The Irish amazing race continues from our base in Killarney on day 4 as we headed out to conquer the Ring of Kerry, a circular coastal route that starts and ends in Killarney. We headed out on the counter clockwise route starting from the east side in torrential rain and wind that continued all day. Unfortunately, we were socked in with cloud, rain and fog for the whole trip so we couldn’t see much or take any great photos. Had the weather been clear we knew the route would have provided some exceptional scenery as we got the occasional glimpse throughout. The whole loop is a day drive with a few stops but if you wanted to shorten the trip or if the weather was bad, as in our case, I’d start on the west side as that is where the best views are. As we approached our return to Killarney just a half hour out in the national park the views were stunning, I was tempted to redo the last half of the route on our next day when the weather cleared. If you only do part of the route go at least up to Kenmare which is just an hour out of Killarney, it’s a great little tourist town with tons of pubs, restaurants and shops. We had lunch at a restaurant called #35, it was exceptional and one of the few places I’m confident to recommend. Put the Ring of Kerry on your bucket list, you’ll be rewarded with high up, looming coastal sites and then sweeping mountain views. It’s a spectacular road trip even in bad weather.
Day 5 our next road trip was to the Cliffs of Mohr and it was so worth the half day drive. Although, touring Ireland requires you to bring a ‘wee pot of gold’. I was surprised to find out that you even must pay mother nature to view the cliffs at 6 euros per person. It’s a busy tourist destination, even this time of year as dozens of loaded buses were pulling up and the parking lot was full. A path heads up in two directions giving you various sweeping views of the cliffs and continues in either direction for hikers that want to test their 9 lives on a cliff side trail. It would be interesting to know how many deaths occur each year as we watched many people taunting the ledge. We heard there are about 10-12 suicides each year and surprisingly few accidental deaths. I could have sat all day watching the birds fly among the cliffs with the sea pounding below, if only all the tourists would disappear. Here is a link to the photos and I have a great video below: (don’t miss more travel below the video, keep scrolling!)
We continued our drive for another hour and chose to make Oranmore our base for two more days, we are just a few minutes outside of Galway which we explored in the morning of our last day. From here we drove out to see the Kylemore Abbey in the Connemara mountains, it was stunning. A fairy tale castle as Janet called it. The Castle has a sad history, first built as a private residence by a man called Mitchell Henry in 1867. He had inherited a fortune from his father a textile tycoon and built the home for his wife who fell in love with the area while visiting on their honeymoon. They had nine children and enjoyed a happy, carefree life at Kylemore but sadly four years after the completion of their home and while on holidays in Egypt his beloved wife contracted dysentery. 16 days later she passed away at the young age of 45, her loss was felt by all who knew her and most deeply her husband Mitchell. In his grief he had a beautiful miniature neo-gothic church built in her memory by the mausoleum where they are both buried. He never married again and passed many years later. The castle passed hands a few times and was eventually bought buy a sect of Benedictine Nuns from Brussels, who continue to own, run and live at the Abbey. They are quite the entrepreneurs with a now thriving tourism business. This is a must stop if you’re in the area and when you visit don’t eat before you go! You’ll want to have either breakfast, lunch or an early dinner here as they have an amazing restaurant with fantastic food at reasonable prices. They also have a well stocked shop for any possible souvenir you might need; an Irish sweater, some Irish cream or chocolate made by the nuns.
Well this was the end of our Irish adventure, the next morning we checked out of our hotel and drove downtown to visit Galway for a few hours in the pouring rain. We then drove the afternoon back to Dublin where we spent the night at the airport Travelodge before catching a 6:30am flight to Rome. Now the fun really begins as we start our Italian adventure in the eternal city! Ciao. Below is a video of the Abbey and here is a link to the photos