Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, Dingle Peninsula, and Ring of Kerry

We tried to pack a lot in to a three day weekend and we did ok considering the weather. We headed out Friday morning to go to Rock of Cashel. If the weather was bad, we would bail and skip, but there was a clearing, so we headed up. While just one brief rain period, it was just a little windy. Still cloudy, but better than our first trip. We grabbed some food to go and headed to Blarney Castle. We figured we could do this even if it was raining (which it was). Even though the grounds are nice here, we really didn't have time to linger, especially in the rain. There was only a short line to get to the Blarney Stone. It was about what I expected, but one of those things you have to do once.

Pictures from Blarney Castle

We headed toward Dingle. Along the way we stopped for the view at Inch Beach. We were just a short ride from Dingle at this time. The drive on the peninsula is quite nice. The little town is cute and quaint. We walked around for a few minutes before picking the Marina Inn for dinner. The food was pretty good. We then hit Murphy's for ice cream. Good stuff!

In the morning, we hit the SuperValu for some breakfast stuff, and Nolan and mom sat and ate while Kacey and I walked around town. We saw some houses built on a river, and an old cross commemorating the 1916 Uprising. Kacey stopped in a couple little shops and as we neared the SuperValu, the rain looked like it was coming, so we hurried to get started on our drive.

As we headed out on Rick Steves' guide of the Dingle Peninsula, it started to rain. We couldn't even get out of the car at Ventry Beach, but there were plenty of surfers out in wet suits. The first place we stopped was the Dunbeg Fort. With a very small break in the rain, I got to see it, but by time Kacey could go, it was a little wet. Next we stopped at the Beehive Huts. Rick Steves said to stop at the first one, so we did. There is only one there (that you can walk in), and they are working to reconstruct another. The next beehive hut looked to have more to see, but oh well. Both cost €2.

As we neared Slea Head, we drove over a bridge that isn't a bridge. You basically drive through a river on the side of the mountain. The cross at Slea Head has nice views, including the Dunmore Head, which is the western most part of Europe. We also stopped at the Dún Chaoin overlook for views of the beach, hillsides, and Dumore Head. We drove over to the pull-off for Dunmore Head and the beach. Kacey and I were going to run up to see what we could see. We ended up going around pretty far, about as far west as you can get. There was a pretty good view of the Big Blasket Island. There is also a little concrete building on top, probably for farmers to take refuge if the weather turns bad (the hill is an active cow and sheep pasture).

Next we headed toward the Great Blasket Centre for some history, toilets, and food. There was some neat info here, but you can probably get through here in 20 minutes if needed, skipping the video. The rain cleared out and the sun shone through, so we decided to get going and see some more sights while the weather was nice. We headed toward Gallarus Oratory next, with a beautiful stop at Waymont Head first. What a view!

The oratory is neat and worth a stop (and do skip the pay car park). We were mostly enjoying the nice weather at this point.  It was nice enough for a little photo shoot of Liana (see here). This was pretty much the end of the loop for us, so once back in Dingle, we circled back around to Ventry Beach to check it out. It is a nice, big beach, and Nolan had fun playing in the water (in his rain boots). We booked a hotel on the Kerry Ring for the night, so we headed out on the 90 minute drive there. On our way out of Dingle town, we stopped at Minard Castle (ruins). Off the beaten track, it provided a nice view and a neat drive through the hillsides. By the time we got to Waterville, we were hungry and it was getting late. So a quick check in to the Old Cable House B&B, and we went in to eat at the Butler Arms.

Pictures from Dingle Peninsula

On Sunday, we had a yummy breakfast at the B&B and started a drive around Kerry Ring to see what we could see before needing to head back to Dun Laoghaire. We doubled back to drive out on Valentia Island via the car ferry at Reenard to Knightstown. We drove up to the Cromwell Lighthouse, but the views were diminishing as the rain came in. We next drove out to the end of the road to take Nolan down to the Tetrapod fossil footprints. Due to the rain, I stayed in the car with Liana while Kacey and Nolan checked it out.

From here, we headed toward Skellig Ring. We stopped at a few lookout points which were nice, as this area seems to get much higher up than Dingle. We hit the Skelligs Chocolate Factory in hopes for treats and lunch. Well, the treats worked out but they don't really have food for lunch.

There are some brilliant views at Coomakesta Pass. It was so windy and rainy, it was hard to get pictures (and the bus tourists there were having problems walking due to the wind). On a nice day, this has got to be unreal. Next was Staigue Fort. This was kind of neat and Nolan liked running around some. We also explored a tunnel that went nowhere.  It was time to start our long drive home through Killarney National Park. It rained hard the whole way, but I am sure the area looks nice.

Pictures from Ring of Kerry

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