Speeding south along the highway in our five-door Skoda Fabia, we left Westport in search of the southern part of Ireland. We had a quick bite to eat in Ennis, a small town just south of Galway, before landing in Killarney. We arrived to our second B&B just after sunset and were greeted by Anne and her husband Paudie – the Horgan’s. Again, we were quite impressed with our accommodation and the hospitality.
The following morning, we rose early to hot porridge (oat meal with fresh fruit – super tasty) and lots of bread. I ate as much as I possibly could as we were headed out for a 7 mile hike along Dunloe Gap. Paudie helped us find a boat ride across a series of lakes and rivers to reach the trailhead. He phoned a fella named Dux and we were off to Killarney National Park where we were to meet our for-hire boat in front of Ross Castle.
Sharing a ride with a nice couple from NYC, we rode with Dux across lakes, up rivers, and under bridges to make our way to Brandon’s Cottage.
Parting ways with the couple we met, Rob and Lauren, T and I proceeded to begin our hike while our fellow Americans hitched a ride from a horse-drawn buggy. The trail was actually a paved road, used by locals of a TINY town called Black Valley. We passed the schoolhouse – all six children out in front playing soccer – a few curious pups who weren’t terribly interested in us, and the local postman. Finally we started the ascent up Dunloe Gap. Quite honestly, words nor pictures do justice in trying to represent our experience. The rugged beauty of the countryside, the smell of clean air and the sound of countless babbling brooks was incredible.
A hot cup of tea or two and a bowl of vegetable soup at Kate Kearny’s Cottage on the other side of Dunloe Gap marked the end of our three hour journey. Tarin and I both agreed that this was the pinnacle of our time in Ireland, quite possibly equal to our Serengeti safari.
Rising early again the following day, T and I headed out to the Dingle Peninsula for some site seeing and a horseback ride I had scheduled. We stopped off at Inch Strand for a beach stroll before making our way to the stables.
Unfortunately, the stables no-called, no-showed and we were left with a half day to kill. It was a bummer, but not enough to ruin the day by any means. We went back to town, cleaned up and had a nice evening of pints and pub food back in town. After hearing the stables on Dingle Peninsula stood us up, Paudie went out of his way to make some calls on our behalf to find another horseback ride. As we left for dinner, he informed us that he had made a reservation for 9am the following morning at a stable just outside of town. Tarin and I arrived to the stables the following morning to find a nice young lady who showed Tarin the way to some riding gear and eventually her horse. I decided to forego the ride as I wanted to catch on up some blogging.
Our last morning with the Horgan’s was spent around the breakfast table. We talked with their 14 year old son, Michael, about his schooling and aspirations to become a carpenter. We truly enjoyed the company of the Horgan’s and fancied the opportunity to be around a family.
A four hour drive landed us in Waterford, the southeast part of the country and the oldest city in Ireland. We originally planned to stay in another B&B but upon arrival we knocked several times, and rang the doorbell to no avail. I decided to change course and we made haste for downtown Waterford. We grabbed some lunch at a local café, and asked for advice about where to find a hotel. We stopped off at the first one we saw, Granville Hotel on The Quay, and were pleasantly surprised to find that someone had just cancelled their reservation! We quickly took action and found ourselves on the third floor of the hotel, overlooking River Suir. We learned that the original owner of the building was the designer of the Irish Flag, adding a touch of prestige to our accommodation. It just so happens that this time of year in Waterford is known as “Winterval”, the annual Christmas celebration. Tarin’s favorite Christmas movie, Elf was playing at The Reg, a local pub with a projector and a couple speakers. Now, I could make plenty of critiques regarding their setup (I am an AV nerd, after all) but watching Tarin enjoy the night like a little kid was too great an experience. We finished the night with a ride on the carousel and dinner.
Did I mention we had a few drinks?
Our last day in Ireland was spent at the Waterford Crystal factory and store, where we learned about the process involved in making the renowned artwork the world has come to love.
I began to write this post on board deck eight of the Irish Ferry known as the Isle of Inishmore, or half-wrote it anyway.
The ship was listing a great deal as the crew were battling gale-force winds to ensure we crossed St. George’s Channel en route to Wales. Neither Tarin’s nor my stomach handled the waves well so I had to put the computer down until we reached our next destination: Wales. Here we sit, at the Gunfort Cottage in Tenby, Wales. We prepared a Mexican feast (we’ve missed our favorite food!) and have enjoyed having our own space again. On to the next…