We’ve spent the last couple of weekends laying low (really low…we’ve been sick). Now that everyone is back on two feet again (or, in Jacob’s case, two knees) we were itching to get out and do something fun. A few days ago I met some tourists from New Zealand who told me about an amazing place they had just visited–and I knew right away that it would be our next adventure.
Welcome to Killarney. Or, as I will be referring to it from now on, The-Most-Beautiful-Place-On-God’s-Green-Earth. It was fascinating.
It took us a little over an hour to drive out to Killarney–practically on our back doorstep. Killarney is part of The Ring of Kerry, a 100-mile loop through some of the most incredible scenery you will ever witness.
We started our day at the Gap of Dunloe, a narrow mountain pass that winds though a lake-laden valley. There is one teeny-tiny road that goes through the Gap, so you can’t drive your car through. Instead, many people were hiking (and, if we didn’t have two ticking time bombs called toddlers with us, we probably would have done the same). We decided to go with the other popular option, a horse-drawn trap. The trap was basically a small carriage with bouncy little seats and a friendly driver. It was wonderful. Before we got on our trap, David got to meet some of the live transportation:
When it was time to board our horse-drawn trap, we all climbed in and held on. Our horse’s name was Kinny (he was 12 years old and very good-natured) and our driver’s name was Dan (he was as old as the hills and called me ma’am).
The road took us through a grassy valley filled with sheep of every color. Well, the sheep themselves were mostly white, but they all had colorfully-painted backs. Each owner paints his sheep a different color to keep the herds distinguishable, and the end result was a rainbow of baaing onlookers as we rolled past.
We rode out to five different lakes, each enchanting in it’s own magical way. Everything was so pure and still and beautiful. The photos really don’t do it justice.
We paused for a walking break at one of the lakes and got to poke around some (400 year old) cottages. What a beautiful place that must have been to live!
We all agreed that our ride through the Gap was one of the most magnificent tours we’d ever been on. And, oh! Our day was just getting started.
From the Gap we drove back through the town of Killarney to Killarney National Park. The Park is huge–over 25,000 acres. We parked near one of the entrances and went in for some lunch and a little walk. There were beautiful gardens:
And a marvelous place called Muckross House:
The boys were starting to get antsy at this point so we decided to cut our time in the park short and head out to one final destination: Ross Castle.
I really can’t get enough of the castles here in Ireland, and you can see why. They’re incredible! This castle is perched on the edge of a deep blue lake surrounded by mountains. You can take boat rides out from the castle to explore the lakes and islands (one of which has the ruins of a 6th century monastery on it), but we were running short on time (that is, time before one of our children exploded).
Ross Castle was built in the late 1500’s as a personal residence, and today it has been restored for people like me to come and gawk. The castle is mostly intact, so there were lots of fun places to explore. We had a great time exploring the grounds and touring the interior of the castle. We may have even scaled a few rocky walls.
Thank you, Killarney, for the beautiful day and the incredible memories.