“I have seen landscapes…which, under a particular light, made me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge. Nature has that in her which compels us to invent giants: and only giants will do.”
– C.S. Lewis
Oh Ireland, you may have only given us a day and half of sunshine while we were there but it doesn’t stop you from being spectacular. You can see why there are so many Irish folk songs that sing of their homeland. Even in the cold, drizzling rain the countryside is truly beautiful. Their rolling green hills are full of wildflowers, their impossibly clean Friesian dairy cows speckle the countryside and the red doors of country cottages are framed with hanging flower baskets. As stated in the C.S. Lewis quote above it really is a place that you can image a magical fantasy world full of mystical beasts and talking animals.
Liam and I said farewell to Dublin and jumped on the train to visit a little town called Tralee to catch up with Liam’s cousin Linda and her husband John.We then picked up a rental car and headed out to explore the area since we had sometime to kill before Linda finished work. My first thoughts were to see an Irish beach so we drove to one called Banna Beach for an ice cream.I wasn’t sure what I was expecting but let’s just say they are a little different to Australia’s! It was windy, wet and a bit dismal! Not to be discouraged I bought my soft serve with sprinkles and joined the three others on the shore; a guy in a wetsuit and a dad with his daughter building sandcastles in full tracksuits.With cold hands and chattering teeth we walked down to the shoreline and felt the temperature of the water (freezing) and then raced back to the car!
After that we headed back to Linda and John’s townhouse where they graciously hosted us for the next couple of nights. We had lots of lovely chats with many cups of tea and biscuits while they told us what sights to visit.
Over the next few days saw lots of the countryside in the Counties of Kerry and Clare. In the misty rain we drove around the Dingle Peninsular along their narrow, winding, cliff side roads. There we stopped to see the ancient Beehive huts that were inhabited by the local people of that area in Ancient times.
We caught a ferry at Tarbert and then drove to the natural wonders that are the Cliffs of Moher. The wind swept cliffs rise 214 meters tall at their highest point and are 8 kilometers long. There is no real barrier along much of these cliffs so many visitors stood dangerously close trying to capture the perfect photo, myself included. Liam stood far back yelling at me to ‘get away from the edge, you know you’re clumsy’ while I scrambled down the embankment to try and find a spot for my selfie. I think I managed it ok without falling off which was a small miracle!
We had a tour through Ross Castle, a 15th Century tower house on the edge of Lough Leane Lake. We danced around in our sexy Ponchos in the rain through the magnificent gardens of Muckross Estate. To warm up we stopped for Irish Coffees and a piece of Apple Pie while we drove the famous King of Kerry coastline. We even stayed in a little B&B with rooms that looked like a delightful bedroom of a sweet Irish granny.
It was then on our second last day that the sky cleared and the sunlight poured across the coastline. We finished the Ring of Kerry drive seeing Ireland in all it glory. Then with the sunshine on our backs we climbed the ruin of the 16th Century Ballycarbery Castle, just outside of Cahersiveen. This would have had to be one of my favourite moments in Ireland. There is no queue, tour guide or visitor’s centre at this site, just a ruin in someone paddock that anyone can stop and climb. Just you, the crumbling towers and your imagination as it brings back that childlike wonder that as an adult, you thought was lost.
Thank you Ireland for bringing out that sunshine. Considering it rains on average of 225 days of the year we were truly thankful.
Also I wanted to note that John’s back garden has the most luscious, thickest and greenest grass I have ever seen. A true marvel to the eye!!
Click the photos below to see more of our journey in a slideshow