To set-up our third day of adventures, there are a few things I should highlight.
First, we’d been looking for ways to tour to the Dingle Peninsula. It’s not on a train line, and the bus goes there, but, it takes over three hours from Limerick, and once in Dingle, how would we drive around it? We looked into several options, including renting a car (but neither my sister nor I were keen on this being our first foray into driving on the left side of the road, especially since it is narrow.). We’d also found a company that does Dingle tours from Limerick online, but, the only day they had availability was on Sunday, and that was already the day we were going to go to the Burren and to the Cliffs of Moher, so, I didn’t book it.
Do you remember that we did the Cliffs trip on Friday, when we arrived?
We got let off the tour from Blarney about 2 blocks from our hotel. Frank II gave us directions to get back. We took this opportunity to hunt for the train/bus station to start arranging our other adventures. As we headed toward where I remembered the station to be from the maps, we stumbled onto the Tourist Information Center. We’d been here a few times, our tours both days stopped here. We were all of three blocks from the hotel. I was now embarrassed that I’d not realized it sooner.
As we rounded the corner across the street from the tourist office, I see a big advertisement for the very tour company I’d seen online that had Limerick to Dingle tours. They had an office right inside this small shopping mall. It was 5:56 on Saturday night. We stepped in, and walked into their door as they were closing at 6:00 pm. In fact, the employee closed the door right behind us, and had already closed out her till. We inquired about the Dingle trip, and she said, yes, they had a tour leaving the next day, right from the stop across the street. We asked if there was space on the tour, and, booked it on the spot. Perfection!
This was the first time we were especially grateful we were traveling in the “off” season. It would not be the last.
Early Sunday morning (not really that early), we went to catch our bus. We met the first (and, perhaps only) tour guide in Ireland not named Frank. His name was Micheal. We learned that we were going to make a shortish stop in Killarney. Killarney is known from songs, and as the original Irish tourist town. If you’re practicing your Irish, it’s name is Cill Airne, and Cill means church, and Airne well, that’s something to do with sloes, which the Internets tell me are, essentially, prunes.
This is where you learn it’s better not to translate some things.
Back in Prune Church, we stroll around a sleepy Sunday morning. Beyond prunes and churches, Killarney is the place where Michael Fassbender grew up, and where he lives when he’s not Magneto. The Michael who drove the bus pointed vaguely into a hillside with several possible places as being the area where he might have a house, so I might’ve seen his house. Or his sheep. The sheep might be the neighbor’s. Fences are as nothing to sheep.
I’ve heard that Mr. Fassbender was an altar boy. Maybe he was at this church. Or the other one. Maybe both of them. I have no ideas, but, these two were within 1/3 of a mile from each other. Clearly, a Cill-rich environment. The prunes were inexplicably unseen.
We got back on the bus, and started to head toward the Dingle Peninsula. We caught sight of the most amazing and impressive Kerry Airport, clearly the most talked about airport I’ve ever encountered. At least, Michael the driver really talked about it.
We stopped just outside of Killarney, to see the famous lakes and the tallest mountains in Ireland. While not really what a Coloradan would call a mountain, there is something really pretty majestic about them. The panorama was somehow very comforting to me, even if I couldn’t really get the whole scope in the picture. I will read the camera’s manual one day.
We took our few shots, and then got along to the main show.
Dingle is the smaller western peninsula. It’s less famous than the Ring of Kerry, but, we had it on good authority that if we had to choose, Dingle was the better option. It’s one of the regions where Irish is commonly spoken as a daily language, and it’s packed full of breath-taking vistas, lovely beaches, and some archaeological gems.
We first stopped at Inch Beach. It’s a blue flag beach, which means its super-awesome. Micheal said it’s the highest ranking a beach can get, and its based on the quality of the sand and other beach-criteria that sound like wha-waa-wa wa to people from landlocked states. Or maybe just to me. I don’t care too much for beaches. People were surfing, and looked like they were having a great time. My sister and I collected some seashells, many of which we’ll probably send to our nephews. The debate over whether they’ll still be coated in sand when we send them is ongoing, but, will probably end in clean shells, since my nephews don’t care for mud. I’m worried about them, too.
Moving on from the beach, we moved along to the Slea head, the most westerly part of Europe. We stopped at many places to take pictures. Here, look at them. They’re better than the ugly words that keep going on about nothing much.
This journey was about 11 hours, round trip. We stopped briefly in the town of Dingle, and met the bronze version of the local hero, Fungie. He’s a playful dolphin, who likes to entertain tourists. Don’t worry, they didn’t reward him by encasing him in carbonite. This is just a sculpture. We got expensive ice cream, but, to its credit, it was much, much better than what we got in Cork. The dairy was so fresh, and the texture was rich and creamy. We somehow missed getting actual lunch, and were slightly sad about that. We came back to Limerick, and got some dinner to take back with us to the hotel, and I’m pretty sure exhaustion claimed us all.