On Tuesday we hired a minibus and took off to see Co. Kerry, and to do the famous Ring of Kerry tour, which is a 112mile circuit around the Iveragh Peninsula, starting and ending in Killarney in our case. The roads are very narrow and twisty and they have instituted a one-way system for coaches and buses who must go anti-clockwise around the ring, or they are liable to have a standoff that could get nasty! There is no way two buses would pass each other on some stretches of the roads, and one would have to blink first and reverse.
We went from home to collect the family who were staying in Redbarn holiday cottages development outside Youghal in Co. Cork. This is a relic of the Celtic Tiger years, where similar developments sprouted like weeds all over the country, and many are now getting a bit run down and shabby looking as they are lying idle. My memories of Redbarn are of the eponymous dance hall of my teenage years - one of the original "Ballroom of Romance" halls where Ireland's young and not-so-young decamped every weekend to dance the night away in alcohol-free zones to the live Showband music of the era. All gone now, Redbarn's capacity was over 2000 punters, and sadly it burnt down (not on a dance night thankfully) in 1977. That was around the end of the Showband era, and disco became king thereafter.
We arrived in Killorglin, home of the famous goat-themed Puck Fair, around 11a.m. and stopped for coffee, and then continued on around the Ring road, passing Cahirsiveen and Valentia Island where you can get a boat to Skellig Michael, one of the ancient monastic hermitages of Ireland which is a world heritage site, and is a day trip in itself. We had lots of stops on the way and took plenty of photos, and even though I'd been round the Ring of Kerry a few times in my younger years, it was over 30 years since I'd been there and enjoyed it immensely. The day was overcast but dry, something good in Irish weather terms.
We stopped for lunch in Sneem, home of one of Ireland's Presidents, Cearbhaill Ó Dálaigh, and while I found monuments to a wrestler I'd never heard of (but the bus driver knew of him) and Charles de Gaulle (who only visited on a holiday) I didn't see any of the former President, though it's there somewhere. He should be remembered there, even though he controversially resigned after the then Minister for Defence Paddy Donegan called him a "a thundering disgrace" when he wanted to refer proposed anti-terrorist legislation to the Supreme Court to test its consititutionality.
We had a delicious lunch in a little restaurant in Sneem, the Stone House, run by an Irish woman married to a Dutchman (like me!), a serendipitous encounter. The seafood was fresh, yummy, very reasonably priced and we didn't have to wait forever. After lunch we went back to Killarney via Moll's Gap and the Black Valley, famous for being the last place in Ireland to get mains electricity in 1976. We enjoyed Lady's View lookout over the famous Lakes of Killarney, and went home via Macroom and Cork where we dropped off Shayne and Sofia. She had been a wonderful traveller, not a whimper all day as she either slept in her car seat, or enjoyed all the attention she got from everyone.
It was good to see the enthusiasm among the visitors (who all live below sea level in Holland's Polder country in Schouwen-Duiveland in Zeeland) for the nosebleed-inducing panoramas they experienced on the Ring tour. In the time-honoured tradition of the annual essays on "What I did on my Holidays" from our childhood schooldays - "we all went home tired but happy" after a memorable day in one of Ireland's premier beauty spots.
The photos show some of the day - people and scenes - and the group family photo (William is missing from this one, as he is in college doing finals)
- Map showing Ring of Kerry/Iveragh Peninsula
- Sofia and me in Killorglin
- King of Puck Fair statue, Killorglin
- Group photo of family - Dutch and Irish
- Road sign on Ring of Kerry
- Teenagers climbing the rocky mountain near Waterville
- Overlooking Dingle Bay near Cahirsiveen
- Postcard of Sneem
- The Stone House Restaurant/B&B
- The Black Valley
- Lakes of Killarney