cool was a demonstration by a sheep farmer and his border collies.
Deros Tours, who had taken me on two great tours the last time I was in Killarney [↩]
I remembered that I had loved Larkinley Lodge last time I stayed in Killarney. In fact, it was one of the reasons that I decided to spend some time in Killarney again this trip. But man, wonderful as that first stay was, it’s nothing compared to how great it is this time. Last time was a flawless B&B experience; this time, it’s like I’m a favourite family member come to visit for a few days1. Toni and Danny have been so friendly, welcoming, and helpful it makes me want to move here.
So, if you’re coming to Killarney, and you don’t stay at Larkinley Lodge, I just don’t think we can be friends anymore.
This morning, I went down to the tourist office to catch the shuttle bus out to some of the places near Killarney I had wanted to see last time but didn’t really get the chance. First stop was Ross Castle.
While I would have liked to have toured the castle, my main goal at this stop was the island of Innishfallen. This started with a small abbey founded in the 6th century that grew into a famous site of learning and scholarship for close to a thousand years. The lake became known as Lough Leane, the Lake of Learning, and it is said that the High King Brian Boru was educated there. It is also where the Annals of Innisfallen were written, documenting almost a thousand years of local history.
The original abbey buildings were timber, so they’re all gone, but the stone buildings that replaced them in the 10th century are still there.
So, the trip out to Innisfallen was nice for another reason. I had to wait around for a while at the pier for one of the boatmen to take me over – taking a single passenger is not ideal for them, as they charge by the passenger. They were happy to take me, but hoped for a couple more people to join the trip.
No takers showed up, and finally one of the boatmen, Charlie, I guess got bored of sitting around and ran me over to the island. He had a dog with him – it seems like about half the boatmen had dogs with them – so when I climbed into the boat, I let the little fluff ball sniff my hand and scratched her ears to say hello3. She then ignored me for the entire trip across to the island.
On the way back, when I climbed in the boat, she looked at me, climbed across to my side, snuggled up against me, and began nudging my hand to pat her. She kept nosing at me whenever I stopped patting her.
Her name was Bella. I love dogs.
Anyway, I caught the shuttle bus again, and went off to the Torc Waterfall. The driver gave me directions on how to walk from there back to Muckross Abbey where he’d pick me up in a couple of hours, and I went to find the waterfall.
The walk back down from the waterfall was easier, and then I found out it was about a 2km walk to Muckross House and Gardens. That was a little farther than I had expected, but so be it.
A lengthy portion of the walk was along the shore of Muckross Lake, and I noticed that the fence on the side of the path had only single strands of wire mounted on plastic pegs nailed to the post, “Hmmm,” I thought, “that looks an awful lot like an electrified fence. But surely there would be signage!” It was another half a kilometre or so before there was, indeed a sign that the fence was electrified. I was very pleased that I hadn’t given in to my experimental urges earlier to find out if the fence was hot4.
I figured the fence was there to keep cattle in the field, but a ways along, I saw the actual occupants.
I made it to Muckross Gardens, first.
And then it was another 1.5km through the woods and over hills to Muckross Abbey.
I caught the shuttle bus back to town, and ran a couple of errands. Most importantly, I wanted to find where my Ring of Kerry tour leaves from tomorrow so I’m not wandering around or rushing in the morning. And, while I was there, I figured I might as well pay for it5.
And then I had some dinner, and came back to Larkinley Lodge to do up this post.
Which is now done.
My actual family members may be asking themselves how I could possibly know what it feels like to be someone’s favourite. First, shut up. Second, I read a lot. [↩]
THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS, CLINT!! [↩]
As all my friends know, I’m a big softy when it comes to dogs. [↩]
There was a lengthy internal debate on the subject. It was close. [↩]
They take a credit card to reserve a spot for you, but you need to come into the office and pay to actually get your ticket. [↩]
Not much of a post today, as I spent the bulk of the day either waiting for or riding on a train. This means that not much interesting happened.
One thing I noticed was that I was dreading putting on my full backpack to haul around all day. It made me start rethinking my luggage choices – or my travel style. I didn’t weigh my fully packed luggage before I left, and maybe I should have, because I spent most of my first day wondering exactly how heavy it was.
It felt very heavy. But I think a lot of that is the fact that I was pretty tired after the overnight flight, and also I had walked a long, long way carrying it through three airports and far more of Dublin than I needed to.
Today, when I put it on, and fastened the belly band, it didn’t feel that bad. The walk from the hotel to the train station was still pretty taxing, but it didn’t wipe me out as badly as I had feared. So, maybe I’m getting used to all the walking.
The whole day wasn’t nearly as much of a strain as I had built it up in my mind. There was a lot of waiting on metal benches at train stations, where I didn’t have to carry the pack. And train station sandwiches over here are so much better than the kind of sandwich you’d get in a similar place back in Canada. I got a lot of reading done and, when I arrived in Killarney, I was especially pleased that I was able to find my way from the train station to Larkinley Lodge without any problem.
And now I’m settled in for the evening, and actually looking forward to getting to bed before midnight.
Yeah. I am old and pathetic. Even on holiday, I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep.
Tomorrow, I’m off to see Ross Castle, Innisfillen Island, and a few other sites around town. I’ll have more pictures for you tomorrow, I expect.
Today was another travel day, so again, not many pictures. I got a nice send-off from Toni and Danny at Larkinley Lodge – seriously, guys, that is THE place to stay in Killarney. Wonderful rooms, great food, and the warmest, friendliest, most helpful hosts you could wish for. Danny even drove me to the train station this morning.
The train ride was suitably boring; the only thing of interest was, after scrambling to get my ticket and onto the connecting train in Dublin, there was a problem with that train’s signals1 and we all had to troop off that train and over to another train, which meant we were delayed about twenty or thirty minutes.
But I made it to Kilkenny and, after one2 wrong turn, I managed to find Butler House, where I’m staying.
After dropping my stuff off, I took the advice of Helen, the lady who checked me in, and wandered up to Kyteler’s Inn for dinner, where they had a music session going.
There’s a whole story behind Kyteler’s Inn, but I don’t want to ruin it for folks. I’m sure I’ll get a more detailed3 version of the tale on my walking tour tomorrow, and I’ll be sure to share it with you.
Tonight, I’m going to be taking the rest of the evening easy.
Or something. I don’t know. It coulda been signals. [↩]
Well, the sunburn on the arms is not fun, but still not enough to ruin my mood. I got up early today, gave some laundry to Toni here at the B&B1, and went for a nice walk before my tour.
Then I made my way down to the Deros offices to get on my tour of the Dingle Peninsula.
There were apparently more people signed up for the tour than expected, so I wound up on the second bus, leaving about a half-hour later. It was a small bus, with only about a dozen of us, so we got a lot of personal attention, and a more flexible, looser structure to the tour.
And then it was back to Killarney, and not being on time to pick up my laundry.
This is my last night in Killarney, and my last night at Larkinley Lodge. Larkinley is a great B&B – Toni and Danny are great hosts, the room is beautiful and comfortable and quiet, and the bed is very comfortable.
But I’m looking forward to moving on to Kilkenny.
Laundry service here is Toni taking the laundry to the laundrette, and me picking it up at the end of the day. Unfortunately, my tour got back late, and the laundrette was closed. I’ll have to pick it up tomorrow morning before I get on the train. [↩]
It was beautiful weather today – sunny, just a few puffy clouds, a bit of a breeze. Seeing as I was spending most of the day outside, this was wonderful. Except, of course, that I forgot to put on any sunscreen. Yep, I got some pretty good sunburn on my arms and a bit on my face.
I was up fairly early because I needed to go down to the Deros Tours to find out which tour I was on today – I had booked both the Gap of Dunloe tour and the Dingle Peninsula tour, but I had lost the e-mail that told me which day was which. So, I had to go down early and find out which tour I was taking.
And then I walked around the High Street for a while, waiting for the tour to start.
The time came, and we got on the bus, and went up to Aghadoe to take a look at where we’re going today.
Then we were on to Kate Kearney’s Cottage.
I don’t have an interesting picture of the current Lord Brandon’s Cottage, simply because it’s not that interesting a building. It’s a little cafeteria, with a lot of picnic tables.
Then it was back on the bus and back to Killarney. I wandered around for a bit, had a nice dinner at Quinlan’s – a fish place that catches its own fish. I had the special, which was John Dory with chips and salad – I’d never had John Dory, or even heard it, but it was tasty.
Walking back to the B&B, I grabbed a homemade honeycomb caramel ice cream cone. I had a lot of pictures to process at the B&B, many of which were not very good, as taking pictures in the back of a bouncing horse trap is not conducive to getting unblurred pictures.
Now, bedtime. Tomorrow, the tour of the Dingle Peninsula.
Today was a travel day. I was up early to catch the bus to Galway, and then the train to Dublin, another train to Mallow, a third train to Killarney, then a cab to Larkinley Lodge. Now, I found out that Larkinley Lodge was within easy walking distance, but my iPhone had drained its battery while I was reading on the bus and trains, and couldn’t use the GPS to find the place. Now I know how to walk from the Lodge to the station, so that’s fine.
But really what that means is that I don’t have a lot of pictures today. Here are a few little things.
I went for a nice walk around Killarney, found the pub – The Laurels – that they recommended at the B&B, and also found the place to meet for my tour tomorrow.
Today was mainly a travel day. Bus from Cork City to Killarney, then wait four hours for the bus to Cahirseveen1, and finally take a taxi from Cahirseveen to Portmagee. I got here shortly after five, just a little too late to make it across the bridge to the Skellig interpretive centre on Valentia Island.
I’m staying at The Moorings, which is a very nice guesthouse. The room here is bigger than at either Ariel House or Garnish House, and looks a little more like a North American hotel room.
The Skelligs Package here at The Moorings is really quite nice. Not only do you get the room and the trip to the Skelligs, but you get a voucher for a dinner, a packed lunch for the trip, a free special Irish Coffee2, and some very nice Skellig chocolates.
Apparently, according to the taxi driver who brought me here, the boats were not able to land on the Skelligs last week, but did land this morning. Weather looks promising, but the announcement will be made in the morning at breakfast whether or not the boats are going out. I hope they do, obviously.
Now, to sleep. I need to be rested for climbing the 660 steps on Skellig Michael tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
I gotta say, I have no idea if I’m spelling that right. I have seen four or five different spellings, many of them in this past day as I was trying to get there. [↩]
Which I’m not really interested in, but still. [↩]