Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ring of Kerry

Today I was a "proper" tourist and went on a bus tour for the day! I joined 52 others for a Ring of Kerry tour. Conditions were drizzly on and off so visibility was a bit marginal, but maybe that is more typical of Ireland and the way it should be seen anyhow. It was still beautiful!

We headed off down the coast and got to see the Dingle Peninsula and Valentia Island across the water. We passed through the town where Daniel O'Connell was born, and the bus driver pointed out the house, now just a few bits of brick walls covered with weeds and creepers. There is however, a Daniel O'Connell memorial church, the only one in Ireland not named after a holy saint or event or place, and the Pope approved the choice of name for a politician.

Near the furthest point on the coast road we passed some "famine houses" that had fallen into ruin after the people had died. In response to a question our bus driver told more about what happened in the famine.

The bus driver was entertaining throughout. Sometimes you couldn't be sure if he was serious or just being witty. We stopped at a Pass that gave a magnificent view over the Kenmare River on one side, and down over a ring fort and green fields out to the sea on the other side. There was a statue of Mary at this high point that was established in 1954, a Marian year. The driver told us that most girls born that year were baptised Marian and they are now all hating it as it tells their age!!! (Was the driver joking? I don't know! He told a really good Bush joke too but I can't remember it now.) The area near this pass is a recognised Irish speaking area.

We stopped at a place that had a "Dan Murphy's pub" so I had to take a photo of it for a certain person!

The last bit of our journey passed the MacGillicuddy's Reeks and we had great views of the Killarney Lakes. It was very atmospheric in the misty drizzle. We passed some rhodos which were introduced and grow too well here, stopping other native trees from getting established, so they are being pulled out with various voluntary schemes.

Great trip. Lots of narrow roads. Glad I was on the bus and not driving!

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