Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Beautiful Killarney

Muckross House
A rainbow greeted us upon arising—a fitting omen to a fortuitous day. Our Killarney highlights tour was off, then on again, and finally turned out to be a private tour with just our driver Mike, Anne, and I.  The tour should have been cancelled due to lack of bookings, but Mike was nice enough to agree to take us around anyway.  

Muckross House was our first stop. It is a substantial Victorian estate with a walled garden, sweeping lawns, beautiful lake-front vistas, and an oak tree I wanted to climb and cuddle. The house had a rather foreboding look about it, but the gardens were delightful.

Ladies' View

Next we visited Ladies’ View, so named because when Queen Victoria visited the region, it was the favorite place of the Queen and her entourage. The view is stunning. It was very cool and extremely windy, so photographing it was a challenge, but well worth the effort. 

Ross Castle
Afterwards, we traveled to Ross Castle, the imposing ruin of a 15th century tower house, with more marvelous lake views.  Inisfallen Island is directly across from the castle, home of the ruins of Inisfallen Abbey, founded about AD 600.  It was also very cool and windy there, as evidenced by the ducks huddling down for warmth.


Happy to be out of the wind for a bit, we climbed into the van and headed to Aghadoe. This small tower ruin was interesting, in that I was able to actually get inside and even go up a narrow flight of stairs to an upper level.  The ruin was in excellent condition, and the view from the top of the hill was spectacular.  There was a large field of wildflowers that put me in mind of the scene from the Sound of Music. (And NO, I did not start humming it to myself.)

St Mary's Cathedral

Last stop was the Cathedral of St Mary's, which was built in the 1750's.  It has amazing stained glass windows, gothic arches, and a vaulted ceiling with the original timbers still in place.

We finished off the day with a stop at The Laurels, where Con serves up a nice pint of Guinness, and a healthy dose of blarney. He was a dear man and we enjoyed our break there.  After walking around town a bit we stopped at the Crock of Gold for supper, and then made the long walk back to the hotel. Anne and I both agree, that Killarney has been our favorite stop, so far.  Tomorrow we are headed to Galway for a look at Connemara, Dunguaire Castle, and some of their world-famous oysters. And of course, more Guinness!HHH