After Blarney Castle, we went on to Killarney, in county Cork. I don’t recall much of our first night there, other than a scrumptious dinner and meeting up with a couple of the tour members in the hotel pub and listening to live music. There’s always music in Ireland, no matter where you go and it’s beautiful.
On Tuesday morning, we went on a tour of Killarney National Park, which you can only access by horse and cart, bicycle, on foot or on horseback. We were lucky enough to be taken through the park by horse and cart, or jaunting.
I learned from my cart’s jarvey (driver) that he is charged with a couple of horses to train and work with and they are the horses that he drives until they are retired, either due to age or other reason. The horses are also rotated around, so that they get a proper amount of rest and relaxation, so that they don’t sour (1).
The park is more than 25,000 acres (that number is correct) and is protected space for deer and other animals that make it their home. In the middle of the park is a lake, called Lough Leane and on this lake is an island, of sorts, connected by bridge to the rest of the park. On this island is a castle – in order to get to it from the pony carts and the path through the park is a bridge.
Even before you cross the bridge, you are confronted with this view of Ross Castle (image below). It calls up all sorts of imaginative ideas about events that might have unfolded here or ended up here. On the day we visited, it was overcast and cool – I seemed to be the only one who was comfortable with the weather, which ranged from 38 to 49 degrees. Everyone was bundled up in jackets and mufflers and gloves – I wore only a sweater for warmth.
To our left, as we approached the castle, was a parking lot – this is where we met up with our tour bus driver. Our next adventure was the Ring of Kerry, which started from Ross Castle and wound its way to the other side of the lake.
If I remember right (and it’s been nearly a year since I made the trip), the Ring of Kerry is about 180 kilometers, which, translated to miles, is about 112. That would make the drive about two, two and half hours. Given that I was on a tour, we made a lot of stops, to get out and stretch our legs and look around, have tea and interact with some of the locals. This made the actual drive of the Ring of Kerry longer – perhaps most of the afternoon.
On one such stop, an older gentleman had some baby goats.
I almost brought one home. Seriously, how could you not love a baby goat? Even a grown goat is pretty cute – also, they’re natural weed eaters and, if they’re female, can provide milk. Yes, they can get a little obnoxious, but – goat!!! (2)
We ended the day with dinner at The Jarvey’s Rest, where we were treated to excellent food, even better music and some traditional Irish dancing. One of the songs performed was Galway Girl, a popular song made even more so thanks to the film P.S. I Love You (2007).
Killarney is one of the places I would gladly return to. Then again, there hasn’t been any part of the trip I wouldn’t go back to.
Yes, it was that magical.
(1) Any inaccuracies I may have made are mine and mine alone. For more information about the jaunting tours, follow the link: Killarney Jaunting Cars.
(2) I’m someone who, most of the time, finds animals to be better company than people.