Ireland Kerry Trip 2009


County Kerry (Irish: Contae Chiarraí) is one of the traditional Counties of Ireland. It is located within the province of Munster in the Republic of Ireland.

With an area of 4,746 km² (1,832 square miles), it is bordered by County Limerick to the east and County Cork to the south-east. Kerry is an Anglicisation of Ciarraí, itself derived from Ciarraighe, or "people of Ciar" the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe who lived in part of the present county. The legendary founder of the tribe was Ciar, son of Fergus mac Róich. In Old Irish "Ciar" meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective describing a dark complexion. The suffix raighe meaning people/tribe is found in various -ry place names in Ireland, such as OsryOsraighe Deer-People/Tribe.

Kerry faces the Atlantic Ocean and, typically for an Eastern-Atlantic coastal region, features many peninsulas and inlets: principally the Dingle Peninsula, the Iveragh Peninsula, and the Beara Peninsula, shared with neighbouring County Cork. The county is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and on the north by the River Shannon.

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We booked the Paddy Wagon tour bus for our Kerry Trip. It was 30 seater luxury coach and we started for the Kerry and Dingle tour on 30/05/09 Saturday morning. The bus collected us at 9:00 AM from our home and quickly started towards Kerry from Dublin.

The first stop was Rock of Dunamase which is located in County Laois, the site is a short distance from the N80, between the towns of Portlaoise and Stradbally. The Rock of Dunamase (Dún Masc "the fort of Masc" in Irish Gaelic), is one of the most historic sites in Ireland. Its ruins date back many hundreds of years. The Rock stands 150 feet (46m) tall in the heart of what is otherwise a flat plain, and was ideal as a defensive position with its view right up to the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

The castle was built in the second half of the 12th century. Who built it is not recorded, but Meyler FitzHenry is the most likely candidate. Strongbow is another possibility, as it was he who controlled Leinster as heir of Dermot McMurrough. With the marriage of Stongbow’s daughter and heir, Isabel, the castle passed into the hands of the Marshal family. William Marshal, who later became Regent of England in the minority of Henry III, had 5 sons all of whom succeeded him in turn and died without issue. So in 1247 the Marshal lands were divided among William’s 5 daughters. Dunamase fell to Eve Marshal and then to her daughter, Maud, who was married to Roger Mortimer. The castle remained in Mortimer hands until 1330 when another Roger Mortimer was executed for treason. By the time the Mortimer family was rehabilitated the castle seems to have passed out of the area under Norman control. There is no evidence that the castle was taken over and used by the local Irish lords and it seems to have become a ruinous shell by 1350. It played no part in the Cromwellian wars, except that it was blown up at that time to prevent it being used.

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We stayed in castle for around an hour and were enthralled with the scenic beauty of the landscape from atop the hill.

Next we drove up to Cork (Irish: Corcaigh [‘korkɰɪɟ]) which is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland’s third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,143, while the addition of the suburban areas contained the county brings the total to 190,384. Metropolitan Cork has a population of approximately 274,000, while the Greater Cork area is about 380,000.

The city’s name is derived from the Irish word corcach [kərˈkɑx], meaning "marshy place", referring to its situation on the River Lee. Cork has a reputation for rebelliousness dating back to the town’s support of the English Pretender Perkin Warbeck in 1491 following the Wars of the Roses, and as a result of this Cork County has the nickname of "the Rebel County", and Corkonians often refer to Cork as the "real capital of Ireland" and themselves as "Rebels".

The River Lee flows through the city, an island in the river forming the main part of the city centre just before the Lee flows into Lough Mahon and then to Cork Harbour, the world’s second largest natural harbour, after Sydney Harbour, Australia. The city is a major Irish seaport — with quays and docks sited along the broad waterway of the Lee on the city’s East side. Cork is one of the three constituent cities in the Cork-Limerick-Galway corridor with a population of 1 million people.

We drove through the Cork city and reached Blarney Castle around 2:00PM.

Blarney Castle was built nearly six hundred years ago by one of Ireland’s greatest chieftains, Cormac MacCarthy, and has been attracting attention beyond Munster ever since. Over the last few hundred years, millions have flocked to Blarney, making it a world landmark and one of Ireland’s greatest treasures.

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Now that might have something to do with the Blarney Stone, the legendary Stone of Eloquence, found at the top of Tower. The legend is that if one kisses it then he would never again be lost for words. Millions of people from Sir Walter Scott to a host of American presidents, world leaders, and international entertainers has been eager to take advantage. To reach the stone one has to climb a number of steep and narrow stairs. To kiss the stone you have to lie down on your back and then pull yourself up against the wall and kiss it. I had to wait in queue for about 15 minutes and was finally able to kiss the stone.

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We strolled in the beautiful park attached to the castle and then started our drive back to Killarney.

Killarney (Irish: Cill Airne, meaning "The church of the sloes") is a town in County Kerry, southwestern Ireland. The town is located north of the MacGillicuddy Reeks, on the northeastern shore of the Lough Lein/Leane which are part of Killarney National Park. The town and its surrounding region is home to St. Mary’s Cathedral, Ross Castle, Muckross Abbey, Torc Waterfall and Gap of Dunloe. Owing to its natural heritage, history and proximity to the Dingle Peninsula, Skellig Michael island and its location on the Ring of Kerry, Killarney is a popular tourist destination.

We  were booked in a nice little Bed & Breakfast called Mystical Rose. The rooms were comfortable and we unpacked our luggage. We settled down and rested for a while and then decided to visit the City Centre which is around 15 minutes walk from Mystical Rose B&B.

Being Saturday the Killarney City Centre was teeming with tour groups who were enjoying the beautiful summer weather. Just in front of us there was a group of ladies dressed in corny pink outfits. Killarney is a tourist city full of eating joints and hotels. Lot of American tour groups land up in the city due to its proximity to Ring of Kerry.

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We had pizza for our dinner and hired a cab back to our B&B. We had a hectic day ahead so  we went to bed early. In the morning we all got ready and first had a sumptuous breakfast at our B&B. Our house lady even did some steps of Irish dancing for us just for fun.

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Our first stop was Ladies View which is a scenic point along the N71 portion of the Ring of Kerry, in Killarney National Park, Ireland. The name apparently stems from the admiration of the view given by Queen Victoria‘s ladies-in-waiting during their 1861 visit. Here we had an excellent view of the three Lakes of Killarney, Derrycunnihny Oak Woods, the Eagles Nest, Torc Mountain either side of the lakes. To the left the Gap od Dunloe, Purple Mountain and the MacGillycuddy Reeks. We stayed there for half an hour and admired the scenic beauty of the lakes.

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We next started for Torc waterfall from there which is just a 10 min drive from Ladies view. Torc Waterfall is just one of many in the Killarney area, but is certainly the most famous. It is about 7km outside Killarney towards Kenmare, is well signposted and is just a short walk from the carpark through a forest. The roar of the falls can be heard long before you see them. The water all comes from the wonderfully named "Devil’s Punch Bowl" and falls an angry 70 ft. onto the huge boulders below before continuing on into Muckross Lake. If its raining while you are in Killarney, you will at least be guaranteed a spectacular photo here but it was not our lucky day as we had a glorious sun that day. Nevertheless there was enough in the Torc waterfall for us to get a fascinating experience.

Torc has an atmosphere or character that makes it special. Its one of those places where people just want to hold hands and be photographed. As waterfalls go, it is quite small, but, even among waterfalls, size isn’t everything. Everybody took  loads of snaps there, Urvaksh in particular was fascinated by the waterfall and kept his eyes glued against it.

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Both Ladies View and Torc Waterfall are inside the Killarney National Park which is an expanse of rugged mountainous country south and west of the town of Killarney in Co. Kerry . This includes the McGillycuddy’s Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland which rise to a height of over 1000 metres. At the foot of these mountains nestle the world famous lakes of Killarney. Here where the mountains sweep down to the lake shores, their lower slopes covered in woodlands, lies the 10,236 hectare (26,000 acres), Killarney National Park . The distinctive combination of mountains, lakes, woods and waterfalls under ever changing skies gives the area a special scenic beauty.

The nucleus of the National Park is the 4,300 hectare Bourn Vincent Memorial Park which was presented to the Irish State in 1932 by Senator Arthur Vincent and his parent-in-law, Mr and Mrs William Bowers Bourn in memory of Senator Vincent’s late wife Maud.

The focal point of the National Park for visitors is Muckross House and Gardens. The house which is presented as a late 19 th century mansion featuring all the necessary furnishings and artefacts of the period is a major visitor attraction is jointly managed by the Park Authorities and the Trustees of Muckross House.

The former Kenmare Desmene close to Killarney Town is also part of the National Park and features Killarney House and Gardens and Knockreer House which is the education centre of the park.

Killarney National Park contains many features of national and international importance such as the native oakwoods and yew woods together with an abundance of evergreen trees and shrubs and a profusion of bryophytes and lichens which thrive in the mild Killarney climate. The native red deer are unique in Ireland with a presence in the country since the last Ice Age.

Killarney National Park was designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1981 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), part of a world network of natural areas which have conservation, research, education and training as major objectives.

We had planned to take a horse carriage ride across the park but then deferred it to the next day. Instead we started our drive to Dingle Peninsula.(Irish: Corca Dhuibhne – sometimes anglicized as Corkaguiney) which again is located in County Kerry and is the most westerly point of Ireland.

We reached Town of Dingle at 12:30 and first went for the Funghi boat ride. Funghi the Dolphin is a single Doplhin, who decided to stay in the bay of Dingle harbour a lot of years ago and plenty of boats offer cruises to watch it, some even offer to give your money back in case that Funghi will not show up… BUT of course Funghi will show up, it seems to have great fun to watch boats and tourists – that way Funghi became one of the best known tourist-attractions in Dingle town. It really was fun. Did we see Fungi? Only about 100 times, that dolphin is a ham. Now Funghi is not alone and there are other Dolphins also around the bay and they all gave us a spectacular show. The boat trip was for around an hour and was really fascinating.

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After watching Funghi and coming ashore we had our lunch at the Murphy restaurant which is famous for its food at Dingle. They had a dish called Dingle Bay Dish in which a freshly caught haddock from Dingle bay is served. After the lunch we started to on to the scenic drive along the Dingle Peninsula.

The Dingle Peninsula is named after the town of Dingle. The peninsula is also commonly called Corca Dhuibhne even when those referring to it are speaking in English. Corca Dhuibhne, which means "seed or tribe of Duibhne" (an Irish personal name), takes its name from the túath (people, nation) of Corco Dhuibhne who occupied the peninsula in the Middle Ages and who also held a number of territories in the south and east of County Kerry.

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The peninsula exists because of the band of sandstone rock that forms the Slieve Mish mountain range at the neck of the peninsula, in the east, and the unnamed central mountain range further to the west. Ireland’s highest mountain outside Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, Mount Brandon at 951 m, forms part of a beautiful high ridge with stunning views over the peninsula and North Kerry.

The Conor Pass, which runs from Dingle on the southern end of the peninsula towards Brandon Bay and Castlegregory in the North, is the highest mountain pass in Ireland, a tight, precarious road, weaving its way around the sharp cliff faces and past the high corrie lakes.

The Blasket Islands lie off the west coast. They are famous for the literary and linguistic heritage of the former inhabitants. However, these remote islands have been uninhabited since the 1950s following an evacuation. The western end of the peninsula is a Gaeltacht area that has produced a number of nationally notable authors and poets; Ó Siochfhradha and Peig Sayers among others. This is the most western part of Ireland, and the village of Dún Chaoin is often jokingly referred to as "the next parish to America".

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On our way back to Killarney we stopped at Inch beach which is 3 miles of sandy beach, for bathing, surfing, sea angling. Inch Strand was chosen by David Lean as the beach location for "Ryan’s Daughter", while the film "Playboy of the Western World" was shot entirely at Inch. Excellent bass fishing at Inch Strand, Bunaneer Strand and Minard Strand, all in the Inch – Annascaul area. Sea Otters and Seals lie on the rocks rearing their young. Dolphins clown about in the bay. A heron lands by the rivers and gannets fly like arrows into the clear water. Read more about Inch Blue Flag Beach Read less about Inch Blue Flag Beach. All the children enjoyed on the beach and I also went for a short swim in the water.

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It was on the Inch beach that Urvaksh dipped his feet into the oceanic water for the first time and was blessed by a gentle stroke of Mother Nature.

After a long and tiring day we drove back to our B&B at Killarney. I took a shower and then slept soundly dreaming about the exotic beauty of Irish countryside.

Next morning as planned we went for the horse carriage tour of Killarney National Park after breakfast. Of course, no visit to Killarney would be complete without a trip on a traditional Jaunting car, a tour on horse and carriage where many of the guides have been in the business for five generations. Their knowledge will stretch from the history of the local monuments to the best pint in town! Again children enjoyed the most on the trip. We were lucky to spot an Irish Stag but could not get to see the Golden Eagle which is also native to the national park.

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As this was our last day in Kerry so we packed our things and loaded into our wagon. The plan was to first visit Cliffs of Moher which is one of Ireland’s top Visitor attractions and then to make our way back to Dublin. The Cliffs are 214m high at the highest point and range for 8 kilometres over the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of County Clare. O’Brien’s Tower stands proudly on a headland of the majestic Cliffs. From the Cliffs one can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, as well as The Twelve Pins, the Maum Turk Mountains in Connemara and Loop Head to the South.

The Cliffs of Moher (Irish: Aillte an Mhothair, lit. cliffs of the ruin, also known as the Cliffs of Mohair) are located in the parish of Liscannor at the south-western edge of the Burren area near Doolin, which is located in County Clare, Ireland.

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The cliffs rise 120 meters (394 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 meters (702 ft) just north of O’Brien’s Tower, eight kilometres away. The cliffs boast one of Ireland’s most spectacular views. On a clear day the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay, as are the valleys and hills of Connemara.

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O’Brien’s Tower is a round stone tower at the approximate midpoint of the cliffs. It was built by Sir Cornelius O’Brien, a descendant of Ireland’s High King Brian Boru, in 1835, as an observation tower for the hundreds of tourists that frequented the cliffs even at that date. From atop that watchtower, one can view the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, the Maum Turk Mountains and the Twelve Pins to the north in Connemara, and Loop Head to the south.

Moher tower, located at Hag’s Head, is a square stone ruin which is believed to be the remains of a watchtower placed during Napoleon‘s reign in Europe.

The site has been developed by Clare County Council and Shannon Heritage to allow visitors to experience the Cliffs, without the distraction of overly-imposing man-made amenities or features. In keeping with this approach, the "Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience" is built into a hillside approaching the Cliffs, blending naturally with the surrounding countryside. The centre is also environmentally sensitive in its use of renewable energy systems including geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, and greywater recycling

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We spent around 3 hours at the Cliffs and then started our drive back to Dublin.

On the way we crossed The Burren (Irish: Boireann, meaning "great rock") which is a karst-landscape region in northwest County Clare, in Ireland. It is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. The region measures approximately 250 square kilometres and is enclosed roughly within the circle made by the villages Ballyvaughan, Kinvara, Tubber, Corofin, Kilfenora and Lisdoonvarna. It is bounded by the Atlantic and Galway Bay on the west and north, respectively.

The region consists of rolling hills composed of limestone pavements with crisscrossing cracks known as "grikes", leaving isolated rocks called "clints". The region supports arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants side-by-side, due to the unusual environment. The blue flower of the Spring Gentian, an alpine plant, is used as a symbol for the area by the tourist board. Burren’s many limestone cliffs, particularly the sea-cliffs at Ailladie, are popular with rock-climbers. For potholers, there are a number of charted caves in the area. Doolin is a popular "base camp" for cavers, and is home to one of the two main cave-rescue stores of the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation.

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The territory of Burren was also called Corco Modhruadh Oirthearach ("eastern Corcomroe"), which is the north eastern portion of the shared territory, or túath, of Corco Modhruadh, and means "the people (or territory) of Modruadh". The diocese of Kilfenora, in which Burren is situated, is coextensive with the territory of Corco Modhruadh. In the annals, Burren was often called "Burren in Corco Modhruadh". The Ó Lochlainn clan styled themselves Kings of Burren and ruled the area until the mid-1600s. The present-day descendant of the last chief of the Ó Lochlainn clan resides in Ballyvaughan.

We reached Dublin late at night tired but mesmerised by the natural beauty that had kept us enthralled for the last three heavenly days.

View Ireland Kerry Trip 2009

Tarun Rattan

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